good french/italian resort for non skier?

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Looking for some advice, my wife has long wanted to do a ski holidy for us and our grown up kids that can make it all together. We can now go this feb or march, but she has cancer in her bones which has just spread all over her spine. Her oncologist told her categorically no skiing, or anything that risks impact (she would have been a beginner, so falling would be par for the course, different if she was good already) as her bones are very brittle and the risk of spinal damage is real.

She still wants to go but will do other stuff with non skiing partners and come up the hill to meet everyone and watch.

Which resorts will give her best access on foot(not walking up but cabines/chairs she can use without having skis) to various parts of the mountain and have a variety of other non ski thngs to do? She gets cold easily so would do that on sunny days and prereably not spend too long staning in queus.

Thank you.

Post edited at 14:29
 Sir Chasm 17 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

La Thuile would be good for getting a cable car to meet up with everyone, nice ski area, but I can't help with things to do other than skiing.

In reply to ringo:

Chamonix could be a good bet.  Cabins available up to Brevent/Flegere, plus the big one up the Midi for fabulous mountain views and long off-piste descent through the Vallee Blanche if the rest of the groups skiing/mountain skills are up to it.  The town of Chamonix has a reasonable amount of non-skiing options, shops, cafes, museums, cinema etc.

 HeMa 17 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

I believe Most/all bigger resorts now run mainly with gondolas or chairlifts. So getting on then sans ski should be possible. 

based on that only, almost any resort would do. So I’d focus more on the activities she can do (both on the mountain, but also in the valley). And naturally check that there are no limitations on pedestrians on the lifts. 

Not in IT/FR but CH, but stuff like Engelberg might suit your needs. There might be enough things to see and do in the village for a week. And pedestrians are certainly allowed for at least a portion of the lifts. 

 a crap climber 17 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

There are definitely lots of places that have very little going on other than being a ski resort. In my not too extensive experience, a place that springs to mind would be Chamonix, as it's more of a town in its own right that has some ski areas rather than a load of apartment blocks next to a ski lift. I've only ever been there to go in the mountains, so not sure what else there is to do, but there's always plenty of people kicking about who look like they probably aren't spending a lot of time out skiing/climbing etc so presumably there's stuff to keep them occupied (or maybe I'm just stereotyping).

I've found Val d'isere has a feel of being more like a 'real' town, but I'm not sure whether there's really much non skiing things beyond the e.g. the leisure centre.

My brother briefly lived in Grenoble, I went to visit once and we got busses to small local ski areas each day. Can't comment on what there is to do in Grenoble specifically, but perhaps worth thinking on similar lines of a town/city with easy access to ski areas? Probably wouldn't really work with meeting up during the day though, and piling on a bus each morning isn't the most convenient thing.

 tallsteve 17 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

Dolomites, particularly the Selva, S. Cristina, Ortisei valley.  Three nice villages connected by a regular bus to visit.  Walker friendly train and cable cars and mountain restaurants to walk to/meet you at.  Snow shoeing a possibility (though you could hire a pair and forget the guide.  Just be careful crossing pistes).  The other areas tend to be strip villages along the roads so concentrate in this valley for the non skier.

Fabulous snow and sun even when it hasn't snowed for a while.  Amazing scenery.  THE BEST scenery for a non skiier. 

Superb skiing for the skiiers too!  After 43 yrs skiing I can honestly say that the time here was one of the best I've had.  Well groomed pistes, huge choice if you can ski fast.  In a 2 week period we only did a few pistes twice.

 LastBoyScout 17 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

Sestriere would be nice - decent town centre and bars at the end of the piste to relax in and watch you coming down.

My Mum, also a non-skiier, did a nice coach day trip from there to Turin. She likes to take her walking boots and wander some of the hiking trails and use the lifts to meet the rest of us for lunch.

Try also Courcheval/Meribel (pricy, though) and Alpe d'Huez for similar - lots of shops and piste-side bars and other bits to mooch around if not skiing.

Trois Vallees maybe as an outside chance.

I'm sure you've already thought of this, but definitely take some form of walking/ice spike type crampons for her - the paths/steps can all get icy anywhere.

My sympathies, too - my father in law had myeloma and was likewise banned from all sorts of things due to risk of breaking bones.

