The Ultimate Guide to the Best Places to Ski in France

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Places to Ski in France

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Do you love skiing and can’t wait to get back on the slopes once travel resumes? The choice of great ski resorts in France is dizzying, there are so many places to choose from… In this post, I collaborated with other bloggers to bring you the ultimate guide to the best places to ski in France.

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Places to Ski in France

When researching skiing in France, you need to first figure out the type of skiing you want: are you looking for a ski-in, ski-out experience or more of a village feel? What type of altitude and are non-skiers catered for? There are several snow areas in France but in my view, the best ski resorts in France are in the Alps.

Les Contamines-Montjoie is on the list of the best places to ski in France
Les Contamines-Montjoie

Les Contamines-Montjoie

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I know a lovely little ski resort near Chamonix and the Aiguille du Midi, not hugely famous but it’s a very pretty village and it has some of the best skiing in France. Les Contamines-Montjoie is a small village with a decent size ski resort. With 120 kms of ski runs, ranging from beginner to expert, Les Contamines-Montjoie holds its own amongst some of the more famous ski resorts in France. Located around an hour’s drive from Chamonix and Geneva, the village of Les Contamines sits at the gentle altitude of 1,164 m, but the ski resort reaches heights of 2,500 m.

Les Contamines has a very good ski resort
Ski in Les Contamines-Montjoie

With an outstanding panorama over the Mont-Blanc, this could be the best ski resort in France. This mix of quality skiing and village life means it also offers great winter snow holidays for non-skiers. The local restaurants and bars offer quality fare such as raclette and fondue. If you are looking for something a bit more refined, l’O a la Bouche is the local fine dining option.

For accommodation, there is a good selection of well-located apartments and chalets on AirBnb, and the free shuttle bus will take you to the ski lifts. If you are looking for a chalet in Les Contamines, my house is open to holiday rentals. It was a lifesaver during the pandemic!

Val Thorens

Val Thorens, in France’s famous Trois Vallées which includes Méribel and Courchevel, sits at 2,300m (7,546ft) making it the highest resort in Europe. The high altitude means that skiing from your doorstep is possible throughout the season, and once you’re on the slopes there is fantastic skiing to be enjoyed in all directions. The local slopes are full of variety with plenty of blues and reds to suit most skiing abilities as well as ‘fun rides’ for those who like to mix it up a bit. There are enough blacks and off-piste opportunities to thrill advanced skiers. Armed with a Three Valleys lift pass you’ll have access to the largest ski area in the world, so your biggest challenge will be deciding where to go.

This stunning view of Val Thorens proves it's an amazing place to ski in France
Credit Grand Adventure Story

On the slopes above Val Thorens you’re never far from a restaurant or bar. The Village Igloo Val Thorens wins for the ‘cool’ factor! For a slap-up lunch book a table at Le Plan des Mains on Méribel’s slopes. End your ski day on the sunny terrace of the Roc Seven bar in Les Menuires where you can enjoy great views accompanied by a DJ soundtrack. Families welcome. If you are travelling kid-free you’ll probably want to head to the legendary La Folie Douce above Val Thorens before sloping back to your chalet.

There are plenty of accommodation options in Val Thorens including this great AirBnB apartment overlooking the town. Parking for two cars is available in the garage and it is easy walking distance to a supermarket and ski hire shops. This self-drive ski holiday guide will give you additional details on how to drive there from the UK as well as self-catering top tips.

Varied skiing, great atmosphere, and accommodation right on the slopes – what more could you ask for?

By Debbie Patterson from Grand Adventure Story

Megève

Chic, swanky and exclusive, Megève France caps off the upmarket end of the French ski scene. It’s a charming little chocolate-box of a town, set amid the beautiful Val d’Arly in the depths of the Haute-Savoie. Despite the aged look of many of the timber chalets and the Baroque spire of the kitschy church on the main square, the resort actually found its feet only in the 1920s, when it was developed as a French alternative to the likes of St Moritz. 

