Isola 2000 is really quite good looking for a purpose-built resort and offers some great skiing for beginners...
Set in the southern French Alps, on the Italian border, Isola 2000 offers a modest 120km of mostly snow-sure, intermediate-friendly pistes within easy striking distance of Nice. As a result, Isola has plenty of buzz at the weekends when the locals pile into town, and a couple of nice hotels. The high-rise apartment blocks are less appealing, but newer chalet developments have upgraded the accommodation on offer in the resort.
Resort height: 1,850m
Isola's pistes are contained within three interconnecting sectors, between 1,800 and 2,600 metres. Pélevous and Levant have the best intermediate runs, while St Sauveau is home to the more challenging skiing terrain. The lift system has recently been upgraded, but still contains some slow and ageing chairlifts. As with many high, purpose-built ski resorts, there are good nursery slopes with a moving carpet right in front of the resort, which is reassuring for parents with young children.
This far south, the treeline is higher than it is in the resorts further north, and so Isola doesn't feel as bleak as some of purpose-built ski resorts. The trees also add some definition to the edges of the pistes in cloudy weather - and they're lots of fun to slalom around after a fresh dump of snow! Speaking of snow, it's worth remembering that Isola gets a lot of its snow from storms bubbling up from the Med, rather than those that sweep down from the north and north-west. As a result, it can be snowy here whilst the likes of the Méribel are missing out - and vice versa.
The best way to get to Isola 2000 from the UK is to fly into Nice airport...
From there, the transfer should take no longer than 90 minutes.
Beginner skiers and snowboarders and families with small children will get the most out of Isola’s 120km of pistes…
Intermediates also have a reasonable number of slopes to go at, but experts may find the lack of really steep stuff a bit limiting.
If the weather’s kind, you could have an early morning ski in Isola, before heading to Nice for a seafood platter in the sun…
It can be very quiet at night, midweek in Isola. At the weekends, however, the resort warms up considerably, with bars such as La Cuba Loca filling up with the Nicois. For pizzas try the Cow Club, which has a wood-burning pizza oven, and La Raclette for traditional, cheesy mountain food.
Tobogganing, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing are on offer - but Isola isn't a resort with a highly-developed wintersports culture beyond skiing. Non-skiers will probably be happiest day-tripping down to Nice. Technically, you could be skiing in the morning and sun-bathing in the afternoon, though this is a bit of a travel-writing cliché. Either the beach will be too cold, or the snow too slushy.
Cost of living 7/10
Skiing holidays here aren't perhaps as cheap as they should be, given the modest size of the resort and the lack of midweek atmosphere, but they're not bad for France.
Attractiveness of the resort 6/10
Isola 2000 is prettier than most high-altitude, purpose-built resorts, thanks to the height of the treeline here, which rises above the buildings, and softens their concrete edges. The mountains are impressive too, and there's a characterful old village in the valley below.