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Skiing, Megève

France's insider take:

This enormous family-friendly ski area covers some 276 miles of prepared trails that stretch east across rolling mountainside to the ancient spa town of St. Gervais and the attractive little village of St. Nicolas-de-Véroce. To the west of Megève, you can ski down through the woods from the top of the Jaillet sector to the little resort of La Giettaz. From there you can climb the lift system and continue south to Praz-sur-Arly in the Val d'Arly. The natural progression in the future will be for Megève to join the Espace Diamant circuit that includes Flumet, Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe, Les Saisies, and Crest-Voland.

For the moment, the focus of the skiing remains on the southeast of Megève, where trails are divided into the two sectors of Mont d'Arbois and Rochebrune, joined by cableways. The skiing is much tamer than in nearby Chamonix, and it's best suited to intermediates who like to clock up a big daily mileage on mainly benign and gloriously scenic trails. However, experts will discover that after a snowfall, Megève is home to some of the most easily accessed and enjoyable backcountry skiing in the region.

A gondola from the town center or a cable car from the outskirts takes you up to Rochebrune. The area offers the most attractive runs in the resort and is usually less crowded than Mont d'Arbois. From the top of the gondola, a sequence of further lifts and pistes lead up to Cote 2000, which has some of the most challenging runs.

The main beginner and intermediate area of Mont d'Arbois is reached by cable car and gondola from Rochebrune or by a choice of two gondolas from the other side of town. A network of novice and easy pistes bring you back toward Megève, or you can venture almost endlessly farther afield. From 6,424-foot Mont Joux, you cruise wood-fringed pastures to Le Bettex and St. Gervais, or you can tackle higher and more demanding exposed terrain at 7,710 feet on Mont Joly. The resort's only terrain park is at Mont Joux, and there is a boardercross course at Rochebrune.

There's a considerable choice of lift tckets. The Megève lift ticket covers 87 lifts, including Combloux, St. Nicolas-de-Véroce, St. Gervais, and La Giettaz (around $47 for a full day). The more expensive Evasion Mont-Blanc ticket spans the entire 276 miles. It also covers Chamonix, Les Houches, and Italy's Courmayeur, which is easily reached through the Mont Blanc Tunnel (around $236 for six days). A nonskier ticket allows walkers to take designated lifts in Megève and St. Gervais.

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