Yep, just as Biarritz surf is for the wave hunters, so Megève is for the powder hounds in France. Everywhere you look in the centre there seems to be a champagne bar or a designer outfitter, a spa hotel or a 5-star chalet. But you don’t have to be an A-lister to ski the pistes. They cover a whopping 400km of groomed terrain and boast a direct link to the town of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains.

Megeve counts among the best ski resorts in France
Credit Joseph Francis

We loved skiing the two distinct areas in Megève. The first is to the south, which you can reach on the Chamois lift. That’s all spread over a single ridge and lifts up to the 2,400-metre-high Aiguille Croche. The runs lean towards the more advanced, with twisting blacks and fast reds that go through the trees to offer fantastic views of Mont Blanc in the distance. The northern part of the resort is known as Jaillet. It’s perfect for intermediates who like cruisy runs – us all over!

Megève is linked by direct bus to Sallanches, from where connecting services go all the way to Geneva and down to Chamonix. We actually skied out of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains most days. It takes about 30 minutes to make the connection across to Megève on the snow, using the cross-valley Rocharbois lift. For accommodation, this apartment near Megève village is a cosy option.

By Joseph Francis from The Surf Atlas

Courchevel

Skiing in the French Alps at Courchevel, one of the top ski resorts in the world, should be at the top of every ski enthusiasts bucket list.

Courchevel Resort, which has over 150km of pistes, is part of the Three Valleys ski area which also includes Val Thorens and Méribel. This means that your ski pass gives you access to over 600km of marked pistes so you can literally ski for days and never go on the same run twice.

Courchevel is both a fantastic skiing destination in France and a lovely alpine village
Courchevel – Credit Thrifty after 50

The villages at Courchevel are named based on altitude; Courchevel 1850, Courchevel Moriond 1650, Courchevel Village 1550, Courchevel Le Praz 1300. The altitude also gives you a fair indication of prices, although if you are visiting out of peak season you might be lucky to find a reasonably priced package that includes meals, ski hire and accommodation from one of the chalets in 1850

While Courchevel is known as the winter playground for the rich and famous, it doesn’t mean that the average family can’t afford to ski there; there are plenty of reasonably priced food and accommodation options in the lower villages. 

Skiing in France is a fantastic experience, especially in Courchevel
Courchevel – Credit Thrifty after 50

Regardless of your method of arrival, Courchevel has you covered. There’s an airport at 1850 if you have a private helicopter(!!) or you could drive or catch a bus up the mountain.

The nearby town of Moûtiers has all the major transport options, and you will pass through there to get to Courchevel. Moûtiers has a large bus and train station called ‘Gare de Moûtiers – Salins – Brides-les-Bains’. There are also several car hire offices just across the road from the train station such as Europcar and Hertz.

It will take you about 25min to drive up to the top of the mountain to 1850 or about an hour by bus. Whichever method you choose, Courchevel is an experience not to be missed.

By Susan Gan from Thrifty after 50

Tignes

Surrounded by glaciers and impressive three thousand metre peaks, Tignes in the French Alps is one of the highest and largest ski resorts in Europe. Together with neighbouring Val d’Isère, they form a world-renowned ski area, comprising over 300 kilometres of pistes of different slope difficulty levels under the name “Espace Killy”. Tignes actually includes five villages, Les Boisses and Les Brevieres which are further down the valley. Val Claret, Le Lac and Le Lavacher are located close to another and high up at 2100 m.

Tignes is one the highest ski resorts in France
Tignes – Credit Places and Notes

The first two are more authentic and count as original settlements, but are far away from all the action. Therefore I suggest you stay at one of the other three, which have better access to the ski area, more shops, restaurants and bars. As for accommodation, there are many options from fancy hotels to gorgeous self-catered chalets and cheap small apartments. As an experienced skier myself, I love Tignes mostly for its many challenging pistes and the possibility of sleeping on the ski slope, which is very convenient. It also has great nightlife, Après-Ski offers and amazing views on the mountains surrounding the village. For accommodation, this condominium in Tignes looks ideal.

