If you're considering heading to the slopes this season, the white stuff may be available a little closer to home than you thought.
From Whistler Blackcomb to Aspen, Canada and North America certainly have their fair share of world class ski resorts. Yet over the last 30 years, Europe has emerged as the destination du jour for all things piste – due mainly to the huge amount of choice on offer for skiers of all levels. Here we bring you a selection of top European resorts, all within a day's drive of the UK. No more airport hassle – simply pack your roof box, hop in the car and drive.
Scotland has remained a well-kept secret for many years amongst the skiing fraternity, and represents the best option for those looking for a little on-piste fun without having to travel too far. Originally known as White Corries, Scotland's first commercial ski resort launched here in 1956 and now boasts a thriving snowboard scene. Glen Coe offers seven lifts and 19 runs set amongst stunning Highlands scenery.
Just 8 hours' drive from the centre of London, the spectacular landscape of Cairngorm Mountain is a popular destination for winter sports fans and one of the best resorts in the UK. Ski, snowboard or sledge across more than 30km of ski runs, or perhaps indulge your inner extreme-sports enthusiast at the snowboard fun park (actually suitable for all abilities).
9hrs' drive from Calais – Meribel is famous equally for both its après-ski and family-oriented atmosphere. Alongside Courchevel and Val Thorens it forms the largest, busiest ski resort in the world. Méribel is the only single resort to offer 15 high-capacity gondola lifts, and it has no less than 685 snow cannons to ensure there’s plenty of white stuff for all to enjoy. For non-skiers, the resort boasts a new fitness and wellbeing centre featuring a gym, spa and massage area. Méribel is particularly popular with Brits and regarded by many as one of the best ski resorts in France.
Suitable for beginners and expert skiers alike, Serre Chevalier is a South-facing resort within the Hautes-Alpes area of France. It's quieter than many ski resorts with a less frenetic nightlife scene, making it ideal for families with children. It also boasts a swimming pool heated only by hot springs beneath the ground. A lengthy driving time of around 10hrs may mean an overnight stop is on the cards, however.
Only 7-8hrs from Calais, this lively resort has a legendary party scene and offers challenging slopes to boot. The motto here is "ski hard, play hard" – attracting a cosmopolitan mix of expert off-piste skiers, thrill-seekers and a glamorous crowd happy to ski through the hangovers.
For those of you seeking a party atmosphere, Val d'Isere is famed worldwide for its bars aand clubs. Try the hotel bars for a more up market alternative to some of the more boisterous hostelries on the main drag. It's not all partying, though - there are two snow parks, an ice-rink, more than 300km of runs and two glaciers to keep you occupied too. A mere 7hrs from Calais (on a good day), Val d'Isère also hosted the 2009 World Alpine Ski Championships.
Arguably the skiing world's most famous skiing destination, this stunning resort benefits from over 300 days' sunshine every year. With more 5 star hotels than you can shake a stick at, St. Mortiz offers luxury and great skiing in equal measure. Oh, and you can also enjoy a little celeb-spotting whilst you're at it, too. Just don’t forget to bring your wallet.
AA Members can benefit from a 5% discount on all skiing holidays from ski experts Inghams - search from over 90 resorts in 12 countries.
Many ski resorts in the Alps can now be reached with ease thanks to the Rail Europe Snow Train, which departs from London St Pancras and Ebbsfleet International in Kent. If you're travelling by car, check out our specialist advice for driving in snow, and make sure you pack a European Travel Kit and the European Driver's Handbook. AA Members also enjoy discounts on ferry travel and can save up to 45% on ski and snowboard rental with snowpackplus.
Rather handily, you can plan your entire journey with our free European Route Planner. Check out our valuable advice on driving abroad and make sure you've got European Breakdown Cover sorted – with savings of up to 30 per cent when you book online. If the worst does happen, you can rest assured we'll get you back on the road quickly with 24-hour English-speaking assistance. Lastly, don't forget your Travel Insurance. Annual cover costs from £34 and we also provide single trip policies.