It’s snowing in French Alps today (Thursday, January 6th), which is good news for the coming weeks as although snow cover is good at most areas, the snowpack was getting very hard-packed and a little icy in places, with little off piste powder to ski (albeit with low avalanche danger) until today.

January is also a good month to be on the slopes in France. Resorts are quieter with the peak New Year holiday weeks behind us and the busy February school-holiday weeks still ahead.

Skiers in the 3 Vallées can not only enjoy the snow but also ‘enhance their experience’ by downloading the area updated app on iTunes which is released today. Compatible with iPhone, iPad and Android there’s the usual weather forecast, webcams, a high definition ski map, videos, restaurants and those all important toilets locations but new additions include the option to measure your speed and vertical skied thanks to the Myski feature and use augmented reality to take a picture of a summit on your phone and its name will appear on your iPhone screen. You can also tie your location to that of a friend or family member on a virtual Marauders Map (sorry, that will only make sense to Harry Potter fans, but you get the idea, a virtual electronic map of the area) – both (or more) of your current positions will be visible on the screen. Instant messaging between you is another feature, and it’s all free of charge.

Separate apps with more local detail are available for Les Menuires, Meribel (which features an ‘Emergency’ button which sends your location to piste patrol automatically) ; and Val Thorens  and more and more other resorts are getting their own versions, Les 2 Alpes is a recent convert.

Les 2 Alpes is also the place to be for aspiring Poker fans as the resort stages its annual poker week after the success of the first two years which have attracted growing numbers of participants. From Sunday, January 9th to Friday, January 14th, the third edition of Les 2 Alpes Poker Week will take place with free roll tournaments, walk in sit and play matches, satellite games and a grand final. There are also conferences about poker, courses and meetings with poker professionals and celebrities. There’s no gambling and it's free to take part whatever your ability level (from never-ever to pro) with many prizes to be won and the opportunity to enjoy the game each evening from 6pm to midnight after a day on the slopes.

If you prefer your activities outdoors and more horse-related however, why not head for Val d’Isere where the prestigious series of horse polo matches kicks off (or rather “starts its first chukka”) part of a series that takes the world’s polo elite including a team from Argentina through other classic resorts including Cortina and St Moritz on the frozen lake, a breathtaking spectacle.

Posted on Thursday 06 Jan 2011

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