Tignes is one of the few ski resorts in France with a proper cable car
Tignes – Credit Places and Notes

Due to the high altitude skiing is possible from November to May, with March being my favourite. You can travel to Tignes with your own vehicle, but you will have to leave it at one of the official car parks as the upper Tignes is car-free. The closest airports are Chambéry (135 km), Annecy (128 km) and Lyon (230 km) and the closest TGV train station is about 40 minutes bus or taxi drive away in Bourg St Maurice.

By Katja Mikos from Places & Notes

Chamonix

Chamonix is a great place to visit for a skip trip. Its numerous slopes, tranquil streets, and proximity to Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, make it a great winter excursion. The valley of Chamonix-Mont Blanc offers a good selection of ski slopes of various difficulties. You can find both valley and altitude ski areas, which are great both for beginners and experienced skiers. If you want to stretch yourself further there are also many cross country and off-piste trails.
For beginners and families, I recommend heading to Les Planards, a few minutes’ walk from the town centre. The area has four slopes (two very easy, one easy and one difficult) and it is home to the Chamonix Alpine Coaster Luge, an adrenaline-rush mountain coaster.

Chamonix has a great ski resort called Le Brévent
Chamonix – Credit Empnefsys & Travel

Another ski area a short walk or a quick bus ride from the town centre is Le Brévent. This area is more suited to experienced skiers as it is on an altitude and has only one easy slope. However, even if you don’t want to ski there, I recommend you still visit the area and take the cable car up the mountain to enjoy the beautiful views over the Chamonix valley.

To get to Chamonix you can either take the train or bus. The Gare Chamonix-Mont Blanc serves SNCF trains to nearby cities. If you are travelling by plane, the closest airport is Geneva and the easiest way to get to Chamonix from there is to take the bus.
The Whymper Chalet & Spa is a great place to base yourself while in Chamonix. The chalet has a small number of en-suite rooms and common areas right next to the city centre. You can enjoy complimentary breakfast in the dining room and views of Chamonix from the jacuzzi in the terrace.

By Elina Michaelidou from Empnefsys & Travel

What to pack for your French skiing holidays

I always pack a few warm essentials when I go skiing in France. You can easily rent skis and boots in local ski shops but having your own quality jacket, socks and gloves will make a huge difference!

Best time to ski in France

Skiing is quite popular during the winter school holidays in France, and the resorts book up quite quickly. Typically, the skiing season starts mid-december and finishes mid to late april. This depends of course of the snow conditions, but these days, most resorts have snow-making equipment. If you can avoid the Christmas break and the February school holidays, the slopes will be a bit quieter.

January and March are great months for skiing in the Alps. January can be very cold but you can find some of the best snow at that time of year. March is a bit sunnier but still with very good snow conditions. Later, April offers what is commonly called “spring skiing”. At times, you may even ski in your t-shirt!

Do you know of any top ski resorts in France I could add to this list? Please tell me in the comments below!

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This is the ultimate guide to the best places to ski in France
There are so many great places to ski in France, it's a tough choice
Choosing the best place to ski in France can be difficult

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24 Comments

  1. Jamie Italiane

    November 9, 2020 at 12:41 pm

    I have only skied in the US and Canada. What is a red slope, greater than a black? We have green, blue, black and double black diamond. When I was a kid, I would ski blacks, but the older I get the more I value the place and views, but would rather ski greens. It would be very cool to ski in the French Alps, but some after-ski fondue in the village of Les Contamines-Montjoie sounds pretty perfect.

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 9, 2020 at 1:10 pm

      Red slopes are advanced level. I’ve never heard of a double black diamond, you must have a different ranking system in the US. Double black diamond sounds scary though! As for the fondue, I’m pretty sure that’s only in the Alps!

  2. Eric Gamble

    November 12, 2020 at 10:35 am

    So I am an absolute disaster when I ski so most of these best places to ski in France may be a bit above my level. But I have to say that doesnt mean I dont want to visit them! I think if I had to choose any of them I would go to Courchevel and then maybe Tignes! Both look amazing and the views surrounding the ski areas look breath taking!

