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Ski resorts with star quality

Chamonix and Cortina d'Ampezzo are hardly household names, but the places themselves may be more familiar than you realise: they are among the ski resorts whose impressive slopes have featured on the silver screen.

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Not all adventure films have a ski chase, but if there's going to be one, who would do it better than James Bond? In 1999, director Michael Apted chose Chamonix in the French Alps as the location for just such a scene in the nineteenth Bond movie, The World is Not Enough, and the resort was immortalised on screen in the exciting adventures of Pierce Brosnan and Sophie Marceau in the role of the heiress the secret agent is protecting.

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That may be over a decade ago, but Chamonix remains one of the world's most popular winter resorts. Located in the Haute-Savoie, in south-eastern France, it is home to Mont Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe, and with 600 kilometres of piste, 49 ski lifts, and slopes for all levels, it's the perfect destination for your own snowy adventure – hopefully not quite as dangerous as 007's!

Robert Redford is another actor who has shown off his skiing skills in the French Alps: back in 1969, he starred in Downhill Racer, a classic movie where the sport is central to a story about the struggle for fame and success, and the conflict between personal and team interests.

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Even earlier than that, in 1963, in the Italian ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Peter Sellers, in the role of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, was laying down the first footprints on the trail of the suave jewel thief played by David Niven in the original Pink Panther. Plenty of other Hollywood actors have had their share of excitement in this area of the Italian Dolomites, including Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger, and Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones in The Edge of Reason. Even James Bond has had his turn here, this time played by Roger Moore in For Your Eyes Only.

Known as 'the pearl of the Dolomites', Cortina d’Ampezzo owes its early international fame and popularity among the jet set to the Winter Olympics held there in 1956. The landscape is stunningly beautiful, with a number of imposing peaks over 3,000 metres, including Tofana, Cristallo and Sorapis. The lively town of Cortina d'Ampezzo, set at an altitude of 1,224 metres, boasts a wide range of shops, restaurants and hotels, and a busy nightlife.

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Capital of the Tyrol in the Austrian Alps, Innsbruck is also famous for the range of winter sports available in the surrounding mountains. Thanks to these giants, such as Nordkette, Nockspitze and Patscherkofel, Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964. Now its many resorts and ski stations provide over 300 kilometres of piste, ensuring skiing opportunities throughout the season. The region has been the setting for a number of films, including Extreme Ops, whose eye-candy studded cast includes Devon Sawa, Rupert Graves and Rufus Sewell in a tale in which five extreme-sports enthusiasts need all their skills and ingenuity to outwit a group of terrorists.

There are of course plenty of snowy settings on the other side of the Atlantic, perhaps the most famous being Aspen, Colorado, where the World Alpine Skiing Championships were held in 1950. Sixty years on, it's still one of the world's most glamorous winter resorts, frequently visited by international stars including Kevin Costner and Antonio Banderas. It's also had its moments of fame on screen, not least in Dumb and Dumber, in which Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels try to return a suitcase to its pretty owner and end up tracing her to snowy Aspen.

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