Snowboarding mugs featuring Pete Caswell’s stunning ski paintings are a stunning way to absorb yourself into the fresh off piste scenes and crazy pistes while having a cup of coffee even during the height of summer.
These special snowboarding mugs can help you cope with winter snow withdrawal symptoms. Do you get the summer blues or suffer from lack of winter snow syndrome. These mugs might just be the answer to you problems. Drink from them year round especially during the heights of summer when snow is scarce and you should find you will soon feel like you are snowboarding again in the very depths of a powdery winter.
If you are a skier then there is a special set of ski mugs for you to remanis about winter as you sup your morning coffee.
Ski Mugs featuring Pete Caswell’s stunning ski paintings are a stunning way to absorb yourself into the fresh off piste scenes and crazy pistes while having a cup of coffee even during the height of summer.
These special ski mugs can help you cope with winter snow withdrawal symptoms. Do you get the summer blues or suffer from lack of winter snow syndrome. These mugs might just be the answer to you problems. Drink from them year round especially during the heights of summer when snow is scarce and you should find you will soon feel like you are skiing again in the depths of powder immersed in winter.
If you are a snowboarder then there is a special set of snowboarding mugs for you to remanis about winter as you sup your morning coffee.
Sunset paintings by Pete Caswell are full of colour and atmosphere. The beautiful energy of the evening sunsets emanates from the canvas imbued with Pete’s inspiration and characterful paletted and technique. Free as a bird and looser still in a bold and energetic technique creates sunset paintings you can fall in love with.
This sunset painting is a loose flow technique keeping the technique flowing with the waves and the setting sun. Wonderful vivid colours and movement.
Full of colour and energy with an explosive technique of energy lifting the light from the canvas and filling you with Joy. Lots of amazing colour combinations and this one is very large 1.5m on canvas.
This sunset painting is a blended oils painting with washes of wonderful colour blending into each other on the canvas with waves of light emanating from the sunset to roll upon the shore.
This sunset painting is a little more impressionist in style with an amazing combination of colours making a moving landscape of waves rippling into the shore with the sun glowing out of the sky behind.
A bit moody, a bit dusky just smokin with a deep atmosphere as the dusk of sunset settles over the glowing waters as you catch your last surf of the day. A textured underpainting gives this sunset painting an added depth.
Take a trip to stay in the art studio and gallery of Pete Caswell. Part of Pete’s studio is now converted into a beautiful 1 bedroom house to sleep 3 people. Its quirky, beautiful and imbued with the creative spirit, a very unique place to stay with a great atmosphere if you need a bit of inspiration.
Its an imaginary ski chalet where the season never ends and the snow just can’t stop falling, but it only falls in the night. The days are always blue sky days, a constant -1 and it snowed so much the road in is blocked so there are no lift queues, trapped in paradise. The Italians are making the food and coffee, the apartment is Swiss made, the mountains imported from France and the USA are in charge of hospitality and a great day….. oh and I nearly forgot the Austrians are doing the Apres ski, but please no dancing on the tables as the English are making the rules and monitoring the lift queues. Where else but in heaven does a ski resort like this exist ?
You can see his amazing ski paintings and sunset paintings on the walls and see some of his quirky furniture from his early days as a wood sculpture and award winning creative furniture maker.
Its a place blissed out on the creative arts with inspiration works adorning the walls. The accommodation which forms part of the art studio you stay in adjoins Pete’s studio. Its currently only available from Friday to Sunday night at £350 for the 3 nights for the Spring. The theme of this self catering property is skiing and snowboarding and you can look at his amazing paintings of the most popular ski resorts around the world.
There are also 3 luxury lodges in fields surrounding the art studio and you can also see Pete’s sunset paintings in the Lodges and in his main studio also. The Lodges in the field near the art studio can be booked on the website www.thegallerylodges.co.uk.
To book the accommodation adjoining Pete’s Art Studio please email Pete as its just been created and the booking system us not yet live. Dates available from end of June. Where is it ? Its about a mile from the coast in Noerth Devon on the outskirts of Braunton set in 7 acres of wild flower meadows. Take a look at the gallery lodges website to get a feel for the surroundings. More photos next week when it is fully complete for 15/5/23.
Before you buy anymore vintage skis and vintage ski posters for your ski chalet and ski lodge decor please take a look at my fun and vibrant and sometimes a bit crazy ski paintings. I’ve got colours to match every colour scheme you would want including black and white, neutrals and just plain crazy colors too.
If you are short on time drop me an email or call me on whats app and let me know what you want and I’ll dust away all these vintage skis posters ideas into the back closet and bring in some new vibrant energy to give your walls the uplift they would all love to have.
If you want some more ideas then check out the interior design ideas below minus any vintage skis. But I do have my own take on vintage ski posters just in case you still hanging onto some element fo vintage for posterities sake.
Interior design ideas for ski lodges and ski chalets using Pete Caswell Art and Paintings designs.
