Posted on 18 September 2021
The Alps are home to some of the biggest names in ski history. European professional skiers have revolutionised the game more than once, and their home ski towns proudly boast their connection to this day. For some buyers, looking at a pro skier’s home mountain is a great way to work out where to buy a ski chalet!
From the famous backcountry skiing of La Grave to the upmarket glamour of St Moritz, the Alps are home to a huge variety of resorts offering a massive array of pisted and unpisted skiing. It’s no wonder that some legendary skiers hail from the Alps, nor that many ex-professionals from overseas retire there.
So, which resorts come with a famous face attached? Where should you buy a ski chalet if you want to rub shoulders with the best?
La Clusaz – Home of Candide Thovex
Over the last twenty years, Candide Thovex has become probably the biggest name in professional skiing. His videos go viral across the ski community, and his style is inimitable. His skiing was used in an Audi advert, and his fame goes way past the ski community.
La Clusaz, his hometown, is a pretty, quaint ski town peppered with traditional chalet-style buildings. This is a classic mountain town, set around a Savoyarde church and a lovely square. A market sells fresh produce on Mondays, and the streets wind outwards with small shops, lively bars, and comfortable hotels.
The ski area at La Clusaz is larger than you might expect from a relatively unknown ski resort. It has over 100 km of slopes locally, and the Massif des Aravis ski pass also gives you access to the slopes of Le Grand Bornand. The pistes at La Clusaz are mostly intermediate level, but some superb freeride routes will keep even the best skiers entertained.
La Clusaz is an up and coming resort for freeride skiers. If you love the backcountry and you’re looking for where to buy a ski chalet, this might make your list!
Verbier – The Swiss Steep Skiing King
Verbier has been the home of the Freeride World Tour’s grand finale for as long as the competition has existed. The famous freeride routes have drawn countless professional skiers to this resort. This includes Swiss up-and-comer Yann Rausis, who won the Rookie of the Year Award during his first season competing in the Freeride World Tour.
Verbier, the largest and glitziest of the Four Valleys resorts, is one of a few resorts that offer both spectacular skiing and a glamorous resort. With excellent restaurants and lively bars and nightclubs that see skiers dancing in their boots at 3 am, this is one of Europe’s best ski resorts. Verbier makes the list for hardcore skiers and après skiers alike.
The Four Valleys is a mammoth ski area, with a huge amount of skiable vertical and some of the best off-piste in the world. It’s no coincidence that this resort is the one that features as the finale of the freeride world tour, after all! If this resort is within your budget, there’s really no downside to choosing to buy a ski chalet here.
Flims – A Park Paradise
If park skiing is your bag, then the slopes of Flims/Laax should be high on your list. There are several big freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions that take place in this ski area. As the home of multiple-medal winning skier Andri Ragettli, Flims is an underrated ski resort.
Sharing a ski area with better known Laax, Flims is a quiet, Swiss Alpine gem of a ski resort. It’s not too well known yet, so it still has plenty of local charm. The traditional Swiss vibes and the family-friendly environment means this is a great place to buy if you need somewhere to suit the whole family. The ski area isn’t quite the size of the Four Valleys, but it’s not small either.
The Flims-Laax-Falera ski area is known as the White Arena. It’s home to some super-long runs that send you hurtling from the top of a glacier down to the 1100 m resort. There are small pockets of off-piste that locals love. The real draw here, though, is the four freestyle parks, full-sized halfpipe, and academy devoted to improving your skills in the park.
When you’re looking at where to buy a ski chalet, this is one you and your family will all love.
Chamonix – The Original
Home of the longest lift-served off-piste in the world, and legendary, pioneering skiers and Alpinists like Anselme Baud, Chamonix is rightfully known as the birthplace of extreme skiing. Baud is famously the first skier (with fellow pros, Daniel Chauchefoin and Yves Détry) ever to ski the Mallory Couloir. Since then the infamous line has been cemented as the most daring in the resort.
Chamonix, as with Verbier, is synonymous with extreme skiing. Its steep slopes are so famous, skiers travel from all over the world to experience them. The resort is larger than many, with a lively town that has a large year-round population. This is one of the few resorts in the Alps to function as an actual, working, town.
The Chamonix ski area is a little more disjointed than some on this list. Much of the steep skiing, and the off-piste routes, are skiable off the Aguille du Midi and in the Grand Montets ski area. The slopes of Le Tour and Vallorcine are a little more intermediate friendly, although there are some dangerous, and tempting, backcountry routes there too.
For extreme skiers wondering where to buy a ski chalet, this resort is always in the picture.
Val d’Isere – Home of Jean-Claude Killy
The French Olympic champion so famous he got an entire ski area named after himself is hard to overlook. Jean-Claude Killy, whose hometown of Val d’Isere has undergone a shift from ski town seasonaire paradise to France’s answer to Verbier, took the world by storm in the 60s. Killy swept the board in competitions, becoming a bonafide skiing superstar in the process.
Val d’Isere has grown from a seasonaire favourite, with some spartan 60s style buildings mixed into the overall Alpine aesthetic, to an attractive and popular ski destination. The resort is home to several excellent upmarket hotels, lively bars that offer everything from dives to cocktails. The resort even has a Michelin star or two!
Val d’Isere, and neighbouring Tignes, is one of France’s best areas for advanced and expert skiers. That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of great skiing for people of any ability level, of course, and the resort has a huge amount of intermediate slopes. With that said, Val d’Isere is a stop on many a professional’s European ski tour.