Early and late season ski holidays are often overlooked, but they can actually offer some of the most rewarding riding experiences around.
While it’s true that some resorts lower down the mountain do not have sufficient snow for a longer season, if you choose the right location you can find some of the most beautiful ski conditions from as early as September to as late as May.
And if you’re staying with us at Chalet Chardons, you’ve come to the right place – the Tignes and Val d’Isere resort offers one of the longest ski seasons in the world.
Below we explore autumn glacier riding, early season trips in December, and late season riding after Easter.
The early season comes with a couple of major selling points: quiet slopes and good weather. Far from the madness of Christmas Week, New Years, or half term holidays, you’ll find yourself sharing the slopes with only a small bunch of other people if you decide to come early December, meaning you can sweep your way across the full width of the slopes without having to play a daring game of snowy dodgems.
Autumn Glacier Riding
On the 28th September the Grande Motte glacier opens its doors to autumn skiers. The highest point of the Espace Killy, these slopes are often a favourite amongst riders due to the glacier’s stunning views and soft snow.
If staying in Les Brevieres, you will need to drive to Val Claret, or to Le Lac where there is a bus that takes you to Val Claret, and then jump on the Perce Neige funicular which takes you to the bottom of the Grande Motte. From here, you can take the Grande Motte gondola which goes all the way to the top.
From there, there is either a black run or a couple of red runs for you to explore the area. If you are a less experienced skier don’t be afraid of the red run – it’s a relatively gentle one. Sometimes, when there is a decent amount of early snow, the red run are open all the way down to Val Claret.
While not the biggest area to ski in, the fact that you are out skiing in the mountains so early in the year makes it feel pretty special. It can also still be pretty warm at this time of year so might just be your chance to experience the joy of cruising down the slopes in just sallopettes and a jumper.
And a massive perk of coming on holiday at this time of year is that you’ll get two different mountain experiences: you can go skiing on the glacier one day then hiking in the surrounding mountains and green forests the next day. That’s basically two holidays in one!
Early Season Riding
While the Grande Motte is now open for the rest of the season, from the end of November onwards the rest of the resort starts to wake up bit by bit.
First, the ski lifts from approximately 2000 metres tend to open in the last week of November, then the lower heights begin running in the first couple of weeks of December. The resort will also begin using snow machines during this time to try get all the slopes ready for use.
For Les Brevieres, everything will be up and running by around the 14th December – so if you’re arriving for this week you will have plenty of skiing available to you.
You’ll also usually find the weather is nicer at this time of year and not quite as blizzardy as January or February can be. While of course you have to be wary of icier slopes and surfacing rocks if the snow is thinner, generally the conditions are perfectly good enough for any level rider.
And let’s not forget another major benefit of coming at this time – everything is so much cheaper! Firstly, you can get an “avant premiere” six day ski pass for €60 euros cheaper than the standard season price.
And secondly, you can get some great value accommodation. Chalet Chardons is running a 20% off discounted accommodation and ski pass deal for the week commencing 14th December for any of our chalets, so get in touch and fall in love with early season skiing.
Late Season Riding
After the mad hustle and bustle of the Easter Week, the crowds dissipate, and the final wave of mountain chaos finally settles down for another year. But although the peak season is nearing its end, the skiing isn’t over just yet.
From the 11th April to the 3rd May, the slopes stay open for some of the sunniest, calmest, and nicest skiing across the whole year. During these weeks, you get a strangely wonderful clash between a winter holiday and a summer holiday feeling as you find yourself stripping down to just a t-shirt as you sunbathe on the sun loungers half-way up a snow covered mountain.
And while the slopes are quieter, the party isn’t over, as venues across the Espace Killy hold some incredible end of season parties for both holiday makers and seasonnaires to enjoy.
These weeks are also again a fair bit cheaper than the peak season, so give Chalet Chardons a shout and we can sort you out an incredible ski holiday for great value.
Sun, snow, parties, quiet slopes, and all at a reasonable price – what’s not to love about late season riding!
When is your favourite time to ski? Let us know in the comments below!