Pete has worked on some fabulous interior design projects with clients in Europe and the USA. It all started with his ski prints, ski posters and original ski paintings which added a splash of colour and vibrancy to the traditional ski chalet and lodge decor of old skis and vintage ski posters.
While Pete loves some of the historic design ideas of the last century he is keen to work with interior designers to bring the best of his art into these modern inspiring buildings and make them sing a new song.
There are a few ideas that Pete has on his ski print and poster site but in recent years it has been easier to work directly with interior design clients to get the best results. Pete has so many ski paintings in many colours even black and whites or muted colours. Over the years he has taken some close up photographs of sections of paintings with bold colour schemes, fun textures or just crazy skiers and snowboarders. So once you have a few ideas its best to contact Pete direct.
Some projects have involved extra large prints and posters. Sometimes original ski paintings are re done with a twist and made to fit the space. Some clients have chosen their favourite paintings which have sold over the years and Pete has re painted them in the correct sizes to fit the space. For extra large ski prints and posters you need to contact Pete directly to custom order through another printer.
In recent years one of Pete’s loves has been taking sections from paintings and printing them onto materials for cushions, curtains and throws to really add a sense of fun and drama to a room. Sometimes just budget cushions from a print on design manufacturer Pete uses are great or sometimes for a higher quality, some special fabrics are ordered to print on and the cushions are made up to a custom order. It’s so much fun and the results can be dazzling with some of the amazing images Pete has in his ski art collection. Contact Pete to discus some ideas
A real favourite for him has been producing sets of custom cups and coasters to give a really great talking point and add to the skiing vibe. These are only done to order as there are just so many designs to choose from. Contact Pete
Hope you have enjoyed looking through all the colours and crazy designs. If anything has inspired you give me a call or email and see if we can come together on a fun project to add some light and love to a ski chalet. If you are international then Whatsapp works well for me. If you are in the UK come and visit or stay over in Pete’s studio to get a feel for all the colours and vibes he creates in his work.
Ok you’ve got a tricky dilemma here. A wife in tow and while you love the ski season she isn’t so keen on getting cold and expending all the physical energy all week just to stay warm and with a distinct lack of on slope shopping your are in trouble..
So you have always wanted to ski Europe but where to go for some great skiing and still keep your wife entertained.
If you followed my earlier blog post for where to ski in Europe you will know there are lots of great choices to satisfy your love of skiing. But adding into the equation some entertainment narrows the choices down somewhat but still there are some great options.
I am going to try and combine the best skiing with some shopping, historic towns, and some amazing classic hotels.
As I am only a poor artist travelling on a meagre budget I will not be able to help much in the choice of expensive hotels at the more luxurious end of the market but I am sure booking.com will help out there. Some are so luxurious I can feel my wallet emptying just by looking at them.
First I would count out France as while the skiing is excellent in the incredible purpose built resorts and huge ski areas, these are all from the 1970’s and really don’t have a lot to do in the days and evenings. 2 exceptions could be Megeve and Morzine but I would not put them very high up the list.
However one place in France does make the list. As part of a trip you could look at Chamonix with its lovely historic centre and a little more off the slopes entertainment. This place is just dripping in mountain atmosphere, history, mountain guides, ski touring, epic off piste. So if it happens to fit in, this is a great place to start but the skiing areas are not linked and it’s a bit of a pain to get around so for skiing it doesn’t score top marks. One plus of this place is you can go through the Mt Blanc tunnel to Italy to ski Courmayeur and your wife can have a days shopping in Italy all on the same pass and you can sample the wonderful cuisine of Italy and smiling hospitality. The next bonus is the pass can be linked into Verbier which I will go into next. Verbier is not far by car and again puts in a day shopping in Switzerland and is a stunning drive through Argentiere (my favourite ski area in the Chamonix Valley) and over the mountain pass.
The best picks of the bunch I think though to keep your wife entertained are in Switzerland. So we have 3 places which stand out really well here.
First lets go to Verbier. This links to Chamonix. It’s not the best choice for history and shopping, but it’s in the mix because, if you get powder this place is the best off piste in Europe without a guide and also with a guide even better. It’s an incredible ski area so you will loose some points here but if you can call in if powder is in the air then its worth the gamble. Verbier town is ok with a good selection of expensive shops and lots of bars and restaurants so there is something there to help you wife entertain herself but really this place is there for the off piste. Combine this with Chamonix which is another off piste mecca but Chamonix really needs a guide as its a tricky place to find your way round the off piste but there are some classic itineraries. You can do a day trip to Verbier from Chamonix if your wife has is booked into a lovely spar for the day.
