So, you’ve sampled all that the Alps can offer and you’re looking for new vistas…well, why not head for Parnassos? Just two hours drive from Athens on the E75 route and you will be in Arachova, which is an enticing little village clinging to the southern slopes of Mount Parnassos. Accommodation in this traditional settlement ranges from the delightful and simple Maria Rooms, to the five-star Santa Marina Spa. The ski area will be unfamiliar to many, having only opened in 1976 (with no further development until the early nineties). While you won’t be tormented by too many perilous black runs, part of its charm comes from the close proximity of major sites of antiquity, such as Delphi (12 Kms), and the Corinthian Gulf, a further 15kms.
It has to be the Cote d’Azur, for my activity break of choice – idealy centred on Nice. And with budget flights accessible from most UK centres, it could hardly be simpler. Once you’ve settled into your accommodation and unpacked all your gear, you’re set – and winter is definitely the best time to go! After an early breakfast, drive north to Valberg, Isola or Auron for a morning on the ski slopes, followed by a lunch, before returning to the shores of the Mediterranean. Then you have the choice of cycle routes – leisurely along the corniche, or challenging and into the Alpes Maritime (Gourdon or Sospel, perhaps). And in the evening, what could be better than SCUBA diving with your buddies at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
A beach break on a Greek island was the objective for our Easter holiday. However, on arrival it soon became apparent that a chilling wind from the east would make the original beach plan a very unappealing option. Consequently, we decided to hire a car and venture out to explore the surrounding countryside. Having crossed to the mainland, we were soon heading upwards - and then much to our surprise the road signage included references to the ski resort of Parnassos. Passing world famous archaeological sites en route to the mountain side village of Arichova, we stayed in a fantastic B&B. Early the following morning, it was time to hit the ski stores and pick-up a few essentials (ski jacket and gloves) at bargain basement prices, due to end-of-season offers. The remainder of the day was spent on on the nearly empty slopes of Parnassos, without queues and in glorious sunshine. An absolute gem of a discovery - and one that very few people will have visited, I dare say. We even managed to get onto the beach by the end of the week!
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