In reply to ringo:

As others have suggested Cham has a bit more non-skiing things to do than most, though always felt a bit disjointed as a ski resort to me. I know Les Arc + La Planne have busses between the different villages and a few gondolas so might not be totally terrible.

In the classic UKC way of suggesting something, you didn't ask for. Have you thought about Wengen Grindlewald, Lauterbrunnen? Very Pretty, good train infrastructure + gondolas for getting around and lots of general touristy things to do without skiing.

 plyometrics 17 Nov 2021
In reply to Sam W:

Agreed. Chamonix defo the place. 

In reply to ringo:

Would she prefer somewhere with a town, or somewhere more “chocolate box”?

 Doug 17 Nov 2021
In reply to plyometrics:

As an alternative to Chamonix, what about Briançon ? A real town but with access to Serre Chevalière and Montgenevre close by. Fairly sure there are buses to villages such as Monetier les Bains. Not sure how it would work for meeting up during the day.

But as suggested, look for a town which is also a ski resort rather than a place which is only a ski resort (such as Tignes)

 Becky E 17 Nov 2021
In reply to tallsteve:

> Dolomites, particularly the Selva, S. Cristina, Ortisei valley. 

+1 for the Dolomites, for all the same reasons as suggested by tallsteve.  I'm more familiar with Corvara (which is in the next valley round the massif), which has various good lifts to get up on the hills and meet with the skiers in various directions.  Upgrades to the lifts in recent years mean that a pedestrian can get quite high on the mountain without having to negotiate a chair lift, and there are lots of really nice huts in good locations for sitting & sunbathing.  Italian huts also have good food, at more reasonable prices than in France. And the Dolomites are just beautiful - absolutely gorgeous, 

 Becky E 17 Nov 2021
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> Sestriere would be nice - decent town centre and bars at the end of the piste to relax in and watch you coming down.

We thought Sestriere was a bit dull, in comparison to the Dolomites.  It's certainly not as pretty.

 DaveHK 17 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

I agree with the cham suggestion but through the tunnel in Courmayeur is another option. IMO it's a nicer town and a nicer location.

 Webster 17 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

just to counter the chamonix suggestions. it may be great for the non skiers, but its actually a pretty shit ski area (i live there...) so may not suit all the family.

 walts4 17 Nov 2021
In reply to Webster:

Courmayeur, another vote.

In reply to Webster:

> just to counter the chamonix suggestions. it may be great for the non skiers, but its actually a pretty shit ski area (i live there...) so may not suit all the family.

I can see where you're coming from, but think this is a bit harsh. It doesn't have well joined up lifts, but each of the individual areas in Cham are pretty good.  Having spent a full season there without getting bored of the skiing, I'm happy to recommend it as a destination for a week's skiing

 kaiser 17 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

Does she have anything in mind specifically regarding what non-skiing things she wants?

Many ski resorts offer little apart from booze and food and expensive shops. Doesn't sound like ice-skating or climbing walls will be of interest

Bigger, posh towns like Davos and Cortina and St Moritz offer more, but at a price.

Not sure of your budget but I would look for a good hotel which has a nice spa / pool area and is a nice place to spend time.  I like this place - like I say not sure of your budget but if it's a special holiday then this place is special...  Otherwise there's no shortage of nice hotels in Austria.

 John Ww 17 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

I know you said  French  or Italian,  but in true UKC tradition,  what about Oberstdorf in Germany? It's a proper thriving small town with loads of shops and restaurants, it's own brewery, and an excellent bus service to all of the ski areas (free with a lift pass, probably some sort of cheap rate available for non-skiers). The bus station is right in the middle of town, right next to the train station, which has a direct connection to places like Kempten (and its university,  so plenty to see there). There are also dozens of gentle walking possibilities along the three main valleys, plus an excellent and spectacular gorge walk. Oh, and the beer's both cheap and excellent. Anyway,  just my two bob' worth, hth 🙂

In reply to Sam W:

> Chamonix could be a good bet.

Or anywhere in the Chamonix Valley; good bus (navette) and train services between the resorts.

If you go up the Midi, you can always pop down the other side, too... (thinks about what the consequences of Brexit might be for this sort of thing...)

