Who says the ski season is over at Easter? Not this year

With the holiday falling so early in the year, there will still be lots of snow afterwards. Enjoy it in La Plagne, says Minty Clinch

As soon as Easter is over, no matter how early it falls, Europeans stop skiing in favour of sailing and golf. This year Easter Sunday is on 23 March, about as early as it gets, which leaves five weeks of relatively empty slopes and long warm days before the lifts close towards the end of April. Bad news for the resorts, but excellent news for canny Brits: if you want to get yourself or your children on the slopes in optimum conditions at end-of-season prices, 2008 offers exceptional choice.

After weeks of glittering sunshine in February, snow returned over the past week and much more may fall. No matter what the conditions, the late-late rule is go high, which puts the linked areas at the head of the Tarentaise valley near the top of everyone's hit list.

The other requirement, especially for family trips, is to go close. Skiing is not the most uncluttered of sports, so there is a lot to be said for easy lift access. If you're prepared to stay in the middle of a large resort, sleeping on the slopes is the way forward. If you prefer the romanticism of a Savoyard ham-let, a chalet with on-demand shuttle services to the mountain is an attractive alternative.

In Tarentaise terms, La Plagne has always been the poor relation to Val d'Isere and Courchevel. Built on economic imperatives that are now 40 years old, it is ripe for reinvention.

Cheapo French six-packs - two sleeping in the master bedroom, two in bunks in the passage, two in the living room - have no place in 21st-century holiday plans.

And quite rightly so.

On the plus side, La Plagne has lower prices than more sophisticatedrivals.Ithasinvested in the huge lift system required to link its 10 outlying parts to Plagne Centre, and it has slopes for all levels. If that comes as a surprise in what is seen as an intermediate cruiser's paradise, try the Couloir du Cairn on the north side of Bellecote.

Ecological sensitivity is not a concept that springs to mind in La Plagne, but although the planners will give permission for new hotels - historically in very short supply - they've shut up shop on apartment blocks. Summit View in Plagne Centre is exactly what they see as the resort's future. Two years ago, this low-rise building overlooking the nursery slopes had 200 owners time-sharing 40 rabbit hutches. A redesign has created seven spacious apartments, the largest sleeping 12, modelled on the Aspen Lodge complex in Val d'Isere, an earlier development from VIP/Snowline, Summit View's new British owners.

As 60 per cent of La Plagne's winter visitors are British, this is entirely appropriate, but Snow-line has added an Anglo-French dimension to its operation by branding Summit with Oxygene, the resort's leading independ-ent ski school. The Snowline courses are for children and adult beginners, English speakers only, with a maximum six in a group.

TheDeMonvalliers,whostarted Oxygene in Val d'Isere, have invested heavily in La Plagne's brave new world by setting up a real-estate company, a rental shop and the ski school. Convenient or what? "We love La Plagne," said Julien, one of five brothers and three sisters involved in the family empire. "Like Monaco, it's ugly, but it works."

Fair enough, but not everyone wants to spend their holidays in Plagne Centre. An alternative is Chalet Merlo in tiny Le Miroir, above Sainte-Foy on the wild side of the Tarentaise valley. It is American-owned but run by Chris Harrop, the British developer who built it, along with his partners, Merlo. It also sleeps 12. It is more luxurious than Summit View, with an outdoor hot tub, a gym, spectacular views from sofas and champagne on tap. Then again, it doesn't allow parents to oversee their children on the nursery slopes from the comfort of their own sitting room.

Guests also enjoy door-to-lift transportation: 10 minutes to Villaroger, at the bottom of the Les Arcs system; 15 minutes to Les Brevieres, the back door for Tignes and Val d'Isere; and 30 minutes to Montchavin, the base camp for La Plagne. And there is great skiing in Sainte-Foy, just five minutes up the hill.

On the face of it, it is the more expensive option, though an entry rate of £10,000 for 12 people works out at less than £1,000 a head; fairly affordable for an effort-free, most-expenses-paid week with a high degree of privacy. Depending on which week you choose, Summit View is marginally cheaper than Merlo at the end of the season. It also has the advantage of flexibility in that guests can book rooms in an apartment to be shared with strangers rather than find enough mates to fill Merlo.

COMPACT FACTS

HOW TO GET THERE

Snowline (0844 557 3118; snowline.co.uk) offers Summit View from £499 per person, based on two sharing, seven nights' half board, flights and transfers. Courses with Oxygene cost £315 for children, adults £357 for tuition Monday to Friday, 9.30am-12pm, equipment rental and limited lift passes. Chalet Merlo (07793 816930; chalet-merlo.eu) from £10,000 to hire for seven nights (up to 12 people), with return flights, road transfers, half-board and daily resort transfers.

Suggested Topics
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Recruitment Genius: HGV Class 2 Lorry Driver / CPC and HIAB Training Provider

    £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A HGV Class 2 Lorry Driver is required t...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser