The Auvergne's most elegant winter sports base has a glint of 19th-century glamour among its fondue restaurants and gear-hire shops. Nestled in a narrow valley 44km southwest of Clermont-Ferrand, and 4km north of Puy de Sancy (1886m), the town originally rose to prominence as a spa resort. Its bedomed Thermes (bathhouses) continue to draw curistes, who partake of the reputedly healing mountain waters.
Hiking trails, some reached by nerve-jangling funicular and cable car rides, thread the surrounding mountains. Winter snow conditions can be hit or miss, but for a mix of fresh air and cultural enrichment, you could do worse than joining the loyal throng of skiers who come here.