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5 great resorts for snowparks

The French mountains boast snowparks for all levels of skier and snowboarder, from freestyle addicts to beginners – recreational areas set aside for all manner of acrobatics. Each park contains a variety of features, from rails to boxes and hips to half-pipes, on which skiers and snowboarders can perform tricks and jumps.
But where should you go to find the best? Here are our favourite spots.
Avoriaz

The Avoriaz snowpark (External link), renamed Snowzone, has something for all levels. Beginners to advanced riders can test themselves at La Chapelle, while advanced to expert riders can move on to the Arare snowpark. You’ll also find a boardercross, but the claim to freestyle fame here is the Stash. Europe’s very first eco-park, it was designed by godfather of snowboarding Jake Burton and created from the forest it sits in – with tree trunk obstacles, jumps from rocks and modules hidden amongst the pines.

Tignes

Tignes’ terrain park (External link) is above Val Claret, the liveliest base, and has lines for all abilities. The main boardercross course is also here. Down nearer Val Claret there’s a superpipe that’s often used for competitions, plus a free-to-use airbag. The beginners’ Gliss’Park, above Tignes Le Lac, has mini boardercross and parallel slalom courses. There are also rails for all levels on the other side of town next to the sledging area. In the summer months the resort builds a park up on the glacier.

Les Deux Alpes

With its 12-year history in the Toura sector, the snowpark at Les Deux Alpes (External link) was a pioneer, but has always remained at the cutting edge. Its Olympic super-pipe, shaped by the master hand of Sylvain Garabos, attracts the best European freestylers. Slide Zones let beginners and intermediate riders have fun, and for those who want to impress the audience, the Big Airbag on the snowfront lets you practise new tricks, with advice from on-site experts.

Vars

With no less than six snowparks, Vars (External link) reigns supreme in the southern Alps in terms of sheer choice. The Eyssina park has something for all levels: four slope-style lines, a boardercross and a large airbag, while the Zako Park is aimed at beginners, and open free of charge one evening per week during school holidays. Intermediate to advanced riders should aim for the Escondus park, and at the top of the scale is the Totem park, for pros only.

Val Thorens
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The main Val Thorens snowpark, beside the Plateau draglifts, is generally geared towards experts – though it’s arranged in four ‘corridors’, with the black section and its big kickers on the far right. It also features the ‘Jump’ Air’, a shock-absorbing stunt mattress to allow you to practise acrobatics in safety. Winter 2015 saw the opening of a gentler snowpark on the other side of the Plateau piste, stippled with smaller jumps and easy boxes, ideal for taking the first steps in freestyle.

The French Alps