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.
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.
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, 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.
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
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.
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.
By Joseph Francis from The Surf Atlas
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
|Women's Ski Jacket||Alphelia Lifaloft Ski Jacket||Helly Hansen||Buy on Amazon|
|Drift Snowboard & Ski Helmet||Polycarbonate||Wildhorn||Buy on Amazon|
|Snow Goggles||Airbrake XL||Oakley||Buy on Amazon|
|Mercury Ski Gloves||100% waterproof||Black Diamond||Buy on Amazon|
|Merino wool women's ski socks||Over the Calf||Icebreaker||Buy on Amazon|
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!
Best Ski Resort in France
Surviving a Pandemic
French Alps Panorama
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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