OLD-TIMERS who were around to take an interest in skiing in the 1970s and early 1980s, have Sauze marked down as the definitive lager- lout destination.

In fact, it always was a resort of two halves, where in the evenings Italians would retreat to their apartments in the woods, leaving the bars to impecunious British youth at its uncultured worst.

These days, the British presence is less shameful (and less youthful). There is still lively apres-ski, but the resort can safely be considered by anyone, families included. And now that the lift system is in the same ownership as Sestriere, over the hill, the slow and ancient chair-lifts that used to limit enjoyment of the mountain have all but disappeared.

The mountain is extensive, pretty and varied, with lots of wooded areas on the lower parts. In one direction, you can quickly get to Sestriere, itself a worthwhile resort, and in the other, less quickly via Sansicario to Claviere and over the border to French Montgenevre.

It is very much an intermediates' place, with lots of miles to be covered and distant restaurants to aim for, though beginners need not stay away and experts can find rewards off-piste when conditions are right.

All the major operators offer holidays in Sauze d'Oulx, plus Equity Total Ski; Independent Ski Links (01964 533905); Panorama (01273 427777); Ski Club of GB (0181-410 2022)

Chris Gill is co-editor of Where to Ski & Snowboard 2000 (NortonWood, pounds 15.99; P&P-free from 01373 834227)