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COURMAYEUR (Web: www.courmayeur.com ) is the smartest and most popular of Valle d'Aosta's ski resorts, much used by package-tour operators. The skiing is good, though there's little to challenge experts, and the scenery is magnificent, but, predictably, what remains of the old village is enmeshed in a web of ersatz Alpine chalets and après-ski hangouts. There are two ski schools here: Monte Biano Ski and Snowboard School (Web: www.scuolascimontebianco.com ) and the Snowboard and Ski School Courmayeur (Web: www.scuolascicourmayeur.it ). Lift passes start at about 100 for three days, either consecutive or non-consecutive. If you've come to hike or take the cable cars across to Chamonix, the most convenient place to stay is LA PALUD, 5km outside Courmayeur (three buses a day).
There are good walks along the two valleys at the foot of the Mont Blanc glaciers, both of which have seasonal campsites accessible by bus from Courmayeur. Val Ferret to the west is the more interesting option – you can walk back from Frebouze over Monte de la Saxe, with some incredible views of Mont Blanc en route.
If you do spend a night in Courmayeur, note that one of the cheapest of the fifty-odd hotels is the one-star mountain chalet Venezia at Via delle Villette 2 (Tel:&f0165.842.461; Price: up to 50); or there's the three-star Crampon, on the same street at no. 8 (Tel:0165.842.385, Web: www.crampon.it ; Christmas– April & July to mid-Sept; Price: 126-150). Hotels in La Palud include the charming Chalet Joli (Tel:0165.869.722, Web: www.chaletjoli.com ; Price: 101-125) and the extremely comfortable Vallée Blanche (Tel:0165.897.002, Web: www.hotelvalleeblanche.com ; one week minimum, buffet breakfast included Price: 101-125). Most of these hotels offer special pricing arrangements with local restaurants for their guests' main meals.