Alpes Maritimes

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Skiing the Maritime Alps

Conventional wisdom would dictate that the Alpes Maritimes (Maritimes Alps) are too close to the mild climate of the Cote d'Azur to offer any serious winter skiing. However the mountains receive large amounts of precipitation and high altitude resorts such as Isola 2000 are usually open until the end of April. Some tiny, charming resorts offering good value lift passes can also be found.

Skiing has a long history in the region, in 1909 Victor de Cessole founded the “Ski Club des Alpes Maritimes”. The first ski competition was organised that same year at Turini-Camp d’Argent. The first mechanical lift was installed in Valberg in 1936 and nearby Auron followed a year later. The last major development was Isola 2000, planned at the end of the 1960s, it was the dream of Peter Boumphrey, a British ski champion.

The biggest areas are Isola 2000, nearby Auron and the linked areas of Valberg / Beuil les Launes and Allos-La Foux / Pra Loup. There are over 700 km of pistes, including 231 set out for cross country skiing enthusiasts. Ski mountaineers and back country skiers are not missed, there are 465 peaks reaching over 2000 meters, and along the border with Italy six peaks soar to over 3,000 meters. It is this high border that traps moist air moving up from the Mediterranean sea.

The nearest resorts of Greolieres les Neiges and la Colmiane are only 45 minutes from Nice airport. Isola is 90 minutes by car. You can charter a helicopter from Nice to any of the resorts, the cost is around 850 Euros for a party of 5 for the 20 minute ride to Isola or Auron. Further a field le Val d'Allos is situated at the head of the wild and remote Var valley, some two hours drive.

Ski Resorts

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