France is the most popular place in the world to go skiing and is home to countless mountainous resorts, both large and small, and the number is ever growing. Although France can be a little bit more expensive than Austria, Italy and up and coming Eastern European ski resorts, you can often find a cheap deals when travelling out of peak season. In our guide below, we compare the best ski resorts in France and some of our own favourites. Plan your ultimate adventure trip to the alps!
When to go skiing in France?
As with most of Europe, most of the best ski resorts in France open in November and close in April, with the most snow falling at the start of the season. The Christmas and New Year period are always the most popular time to ski but they’re also the most expensive time to go. For a cheaper but just as fun experience, we’d recommend visiting in the months of February or March. Pre-Christmas is also excellent if you can get a good deal.
Which French ski resort should you visit?
Resort: Val d’Isere
Best for: Experts and Intermediate. Even blue resorts here are more difficult than similar classifications in other resorts and the black slopes are some of the most challenging around
Val d’Isere area pistes: 22 green | 61 blue | 46 red | 25 black
How to get there: Fly from the UK to either Chambery or Geneva Airport and catch a bus transfer to the resort. Chambery transfer – 2 hours. Geneva transfer – 2 hours 50 minutes.
Val d’Isere is a ski resort in the French Alps, bordering Italy and near the other popular ski resort of Tignes. There are 300km of pistes and 94 lifts, giving you a vast area to ski and perfect for a week away. It attracts a lot of expert and pro-snow sports enthusiast’s due to the challenging pistes but as with most resorts, the majority of the crowd is intermediate with some level of previous experience due to the steep slopes.
The town itself is very pretty and has been developed a lot over the past 30 years, constantly adding new accommodation and lifts. Val d’Isere can be pretty expensive for almost everything so it’s best suited to expert ski-ers wanting a new challenge or if you can find a good deal.
Resort: Val Thorens
Best for: All levels of experience and ages
Val Thorens area pistes: 11 green | 29 blue | 29 red | 9 black
How to get there: Fly from the UK to either Chambery or Geneva Airport and catch a bus transfer to the resort. Chambery transfer – 1 hour 30 minutes. Geneva transfer – 2 hours 30 minutes.
Val Thorens was built for snow sports. It’s the highest resort in Europe and located in the Belleville Valley, surrounded by steep slopes and excellent views of the mountain. It’s quite a varied resort for clientele, attracting everyone from complete beginners to seasoned veterans of the snow, and has slopes to such each range of experience.
The village itself is undergoing constant development, with a selection of boutique hotels and upmarket restaurants popping up left and right. It has the feel of a luxury ski resort but is large and varied enough to cater to all budgets.
Val Thorens also has a vibrant nightlife, attracting 20-something year olds on university ski trips and GAP years, but also has a number of classy bars and restaurants, making après life suitable for adults of all ages. Our top recommended bars in the resort are Snow Café International and 360 Bar. It’s one of the best ski resorts in France for a luxury ski trip!
Best for: All levels of experience and ages
Tignes area pistes: 22 green | 61 blue | 46 red | 25 black
How to get there: Fly from the UK to either Chambery or Geneva Airport and catch a bus transfer to the resort. Chambery transfer – 1 hour 35 minutes. Geneva transfer – 2 hours 30 minutes.
Tignes is one of the most popular options from the best ski resort in France and is known for its almost year-round snow and vast selection of slopes. It neighbours Val d’Isere, sharing 300km of the glacier for varying levels of skiing experience. Whereas a lot of French resorts are centred around a single town or village, Tignes is made up of 5 villages, sprawling down the side of the mountain. Each of the villages has a range of accommodation, generally getting more expensive the further you are up the slope, however they’re interlinked by accessible bus transfers.
We’d recommend staying in the village of Val Claret. It’s very close to the slopes so you don’t have to get regular transfers and the variety of accommodation, restaurants, bars and shops is quite diverse, catering to both budget and higher-end ski holidays.
Tignes is great for those who like a large resort with a wide variety and difficulty of slopes and plenty of bars, restaurants and shops to enjoy on an evening.
