The skiing in the Southern Alps is often underestimated. The sun tends to shine more, it is warmer and the snow record is really good, and of course if you stay below the mountain you are in tantalising reach of the beaches of Cannes and Nice. This area is one of the few in the world where you can have a morning skiing and still get down to the beach for a late lunch in the sunshine!
The best known resort is Isola 2000 which as its name suggests is quite high at 2000 metres, and with some northern facing slopes, skiing can continue until the end of April some years. Against Isola is the fact that it is a purpose-built resort so often lacks the alpine charm one normally associates with skiing and it can be a nightmare of a place on New Years Eve when loads of undesirables from Nice and Marseilles book all the cheap accommodation and make a nuisance of themselves, but this is really limited to that one time.
Other nearby resorts include Auron, which is a bit smaller and slightly more charming. Further down the hill are several smaller resorts which can be very popular if conditions allow. Whilst Nice is 2 hours drive down the hill, some of the smaller resorts can be reached in under 90 minutes from the coast, which means that renting a villa in the hinterland of Cannes can give you opportunities to combine some skiing with more leisurely pursuits when the limbs get a bit tired, or the weather is slightly less clement. This of course is aimed at the fair weather skier, of which number I count myself! If the visibility gets poor then often it is still sunny at the coast, so lunch on the beach at one of the many restaurants in Cannes that remain open all year around can be a very nice distraction from getting cold on the mountain!
Of course, Cannes has other delights as well, not the least of which is the shopping and the restaurants of the old town which still buzz even in the depths of winter.
Greoliere Les Nieges is a small resort with a dozen lifts and maybe 20 runs, but it is within and hour and half drive from Cannes and although quite low at 1400-1800 metres, it has a great snow record and a daily pass is not much over 20 Euros. Many ex pats living between the mountains and the coast look at the weather in the morning and make an instant decision to go up skiing for the day.
The Val D’Allos is a little further inland with an even better snow record, in fact you are just about guaranteed snow in this resort, but perhaps a little too far from the coast if you wish to combine snow and sun. The resort of Limony just over the Italian border is also under 2 hours from Cannes and can give you a taste of skiing in Italy.
In an ideal world, one would rent a private villa in the area behind Cannes, where villages such as Valbonne, Mouans Sartoux, Le Rouret and Roquefort Les Pins are all still awake in wintertime, unlike much of rural France which can go to sleep from October to May. Valbonne in particular is buzzing at any time of the year, and for those mad sporting types, there are some excellent golf courses in the area, so what about ski, golf and sun holidays, that is a new concept!
Nice airport is the second busiest in France and thus has flights emanating from all over the UK including the four main London airports, so the best bet is to hire a car from there to drive to your villa, and let the holiday commence!