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 12, 2020 at 11:53 am

      Courchevel and Tignes are very famous and quite spectacular ski resorts, I would love to try them out too but my heart always takes me back to Les Contamines-Montjoie!

  3. Renee

    November 12, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    I gave up alpine skiing a long time ago, but you still had me at France! I think any of these would be an absolute dream. I would take part in the apres ski culture, and the ones with a tiny village would piqued my interest. The views are simply incredible.

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 13, 2020 at 3:30 pm

      Thank you, the views are incredible in Les Contamines. It’s only a small village but with a great buzz!

  4. Umiko

    November 13, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    I have never skied until today, but I enjoyed reading this as well as watching Winter Games. Every places look great to me, and it’s good that you can skiing until May in Tignes. I think it will be fun to watch people skiing in t-shirt in April.

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 13, 2020 at 3:33 pm

      Tignes is one of the highest resorts in France so they keep their snow for a long time, lucky them! But they don’t have that small village feel like Les Contamines!

  5. Taylor

    November 14, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    All of these ski resorts look so beautiful! I would love to go to the French Alps. Now I have more destinations on my bucket list. 🙂 Great article!

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 15, 2020 at 6:45 am

      Thanks Taylor, ski destinations are always on my bucket list!

  6. Katie Diederichs

    November 15, 2020 at 5:22 am

    I would LOVE to ski (well, actually snowboard) in France someday. I actually got a job back in 2016 at a ski chalet in Morzine, but my visa was denied because of high unemployment rates in Europe. It was a big bummer, but hopefully someday I’ll get to experience skiing in France!

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 15, 2020 at 6:47 am

      Skiing in France is fantastic! You have good snow, beautiful scenery and great food, a perfect combination!

  7. Alaine

    November 15, 2020 at 6:49 am

    Saving this post for a future time when it feels “safe” again to travel like I had done before. My last ski vacation was at the beginning of March just as covid19 cases started soaring in Italy. I was in Northern Sweden and was a bit panicking but was also not too worried since I was skiing solo and social distancing before it became mandatory and crucial.

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 15, 2020 at 11:02 am

      I was in Les Contamines-Montjoie when the pandemic hit in March 2020, and the ski resort closed down… it was a very short skiing holiday… There will be more in the future, I’m sure!

  8. Ophelie

    November 15, 2020 at 9:03 am

    As a Frenchwoman myself, I can tell that France offers many beautiful places to ski! It’s not so much my thing but I love to go to the mountains to enjoy the food and the landscapes!

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 15, 2020 at 11:03 am

      France is a great place to ski, I am very fond of Les Contamines-Montjoie. It’s a small resort but the ski and the scenery are both excellent!

  9. Alanna Koritzke

    November 15, 2020 at 10:35 am

    I was originally supposed to be in France this winter and had my trip postponed to summer! I would have loved to hit the slopes!

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 15, 2020 at 11:04 am

      We’ll have another chance to go back to France and hit the slopes, it’s just a question of time…

  10. Agnes

    November 15, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    Fantastic list! My husband’s missing out on ski season this year, and is NOT too happy about it. We’d love to get out and do some European skiing some day!

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 15, 2020 at 6:14 pm

      We only had three days of ski before the lockdown this year so it was pretty heartbreaking… But I know I will go back!

  11. Carrie Campbell

    November 15, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    Dream ski vacation! Love the post. Great info and beautiful photos.

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 16, 2020 at 9:38 am

      Thank you, hopefully skiing will be possible next year again!

  12. Marguerite

    November 15, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    I’m not much of a skier, but I would love to visit these places for the views. I lived in Switzerland for 6 months (from the end of the ski season until September) and loved being surrounded by mountain scenery.

    1. Delphine Mignon

      November 16, 2020 at 9:37 am

      There are some beautiful places in Switzerland, my village is not too far from the border and I go to Geneva from time to time. I would love to spend time near the Matterhorn and Zermatt.

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