I must say that skiing and working in Vail was the best in those days 1970 to 1976 and I’m sure that it has not changed ... I’m talking about the quality of skiing and the snow, that is. I thought that skiing the "back bowls" was the best thing since "sliced bread" and with snowflakes the size of a quarter, it was out of this world. Especially in deep and ultra light powder due to the cold dry weather coming down from the North.
The quality of the runs and the snow cat crews, who are up at all hours of the night to make them like a "ballroom" floor were and I’m sure are still among the world’s best.
Remember that Vail was incorporated in 1962 and in those days the people that bought a lot in the center paid something like $25,000. and got a life time pass for themselves and family.
Like everywhere, things have changed the buildings are let’s say "new-old alpine with a European flavour". The valley is developed to the "hilt"! The last time I drove through, everything was lit up like a Xmas tree from Minturn to East Vail and the Pass.
I have been out of Colorado for over 21 seasons and I now teach and run a Private Independent Ski School in Megeve, France.
The difference is for me in the uniqueness of the experience. Americans given the opportunity to fly the 6 and a half hours that it takes to get over to Geneva and drive 1 hour, will find a skiing/village/food atmosphere that is like none back home (in my humble opinion).
Megeve still to this date has over 40 family operated farms where some of the best cheese to be had is made. Yes you can even visit the cooperative and taste the different kinds!
There are so many little places all over the mountains, valleys, hills and slopes... they are called "pistes" here. Yes indeed, the kind of places that you get an incredible "home cooked" meal at and a bottle of wine for two for a reasonable amount.
All in the same day you even ski from one valley and spend the night in a small authentic Alpine Hotel, three valleys away and ski back the next day. The "pistes" are just as nice and are just as well packed by some of the best snow cat drivers anywhere.
The Village of Megeve, is over a thousand years old, has cobbled streets and even horse drawn sleighs. No cars here. French three star Hotels and Restaurants so you can really have the treat of your life.
From Megeve there are 6 ski areas within a 15 to 30 minute drive! And they are all different.
I often take clients from Megeve and ski the Italian Alps ... it’s only a one hour drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, the Mont Blanc is the highest point in Europe. If you drive another hour you can ski in both the Swiss and Italian Alps at 3883 meters high, and for picture taking the Matterhorn and glaciers all around you.
There is even more, some of my American and UK clients fly (1 hour from London) into Geneva where we pick them up at the airport and we start the season as of November 1st, with our "Early Bird trips" until the 20th of December, In the Swiss, Italian or French Alps.
Ski passes are 1/3 of the current Vail cost and private ski lessons including "off piste" read "out of bounds"... its legal here, however you had better go with a Full Certified French Ski Instructor otherwise you can put your life at risk in an avalanche or ski off a cliff, and die!
From a my point of view I would always go back and ski with clients in the Rockies it is beautiful however it is always interesting to see what people think when they have been here and seen what it is all about... and that it does not cost more and takes about the same time to get to when it’s all said and done for someone coming from the East Coast. They always come back.
About the Author
Mike Beaudet a Colorado native lives in France with his wife and twin boys Tom and
Lucas. Known as "Megeve Mike", he is the founder of
Ski Pros Megeve. Megève is located
in French Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc, a 1 hour drive from Geneva International
Airport. Day ski tours, private and small group ski lessons for skiing enthusiasts
of all levels and ages are available in the French Alps, Italian Alps and Europe.
Mike has an extensive background in skiing, teaching group and private ski lessons. Mikes credentials include Full Certification in Professional Ski Instructors of America-RM, the prestigious French Government "Ecole National de Ski et d’Alpinisme" in Chamonix as a Moniteur de Ski Diplome and a member of the first PSIA National Academy held at Mount. Hood Timberline, Oregon. Mike has over 30 years of ski school and ski teaching and coaching experience in the US and in France and has taught in all the major ski areas in France and America.
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When I was a kid growing up in Maine I wanted to do one thing... that was to ski in every ski area that I could dream of. The Rocky Mountains was a must and so was Europe and...