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Translated from the local dialect, the name Baeckeoffe means ‘baker’s oven’, and traditionally, that’s where this dish was cooked.In the local villages, people would take their casserole pots filled with meat, potatoes and vegetables to the local baker in the morning after all the bread for the day had been cooked.It also tends to be cheaper in the early season, for both accommodation and lift passes.You may even be lucky enough to spot national ski teams in training, as they like to get out there as early as possible, and will drop everything for that first dumping of fresh powder.In France, Tignes is the only resort to open at the start of October, and is considered one of the most reliable areas for early snow.It’s suitable for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, catering to everyone from beginners to experts in equal measure.

On the tour, you’ll be guided through a labyrinth of varying landscapes, culminating in the beautiful waterfall Cascade Salette, plunging into a crystal clear turquoise pool.

Don’t forget that you can’t hire goggles at ski resorts Clothes Warm knitwear – layering is key, and natural fibres tend to be best Warm socks – bring more than you think you’ll need Base layers – it’s up to your preference of traditional thermals or modern layers Gloves, scarves and hats – remember it’s cold even when you’re not up a mountain Comfy shoes – there’s no need to exacerbate any blisters you might get from your boots Wellies – or other suitable waterproof footwear Slippers – for padding around your chalet Swimwear – in case you fancy a dip in a hot tub Smart-casual outfits – in case you fancy treating yourself to a nice dinner one evening Coat – you may not always want to wear your ski jacket Ski equipment Skis or snowboard – you’re not going to get very far without these!

Ski poles – don’t forget to take them with you to and from the slopes Ski boots – make sure they fit properly, otherwise you’ll be incredibly uncomfortable Ski socks – at least three or four pairs Helmet – make sure you get it professionally fitted Goggles – you can’t rent these, so make sure you buy before you go Ski jacket – or any warm, waterproof and breathable jacket Salopettes – these should also be warm, waterproof and breathable Ski gloves – or mittens if you prefer Glove liners – for when it’s very cold Balaclava – essential for extremely cold conditions Neck warmer – the more layers the better, really It’s particularly important to be well prepared if you’re heading off piste Useful extras Backpack – for carrying all your essentials around Sun cream – you can easily get sunburn on your face and lips whilst skiing Lip balm with SPF – again, the sun can be strong, and the cold can chap your skin First-aid kit – make sure it’s well stocked with all the essentials Deep Heat – your aching muscles will thank you for this one Insurance papers – always keep your paperwork somewhere safe and accessible Passport photos – in case you need them for your lift pass Lift pass – check and check again that you have this on you Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe – essential if you’re heading off piste Map and compass – so that you can always work out where you are Multitool knife – you never know when you might need a blade or tools Hand warmers – cold fingers make everything so much more difficult Ankle, knee or wrist supports – in case you need extra support or strain something Water – make sure you’re always well hydrated Snacks – for a little pick-me-up energy boost A general rule of thumb for skiing is that it’s always better to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared.

If you want to stay in the area, the nearby town of Foix is a charming choice.

The beautiful 10th century Château de Foix dominates the town’s skyline, and houses a fascinating museum, dedicated to the history of the surrounding Ariège region.

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