Ski Resorts in France

From fancier resorts like Val Thorens to lesser-known places with tree-lined slopes, French Alps offer variety of resorts unlike any other country in the world. The Pyrenees and other mountain ranges offer skiing as well, that’s true, but hidden Alpine villages, traditional cottages, family-friendly lodges and modern hotels and resorts are what actually counts (if you ask the travelers – and who else would you ask?). Here are the best ski resorts in our beloved France!

1) Val d’Isère

Together with neighbouring Tignes, Val d’Isère shares the enormous ski area once known as Espace Killy which today has a bit more precise and logical name – Val d’Isère-Tignes. From the central spots like Solaise and Bellevarde lifts to the more quiet zones like Le Fornet and Le Laisinant, this resort has it all. Although most of the slopes are intermediate, it is not necessary to be an expert to have a good time here. But those of you who are, you will have the unique opportunity to make the most out of the challenging terrain (on and off piste). Bellevarde backside is the departure point for a huge area of different slopes that lead towards Tignes in one way and Val in the opposite direction.

2) Chamonix

Chamonix is a well-known name in the skiing world thanks to its huge vertical descents and off-piste terrain. It’s not just an average ski resort – the charming valley town at the foot of Mont Blanc adds to the full charm as well. However, if you are not too brave to try one of those crazy pistes, there are five easier ski areas in the valley (though being a short distance from the town, they are served by regular bus / train lines). Chamonix’s most popular off-piste terrain is the Vallée Blanche descent, which can be reached by the world’s highest vertically-established cable car. The ski routes are mostly accessed along an exposed arête, so do not try reaching them without a guide.

3) St Martin de Belleville

The prettiest and quietest of the giant Trois Vallées ski area, St Martin de Belleville has awaken its usually low-key profile over the past few years. This old cheese-productive village in the Belleville Valley today offers a quite different experience from the nearby resorts like Courchevel and Méribel. A fast gondola followed by a chair will take you from the village to the ridge above Les Allues and Belleville valleys. There you will find pistes leading to Méribel, Les Menuires and other resorts in the Trois Vallées and red and blue runs which will take you back down to St Martin. If you are a more experienced skier, then try out the off-piste area from top of Point de la Masse back to St Martin.

4) Méribel

The party Mekka of the giant Trois Vallées ski area, Méribel, gets overcrowded every year with tourists who know how to party in style. The fun starts at 3pm with a DJ in La Folie Douce, after which the clientele migrates to the Rond Point (known as The Ronny as well), located right above the main village. Live bands and fantastic atmosphere are what attracts visitors of all generations. Other popular spots for a good night fun are Jack’s Bar, La Taverne, Le Pub and Barometer. However, we must mention the skiing part (that’s why you are here, aren’t you?) – Méribel’s slopes are long and mostly intermediate, providing easy access to the rest of the Trois Vallées ski area.

5) Val Thorens

If you’re looking for the best of the best, then Val Thorens with its highest point in altitude in the Trois Vallées ski area is the optimal choice. The highest ski resort in France and Europe too with peaks passing 3200 meters provides a very good snow quality and good skiing conditions throughout the entire season. With those heights, many glacier points in Val Thorens offer breathtaking mountain views all over the other side of the valley. The resort is also home to the biggest night club in the Alps, Malaysia, and to numerous other bars and restaurants offering live music, good food and a cozy atmosphere, which is all you need after a whole day on the skies, right?

6) Courchevel

Popular for its luxury and extremely high real estate prices, Courchevel is at the end of the enormous Trois Vallées ski area, with a total of 150 km of pistes and 99 runs (green, blue, red and black, you can find them all). Thanks to the many north-facing slopes, Courchevel’s snow is possibly the best one in the entire ski area, and there are terrains suitable for all types of skiers, from total beginners to super-experts. The resorts best-known four villages are named after numbers, so once you’re there, make sure to pay attention to Courchevel 1850, 1650, 1550 and 1300 – the best time is waiting for you right there.

7) Alpe d’Huez

With sun for 300 days a year, Alpe d’Huez serves up some of the best slopes in Europe. The beginner area is fantastic, but the black and red runs rule the resort. The highlight, however, is the Tunnel black, one of the toughest pistes in the Alps, starting with (yes, it’s that obvious), a tunnel which leaves you at the top of a scary field. Built in the middle of the ski area, with a recognizable church and few activities for non-skiers, such as dog-sledding, spa treatments and winter paragliding. For easier slope access, stay in the higher resorts in the suburban area.

8) La Plagne

La Plagne is part of the enormous Paradiski area, along with Les Arcs and Peisey-Vallandry. The three resorts together have 425 km of slopes best suited to lower intermediates and families. However, if you think you are better than an average beginner, it offers some more challenging terrains for everyone who feels capable enough. Developed in the 60s to save the valley’s agriculture and mining activities and industries, today the resort boasts wonderful views and a bobsleigh put in track for the 1992 Olympics. From the amazing opportunity to go down the bobsleigh track to the chance to ride around on a snowmobile and relax at the spa.

9) La Clusaz

La Clusaz, an old alpine village close to the Swiss border, has been working on its winter sport activities ever since 1907. As a former agricultural village, the resort still keeps its historic charm despite having transformed into a popular ski resort. Close to the city of Geneva and Lake Annécy, La Clusaz offers well-established intermediate and advanced slopes (often unfairly overlooked by skiers driving past on their way to other famous resorts in the Tarentaise Valley. Together with the smaller Manigod, La Clusaz shares 132 km of slopes, only a short distance away from Le Grand Bornand and its satellite village, St Jean de Sixt (all 4 covered by the Aravis lift pass covering the total of 220 km of ski area).

10) Serre Chevalier

Serre Chevalier is a name including a dozen villages along the road from the town of Briançon, situated in the southern Alps. The villages offer 250 km of varied (but mostly intermediate) slopes, all served by 61 lifts. Although a bit smaller and less hi-tech than some other fancier resorts, Serre Chevalier is very friendly, relaxing and oozes Gallic atmosphere. The most popular village is a picturesque spa resort called Monêtier Les Bains, but the neighbouring villages Villeneuve and Chantemerle are also often chosen by visitors. The resort has been developing handiski for years as well, and you can check the offer for the disabled skiers online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *