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Skiing is fun. It’s fast, it’s frightening and addictive. It’s also bloody expensive. Ski passes alone cost upwards of £150 for a week and that’s before you’ve factored in the costs of getting there, accommodation, ski hire, ski gear, all the food you’ll be eating after all that exercise and of course the alcohol consumed in the name of “après ski”. But skiing on a budget is possible! Let me show you how to have a budget ski holiday.
If your heart is set on staying in an alpine resort and waking up to snow just outside your door then maybe this isn’t for you. But if you’re desperate to just get on the mountains regardless then I’ve got you covered.
Where to ski on a budget
For skiing on a budget it’s unlikely you’ll be able to stay in resort. This is especially true with the bigger, more well known ones.
Instead, consider staying in a town near resorts. For instance, on my recent skiing mini break I stayed in Grenoble. Grenoble is surrounded by skiing resorts, some as little as a 30 minutes away from the town centre.
Accommodation for a budget ski holiday
When you stay outside of the ski resort you’ll find your accommodation is far cheaper and nicer. Ski resorts tend to just rent out tiny studio rooms that still smells of the boozed up students that spent the previous week there (yes, I’ve been one of them). But, if you’re staying in a town outside the resort you can find a nice Airbnb or hotel.
Check out airbnb for private rooms costing less than £20 a night. Most Airbnb apartments have kitchens so you’ll be able to cater for yourselves. In doing so you’ve just saved a fortune on restaurant dinners
If you book early, the Eurostar can be one of the most cost-effective ways to get to Grenoble. When I lived in Grenoble I once got a single ticket for £60, by booking three months in advance. Proof that it really doesn’t have to cost you a fortune!
It takes 6 hours from St Pancras in London to reach Grenoble, with just one easy change in Paris. There’s no luggage restrictions – the rule is basically, “if you can carry it, you can bring it”.
This means that if you have your own skis, boots or board you won’t have to fork out hundreds of pounds extra to take them. The journey is pretty picturesque too, and French trains are a lot nicer than those you get in England.
If you’d prefer to fly then don’t limit yourself by looking at flights just to Grenoble airport. Most of the year it’s closed and it’s really no closer to Grenoble than either Lyon or Geneva airports.
A return flight with EasyJet, from London to Lyon, can cost about £60 and from there it’s a short bus or train journey to Grenoble. All in all costing just under £100 return. However, should you wish to pack skis, boots or a board you’ll have to pay a lot more. EasyJet make you pay for hold luggage and then extra for ski equipment. Usually this ends up doubling the price you’ve paid for a ticket.
I always use Skyscanner to book my flights as they consistently return the best (cheapest) flight prices.
Renting a car
If you’d like to rent a car then check out RentalCars.com. They search through the deals on car rental so that you don’t have to!
If you don’t have skis or, like I did, decided bringing them wasn’t worth the extra EasyJet costs, then the good news is that hiring is no longer hugely expensive.
If you hire in Grenoble you can expect to pay about €20 a day. If you’d prefer to hire in resort then make sure you book on line!
By booking online you can save up to 50% on the usual price. We used Intersport for our ski hire this year and it costs us less than £20 a day!
Getting to resort on a budget
The best thing about staying in Grenoble is the ease and cost of getting to multiple resorts.
If you fancy a trip to a smaller resort to refresh your skills or just have a half day skiing you can go to one, and likewise if you fancy a huge resort with hundreds of kilometres to ski you can go to one.
The easiest resorts to get to from Grenoble are: Chamrousse the host of the 1968 Winter Olympics (30 minutes away, quite small), Les deux alpes (1 1/2 hours away, much bigger), Alpe d’huez (1 1/2 hours, huge and my favourite), Alpe de Grande Serre (45 minutes away, quite small) and Les Sept Laux (35-40 minutes away. very pretty but quite small).
Cheap lift passes for ski resorts near Grenoble
The best part is that with Skiligne you can get both your return transport and a days ski pass for less than one days ski pass will cost you in resort.
For instance return transport and ski pass to Alpe d’Huez and Deux Alpes costs €45 whereas one days ski pass costs €48 in resort. Three euros doesn’t sound like much, but with the accommodation savings you’re making too it all adds up.
We were lucky as I still have friends from my year abroad living in Grenoble that were kind enough to have us stay.
However, as outlined above a ski holiday really can costs less than half the price you think. I know that staying in a city isn’t quite the same as being able to ski from door to door but now you can afford another trip away with the savings you’ve made!