One of the many things that France and the United States have in common is that February is a very popular time for a ski trip.
In France, families take advantage of their kids’ mid-term break from school (vacances d’hiver) to go on ski vacations throughout the month. In the United States, the three day weekend around President’s Day is one of the busiest times of the year at ski resorts across the country. Fortunately these holidays often coincide with peak conditions on the slopes as winter is in full swing.
The ski industry in both countries has a rich history. The oldest ski club in North America that still exists was founded in 1872 in New Hampshire. The first chair lift in the world was introduced at Sun Valley, Idaho in 1936. The 10th Mountain Division conducted training during World War II in the mountains of Colorado, and after the war they returned to that location to open Vail Ski Resort, which is now one of the largest resorts in North America.
While the French didn’t invent skiing, the Alps are where it took off as a popular sport. The increasing interest in backcountry alpine skiing led to the development of the resorts we are now familiar with. Today, several of the largest ski resorts in the world are located in France. The first winter Olympics in 1924 were held in Chamonix which featured a nordic skiing competition. And French manufacturers have been on the cutting edge of ski technology for many decades.
Some of the more popular resorts in France include Courchevel, Val d’Isere, Chamonix, and Meribel. In the United States, Colorado is always a top destination (Vail, Aspen and Telluride, among many others), the mountains outside of Salt Lake City, Utah rarely disappoint, and Lake Tahoe on the California/Nevada border consistently boasts some of the best snow year after year. East Coast favorites include Stowe, Sugarloaf and Killington.
Après ski with good food and drinks is an important part of the experience no matter where you are, but it’s easy to argue that the French know how to do this better than anyone. Fondue savoyarde hails from the French Alps region of Savoie, you can’t go wrong with orange and Grand Marnier crepes to fuel up for a day on the mountain, and tartiflette is a ski lodge staple.
Several film festivals take place throughout the winter months in U.S. ski towns with Sundance being the most well-known. But you can get in the mood for your next ski trip without leaving home: curl up in front of the fireplace and enjoy one of these famous French ski films.
See you on the slopes!
Bonnes Vacances! A bientôt sur les pistes!
Cover photo: France’s Méribel resort. Credit: Jean Maurice GOUEDARD – http://www.picturesonline.fr, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30685152