For après-ski action: Val Thorens, France

St Anton used to be the hot name on the après-ski front, but Val Thorens, located in the Tarentaise Valley in the French Alps, is slowly sneaking up and stealing its crown. The highest resort in the Alps, its altitude and mostly north-facing slopes make it one of the most snow-sure. While most of the runs are intermediate, Val Thorens is linked to Courchevel and Méribel, making skiing opportunities endless for the adventurous.

After a hard day on the slopes, it's time to party in the mountains. The Frog and Roastbeef (the highest bar in Europe) boasts lively bands and happy hours abound (it also does a mean fry-up), or if your idea of après involves a sing-along, head to the Red Fox for karaoke. Le Tango and the Ski Rock Café also pull in large crowds of revellers, and The Viking Pub is another favourite, but La Folie Douce is the current party-centre of the resort, where you will find feisty visitors dancing on tables and sinking Jägermeister until the wee hours.

Stay: When it comes to resting your weary head, splash out and stay at the Hôtel des 3 Vallées, famed for its food, while the cosy and convenient Val Chavière Hotel is a great option for those on a tighter budget.
Fly:Jet2 flies from Manchester to Chambéry (1h 30m). Transfer time from the airport to the resort is two hours.

Info:valthorens.com

 

For skiing on a budget: Bansko, Bulgaria

While skiing is never going to be a low-cost sport, it is possible to do it on a tight budget. Bulgaria is still dwarfed by bigger European snow-sport destinations, but that doesn't mean that there's a lack of decent runs and facilities. Happily, it does mean that it's more affordable if your funds are limited.

Bansko is nestled within the Pirin mountain range and is widely considered to be Bulgaria's premier ski spot. Recent investment has seen major developments on the resort itself as well as improved runs, lifts and après options. Keep costs low by pre-booking your airport transfer with the Bansko Express, which can be as cheap as £12 per person one way.

The snow action itself takes place 10km away at two spots - Chalin Valog and Shiligarnika - both accessed via the new gondola lift from Bansko. Beginners and intermediates should head to Chalin Valog, which reaches 1,200 metres altitude, while experienced thrill-seekers should aim for the higher slopes of Shiligarnika whose heights hit 1,730 metres.

After a hard day on the slopes, it's time to discover Bansko. It's less about chic après action here, and more about trying local wines and hearty Bulgarian speciality dishes at a traditional mehana, before hitting the nearest discotheque and dancing the night away...

Stay:At Hotel Avalon, a small family-run hotel that promises high-quality, low-cost comfort, and a minibus transfer to and from the gondola lift.
Fly: easyJet flies from Manchester to Sofia (3h 25m). Transfer time from Sofia Airport to Bansko is around three hours.

Info:skibansko.net

  

For the A-list lifestyle: Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, in the German-speaking part of Switzerland's canton of Valais, is a paradise for eating, skiing and people-watching. With more than 60 on-slope eateries and après-ski venues across its three mountains and 153 miles of runs, it attracts royals and celebrities, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Michael Douglas, Madonna and Robbie Williams.

One of the key reasons that the A-list flock here (after the skiing, of course) is the food. Gastro gems include mountain restaurant Findlerhof (which has a roof terrace facing the Matterhorn - don't miss its carpaccios) and Chez Vrony, a 19th-century farmhouse on the Rothorn that serves local beef, cheeses and champagnes.

Set at the foot of the Matterhorn, Zermatt's scenery is as spectacular as its food. The beautiful slopes offer great off-piste options in the right conditions. Ski the Marinelli Couloir, laze on a sundeck with the afternoon views and end the day at the Hennu Stall, the wildest après-ski shack on Klein Matterhorn. 

Stay:At Cervo, where hipster meets hunter. It has a lively après scene, an outdoor fireplace and tasty snacks. Coeur des Alpes is a divine boutique hotel that won't blow the budget.
Fly: easyJet flies from Manchester and Liverpool to Geneva (1h 50m). Transfer time is roughly three and a half hours from Geneva to Zermatt.

Info:zermatt.ch/en

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