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Winter sports fans know the world's best ski resorts are in the high mountains of France and Switzerland. The infrastructure is among the best in the world, meaning you can spend more time doing what you're actually there for – whizzing down a slope – while the high altitude guarantees top-quality white stuff well into the new year. And, of course, they have fondue and gluhwein. All this could be yours after a short flight from the UK. Here's our pick of the best resorts to get down in.

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France’s winter playground

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The La Plagne region offers so much more than quality skiing / Photo: Pierre Augier

What's the most important element of a skiing holiday? Snow, obviously – and with the majority of its slopes above 2,000m La Plagne guarantees proper quality powder every time. The region has plenty more going for it too, including France’s only bobsleigh course, access to the wider Paradiski® area (and its 425km of ski runs connecting La Plagne and Les Arcs), plus a raft of back-country fun, ziplines, spas, dog sledding, snowshoe hikes and more. For your next winter break, set your sights that bit higher.

The Swiss snowsports hotspot

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Embark on a resort-hopping ski safari / Photo: Litescape Media

For a winter getaway with real bite, head for the Region Dents du Midi ('teeth of midday'). No fewer than six charmingly rustic villages are yours to explore at the gateway to one of the world’s largest outdoor sports areas: the Portes du Soleil. The ski slopes offer something for all levels, from easy, well-manicured boulevards to some of the steepest and most challenging slaloms you’ll find anywhere in Europe. Plus, the tantalising possibility of a resort-hopping ski safari. It’s certainly something to chew over.

A proper winter wonderland

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Verbier is a picture-perfect resort / Photo: Raphael Surmont

Need a hip base for your Alpine getaway? Look no further than Verbier. The village has been voted the best ski resort in Switzerland for the last two years running thanks to its combination of enchanting slate-roofed chalets, high-end bars and restaurants and superb skiing, all set within the pretty surroundings of the Four Valleys. When it’s time to hit the slopes, some 410km of runs are your playground, with all levels catered for. If you’re searching for even bigger thrills, the Mont 4 Zipline can whisk you at 100km/h over the Tortin glacier.

A crowd-free and quaint mountain village

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Serenity awaits in France’s idyllic Alpe d’Huez region / Photo: L Salino

The Alpe d’Huez region is famous for its almost endless choice of slopes. With 250km of pistes across five resorts there’s no risk you'll get stuck repeating the same blue run over and over. Villard Reculas is the smallest of the five resorts and makes an intimate and cosy base for skiers eager to avoid the swelling crowds in neighbouring regions. At between 1,600m and 3,330m high, it’s right in the heart of Alpe d’Huez’s exceptional skiing, so you can be on the lift minutes after finishing your morning coffee in one of the village’s charming cafés.

The high, high Swiss Alps

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The Matterhorn ski paradise has 360km of pistes / Photo: Zermatt Bergbahnen AG

Take a ride to the highest cable car station in Europe – the 3,883m-high Matterhorn glacier paradise – and feel the power of the Alps and the Matterhorn mountain as they soar high above the clouds. From here, skiers and snowboarders can enjoy perfectly prepared slopes, accessing more than 360km of pistes, as well as a further 36km of freeride runs. And, thanks to its year-round snowy conditions, a summer ski area boasting 21kms of slopes is open 365 days a year, making Zermatt-Matterhorn one of the largest snow sports arenas in the Alps. 

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Your must-have daypack for this winter

Equip yourself with the new A.CROSS – a minimalistic and functional skiers’ daypack. It has an integrated compartment for avalanche safety equipment and is very comfortable due to its patented shoulder-hip belt carrying system which allows compact adjustment to the back with optimum weight distribution. Also exciting is the price: the A.CROSS is only €99.

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