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Ski resort with the best arts & crafts activities, museums ?

Ski resort with the best arts & crafts activities, museums ?

Old Dec 2nd, 2012, 11:59 AM
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Ski resort with the best arts & crafts activities, museums ?

Well, my wife broke and dislocated her ankle this summer; and she says there's no way she's skiing this winter. However, she says she will be more than happy to come with me if we can find a resort that has a good variety of arts&crafts activities she can devote her time to while I'm off skiing.

I've looked around the internet for some ideas; but for very understandable reasons this is not an important criteria in choosing a resort for anybody, so no help there. Consequently, I am turning to the time-proven wisdom of the Fodor's community Your advice has been so helpful to me in my past vacation planning, thanks again...

All the best,

Medbird
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Old Dec 2nd, 2012, 12:35 PM
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St. Moritz/Upper Engadine has lots of non-skiing activities. From sports watching (polo on the lake, bob racing etc.) over art museums (Segantin museum, Berry Museum) and art galleries, other museums (Nietzsche museum in Sils, Engadine museum, Alpine museum), old churches with frescos worth to see (Sta. Maria in Pontresina, chapel in Fex valley/Sils etc.) to craftsmen's shops (works of wood in particular).

Or spa time for your wife, excursions by scenic trains/buses to other sights in the region (Bernina Express, UNESCO heritage site Benedictine monastery Müstair, castle Tarasp, Chur with old town and churches, art museum).
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Old Dec 2nd, 2012, 01:40 PM
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Ingo, thanks a lot!

I know we are not in the situation to ask for everything, but St. Moritz, as far as I know, is... too built up, too modern and too big.

I wonder whether there's a chance we can find a more "classic alpine" town with a quarter the number of galleries and museums that st. moritz has

All the best,

Medbird
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Old Dec 2nd, 2012, 09:04 PM
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The villages around St. Moritz are very charming. Look into Sils-Maria, Pontresina, Celerina. Public transportation is excellent, so you don't have to stay in the overbuilt St. Moritz itself.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2012, 10:49 PM
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Thanks again Ingo - I know Scuol and Klosters are fantastic towns; do you think any of the two could offer something in the way of arts/crafts/museums ? I want to believe they do
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Old Dec 3rd, 2012, 09:54 AM
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Ingo please help

I've dug into your fantastic trip reports on Sils and Pontresina. I couldn't find any comments on Celerina in Fodor's.

Please help me make the best choice, given that:

- I am a lazy bum who doesn't like to take buses etc to get to the lift system; I'd much rather hit off to a vast lift system straight from the town I am staying in. Pontresina seems a bit isolated from the general lift system as compared to the other two, or am I mistaken ?
- My wife will be dwelling on handicraft shops, museums, galleries and souvenir shops all the time (would scuol and klosters fail in this regards ?)
- access to St. Moritz should be quite simple
- Would be fantastic if we could get straight into the town via train
- and town should be the "idyllic alpine town"

As always, your advice will be truly appreciated.

Best,

Medbird
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Old Dec 3rd, 2012, 10:33 AM
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Medbird,

First off, since you know Scuol I guess you do know that the style of architecture in the Engadine is not the classic wooden chalet style as known from the Bernese Oberland or Valais - the typical houses are made of stone, with sgraffiti decorations. But inside they're often with wood-panelled walls etc.

- In your case Pontresina is out. You definitely need to take buses from there to the pistes.

- Neither Klosters nor Scuol have really many galleries and souvenir/handicraft shops and museums.

- Access from Celerina to St. Moritz (for your wife) is VERY simple. One train stop away, two bus lines running this route (so at least every half hour, often more frequently), it's just five minutes away.

- Celerina is on the major railway line Chur - St. Moritz.

