Some people thrive off the sun’s rays on hot summer days, the smell of sunblock, and finding the best tropical beach holiday. Those who become somewhat of a walking blanket in winter. Others feel that rush of excitement, chomping at the bit as the last leaves fall, and the first blanket of snow settles. For those, like popcorn on a skillet, its ‘ski season’! Finding the ultimate ski holiday and the best winter resort is essential.
France is recognized as having some of the best ski resorts in the world! It’s renowned not only for its immaculate snow conditions and resorts, but also the scrumptious food and culture the French Alps have to offer. To get the pinnacle of Alpine adventures, you need to find the best resort suited for you. Find your opportunity to ski in France!
Top 5 Skiing Resorts in France
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Ski resorts in France are found in mountainous areas and are primarily villages or towns. They are developed for winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding. Finding your magical ski holidays in France can be somewhat overwhelming. Skiing season in France starts from mid-December and lasts up until March-April. Here is a list of the top resorts and ski areas in France to get you onto those slopes!
Chamonix, a serene Alpine retreat known as the ‘Capital of Mountain Skiing,’ is the ‘cream of the crop’ when it comes to skiing in France. This famous French ski resort was home to the first Winter Olympics hosted in 1924, on the highest peak in Europe. Chamonix sits at the foot of Mont-Blanc which rises to 4,807 meters altitude. It’s an expert’s stary dream, an off-piste lover’s paradise, and an optimum place for the perfect ski holiday!
Chamonix offers some of the best and most challenging slopes for experts and adventure seekers, but it also has some fantastic beginner terrain such as Le Tour, at the La Balme ski area. The Chamonix valley consists of five ski resorts, namely; Grands Montets, Les Houches, Le Tour, La Flegere, and Le Brevet. These resorts offer endless entertaining opportunities aside from skiing. It’s one of the oldest ski resorts whose buildings have been preserved until today, and is dominated by Victorian Architecture.
The Vallee Blanche is a 20-kilometer off-piste glacier run and is a must-ski in the Chamonix valley! It’s run is a vertical descent of 2,700 meters. It can be accessed from the Aiguille du Midi at 3,842 meters, and ends off in Chamonix. To get there, you would need to get on the world’s highest vertical ascent cable car. The view is spectacularly rewarding on the way up and the way down!
The Les Grands Montets Ski Resort
The Les Grands Montets ski area is the most popular ski resort in the Chamonix Valley. It is situated 8km above Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, and its summit reaches 3,295 meters, making it the resort with the most significant drop in height on Earth! Most of its area is above the treelines, and has the largest pisted area covering over 1800 hectares in the Chamonix valley. It’s one of the most alluring places with its off-piste routes from high glaciers to its extreme runways.
Where to stay in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc
- Best budget hotel in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc – Chamonix Lodge
- Best Mid-range hotel in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc – Residence & Spa Vallorcine Mont-Blanc
- Best Luxury hotel in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc- Hotel Mont-Blanc
Val d’Isere is rated as one of the best resorts in the world, and for good reason. It’s one of the most upmarket resorts in France, with its deluxe chalets, boutiques, après-ski entertainment (after-ski scene), and premium hotels. It’s situated in the Espace Killy area, named after Jean-Claude Killy, a triple gold medal Olympic winner who dominated these mountains. There are 78 ski lifts joining the Val d’Isere and Tignes slopes, supplying a variety of terrain for all levels.
Val d’Isere and Tignes, cover a combined area of 300 kilometers of perfect ski slopes, spanning into three sectors. Val d’Isere is known for its challenging skiing slopes, quality lifts to off-piste terrain, and high-altitude glacial areas. With an elevation of 1,8500 meters and heavy snowfall, these slopes turnout the longest ski seasons and are great for advanced, expert skiers. It also has one of the most extensive artificial snowmaking operations in the world!
Although this resort has a reputation for advanced skiers, recently it has redeveloped to become beginner-friendly. There are nurseries on the Front de Neige and another area at La Daille. On the nursery slopes, you can find some popular après ski areas with live bands and DJs for those looking for a cheeky time. P’tit cross is an area designed for children with more experience and is alongside the green run on the Massif de Bellevarde.
Le Fornet (the Pissaillas Glacier) is on the eastern edge and is the highest in the area. The central Solaise sector is made up of blue and red pistes. The notorious Bellevarde area falls above La Daille and Val d’Isere and is home to the 1992 Olympic “La Face” Black run. Another grand and off-piste track challenge is the Vallée Perdue.