In reply to DaveHK:

> Courmayeur is another option

It is. I stayed in the friendliest, most welcoming hotel there (one night only, sadly), the Bouton d'Or. Heartily recommended.

Back to Chamonix Valley, though... the skiing in each of the Valley resorts is quite different; le Tour at one end, with wide open pistes, Brevent/Flegere for fairly gnarly stuff, and then Les Houches for gentler, easy-going stuff in the trees.

In reply to Doug:

> what about Briançon ?

Got a good A&E...

It looked nice from the window of my hospital room...

 John Ww 18 Nov 2021
In reply to captain paranoia:

Well in that case I can definitely recommend Verbier - although the view from lying on the floor of a helicopter en route to the A&E department of the hospital in Sion was a little disappointing...

 gooberman-hill 18 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

What about Courmayeur. A lovely little town, good skiing, and best of all, there the most wonderful spa about 5 mins out of town at Pre St Didier with lots of outdoor hot pools with great views.


In reply to ringo:

The Courmayeur suggestions are good, the only issue might be it's a bit of a walk to the restaurant area also it is a big and often busy 100 people lift that can feel intimidating. Staying in Aosta or even Pila might be better. Aosta itself is a proper town with lots to do and easy walks to the main square etc. Cafes and bars abound but there are lots of other interesting things to do. For the ski-ing, the cable car, quick and only six at a time and no queues takes you to the main restaurant area and you could even drive there.

It feels a bit more friendly than Courmayeur, (in my humble opinion) if you go to the office the day before (everyone speaks English now) they will do everything to help you out, get your own cable car and remove the queuing issue. 

I'm not sure about Chamonix, everything is steep and always busy. Pila (as a ski-ing resort) is much more family oriented.

La Thuile could work, the restaurant is right at the top of cable car, but you do have to stand up for the journey (20 mins from memory, I've done it lots, but I don't think about the time). La Thuile 'town' is a bit limited if you are spending a lot of time there. 

Call the Aosta tourist centre. They speak very good English and will help you out.

In reply to ringo:

Thanks all, I'm liking the sound of the dolomites and Aosta, especially the lack of queus at Pila so far. I used to live in Argentiere so I know the Cham resorts well, while I love the place and the skiing, the food and drink on the hill is a rip off, and it is busy.

If staying in Aosta itself, whats the access to the skiresorts?  Is it a bus ride?

The Dolomites is an interesting idea cos I've never been.

I also wondered about Morzine? where I have never been, or Le Contamines, where I have skiied but dont remember much, except it seemed spacious and open with few queues?

 sxrxg 18 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

Not French or Italian however Kitzbuhel would be a good option. Nice town that is a decent size, railway to Salzburg/other areas. 

 Mike-W-99 18 Nov 2021
In reply to sxrxg:

We were there for the touring but did a day on the pistes in kitzbuhel. If anything it may be the skier that loses interest? I think we did practically every run in a day(I may have misremembered this). Some good roadside touring though.

In reply to ringo:

In terms of your needs, I would say there is no such thing as 'The Dolomites'. There are dozens of individual resorts all on the Sella Ronde. See link below. all of them will have their own up and downsides for your (or anyones) needs. I have only stayed in Canezei, it was great for me (us) but I wouldn't recommend it for your goodself right now.

Morzine is great but it's cramped, busy and using a car to drop off at the lift would I think be difficult particularly in March or half term Feb.

For Aosta, it depends on where you're staying, I have never used the buses, but then I will go to a different resort almost every day, inc x country or ski touring in Val Ferret or Cogne. The car park (for Pila) is 10 mins and you can drive to right outside the lift drop off and then find a place. You could even drive right up to the Pila resort, it's a weary 40 mins which we did a lot until the cable car was installed 5/6? years ago. 

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 Enty 18 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

Alpe d'Huez. 

The pedestrian lift pass is awesome. Gives pedestrian access to most of the upper slope bars and you can go to the top of Pic Blanc which is amazing on a clear day.

There's a great heated swimmimg pool, awesome spa and cinema. 


