One of the top choices for an active short break during the winter months is French Alps skiing. The region has some of the best facilities in Europe for snowy getaways and is easily accessible by budget airlines, train and road.
The growth in the winter sports industry means there are now hundreds of ski resorts in France where you can find affordable breaks. The wide choice means it can be difficult to work out where to book your holiday, but you will discover there are three major ski areas that stand out from the rest.
One of the best-known regions for skiing in France is the Three Valleys. It is home to a number of major resorts, such as Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens, together with a host of smaller, more exclusive ones like La Tania, Brides les Bains, St Martin de Belleville and Mottaret.
Whether you are looking for somewhere suitable to take the kids or a destination for a long weekend of partying, you will find it in the Three Valleys. All the resorts have good restaurants and lively apres ski bars, but if you hope to dance until the early hours of the morning, your best choices are Courchevel and Meribel.
Accommodation in the Three Valleys area ranges from low-cost family options to luxurious full-service chalets, so you are sure to find something that suits your needs.
Similarly, there is plenty of variety on the slopes. The 600 km of pistes, which can be accessed via 200 ski lifts, include everything from runs suitable for novices to those that will challenge experienced skiers. There are also a number of snowboarding parks and 120 km of cross country ski routes, if you wish to try something a little different while you are away.
The Three Valleys is a great choice for a short skiing break and not just because it can be reached via budget flights to Geneva, Lyon and Chambery. If you are only going for a few days, you need to be sure the conditions will be good - something the large number of snow cannons in the region are designed to guarantee.
Before making a decision about your winter holiday, it is well worth looking at the ski deals available in the Espace Killy region. Located in the Savoie department, it boasts 300 km of pistes and more than 150 runs, with something to suit people of all ability levels.
It is also where you will find two of France's most popular ski resorts, Val d'Isere and Tignes. Both have a wide range of accommodation, plenty of places to eat and drink, spas and facilities for other winter sports.
Val d'Isere is among Europe's liveliest ski resorts, so is an ideal choice if you are travelling with friends. Tignes is quieter, so is a better selection if you have young children.
The third major ski area worth considering for your break is the Milky Way, which is partly in Italy. It has some of the best terrain for skiing in Europe and as it underwent modernisation in preparation for hosting the Alpine events at the 2006 Winter Olympics, the facilities are fantastic.
Stay in the French resort of Montgenevre and you will be able to use both the French and Italian slopes, giving you access to 400 km of pistes.