My happiest memory of skiing holidays remains the gentle hissing of the cows' milk as it hit the pail, and the shuffling of hooves on the cobbled floor. The Italian ski-resort was little more than a village. There was just one inn where we could gather in the evening, which made the experience convivial and inclusive. Nobody was left out. We sat and chatted, drank gluhwein, warmed ourselves by the fire and basked in a stew of warm humanity.
Things have changed a bit. However, I am struck by the strong survival of so much of the old tradition of mountain hospitality, and by the sheer loveliness of so many properties, from contemporary interiors in renovated farmhouses, to rustic wooden cabins with cosy fires and family-friendly escapes. Here follow some of my favourites.
This chalet sleeping 16 offers in-house childcare for babies, toddlers and young children, meaning that adults are free to ski all day or take a quiet night out – trips with little ones in tow have never been easier. Snowgums is a delightful old farmhouse with vaulted ceilings, practical interiors and bright duvet covers bearing happy prints. The Chantemerle cable car is a two-minute drive on a free shuttle and there are heated floors and a drying room back at the house. A welcome pack with local produce, cupboards full of toys and board games, as well as cots and high chairs await for an easy return from the slopes.
From £221 (sleeps 16), half board (00 33 4 92 20 44 26; alpsholiday.com).
In a hamlet outside Châtel, this stylish and contemporary chalet sleeps 14 and is a refuge for all ages. Huge windows let beams of light into the spacious living area and balconies overlook a private garden, ideal for keeping an eye on adventurous offspring. While adults get together for an aperitif by the log fire, there is a large playroom upstairs with toys, a TV and video games, as well as a children's menu to make sure that everyone is catered for.
From £442, fully catered (00 33 4 50 73 30 97; chaletcannelle.co.uk).
Great for couples
Made up of four apartments that can be rented separately or together, Chalet le 4 is perfect for a sporty ski trip. Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen, spacious living area with log burners and a private terrace. There's also a massage room, sauna and gym, but best of all, a small indoor pool with a swimming jet. The ski shuttle stops about every 30 minutes so you're at the gondola in 10, or if cross-country is your thing, tracks start from the doorstep.
From £256 (sleeps 18), half board (00 33 4 50 01 35 98; chaletle4.com).
The chic renovation of this 1835 farmhouse – available by room or as a whole – is the result of a pipe dream that became a labour of love for its British owners. With meticulous attention to detail, they have thoughtfully combined luxury and rustic features, from the walk-through ski room complete with woodburner, to the restored "sun-beam" ceiling and upcycled materials throughout. For real indulgence, book a massage for weary limbs.
From £695 (sleeps 12), half board (07775 991 610; grandcruski.com).
Overlooking the well-preserved village of Chinaillon and only an hour from Geneva airport, La Ferme du Soleil is a superlative ski-in, ski-out chalet for 14 people. A short stroll to the top of a chair lift and a quick slide from the bottom of several, guests can return any time to a cup of tea and piece of cake in front of a blazing log fire. Dinners are delicious and interiors are traditional and homely. Feeling adventurous? Head out with a guide for a night-time ski randonnée and watch dawn breaking from the top of the Aiguille Vert.
From £580 (sleeps 14), half board (00 33 9 52 76 34 01; lafermedusoleil.com).
Hop on to the slopes of Les Houches straight from the front door of this family friendly chalet. Bedrooms are comfortable, with deep mattresses; they're also perched up high, so Alpine views from the balconies are fabulous. The bubbling hot tub, open log fires and under-floor heating are comforting after a long day on the slopes, not to mention the sumptuous fare. For a change of scene, Chamonix and Courmayeur are a short minibus ride away or sociable hosts can drive you to Verbier.
From £513 (sleeps 10), half board (00 33 6 78 94 43 86; maison-jaune.com).
In the pretty village of Landry, Maison Caramel has beautiful views with the Bellecôte glacier to the east and the Beaufortain peaks to the south. It's a sympathetic conversion of old-meets-new with a mix of antiques, quirky furnishings and contemporary touches. Outside horse- and husky-sledging is available, and inside hosts make hounds very welcome, spoiling them with homemade treats, wonderful walks and their very own dinner menu. Relax in the roll-top tub and marvel at the view.
From £434 (sleeps 23), half board (00 33 6 26 80 77 67; maisoncaramel.com).
This 300-year-old farmhouse chalet has a classic exterior with stylish furnishings within. The two bedrooms are smart with feather duvets, reclaimed wood and cushioned window seats for quiet contemplation. Feel at home with knowledgeable hosts who have been running chalets for years. Passionate skiers themselves, they understand the call of the slopes and will dog-sit and walk your pooch while you're away. The ski-lifts of La Plagne are a five-minute shuttle, or off pisters can ski straight back to the door. Breakfasts are indulgent and dinners convivial.
From £595 (sleeps four), half board (00 33 6 77 01 86 25; ferme-blanche.com).
The full 'Go Snow Collection' of chalets, hotels and B&Bs in France and Italy can be found at sawdays.co.uk/gosnow. All prices quoted are per person, per week and converted to sterling.Reuse content