independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

10 Best: Ski secrets

La Ferme du Lac Vert, Montriond.

Alastair Sawday picks his top ski hideaways in the French mountains

Tannerie, Chamonix Mont Blanc, Haute-Savoie

This upstairs-downstairs little chalet -- possibly the sweetest in Chamonix -- was built by Colleen's husband, a well-known mountain guide. She runs her own ski company and they live across the garden.

Perfect for a young family, it's light, bright and stylish. A floor-to-ceiling window looks on to the garden and kids love the mezzanine. The main bedroom has a balcony and magnificent mountain views.

You are on the edge of pretty Les Tines and a bus brings you right in to Chamonix.

Details: From €800 per week, self-catered (sleeps four).

Chalet Colinn, Val d'Isere, Savoie

Mylene and Elizabeth love the outdoors, hence their five-year fight to reincarnate a fallen ruin as a luxury mountain retreat.

For daytime adventure: the slopes at Val d'Isere, Tignes or the Vanoise park. Just ask Elizabeth, off-piste skier extraordinaire.

After, join them for a gourmet dinner or soak in the terrace hot tub under the stars. Urban rusticity, mountain chic; the place reeks Italian style yet is impossibly hidden in this tiny hamlet.

Details: Half-board package with a six-day ski pass from €700 per person.

Chalet Savoie Faire, Fontaines-Naves

Behind the grey façade of this old Savoyard farmhouse is one luxurious B&B. Friendly owners Hugh and Nikki -- she runs wonderful cookery courses -- have put everything into the renovation and each room has charming touches.

The arched diner (once the cowshed) is chandelier-hung and atmospheric, the sitting room has a toasty fire, and the bedrooms (one a family suite) are a delight, with chunky-chic furniture and 'wow' bathrooms.

The cross-country skiing is amazing, and Trois Vallees is 30 minutes away.

Details: From €90 per room per night including breakfast.

The Farmhouse, Morzine

The day starts with a breakfast spread in the old cattle shed and ends with a slap-up dinner hosted by Dorrien. Many years ago, he gave up England for Morzine's oldest farmhouse.

Big, comfortable bedrooms, whose bathrooms promise white robes and lavish lotions, are reached via a central stone stair; some have mountain views.

At the end of the garden is an exquisite little mazot. A 'ski host' at the farmhouse introduces you to the runs; return to a hot toddy in the bar and a crackling log fire.

Details: From €728 per person per week (half-board).

Chalet Chatelet, Bonnevaux

The cow-belled Vallee d'Abondance envelopes this pretty pine chalet, the result of years of the hosts' creative energy.

Oak floors, soft shapes and high ceilings hug reclaimed furniture and works by other members of this arty family. Warmth comes from a Finnish stove and solar panels.

Find spectacular views from the hot tub, and expect cultured chat (and delicious food) in the intimate dining room.

From your bedroom, you gaze to mountains you skied that day.

Details: From £520 (€648) per person per week, half-board.

Maison Coutin, Peisey Nancroix

This place is a year-round Alpine dream. In winter you can ski cross-country, snow walk or take the ski lift, 500m away, to the vast ski field of Les Arcs. La Plagne is close, too.

Delicious, mostly organic, food is cooked in the wood-fired oven.

Your friendly, sporty hosts have known the valley all their lives, have three children and will be helpful with yours. Great value and a deeply eco-friendly ethos.

Details: From €58 per night, including breakfast.

La Ferme du Lac Vert, Montriond

Cowhides and fur, delectable canapés and cocktails that explode in the mouth -- live dangerously at the funkiest chalet in the Portes du Soleil.

Quirky cow-horn sculptures add personality, bathrooms ooze luxury, and Lucy and Rob are full of joie de vivre.

The shuttle whisks you to the slopes and you return to three fabulous living spaces (one with a bar on runners, one with a fireplace for warming vin chaud), a hot tub on the terrace, and bedrooms that are simply divine.

Details: From £595 per person per week, half board.

Chalet Le Panoramic, La Clusaz

They pick you up from Geneva and whisk you to this 'ski-in, ski-out' chalet right on the piste in La Clusaz -- it doesn't get much better than this. There's heaps of space for kids and adults, bedrooms are cosy, bathrooms shine, and sofas are snooze-worthy.

In a huge room with a piste-side panorama the wine flows, the piano plays, the logs crackle and the food is divine. Toast your good fortune in the hot tub under the stars.

Details: From €860 per week, half-board.

Au Coin du Feu-Chilly, Powder Morzine

The homeward piste takes you to the door; the cable car, opposite, sweeps you to the peaks.

Everything feels generous here: great beams span the ceilings; windows look up to the cliffs of the Hauts Forts; a central fireplace gives the chalet its name. Bedrooms are Alpine-swish and themed -- there's the Toy Room for families.

The chef is top notch and Paul and Francesca can organise everything, including torchlight descents. There's massage, a sauna, a hot tub outside, and even an in-house crèche.

Details: From €695 per person per week, half-board.

The full collection can be found at www.sawdays.co.uk/gosnow

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