Here is my number one choice, Zermatt. It ticks all the ski boxes, high altitude, large glacier, plenty of lifts and milage. Add in the Italian resort of Cervinia over the Swiss Italian border up on the glacier you even get the bonus of amazing Italian food, coffee and smiling Italian service. The link to Italy is a bit weather dependent and isn’t always open but when it is that’s a lot of fun getting into Italy and find a few hidden stashes of powder. Zermatt town itself is car free which is a bonus and the centre is steeped in history with some quite incredible historic old hotels and restaurants. Your wife can even take the mountain train up to the observatory in a nice warm carriage and meet you for lunch on the way up. You can call in at Millan or Zurich on the way over from the states to stock up on expensive shopping if you really want to break the bank. Zermatt can be linked in with St Moritz. Its not that close but there is a classic train journey called the Glacier Express which can take you there.
If you are travelling just with your wife then one of the best options in Switzerland is the trains travel. There are some amazing train routes and the train stations are right inside the airport. You can arrange to have your bags sent on separately to you so you can enjoy the train trip with just your day bag.
Number 2 on my list would be Wengen, Grinlewald and Murren, Interlaken. The skiing here and size of ski area is second best to Zermatt but its still pretty good. The shopping and entertainment are a little bit less too. But this is a romantic getaway if ever there was one. Its not sexy but it is just ever so special. While in France you can travel all day around these mega resorts on skis visiting tiny little mountain restaurants and villages for some incredible lunches and clock up some ski miles. But Wengen takes a bit of the effort out and slows you down to a slow Waltz. You can travel far and wide for lunch on your skis. Yes you ski but not too much. Yes there are a few steep pistes but not too many. And yes you can travel a long way on your skis but trains and cable cars take up some of the slack as you rattle and rumble along in some historic transport in a nice warm carriage.
First you arrive at Interlaken on the lake for a romantic stay but no skiing there, its just the warm up. And then a little way further on to Lauterbrunnen where you take the train or drop the car off in the valley. Then you take mountain train up to Wengen which hangs on the edge of the valley under the Eiger, quite spectacular. From Wengen you can now start skiing. The mountain train heads to the top of the mountain. At the top of the mountain while you can ski your wife has the option of going over the top and down to the village Grindlewald on the other side of the Eiger for her morning coffee or even more incredible take the next stage of the mountain railway which climbs up inside the Eiger mountain to the observatory at the top, all in a heated Swiss railway carriage with a bar, coffee and a shop never far away. The next adventure which involves a couple of trains and cable cars takes you to historic Murren which is a scenic trip part on skis and part on lifts so lots of scenery and miles but not too much effort.
3rd on the list is St Moritz which is a very classic choice to take your wife. This is where ski glamour was invented and its a fabulous town. This place probably has the most to do of any of the European ski areas especially if you can cope with the high life with horse racing on the lake, art galleries in abundance and major exhibitions, unbelievable hotels and the list goes on. St Moritz is the place to stay for sure. The skiing is good but not as good as Zermatt and definitely not as good as Verbier. When I went there I combined it with Davos for the world economic Forum and traveled from Zurich by train which itself is a classic train trip on the Glacier Express. Or try Zermatt to St Moritz and take in the full Glacier Express 8hr trip. If you combined these 2 resorts then I think you would be onto a winner. But the romance in me says don’t miss our Wengen. And then my off piste love affair says please don’t miss Verbier. You could do all four in the car and add in Chamonix, its possible, but I think on the trains more than 2 resorts would get a bit tedious if you had to change trains too much.
There are lots of other incredible old towns to ski in Switzerland but these are my favourite 2 for very different reasons. You can combine the 2 into a trip as they are only 3 hours apart by car and that would for me be an unbelievable trip.
Austria also has some classic old towns set around some great ski areas with possibly Zell am See fitting the bill but I am not so familiar with Austria so I am going to leave this out as I can’t think of anywhere which matches Switzerland for this type of trip. But having said that I can’t help mention St Anton in Austria, which if it just happened to be on the way it would be a real shame not to call in. The original off piste capital of Austria with some epic routes, a few luxury hotels in what is a quite large ski area. And maybe your wife could rediscover her past in the mountain apres ski scene which in Austria is something of an unusual beast. Lots of drinking after the skiing finishes, dancing on the tables, a mix of old 80’s rock and Euro pop…. and yes you can imagine a lot of people have a hell of a time getting back to their hotel.
There is one more ski area which does fit into this category of wife skiing but its a real long shot. I am including it for a very special reason and that is Venice. The ski resort is not top of the list for skiing but if there is snow its pretty good but not great. Its real bonus for skiing is the absolutely huge ski circuit in the Dolomiti ski area over 1200km of ski runs. So this place has a few of the ingredients but they just don’t quite fit quite so well together. First if you fly from the UK you fly to Venice airport and straight from the airport you can get a river taxi direct to your romantic hotel in Venice….fantastic. From Venice a 2 hr bus takes you to Cortina perfect. So a couple of days to ski Cortina, maybe 3. A week is just about doable skiing here also. The skiing areas are not well linked so a bit of time gets taken up here. The town doesn’t have the attractions of Wengen, St Moritz or Zermatt but it’s got a historic charm in the centre. Its called the St Moritz of Italy but it doesn;t have such a large amount of off piste entertainment. The bonus of this ski area is of course it’s huge but Cortina is not the best resort to explore it from as it doesn’t link in that well to the main ski circuit but there are taxis which will link it up. The ski areas are high but some of the skiing in the circuit isn’t . So this ski resort has some good plus points and its scenery really is stunning, but the reason it’s on the list is Venice which might earn you some great bonus points. Its too much to add in here but this puts you 4 hours from St Moritz (then onto Zurich) which does have an interesting town and also 2 hours from Innsbruk and 3 hours from St Anton the off piste capital of Austrian and my favourite ski area in Austria.