The resort isn’t the prettiest to look at due to archaic apartments buildings and a lot of development, and it doesn’t have a nightlife to shout about, however if you’re looking for some of the best snow sports slopes in the world, it’s the perfect choice due to the vast amount of different options and thick snowfall.
Best for: Excellent for families. Slopes are good for both beginners and intermediate
Avoriaz area pistes: 3 green | 26 blue | 14 red | 6 black
How to get there: Fly from the UK to either Chambery or Geneva Airport and catch a bus transfer to the resort. Chambery transfer – 2 hours. Geneva transfer – 1 hour 45 minutes.
Avoriaz was purposely built for snow sports and fulfils its purpose brilliantly. The village is a pedestrian only zone, making it ideal for families. Let the kids run free and enjoy the slopes or grab a spot of lunch. The resort has a kid’s snow sports school, ideal for keeping them entertained all day whilst you explore the more challenging slopes or have a romantic lunch. Avoriaz Alpine Ski School age bracket groups ranging from 6 – 8 year olds to 11 – 15 year olds and those in between.
Each age bracket also has lessons for varying levels of experience, perfect for complete beginners or kid’s that have a few ski seasons under their belt. Places are limited so book lessons well in advance. The ski school and varied difficulty slopes, combined with family suited accommodation and amenities, make Avoriaz one of the most popular family resorts.
Note, Avoriaz can be particularly busy at weekends and hotel accommodation can be difficult to come by, particularly during the peak season due to the small size of the village. Book as far in advance as possible. The resort of Les Gets is another family orientated resort worth researching.
Resort: Méribel – World Travel Toucan Favourite
Best for: All levels of experience and ages
Meribel area pistes: 10 green | 34 blue | 24 red | 9 black
How to get there: Fly from the UK to either Chambery or Geneva Airport and catch a bus transfer to the resort. Chambery transfer – 1 hour 15 minutes. Geneva transfer – 2 hours 15 minutes.
Méribel is our favourite French ski resort. It has rows of pretty chalets and is linked to nearby resorts to make it one of the largest and most impressive areas of the world to ski and snowboard. It’s a large resort attracting skiiers of all nationalities but has a very warm and intimate vibe, particularly at night where the village comes alive. Hands down, Méribel is the best party resort in France, attracting lots of 18-30-year olds but also an older clientele. Nightlife venues range from chilled out pubs and live music bars to lively clubs, making it a diverse choice for all ages.
The slopes cater to both complete beginners to the more advanced crowd looking for a challenge. The joy of having so many slope options and difficulties is being able to progress to more challenging slopes throughout your stay. Meribel is also close to the Three Valleys ski area, giving you access to a vast 497 more pistes.
For first timers wanting a full winter holiday experience Méribel is ideal, although it can get very busy so we’d recommend booking well in advance. If a quieter resort is more your style, check out Serre Chevalier.
Other France ski resorts worth researching:
- Alpe d’Huez
- Les Gets
Top tips for a France skiing holiday
- France Ski trips can be expensive. If you’re looking for a cheaper trip why not just visit for the weekend. Flights are cheap and short in duration so you have plenty of time to explore the slopes in a Friday to Sunday short break
- Another money saving tip is to stay in a Chalet over a self-catering apartment or hotel. You’ll meet new people and save money on food and drinks with an all inclusive package
- If you’re travelling with kids, be sure to choose one of the bigger ski resorts. There will be plenty of family activities and things to keep the kid’s entertained. There will also be plenty of other children and teenagers for them to make friends with
- Flights are generally quite cheap if you travel out of peak season. Take advantage of price comparison engines such as Skyscanner for flight and resort transfer comparison to get the best prices
- Do a lot of price comparison shopping before you book. A lot of the time, booking directly with the resort and accommodation can be cheaper than a travel agent. Prices are also negotiable in our experience
- When buying travel insurance (which you definitely should do), remember to mention that you’re doing winter snow sports. You may not be covered if you don’t select it
We hope we’ve given you a sample of the best ski resorts in France and you’re ready to jet off to the slopes for a winter adventure! The cosy atmosphere and variety of slope difficulties in the big resorts will always make the French Alps one of the best places to go skiing in the world.