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665km (413 miles) SE of Paris; 118km (73 miles) E of Albertville; 130km (81 miles) E of Chambéry

In an open valley, Val d'Isère (1,820m/5,971 ft. above sea level) was originally a hunting station for the ducs de Savoie. It's now a center of some of Europe's most spectacular skiing. Less snobbish than Courchevel and less old-fashioned than Megève, it's a youthful, rather brash resort where virtually everyone comes to enjoy outdoor pursuits. Its fans compare it favorably to Chamonix, which -- despite the allure of nearby Mont Blanc and superb skiing -- seems to be burdened with longer lift lines and a less accessible layout of ski lifts and slopes.