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Ski Holidays in the French Alps
Top place among legendary ski destinations goes to the French Alps, home to the three largest ski areas in the world, and well known for the quantity and quality of the snow and skiing itself.
The French Alps is also famous for its breathtaking views, pretty villages full of chalets and history, great food, and a joie de vivre you only find in France.
Some of the best ski resorts in France lie on the north-facing slopes of the Alps, in the French Savoie, and even if they all offer pretty much great skiing and a wide range of winter activities, there is always something that makes them unique.
If you are considering the French Alps for your ski holidays in France, this guide will help you. For this piece, we asked some travel bloggers and friends about their favorite ski resorts in French Alps for skiing, lodging, and winter activities.
From Portes du Soleil area to the Trois Vallées and Val d’Isère, here’s the list of top ski resorts in the French Alps for ski and après-ski.
GOOD TO KNOW
Paradiski is a ski area in the Tarentaise Valley of France that offers uninterrupted skiing in between the areas of Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry, and La Plagne. In total over the three French ski resorts, there are 160 lifts and 425 km of pistes.
Tignes – Val d’Isère, formerly known as Espace Killy, is the combined ski resort area of Val d’Isère and Tignes in the Tarentaise Valley.
Les Trois Vallées, in the Tarentaise Valley, is the largest ski area in the world which is connected solely by ski lifts and slopes. It claims to have about 600 km of ski slopes, and there are 120 km for cross-country skiing. Here, you will find the French ski resorts of Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens, and four other stations.
Suggested by Roshni | The Wanderlust Within
Part of the Paradiski ski area, Les Arcs is the second largest ski resort in the world. Les Arcs is accessible from Geneva and Lyon Airport and also via the Eurostar to Bourg St Maurice. The resort is unique as it is made up of five sites ranging from 1,600 to 2,000 meters, and has 262 runs, so it caters to every level of skier from first-timers and children to enthusiasts.
Les Arcs is open until late Spring and is considered one of the best places in the world to ski during April. This is also a great time to take advantage of the ski schools to learn or improve your skills.
Les Arcs is one of the best french ski resorts in the Alps to visit whether you are a skier or not. There are plenty of winter activities to offer including helicopter rides, snowshoeing, husky rides, and even the highest mountain yoga session in Europe!
In the evenings you can relax in the spa or enjoy the nightlife, before waking up early to get out on the slopes.
Suggested by Steve | Ski Resorts Network
The ‘purpose-built family-friendly’ reputation of La Plagne is a touch misleading. This ski area in the Tarentaise Valley perched high above the town of Aime helps form one of the largest connected ski regions in the world.
And the 11 different resort hamlets have plenty of variety when it comes to accommodation and ambiance. Yes, Aime 2,000 with its striking architecture might split opinions, but Belle Plagne is an attractively designed modern ‘ski village’, and Champagny and Montchavin were both proper Savoyard settlements before the ski lifts arrived.
The connection over to the neighboring Les Arcs skiing forms the Paradiski ski region and it is, as its name suggests, a paradise for the intermediate skier.
But expert skiers should not dismiss the options either. Its reputation as a great place for families and those of moderate ability means that there are plenty of gullies, bump runs, and powder stashes that do not get as busy as their equivalents in a traditional ‘experts’ resort’ such as Val d’Isère.
Ski schools are available in all the hamlets and, while nightlife is not exactly rocking, there are enough bars, restaurants, and clubs to keep hardened après-skiers moderately happy. Oh, and there is even an Olympic bobsleigh run for adrenaline junkies…
Suggested by Paul | The Two that Do
Chamonix in the shadow of Mont Blanc near the borders with Italy and Switzerland is not just any ski resort in the French Alps. Home in 1924 to the very first Winter Olympic Games, Chamonix is one of the world’s most famous and prestigious ski destinations.
This is winter glamour at its very finest so perhaps despite its 106 pistes over 119 km and first-rate ski school, it is not the best option for the true beginner.
As you’d expect for such a high profile resort, Chamonix is far more than just skiing. For those in need of yet more activity, there are many mountaineering and hiking options in addition to indoor sports such as tennis and swimming. Alternatively, take a trip by cable car to the top of the adjacent Aiguille du Midi. The closest visitors can reach Mont Blanc without climbing is one of Europe’s top experiences.
Chamonix is of course also a haven for fabulous restaurants and chic bars for unbeatable apres-ski rejuvenation and boasts a great range of boutiques and local stores for retail therapy.
Spend just a couple of days here and you’ll agree that there is no other ski resort quite like Chamonix.
Suggested by Susan | Thrifty After 50
Courchevel is one of the world-class ski resorts in the Alps, located in southeastern France near the Swiss and Italian borders. The resort consists of four villages which are named based on altitude; Courchevel 1850, Courchevel Moriond 1650, Courchevel Village 1550, Courchevel Le Praz 1300. You will find that as the villages go up in altitude so does the cost of food and accommodation!
While the Courchevel Resort does have a considerable reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, it is also the perfect location for the average family holiday as well.