So my choice for a single resort is Zermatt to keep it simple but these side trips could make for a more interesting trip especially off to Wengen or St Moritz each with their own special element. Chamonix and Verbier are a bit of a further side trip but of more interest to the off piste skier and Cortina and the Dolomites probably the most spectacular mountain scenery and twinned with Venice stunningly beautiful but for skiers it’s not the best choice.
Hope this all helps. If you need it warm as well then try March, but that means probably no powder. February is busy and can get powder but then that’s a bit colder. January is quieter but can be cold.
The Lake District is one of my favourite places to visit and I have finally got round to painting it. These first paintings are some little colourful sketches on heavy duty art paper, about A4 size and you can buy them off the website, mounted but not framed. You can see the current Lake District Paintings for Sale Here
I have loved the Lake District ever since I was a young boy. I used to go and stay in this most beautiful old house, Broad How, in Patterdale with my parents who knew the family who owned it. It was always a big group staying from my mother’s school and walking the fells was top priority. Cup of tea in bed at 7am and a huge joint effort for breakfast and packed lunches with everyone out the door by 9am. It was a well run operation choosing the walks, checking the pubs for the end of the walk and getting as many wonderful peaks in during the trip as possible. I always remember the old cupboard at the top of the stairs with all the walking boots of every size neatly laid out with ice skates on top.
The house was a lovely old Victorian house right under the approach to High Street and with views out over Ullswater. It was usually Easter catching a bit of snow and ice and the fellsides were always this fabulous shade of earthy orange where the bracken had died off.
I later lived in the Yorkshire Dales and was able to visit the Lake District on many wonderful weekends staying at my favourite campsites around the area. I love all the Lakes but my favourite places have to be Patterdale and Glenridding with Helvelyn and of course High Street and Grasmere for the sheer beauty of the landscape.
I love to climb up to Helvelyn across Squirrel edge and then back across Striding edge and back to Glenridding for a relaxing beer and pub meal at the Travellers Rest. The paintings are a colourful sketch which keeps the style loose and free, a bit of an exploration for a future larger painting.
I don’t think there is an area on earth quite so beautiful, quite so majestic, so perfect for walking and so stunning as the Lakes. There is just so much beauty, so much history and so much variety in every walk. Its wonderful.
I am better known for my ski paintings which is my other love in life, touring the majestic mountains in the Alps where I have skied since I was 3 in as many resorts as I can think of. I started my snowboard life in the Yorkshire Dales a little later on in life and so painting one of the few ski tows in the Lakes was a must.
Raise just off Helvellyn ski tow, a Covid Lockdown treat. I used to know this place as Sticks Pass when I was a regular visitor to Patterdale and Glenridding and its a great snow pocket just over the East side of the ridge leading up to Helvellyn.
This is only a really quick sketch and I will be having another go at it later on this week.
If you are looking to ski in Europe and the European Alps then find out which ski or snowboard resort to head for to make sure you get the most out of your ski trip and which country France, Austria, Switzerland of Italy is best ?
If you are heading to the Alps for the first time or you are from the USA, South America or Australia then there are some fundamentals to consider to make your trip a success.
The most important ski areas to consider are the Alps which span over four main countries, France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. There are other skiing regions and also the Pyrenees in France and Spain but if you want the best then stick to these 4 countries and to the main Alpine regions.
In the right conditions any ski resort in any country can make for a fantastic trip if you get copious amounts of powder at night and blue sky days but as this is a wonderful unreliable dream then I am going to show you the best for all sorts of conditions and times of year.
First lets take a quick look through the different countries and their main advantages. All these countries have hundreds of small ski areas but amongst these are some amazing large ski areas and some beautiful mountain scenery and food where you can stay high up in the mountains and right next to your favourite piste for not a lot of money.
Each of the 4 Alpine countries have their own characteristics and mountains.
France has the biggest mountains, the biggest ski areas and the highest resorts in general. There is an abundance of cheap apartments in the ski areas and hotels also. This is the home of the purpose built resorts where you stay in a modern ski town right in the heart of the mountains often right next to the lift or piste so this is incredible. They are quite often car free and you park your car and don’t see it again until the end of your stay. These are the ski in and ski out resorts which once you’ve tried them you wont want to ski anywhere else. I’ve had apartments right under a piste and apartments right over a piste Just ski and ski. These resorts are pretty good at linking up the lifts with buses but if you want a real treat get yourself a place where you can roll out of bed and straight onto the piste.
Switzerland is a bit more expensive than France and has German / French and Italian regions. It has amazing mountain railways and old towns and some notable ski areas. Some towns are right in the ski areas so you can walk to a very close piste or lift. Just like in the French resorts you can get hotels and apartments next to the pistes but its not so easy to find them . Some of the mountain history is fantastic here. The Swiss have some pretty good apartments and hotels and top end food but the really amazing part of Switzerland is the trains both from the Airports and up and down the mountains. So for the real Swiss experience take the train. There is a special service to send you luggage ahead of you so you can enjoy your trip. Then once you get there you can find in some resorts these amazing old mountain railways. Wengen and Zermatt are my 2 favourites oozing with atmosphere. They are a bit slow so if you are desperate for every minute on your skis this is a minus but if its a cold stormy day, they don’t get put off by the wind and its lovely and cozy inside.
Austria is cheaper than France and Switzerland with a very special party nightlife and I think better food and service. The mountains are lower but the ski areas have been linking up in recent years and provide some very large ski areas and good snow making. Austria is the king of nightlife and German cakes if you like it rowdy in the bar and sweet in the tooth. One of the really special experiences of skiing in Europe is the large interlinked ski areas where you can ski over vast areas and visit many little villages all on skis for a meal and drinks. Austria has been busy linking up its ski area over the last few years so check out some of these large ski areas in this country to get some miles in.
Italy. I Love Italy, its got amazing food, great coffee and smiling happy people. The mountains are mostly a little lower and smaller than France with not such extensive skiing, but the food, hospitality and coffee are a winner and probably the most reasonable prices. The scenery is stunning. So if food wins out and you are keen on a great coffee then take a look at Italy. There is the Dolomiti super ski area which is pretty large and some incredible scenery alongside Cortina.
To summarise, France has the largest ski areas and highest mountains and the doorstep skiing with Switzerland coming a close second but on an average budget neither have the best food, coffee or service. France has an abundance of cheap apartments & purpose built resorts which can make for a great budget trip. Some of the French apartments can be a bit basic and you often have to collect the bed linen from the rental agency so do be a bit choosy.
Even though Switzerland has a reputation for being a bit dearer you can sometimes find a better apartment at the same price as France. Food and supermarket shopping is more expensive for sure in Switzerland though. If you are traveling by train then Switzerland has an excellent network and it is highly recommended. France you can access a few areas by train but the French do have a passion for going on strike in particular the railways.
If you are wanting better nightlife and food then Austria has cheaper and better food and better nightlife which can be a lot of fun. If you are in your 40’s and 50’s some of the bars on the piste do some fun après ski with old classic rock anthems, booze and a lot of dancing on tables which is an experience in itself and not to be missed.
Running alongside Austria is Italy which while it has less large ski areas and lower mountains it has some unbelievable Italian food and the coffee is the best in the Alps. If you are savvy you can book a simple 3 star hotel with some incredible 4 course evening meals for a very reasonable price. A bit of a quirk with Italy is sometimes the budget hotels and dining rooms can be a little cool so do take a sweater as this is the Italian Alps and they are used to the winter weather. I like this more adaptable attitude to the way of living with the weather.
So the perfect country would be French Mountains, with Swiss running the railways, the Italians cooking the meals and making the coffee and the après ski bars run by the Austrians. That’s perfection.
The 3 star hotel is a bit of an interesting concept in Europe. If you are coming over from the USA then maybe you have a great budget and can stay in some amazing places. I am mostly travelling on a careful budget and often stay in a budget apartment or the European 3 star hotel. I usually try and get my meals included which can be pretty reasonable and saves a lot of hassle. These hotels can be a bit mixed but the family run ones can be a really great experience. Check out the reviews on Booking.com before you commit but I have loved staying in them especially having the meals in the evening. Some are a bit Quirky and unusual but it has always made my trip a lot richer. Just be a bit flexible and accommodating and you’ll love it.
If this is your first venture into the European Alps and you are a reasonable skier or snowboarder then these are my favourite places to visit in the Alps. As a ski artist I have travelled all over the Alps and have experienced most of the most popular ski resorts in various conditions. I am a very good skier and snowboarder so my choices are tailored more to intermediate and good skiers & snowboarders.
I have tailored this guide to Americans and other nationalities who might be visiting the Alps for their first or second visits.
First lets look at conditions and opening dates.
The Alps do not get as much snow as Colorado or the West Coast USA so this is where the Alps lacks and extra care needs to be taken choosing when and where to go to make sure you have enough snow to ski on.
Above 2000m the snow stays in good condition and it’s more likely you will have snow throughout the season. Nothing is guaranteed, but it is all about improving the odds of a good coating of snow. Early and late season between 2000m and 3000m there is a good chance you get good snow. Below 2000m particularly in early season it can be a bit risky.
