Cervinia/Aosta area/Gressoney/Pila

The resorts of the Aosta Valley and its environs provide some interesting and some not so interesting skiing. The principal resorts of the area are Cervinia and Courmayeur but other resorts abound, such as Pila, Valtournanche, Gressonney, Champoluc and Alagna. These are in the valleys which radiate out from the old town of Aosta, Pila being accessible directly from the town via a gondola.

Cervinia is probably the best of these resorts, especially as it is very easy to access the Zermatt skiing as well as that of Valtournanche. Snow quality is usually excellent until late in the season, as the lifts go up beyond 11,000 feet. The runs from Plateau Rosa down to the village are long and varied (the Ventina piste is one of my all time favourites), as are the runs to Valtournanche. Most of the skiing is of the "motorway" variety but there are some quite steep blacks. Beginners are well catered for and there are several good runs to try once the initial beginner stage is over (the blue from Plan Maison to the village is long but manageable, in good conditions, for reasonably confident 3-4 day skiers).

Courmayeur is the other main resort of the area. I skied there when conditions were not at their best but would suggest that its only real advantage is access to the Vallee Blanche. I went with a school party and both intermediates and beginners preferred Pila. Courmayeur lacked variety for advanced skiers and had little for beginners when I was there.

Pila is a pleasant resort, situated above Aosta, which is little known to British skiers. This is a pity, as the skiing is quite interesting and the restaurants on the mountain are excellent. Well worth at least a day's visit if you are in the area.

Once a little known resort, Gressonney's links with Champoluc and up towards Alagna have made it central to a vast skiing arena. This one's well worth a visit before it becomes too well known and loses its rustic charm. With a guide there's also access to some super off-piste skiing. Freeriders will have a field day here!

The black and red run from Passo Salati down into Alagna gives a drop of over 1700 metres and is fairly manageable by adventurous intermediates. It's about 8k long and quite unrelenting.

The Hotel Gressoney, in Gressoney-St-Jean is a great place to stay - but expect to put on a few pounds thanks to the excellent food, particularly the starter and dessert buffets.