I stayed here last season and loved it. The chalet is surrounded by beautiful pine forests and the Grands Montets, Chamonix's best resort, is located really close to the chalet. You can't go wrong.
Chamonix is a one-hour transfer from Geneva. Marmotte Mountain Retreat is located at the base of the world-renowned resort of Argentiere.
The Eiffel Tower might be the iconic choice, but my favourite view of Paris is from here. Take a leisurely stroll through the shops of the young designers in Abbesses and up through touristy (but still enchanting) Montmartre, and there it is - the whole of Paris laid out beneath you in quite the most spectacular fashion.
The closest metro stations are Anvers, Abbesses, Château-Rouge and Lamarck-Caulaincourt, but I always think half the fun is walking there.
My money saving idea - lunchtimes on the Alps can cost you between £8 and £25 per day! If you're on a budget ski holiday then make the most of your half-board chalet. 1. drag yourself down to breakfast. 2. add several extra slices of french bread, ham & cheese to your plate 3. create a selection of ham and cheese rolls 4. when no one is looking, take out your serviette and wrap around (discreetly) your freshly made rolls, and hide quickly in a pocket or bag... et voila, enjoy on an uncrowded rock, with a view of your choice... ALL FOR FREE!
This converted railway station on the banks of the Seine is the place to see all the Impressionists (they're upstairs, knee-deep in visitors). Watch out for particularly horrific queues on Tuesday, when other Paris museums and galleries are closed.
1 rue de la Legion d’Honneur; Tel: 01 45 49 11 11;
Metro: Solferino; closed on Mondays/ www.musee-orsay.fr/
L'incontournable, as they say: the unavoidable. There'll probably be a queue, but it is almost always worth the wait. The stairs are for the seriously fit; plus, the moment when the glass-sided lift emerges into the daylight and all Paris is spread before you is too breathtaking to miss. Open late, every day of the year. The restaurant's not bad either.
Nearest metro: Bir-Hakeim, Trocadero, Ecole Militaire; www.tour-eiffel.fr/
Stroll around this most Parisian of Paris parks for a morning: all the city, sooner or later, will be there, from well-brought-up sixth arrondissement children in the excellent play area to starstruck lovers, elderly chess players, boulistes, nutters, book addicts, tai chi practitioners, joggers, bag ladies and model yachtsmen.
Nearest metro: Odeon
Most of you will be travelling by Eurostar, so this doesn't really arise. Otherwise RER from Roissy/Charles de Gaulle, Orlyval plus RER from Orly. Cheap, fast, reliable (except on strike days). A taxi will set you back €30-40 depending on the time of day. Above all, NEVER take a taxi to return to the airport; the least traffic jam on the Paris ring road and you'll miss your plane.
And not just for the recently moved Mona Lisa … The world's most visited museum is quietest first thing in the morning. You can whiz round ticking off the biggies in the three wings and 10 collections (from Ancient Egypt to Decorative Arts), but this is a place to spend the whole day exploring. Do, though, get a map. Free on the first Sunday of each month.
Cour Napoleon; Tel: 01 40 20 53 17; Metro: Palais-Royal-Musee du Louvre; www.louvre.fr/
Or Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain. Now they've lost the Olympics we can afford to harbour nice feelings about the French, can't we? This delighful and wholly whimsical piece of candyfloss shows French directors can please crowds as well as critics.
Parks are not Paris's strongest point, but the Buttes Chaumont is a down-to-earth alternative to the altogether more bourgeois (and crowded) Luxembourg. Located on a rocky hill in the 19th arrondissement in north-east Paris, it also gives views of much of the city, including the Sacre Coeur.
Chalet Lounge is a beautiful old savoyard chalet, with hot tub and sauna and all the luxuries you want after you've been skiing. Tom and Sarah who run it look after you really well and Sarah cooks amazing food. It's in a really great location, about half way along the valley, so you get really good access to all the different ski areas. We can't stay away!
Argentiere is a village 5 miles outside Chamonix and is it is where the main ski area of the resort is based. I would suggest staying up in the village of Argentiere and being within walking distance of the Grands Montets which offers awesome skiing.
Argentiere, 5 miles outside Chamonix.
Has regular bus and train service.
Use bus for Le Tour
For the best ski or snowboard holiday look no further. I spent last season there and
the staff at Marmotte Mountain made the whole trip. Great skiing and snowboarding is guaranteed and the hospitality was the best I've ever come across.
Without doubt book and go - you will have the time of your life in the most serene environment with a nightlife to get the most party-hungry excited. I can't recommend it highly enough. It is God's back garden.
Marmotte Mountain Retreat, Argentiere.
Tel : +33 (0) 6 82 89 15 23.
This is a very famous restaurant in Paris, with a stunning art deco interior (and linen tablecloths) and good food, in a hearty French way. However it’s always very busy, you have to queue to get in and it’s very noisy inside. And you are expected to speak French as many waiters do not speak English. And it’s packed with tourists and you will be seated on a shared table and rushed when the place is full. To make things easier it does not take bookings or credit cards either. All this withstanding, the food is quite good and not expensive and service is quick, and it opens early and on Sundays which it can be very handy.
Le Chatier 7 rue de Faubourg Montmartre Métro: Grands Boulevards Tel: 33 01-47-70-86-29 Opens: (daily) 11:30am-3pm and 6-10pm
This Canadian run microbrewery produces several of its own excellent beers and lagers, and has a great menu of bar snacks (cross-cut fries, nachos, etc) and more substantial evening meals. It attracts a lively apres-ski crowd who flock there to enjoy 'giraffes' of beer, and there's live music several times a week. It's very popular so you'll need to book a table for dinner.
The glaciers are retreating, the snow is falling later and more lightly and melting sooner in the spring. If you're going skiing in the alps - TAKE THE TRAIN - it's at least ten times less polluting. And you get an extra day on the slopes...
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