- Celerina has a nice old section. On the edge of town are some modern apartment blocks, but all in all it is picturesque enough, I'd say.
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 07:11 AM
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Ingo you're my savior
I'm torn between Celerina and Lech now

Based upon all the information I gathered from you, here's the summary:

Celerina pros: Very good ski area, lots to do for non-skier, train straight into town
Celerina cons: Expensive, not as attractive, not fully ski in and out

Lech Pros: Very good ski area, very charming village, ski in and out
Lech Cons: Not much to do for non-skier, expensive (but not as much as Switzerland), train only to Langen, need to take a cab

Can't choose

All the best,

Medbird
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 09:15 AM
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Why not France?
Go to Megeve: very good ski area, easy to get to from Geneva, charming village. Though you cannot ski into the village, the ski lift in the village takes you straight to the piste. There are many people who do not ski; shopping, galleries, restaurants, spa (Fermes de Marie). But it's not that big, non-ski activities are limited.
Your wife could easily take the ski lift up one of the mountains to meet you for lunch (and enjoy the views of the Mont Blanc, and hopefully the sunshine).
There's also an altiport, where you can take a sightseeing flight around the Alps - which I can recommend.
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 10:06 AM
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Dear Tulips, just looked at the website and Megeve looks (and sounds) great!

The reason why I had not even thought of France was because I have the prejudice that French resorts all have some "Plagne 2000" in them: Modern ugly architecture etc... Is there any of that ugliness in Megeve ? Is it usually wooden chalet or stone-built style ? My other concern would be snow reliability as compared to Lech or the Engadine due to the low altitude. Other than that, looks fantastic!
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 12:55 PM
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Snow reliability is definitely an issue in Megeve. Simply compare elevation.

Lech is really small. And there is no bigger town with other activities for non-skiers nearby (like St. Moritz to Celerina). Another point - Lech sometimes (often) gets too much snow. Every year the roads to/from Lech are closed for a couple of days, nobody can get in or out - due to danger of avalanches. Friends of mine were stuck in the Arlberg region (St. Anton) last year. No fun.
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 10:50 PM
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It's true that Megeve is a bit lower - but we've never had a problem in February, which is when we usually go. Late season could be a problem.
I've been to Lech; much higher, more reliable for snow, but nowhere near as nice as Megeve (for us, anyway, but we're not so much into partying). No high rise flats to be seen in Megeve, mainly small hotels, great skiing at all levels - Lech was more limited (in area), but did have some challenging slopes and long descents.

And Megeve is much easier to get to, even with heavy snowfall, the French are good at keeping the roads passable.
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 05:51 AM
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OK I've taken a giant step: Lech is out of the picture, based on the following:
- I have been enough times to St. Anton, and Lech will not be radically different (surely better snow, more posh, more expensive and less college-fraternity style. I honestly wouldn't go to St. Anton again.)
- My wife will have much less to do there.

Megeve and St. Moritz tick the right boxes. If I am able to find reasonable accomodation in St. Moritz I think I will prefer it to Celerina - I'll prefer to stumble back home after my nightly wine rather than taking a train.

So the final sprint is between the two. From what I gather from my mentors Tulips and Ingo:

St. Moritz Pros: Higher, more snow-sure, more activities for non-skier
Cons: A little too big maybe, very expensive

Megeve Pros: Cute town, less expensive as compared to St M, easy to get to
Cons: Less altitude, less activities as compared to St. M but sufficient

I have to think
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 01:41 PM
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Hi Medbird,
I hate to put the cat amongst the pigeons here, as you are so close to a decision
I am an artist and live and work in Argentiere in the Chamonix Valley, (about 1 hours drive from Megeve). I get quite a few clients like your wife, who for whatever reason (although often injury) want to do something artistic rather than ski, but still want to be in this beautiful mountain environment.
Some use it as a staging post to the many galleries reachable from here. Italy, (Courmayeur and Aosta) Switzerland (St Maurice and the wonderful Pierre Giannada in Martigny - fantastic collection of impressionist paintings, Leonardo Da Vinci and frequent block buster exhibitions) and of course the local galleries in Chamonix,Megeve, or even Geneva.

Others actually just come to learn to paint and draw, with me at my home/studio.

I should add that we are all very keen skiers too, so we do understand where you are coming from too! As you will know the skiing in Chamonix is second to none....I live here because Skiing and art go hand in hand in hand for me

Let me know if you would like more information about what we do - but in anycase I just wanted to wish you luck in combining your two interests - with all your research I am sure it will work out!
best wishes Sara
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Old Dec 5th, 2012, 02:12 PM
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The truth shall set me free
It also sends me back to square 1 every time
Many thanks Sara, I would truly appreciate more info on what you do as you have kindly suggested, and some tips on Chamonix if possible.
Best,
MedBird
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Old Dec 6th, 2012, 01:34 AM
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Well, I did a bit of homework but unfortunately Chamonix is questioned for its fragmented piste structure, dependance on buses to get from one to the other (I hate that), and the consequent overabundance of cars in the resort. These are real turn-offs for me, so I am still back to St. Moritz vs Megeve.
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Old Dec 6th, 2012, 09:07 AM
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I can't help you further with that decision, having never been to St Moritz. But what I hear from friends who frequent both resorts: Megeve is more laid-back. St Moritz is larger, more high-end shopping, more glamorous, and certainly more reliable snow.

It also depends on when you go. Check the French school holidays; Megeve is very busy when the Paris region is on holiday in February/March. Outside French school holidays, it is usually fairly quiet. St Moritz gets busy during carnival holiday; week of February 11th in 2013.

By the way, your wife could easily plan a day in Chamonix from Megeve; not that far.
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 01:21 AM
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I would like to thank both Ingo and Tulips for their valuable help. Members like you are the reason I come back to this website for 12 years now.

Unfortunately I couldn't find the exact timing for the carnivale in St. Moritz. However, the dearth of events in our vacation period suggests that it is some other time...

Hopefully the final questions in the final sprint

Below is the French semester break calendar. The greater Paris region is not, but Region B is on vacation during our planned holiday between the 16th and 23rd of February. Do you think that would create overcrowding in Megeve ?

Feb 16 to March 3rd: North east France (Picardy, Nord-Pas de Calais, Champagne), Alsace, Franche-Comté and Burgundy, the Centre region, Limousin and Poitou Charentes, Upper Normandy (the Rouen area) and Provence, the southern Alps & the Riviera

Feb 23 to March 10: Brittany, lower Normandy, Pays de la Loire, Lorraine, Rhône Alpes, Auvergne, Languedoc, Midi-Pyrenees

March 2 - 17: Greater Paris, Aquitaine

Thanks a lot,

Medbird
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 06:54 AM
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Megeve is most busy when Paris is on holiday, but still busy during the other school holiday weeks in Feb and March. As most hotels are fairly small, some hotels will insist you stay a week (and probably insist on half board). The carnival week, when Germans, Belgians, and many Dutch, have their ski break, is the week starting Feb 11.
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 07:41 AM
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Thanks a lot Tulips. Ingo please don't be angry with me but I think I have made up my mind, and my choice is Megeve. One of the most important determinants in my choice were the pictures and the interiors of the apartments I saw in St. Moritz. I do not stay in hotels when I go to a resort, and prefer to stay in apartments. The alternatives I saw in the St. Moritz website resembled big city suburban blocks rather than holiday apartments in a ski resort. I'm sure the whole town has tons of beautiful things to offer; but it's amazing how a geography as beautiful as that has been marred to a certain extent with such architecture; but alas, what can be done now, too late. And beautiful Celerina, the town Ingo was so kind as to introduce, would have been a great alternative to alleviate those concerns; but my wife's situation forces us to stick to a smaller perimeter, so Megeve seems to be the best choice in our current context.

Dear Tulips - thanks a lot for introducing Megeve to me. I know there's a wealth of information on this site and on the web elsewhere; and as always I will do my homework, but would also truly appreciate your tips on Megeve.

All the best,

MedBird

All the
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