Courmayeur needs little introduction to the keen skier and mountain enthusiast. Its dramatic location at the foot of Mont Blanc ensures wonderful skiing in spectacular scenery, and the chic mountain town has plenty to offer skiers and non-skiers alike.
Intermediates will be happiest with Courmayeur's on piste skiing, but there is a fabulous range of off-piste and heli-skingi for more advanced skiers and boarders. The views across to the massif are awe-inspiring. Three cable cars service the ski area on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, all of which is off-piste and forbidden territory without a guide.
The descents available here include the Toula Glacier and the Vallée Blanche, with its 15 miles (24 km) of intermediate off-piste from the Punta Helbronner (3,462 m) all the way down to Chamonix. Courmayeur also offers some of the best heli-skiing in Europe with the option of skiing either glacial or non-glacial terrain.
The compact nature of the ski domain means that Courmayeur is a great resort for mixed ability groups and it has plenty of central meeting and eating places that most levels of skier will be able to reach. With numerous excellent mountain restaurants on offer, here, more than anywhere is the place to take long lunches!
The restaurants are not only plentiful, they represent everything that is great about eating in the Italian mountains: hot chocolate so thick that you have to finish it with a spoon, risottos with shavings of truffles, succulent fresh pasta, lavish spreads of home-made desserts and south-facing sun terraces full of Italians.
Courmayeur is also a charming old town with narrow, cobbled streets, old stone churches and the best designer shopping in the Aosta Valley. The streets come alive in the evenings and there are plenty of stylish bars as well as some excellent restaurants in the centre of town.
Can this be enough to justify its inclusion as one of Europe's best ski resorts? If Courmayeur did not happen to back onto the Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco, as they call it this side of the border) mountain range, perhaps not. But with this setting, the answer is an emphatic 'yes'.