There are 150 km of pistes at Courchevel plus an additional 450km of pistes if you include Val Thorens and Méribel, the other two resorts in Les 3 Vallées. For the beginners in your group, there is a top-rated ski school and 27 of the 119 runs are green.
For non-skiers, there are lots of activities including hanging out at the pool and spa center, visiting the Family Fun Park, going sledging, ice skating, bowling, or even rock climbing. You can also go for a ride on a snowmobile or fly over Courcheval in a helicopter.
If you still have lots of energy after a long day out on the slopes there are plenty of pubs, wine bars, and restaurants to keep you entertained, including several Michelin starred restaurants.
Suggested by Norbert | France Bucket List
Méribel is one of the ski resorts of the Trois Vallées, located at the center of the Tarentaise Valley between the ski resorts of Courchevel and Val Thorens.
The ski area around Méribel has a wide network of green pistes perfect for beginners. Good connections via lift to both Courchevel and Val Thorens mean there is also a wide spectrum of slopes for intermediate and advanced skiers to explore.
The highest skiing in Méribel begins on Mont Vallon, at 2,952 meters. With a 1,000-meter descent, it is great for thrill-seekers and it comes with awesome Alpine views.
The village at Méribel is one of the prettiest villages in the French Alps. It is set on a hill, with traditional chalets built from local materials and it is known for having a lively party atmosphere with great après-ski.
Suggested by Pauline | BeeLoved City
L’Alpe d’Huez is one of the most popular ski resorts in the French Alps. It’s located in Isere and the nearest main city is Grenoble (60km). To get there, you will need to drive up a bendy and steep road. If you don’t have a car, you can also opt for one of the shuttles from the airport.
There are 111 ski slopes so you will have so much to choose from. Most of the green and blue slopes are located near the village so you won’t need to go too far. The main ski school is ESF Alpe d’Huez and it’s located in the heart of the village.
If you are an experienced skier or snowboarder, make sure to go to the top of the Pic Blanc first thing in the morning. You can then make your way down alternating black, red, and blue slopes.
The great thing about L’Alpe d’Huez is that your ski pass will give you access to 7 domains. However, make sure to make your way back to your preferred resort before 3 pm otherwise you may be stuck in one of the other villages.
The village also has loads to offer for non-skiers. You will find spas, ice-rinks, and shops. In the evening, go grab a drink and try one of the local dishes such as the fondue.
Suggested by Mel | MelB Travel
Morzine is one of my favorite ski resorts in France, which suits all levels. It has a large range of green and blue pistes that are wide and great for beginners and families. It is located in the Portes Du Soleil, one of the biggest ski areas in the world. It easy to get to and great if you want to go for a weekend, as it’s only an hour and a half from Geneva.
There are plenty of ski schools in the resort too with instructors who speak both French and English. The meeting point is located at the top of the main cable car Pleney, where most of the easy piste is located.
For the more advanced skier or groups, you have a nice selection of both red and black piste mostly in the Nyon plateau ski area. Or you can ski over to one of the other 12 resorts that make up the 650 km of piste in the Portes Du Soleil area.
If you are looking for activities off the piste, then you have a variety of options. Non-skiers you can take a horse-drawn carriage ride or go ice-skating on the indoor or outdoor rink. For groups, you can venture to one of many bars for après ski or attend an ice hockey match.
Suggested by Norbert | France Bucket List
Val d’Isère, in the Espace Killy, is a great choice for everyone. Surrounded by 3,000-plus-meter peaks, Val d’Isère shares with the smaller resort of Tignes a ski area all above 1,500m with plenty of pistes (and off-pistes) for all levels to explore. Here, there’s enough choice to fill several days of skiing without repeating piste!
Beginners have many good ski schools to choose from whilst experienced skiers may want to try the Face de Bellevarde, the infamous 1992 Olympic black run, or it’s the superb off-piste skiing.
Val d’Isère is also well-known for its historic alpine charm, stylish chalets close to the lifts, and lively après-ski scene. Here, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and other fun activities for non-skiers whilst party-goers will find the highest cabaret in the world (La Folie Douce, 2,400m) where DJs, dancers, and musicians come to perform all season.
Suggested by Norbert | France Bucket List
Lesser-known than other ski resorts in the French Alps, La Clusaz is a great destination for a skiing getaway. Its location – only an hour’s drive from Geneva airport in Switzerland – is another appealing factor for skiers arriving from overseas.
La Clusaz has 120km of pistes with magnificent views but it is also an ideal spot for backcountry skiing and there are even freeriding schools here.
La Clusaz is ideal for intermediate skiers (half the runs are rated blue) but experts will also have fun with the challenging, long runs in La Balme area.
La Clusaz is also a lively little town, and definitely a good option for those who prefer the atmosphere of a traditional Alpine town to purpose-built ski resorts. The town boasts traditional architecture, a pretty church, and a weekly market (on Mondays). It also has lively après-ski, with plenty of restaurants, and shops to cater to locals and skiers.
And there you have it, the list of best ski resorts in French Alps, which one tempts you most for your ski holidays in the French Alps?