Off piste. Every resort has some off piste and if there is lots of snow its always fun. But the top 3 I have chosen have the easiest to find off piste and the most likely chance you can ski it. Quite a lot of resorts are a bit cliffy / rocky and the off piste can be a bit hard to find without a guide and dangerous.
When to go ?
The ski season runs from late November until late April and into May. But only some resorts start their season before Christmas week and only a few run into late May. You can also get a little caught out if you arrive early season and while the resort is open there may only be a few lifts until more snow arrives or it gets closer to Christmas. Zermatt and Tignes have summer skiing. Many resorts have glaciers so these can open early and some have summer skiing. Zermatt, Val Thorens (3 Valleys), Verbier, Tignes are great early and late season.
I love my skiing and boarding and I like my snow light and powdery. I can’t stand lift queues and I like my peace and quiet. My very secret tip is this. Christmas week is busy and so is New Year. The week after New Year week is much quieter but that can be Russian New Year but the best one is the week after this. The snow is usually better condition and the cold weather keeps the powder fresher. the queues are smaller and if you get it right even on a powder day non existent.
Yes,yes yes, its true, unbelievable but true. If you are really clever and pick the right resort and the right time even on a crazy mad powder day with blue skies you can be a lonesome sole in the lift queue wondering where the crowds are taking in fresh tracks after fresh tracks without seeing anyone. There is a knack to this.
Then towards February it gets busier with February being the busiest month and best conditions except for the crowds. Then it gets progressively quieter and warmer towards Easter which can be a nice quiet time to ski except for the main Easter weekend.
Here is my go to list of my favourite Ski Resorts in the Alps for Skiers and Snowboarders
Top of my list and favourite all rounder is TIgnes and Val d’Isere. This has the Grande Motte Glacier and the glacier above Val d’Isere also. The main resort is at 2000m and most of the skiing is 2000 to 3000m. Its pretty challenging with some great off piste and a load of cheap apartments right on the pistes. It’s a huge ski area and traveling around to the different places on skis is great fun. So for skiing and boarding this is my go to place, but the pistes can get a bit hectic and quite a few crazy skiers around. Tignes is a great choice to be next to the Grande Motte Funicular and glacier especially for the extra powder dusting at night. Val d’Isere is a bit more upmarket and slightly better nightlife with its own glacier. For me the downside is the food and coffee in France and not much tree line skiing for shelter on those stormy days. It is pretty good at keeping everything open in all but the heaviest of storms which is quite incredible and it has quite a long season, opening really early and even summer skiing and going on until May. Lots of apartments on the pistes.
Number 2 on my list is again France and it would be the 3 Valleys, Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens, La Tania, Meribel, Les Menuires, Brides Les Baines etc. It’s a huge ski area again about the same feel as Tignes / Val d’Isere in terms of size and skiing. Great to ski around to different villages. Lots of budget apartments. A bonus over Tignes is there is some great tree line skiing for those snowy days and the slopes not quite so challenging. Seems to be able to stay open in most storms and great for skiing and boarding. Lots of variety. Downside for me is probably the food and coffee again. Missing a good glacier for some unexpected powder puts it just below Tignes, but Val Thorens is Pretty high and snow sure but not so easy to find the higher off piste as Tignes. Val Thorens has improved its après ski offering as has Val d’Isere so they are catching up with the Austrians
Access to these 2 ski resorts is from Grenoble, Chambery or Geneva airport with Bens bus transfers. Trains are also possible into Bourg Saint Maurice for Tignes and Moutiers for 3 Valleys and then bus to these resorts.
At number 3 there are quite a few contenders and its hard to choose between them. They are all pretty close to the top 2 above though so really not much to choose between them.
My personal number 3 is the Four Valleys, Verbier, Nendaz and Siviez. It’s in Switzerland so a bit more pricey. This is a great ski area large, high and has some unbelievable off piste. If there is fresh snow over 12″ then this is my favourite place to go and trumps the top 2 in powder conditions. Its a great ski area and its high. There are 4 unbelievable off pistes areas with amazing lifts. Access from Geneva airport is simple, just get on the train to Sion or Chabel and then bus to Verbier , Nendaz or Siviez. Verbier is pretty expensive, Siviez and Nendaz are cheaper.
I love my skiing in the day or snowboarding as I mostly do now but my nights I like peaceful and quiet with a good meal and bed. Yes boring I know but if you are like me, love to party in powder snow by day and sleep peacefully at night and there has just been a great fall of fresh powder then this place near Verbier in the 4 Valleys leapfrogs up to number one. If all these provisos are met then ignore everything I have said and head to Siviez. Look at the piste map and you will see why. Fresh snow first thing in the morning and all you have to do is catch the chair up the valley and then straight on the first cable car out and the next one above that taking you from 2000m to 3300m to the top of Mont Fort. No queues or not much and you get first tracks guaranteed under no less than 3 huge cable cars. There are a few apartments in Siviez, a restaurant and an ice bar and a minute shop . Not much but who needs anything with lift access like this and powder. I am telling you I have had my dreams come true here many times. Beneath these 3 cable cars are patrolled off piste powder heavens which you can play in all day. And this is just one of the off piste itineraries. Unbelievable place, but no expensive restaurants and noisy bars, no glamorous shops and top end hotels, so that sounds like heaven to me.