Where to Stay in Val d’Isère
- Best budget hotel in Val d’Isère – Le Samovar Hotel & Chalets
- Best Mid-range hotel in Val d’Isère – Hotel Avenue Lodge
- Best Luxury hotel in Val d’Isère – Hotel Avancher
The Three Valleys: Courchevel, Meribel, and Val Thorens
Courchevel, Meribel, and Val Thorens are three of the eight resorts that are part of the Three Valleys. These Three Valleys make up over 600 kilometers of ski slopes, 335 ski runs, and have more than 160 ski lifts. Making it the largest skiing area on Earth! Three Valleys combined make up the perfect slopes, are immaculately well-groomed, and cater for every level of skiing from beginner to expert.
Each resort has its own ambiance and feel, tending to all types of vacationists. These Valleys offer unique ski places in France. The three main ski resorts here are; the upmarket Courchevel, gorgeous Maribel, and popular Val Thornes. There are instructors and ski rental places just about everywhere you look, allowing for one of the most extraordinary ski holiday experiences.
Courchevel is the most extensive and most expensive of the Three Valleys resorts. Courchevel is popular amongst the upmarket, wealthy tourists, and celebrities. It’s the creme de la creme of ski resorts. It’s famous for its five-star luxury hotels and is home to seven Michelin Star restaurants.
It has world-class pistes, and the best ski systems connecting visitors to Meribel and Val Thornes. Its slopes are north-facing, giving it the best top-quality snow-sure pistes and more than 100 kilometers of ski runs to choose from. Its snowfall ranges between 1,300 to 3,230 meters and the resort spans between 1,300 – 1,850 meters.
Amidst the skiing, there are some other fantastic activities to join in on. You can witness some of the most jaw-dropping views from hot air balloons, take a magical helicopter ride, or experience snowboarding, snowmobiling, and dogsledding. The list is endless. One of the most delectable things to try is the hot chocolate at “Le Chalet de Pierres” that is well suited with its picturesque scenery.
Where to Stay in Courchevel
- Best budget hotel in Courchevel – Pomme de Pin
- Best Mid-range hotel in Courchevel – White 1921 Courchevel
- Best Luxury hotel in Courchevel – Hôtel Barrière Les Neiges Courchevel
Méribell is the ham in the sandwich, between the three valleys, and has the World’s Largest Ski Area! It’s known to be one of the more attractive and most remarkable of the three ski resorts in the area. It’s situated much lower and has wooden alpine buildings. It has a broad network of green runs, perfect for beginners, and it’s connected to Courchevel and Val Thorens for the more experienced.
Its terrain sits between 1,450 to 1,700 meters in altitude, with lifts over 200 meters, and its top lift reaching 3,230 meters. Méribel offers some quaint pubs, with the majority of its inhabitants being English speakers. This resort is known for its after-ski scene. Folie Douce and the Rond point are the most popular and attractive amongst the venues for after ski entertainment. This resort is also excellent for families with children.
Where to Stay in Méribel
- Best budget hotel in Méribel – Hotel Le savoy
- Best Mid-range hotel in Méribel – Hotel & Spa Merilys
- Best Luxury hotel in Méribel – Le Kaila
Val Thorens is renowned for its excellent snow quality and has repeatedly won the award for the ‘World’s Best Ski Resort.’ It sits at an altitude of 2,300 meters and top peak reaching to 3,230 meters. Making it the highest resort in Europe, with skiable peaks at 3,220 meters! Being above the treeline, this resort offers some magnificent panoramic views.
Val Thorens offers 150 km of ski slopes for all levels and has over 2000 snowmaking machines covering the ski area, guaranteeing an extended ski season in the French Alps. The ski Season in Val Thorens usually lasts between November to May. The resort lies at the front of Belleville valley and is associated and linked to several other resorts in the area. This resort offers ski-in, ski-out and doorstep skiing on all of its properties.
Val Thorens is known to be the more ‘vibey’ and entertaining of the resorts in the Three Valleys, with countless bars and the biggest night club in the Alps. Making it one of the best ski and snowboarding destinations for party-goers and night owls. La Folie Douce offers a great ambiance and is a fabulous place to end your day in the snow. It has some fun entertainment for those who want to let their hair down.
Where to Stay in Val Thorens
- Best budget hotel in Val Thorens – Le Val Thorens
- Best Mid-range hotel in Val Thorens – Fahrenheit Seven Val Thorens
- Best Luxury hotel in Val Thorens – Hotel Pashmina Le Refuge
Top France Ski Resorts Summary
French Alps skiing holidays offer, astounding views, skiing lover’s dreams, snowboarder’s best shreds, beginner’s first obsessions, and only the highest grade snow. Skiing has outgrown its origins as being a sport for the adventurous mountaineers and has become a perfect mainstream winter activity for the family. France’s mountain ranges and summits are a skier’s wonderland, offering some of the most well-groomed terrains around.
Can you hear the sound of your skis carving through the snow? Are you eager to find the best après-ski o’clock places? To taste some magnificent wine paired with fondue, or guzzle down some delectable chocolate? Book the best ski holiday France has to offer and start charging your GoPro! We hope this guide has steered you to your snow paradise.