 Webster 18 Nov 2021
In reply to Sam W:

the in bounds terrain is actually very limited for good skiers (sure you have the back country, but thats not what we are talking about). the lift infrastructure is terrible (think Evettes, pretty much the only good easily lappable tree skiing, if you can get on the lift...), the placement of alot of the lifts is such that you have to cut short anything fun to get back to the base of a lift (think the lavancher bowl or magic woods), the beginner areas are typically isolated from the rest of the mountain so you cant easily ski close together as a family, both le tour and les houches are difficult to get around on a snowboard due to too much flat, there are too many bottlenecks where multiple runs converge on 1 inadequate lift (think gain evettes, but there are many others), you often have to zig zag your way up multiple lifts to get to the top of a good long run, meaning you can get very few laps in (think anything off of floria). i could go on...

your probably going to ask me why i live there in that case... the answer, alpinism. 

 DaveHK 19 Nov 2021
In reply to Enty:

> Alpe d'Huez. 

I would not want to spend much time in Alpe d'Huez as a non-skier. I didn't even like it as a skier although the skiing itself was good.

 Babika 19 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

I went with a completely non-active friend to La Plagne once. She went to the market, the cinema, up the gondola to the ice cave and inside some old building.

Seemed perfectly happy although it all looked dull to me. 

 Tim Davies 19 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

st gervais Les bains just across from Les Houches? 

V easy transfers from Geneva. (1.15) 

Nice little town, with a good bus service to Le Fayet to access Chamonix if so wanted.

Plus a very well known Spa / parc thermal that is used for medicinal reasons by many that may be of interest. 

Plus a distinct lack of the Chamonix vibe on the slopes as an added bonus….😀

 kaiser 19 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

OP if you can I would hold off booking anything as the COVID situation in Europe is spiraling.   You might be wise to wait until season 2022/23 if possible

 John Ww 19 Nov 2021
In reply to kaiser:

Yep, our early season trips to Oberstdorf and Garmisch have just gone for a ball of chalk (to use a Yorkshire-ism).

 orejas 20 Nov 2021
In reply to John Ww:

Another vote for the Sella Ronda, Dolomites, but agree not Canezai. Corvara would be my coice, Sunny, great food, stunning scenery, and a bit more to do that just skiing

 freeflyer 20 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

> We can now go this feb or march, but she has cancer in her bones which has just spread all over her spine.

In this case I would be persuading the rest of the family that skiing is not the priority; instead let's go somewhere which makes the absolute ideal holiday for her - whatever that is.

Ok if that is *really really* a ski holiday then all good.


In reply to ringo:

Serre Chevalier has already been suggested so here is some relevant extra info. 

The resort is based on skiing on one side of the valley with a frequent bus service operating between the skiing and the town of Briancon. Pedestrian friendly lifts give direct access to restaurants/beginner areas from Briancon, Chantemerle and Villeneuve. Non skiing activities include a good spa baths, swimming pools, ice hockey matches, snow shoeing, dog sled rides, many old churches to visit, an interesting old town of Briancon, day trip to Turin .

The skiing is extensive for beginners/intermediates and off piste. Not so good for pisted black runs.

Please get in touch if you need more info.

 Enty 22 Nov 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

> I would not want to spend much time in Alpe d'Huez as a non-skier. I didn't even like it as a skier although the skiing itself was good.

Horses for courses. I love it. In summer too on the bike.


 daviemore 22 Nov 2021
In reply to ringo:

Zermatt....if you can afford it! 

In reply to ringo:

Worth considering Pyrenees? Skiing more limited but we still found good fun, more small towns, good food and spas etc. Smaller and more approachable perhaps.

Post edited at 22:31
In reply to ringo:

Tignes may be worth a look. A few years ago we had a multiple-family group trip there and one of the party was a non-skier (through age rather than being unwell), and all the lift staff were very good at getting them on and off safely, normally radioing ahead to advise that some assistance in hustling them to one side would be needed. 

The town was big enough to have a good wander around with plenty of coffee shops and the pool there got visited by her each day, with them then coming up on the lifts to wherever to meet us for lunch.

 Doug 23 Nov 2021
In reply to rj_townsend:

May have changed since I was there some 20 years ago but I thought Tignes was pretty ugly - I would have thought that Val d'Isère (same ski area) was more attractive to a non-skier

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