THERE are not many resorts in my top 20 that are inaccessible on skis. I do not like taking a cable car down from the mountain at the end of the day, or waiting for a bus home from the bottom of some remote run to the valley. But some resorts have a special appeal that overcomes these reservations, and Champery is certainly one of them.

The village has a picture postcard charm that is hard to resist, and is small and quiet enough to make it feel slightly apart from the world of mass holidaymaking. But the big modern cable car that you ride at each end of the day takes you into one of the Alps' major ski circuses: the central circuit of the Portes du Soleil, linking the resorts of Avoriaz and Chatel in France with Morgin, Champery, Champoussin and Les Crosets in Switzerland.

The skiing at Planachaux, above Champery, is sunny and open, with plenty of scope for exploration. But the north-facing snowfields on the French side of the border are as easily accessible from here as from Avoriaz. When snow is good, you can ski back to the Champery valley, to Grand Paradis, a mile or so from downtown Champery.

CHRIS GILL'S VERDICT: In a ski area that is largely about convenience skiing, it seems perverse to pick the least convenient resort. But compared with battling through the traffic in Chatel, or living on the moon in Avoriaz, the traditional village atmosphere of Champery is irresistible. There is a good sports centre, too.

(Photograph omitted)

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