At this point I have to mention especially in Verbier, mountains are dangerous places, take a guide if you don’t know what you are doing or where you are going and remember there is always the danger of an avalanche or falling off a cliff especially if its cloudy. These off piste routes need to be taken with a bit of care they are big areas in some big knarly mountains. Wherever you ski off piste anywhere make sure you have the right training and kit with you and don’t ski or board beyond your ability. On the cable car up to Mt Fort you have never seen so many Avalanche back packs in your life so take care.
So what happens if there is no powder in the Four Valleys, well this place drops back to no 3 as these amazing powder stashes turn into icy mogul fields. But still pretty good especially on skies, its still a great area to ski and board. My board does not like moguls and ice so that’s a no on me without the powder. A side trip from here to Chamonix, another king of the off piste, on the same pass is also a great bonus and Chamonix is a great place full of mountaineering history. Argentiere is my favourite ski area of Chamonix here and fun for a couple of nights. Then take a day trip by bus through the My Blanc tunnel to ski in Courmayeur in Italy.
Next is my Number Four and I am being skewed a bit here by my love of Boarding and Skiing. I am going to put Portes Du Soleil as my number 4 but this has a health warning with it. This is not as high as the top 3 so there is a little bit of risk on the snow front. But the Avoriaz part if pretty high so its ok, but just not so reliable. For snow stay in Avoriaz but for nightlife and food stay in lower less snowy Morzine. This is a great ski area and I loved skiing between all the little villages. It felt like the biggest ski area I have skied because of all the little villages you end up in. It crosses the boarder from France to Switzerland and there is a great Cafe on the border. This piste on the border is called the Swiss wall, pretty steep and great in fresh powder but it has one of the most incredible views in the Alps.
I could put Les Arcs / La Plagne and Alpes D’Huez just below or equal to this resort depending on the snow conditions.
Number 5 I am going to put another favourite, Zermatt and Cervinia, with the Matterhorn Paradise ski area. I feels totally wrong to be putting this at number 5 as this is still a really unbelievable ski area for many reasons. It’s high, it opens early, it gets good powder, it has a huge glacier, and the highest skiing in Europe and some great history.
There are some really cool old mountain railways and a huge glacier area. You can get to Zermatt by train from Zurich or Geneva(longer trip). This has the highest ski area but it is not always open at the very top with a huge glacier. You can ski over the Swiss Italian Border into Cervinia. The lifts are great and its fun to ski between all the different places and the 2 countries.
Where to stay is a conundrum. If you ski the Italian side, there is a little more easy to find powder staches. The food is better and cheaper and the coffee too. The Italians are renowned for their happy service and excellent food at very reasonable prices. So it all makes sense stay in Italy and ski into Switzerland over the border.
But there is a bit of a risk attached to this. The border can be closed in high winds. My experience is that this area in particular Cervinia gets high winds and when that happens all the lifts can close and when this happened to me there was no lift pass refund which was not good. So if you are going here do check the wind speed forecast as its a windy spot with no shelter and the lifts are a bit susceptible to the wind. Zermatt while being the underdog in the food and coffee stakes and its expert capabilities of premium wallet emptying techniques, it does seem to fair better in the wind and seems to have much less closures. So if you can book last minute try Cervinia if there is no wind and if you book ahead then I tend to choose Zermatt as I like my pistes open in a storm. The best way to get to Zermatt is by train. The trip up through the mountains is a tourist destination on its own right with unbelievable scenery. Its a great place to arrive at the railway station in Zermatt full of atmosphere. There is a cool luggage service where you can send your luggage ahead on the train in Switzerland. Or if you are counting the pennies then you can haul it all onto the train, skis and boards also like I do. Zermatt is car free so that is a real treat.
I have given you the top five which I recommend to visit and next I am going to give you my 2 top scenic destinations in the Alps.
The Alps is truly stunning and when I ski in the USA I really miss the Alps, the vibe, the intricacy of the mountains, the history, the mountain railways, the old towns in the depths of the mountains, the vast extensive ski areas.
There are 2 places which come to mind here. In the Alps there are many amazing villages, towns and mountain scenery but Wengen in Switzerland has so much of everything it’s hard to ignore. Its quite expensive but it is wonderful. Its car free, you can only access it by the mountain railway and it hangs onto the edge of a hanging valley high above the valley floor. The Eiger above the town is steeped in history and the great Men’s downhill is hosted under it. There is an incredible mountain railway which goes from the valley up to Wenge, then on up to the station under the Eiger and then back down to Grindlewald on the other side. And if this wasn’t enough there is a train which goes through the face of the mountain up to the observatory at the glacier at the top. You can’t ski from this top station just the one below but the history here, the views, the mountains are second to none. As this isn’t included in the lift pass and you can’t ski from the top I have never been to the top and always stopped just under the Eiger. Easy to reach from Geneva airport by train. There is also a side ski trip from here all by train and cable cars to Murren which is also stunning. Its like a historic tour of the Alps on skis and snowboard with mountain trains. The skiing is good and the height is pretty good also and featured in a couple of James Bond Films. Its not a top 5 resort for the ski area. Its pricey, but for views, history and trains, car free there is no where better. Zermatt comes second to this place but Zermatt for history but Zermatt has a bigger ski area.
Cortina has to hit the scenic list in amongst the Italian Dolomites and just like Wengen also featured in a classic James Bond Film. The Dolomites are the Southern Alps and as an artist they are the most stunning to paint really beautiful and probably number one. This trip for me as an artist always doubles up with Venice. Thats the nearest airport and also it is an incredibly cool place to visit on a ski trip truly wonderful. If you arrive in Venice by Train at the Mestre railway station and walk out the from and there is Venice and its Canals and everything on water. Its quite unreal and great for 2 nights before you head off skiing only 20 mins from the airport. Then 2 hours by coach up to Cortina. Okay so you are in Italy, this means the food is excellent, the coffee perfect and the service is always smiling and having fun…or nearly always. The mountains are stunning. This is the South of the Alps so not quite so snow sure and not so high so again don’t expect lots of off piste unless you get lucky. I really loved my stay in Cortina but it is a bit far out from the Dolomiti ski circus which is the biggest ski look in Europe. Its a bit fragmented but it does from a loop and its a great day out which you can ski from Cortina, but if you want to experience more pistes then either split your stay of stay in one of the better linked resorts in the Dolomiti superski area.
One place left which stands out which is more of a trip and the ski area a little spread out is Chamonix. This fits into the above category of stunning scenery, great history and some cool places. The valley is a bit spread out into 4 separate ski areas and you can also ski into Italy Courmayeur. Its great skiing up at Argentiere with incredible guided off piste. The ski areas are not that big and linked by car or bus so for me not ideal skiing as its a bit fragmented but it ranks very high on the history and mountain experience. There are mountain railways and links by train between Argentiere and Chamonix and Geneva. There is an incredible cable car up to Mt Blanc and into Italy
I have left Austria out of the list. There are many great places to ski in Austria but I would head for the regions which have good interlinked resorts and skiing above 2000m My favourites are St Anton for its epic off piste but it mostly needs a guide. Generally I find the Austrian resorts a bit lower than I prefer for good snow quality and not so large as the French Mega resorts…..But Austria is the nightlife king and the food, drinks, views and prices beat France. Its a stunning country with lots of amazing tree line skiing and great snowmaking to make the most of the lower altitudes so don’t count it out.
The main interlinked ski areas are Arlberg, SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental, Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn, Silvretta Arena Ischgl – Samnaun, Kitzski Kitzbühel/Kirchberg ski area, Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, Schladming-Dachstein, Zillertal Arena. But do check the resort hieghts. If its a snowy winter its ok but if its a warm winter then 2000 to 3000m is preferred for skiing.
Summing up if it was me for all round skiing in a lrage ski area and staying right on the slopes do the 3 valleys or Tignes and Val d’Isere. For off piste if there is powder then Verbier hits the spot for me, and Tignes. If its history and skiing then Zermatt of Wengen. And if you want great food a side trip to Venice to keep the girl firend / wife happy then try the Dolomites.
One of my funniest experiences was in an old 15 Century hotel in Cortina in the early season with some amazing cold and snowy weather. Most places you stay are pretty warm but sometimes Italians are a bit more hard and seem to have lower temperature heating. I had come back from skiing and it was pretty cold in my room. I was in my thermals in bed to keep warm so I went down to reception to see what could be done about the heating.
After all this if you are still with me here are the preparations to get your mind in gear for all the downsides of skiing in the Alps you might encounter.
In Europe :
Our roads are narrower and faster so self driving can be interesting.
Hotel rooms can be smaller with smaller beds so you might have to get a bit closer at night.
Customer service is still in its early days especially in France and Switzerland so patience is required.
Garlic breath is a normal hazard on the French lifts in the morning. wear plenty of perfume to counteract this.
Portions are smaller so be prepared to order 2 meals if you are hungry especially in Switzerland.
Everything in USA is bigger and that includes the amount of snowfall. Europe doesn’t get the huge volumes of snow that some areas of the USA get but there are still plenty of powder days if you are lucky.
Free Ecards of Pete Caswell’s famous ski and snowboard paintings from your favourite ski resorts. there is currently a choice of 4 free ecards which you can email of share on Social Media.
Share your free ecards on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter or SMS. They are free so cheer up your ski and snowboarding buddies by reminding them of the fun and excitement of the snow in the mountains.
Choose one of the 4 free ecards below and the rest is easy. Just click on your favourite of the 4 cards below, choose share or email and enter the name and emails of the sender and recipient and a message. Its that easy.