Skiing in France – here’s what you need to know.
Skiing in France is probably the least thing you expect when visiting the country. What you don’t know is that France is a top-destination for tourists who want to ski.
There are approximately 254 ski resorts in France with 10, 193 kilometres of snowcapped terrains and 3, 145 ski lifts that will take you to the most beautiful pistes.
Skiing in France is a little pricier than in neighboring alpine countries like Austria, Australia, Spain, or Bulgaria. However, the place offers assuring experience to every tourist who comes here for winter fun and adventure.
The French Savoie offers the most iconic ski resorts for skiers of all levels. However, if you’re looking for world-class mountains where Olympians practice and win, you can come by the Alps. France feature surreal drops, easy accessibility, and various terrains.
The après-ski in the country is more subdued compared to other countries like Austria but it doesn’t run out of bliss. So we have listed the top places to hit on your next vacation. Of course, make sure to refer to our list for your next trip to France.
Val d’isere offers the best skiing in France. With over 3, 000 metres peaks and 150 ski lifts, Val d’isere unquestionably a favorite ski resort for most Olympians. During winter, it can hit 1, 550 meters elevation making it very attractive for avid skiers.
Val d’isere has various terrains for skiers of all levels. Beginners can even enjoy the high-mountain view through the “travelator”, a moving pathway enclosed in a transparent wall. Expert skiers can access the 45-degree North Face of Pramecou and the Tigne, featuring snowfields that soar higher than the timber lines.
Skiing in France is not complete without going to Bellevarde. Featuring 2, 807 metres of sloping black run, Bellevarde is perhaps the most popular terrain at Val d’isere. It is accessible through Tines from the central part of Val d’isere.
Advanced skiers can journey to the pièce de resistance down the Face de Bellevarde. The route here can be very intimidating but alternatives are available at Joseray, Épaule de Charvet, or Santon. Épaule de Charvet is often crowded during peak season. You can take a comfortable 6-minute ride uphill through the Olympique, a chairlift or via Loyes chairlift. Those who like a challenge can try the Epaule du Charvet, at Rocher De Bellevarde.
World-class tournaments have already been held in Bellevarde such as the 1992 Winter Olympics and 2009 Alpine Ski World Championships.
Le Fornet is a quiet place to ski during winter. It offers calm and relaxing ambiance that other skiing resorts don’t have. Other activities you can enjoy here are hiking, snowboarding, or snow cruising.
This small town is situated 5 kilometres outside Val d’Isere. Just take a 10-minute free bus from the town or directly from the Solaise slopes. The same bus can take you to Solaise, Bellevarde and La Daille ski areas.
A soaring 3, 500 metres of snow rests perfectly at Pointe du Montet, on the Pissaillas glacier. Chairlifts are available everywhere to take you to the wonderful spots within Le Fornet.
Located at the centre of the Val d’isere, Le Solaise is another must-visit location in France. It offers three skiing spots which include The Glaciers bowl, L and Mattis.
The ski resort is divided further into beautiful terrains and pistes such as Madeleine, Arcelle and Manchet. Tete de Solaise is for thrill-seekers and skiers who have received complete ski training.
The trails around these areas are very difficult though. Beginners can take the chairlifts down to the village. A nursery ski area is also available in Le Solaise where inexperienced skiers can train. The 12 green pistes are best for beginners, including the 24 blue pistes. There are also black pistes for advanced skiers.
There are approximately 18 English speaking ski schools located are available around Val d’isere. You can drop by New Generation Ski School where you can learn to ski or snowboard. Learning to ski is best done when you’re with the whole family or a bunch of friends.
Off-piste introductory courses and advanced skiing courses are also available. It is advised to book a program before hand, especially during peak months.
You can take your ski class at Oxygene Ski School where you can find most of the tourists. However, if you want to focus on off-piste classes, you better go to Alpine Experience Ski School. They offer classes that can guide you on how to traverse the Espace Killy and its surrounding areas.
Specialists ski classes are available in Mountain Masters with British and French ski instructors. You can actually pre-book your ski classes to allow shops to prepare for your arrival.
Afterski & Nightlife in Val d’isere
Fortunately the nightlife in Val d’isere is quite impressive not to mention how lively the Banana’s can get when night falls. If you want something to prolong the night, you can have more fun at The Pacific Bar or Alexandra Bar.
However, the La Folie Douce rocks as early as 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Since it closes at 5pm, it is advisable you set aside time to experience jamming with other tourists here. Hardcore partying is also available in Cocorico and Dicks Tea Bar.
Skiing in Courchevel
Courchevel is the classiest and most expensive resort where celebrities go. It offers multi-faceted terrains with 600 kilometres of pistes and 166 lifts. Most of the slopes are facing north, making it a grand ski destination.
Courchevel has the world’s largest lift system that connects La Tania and Méribel. Free lifts are available for beginners who want to have a sneak-peek around the huge area. There are 150 kilometres of sloping terrains in Courchevel. Beginners can choose between 23 green pistes and 35 blue pistes. There are 32 red pistes and 10 black pistes for advanced skiers and thrill seekers.
Although Courchevel is known for its classy skiing experience, the accommodation in the area is actually cheap. Surprisingly, you can find budget deals allowing you to have the best skiing in France.
Méribel also offers some of the best skiing in France
Established in 1930, Méribel is the oldest skiing resort in France. You will find it in the centre of the Troi Valleés featuring natural ski runs and the best skiing in France experience.
Méribel is made approximately of 150 kilometres of slopes above tree line.Sheltered runs are available for bad weather days. Begginers can traverse the green runs through the Val Thorens, which is another great location in Méribel.
Don’t forget to catch a view of Mont Du Vallon which rests peacefully in Méribel at the height 2,952 metres. Here you can see stunning views as you ski down the village.
Make sure to prepare your legs for the most thrilling ride of your life here in Méribel.
Chamonix too offers some of the best skiing in France
Chamonix is another popular ski resorts afterr Méribel and Val d’Isère. This is due to the fact that the first Winter Olympics where held here in 1942. Situated on the peak of Europe in Mont Blance, Chamonix has earned itself a reputation for having the most dangerous runs.
There are five ski areas in the resort – Grands Montets, Les Houches, Le Tour/Balme, La Flegere and Le Brevent. Grands Montets has caught fire in 2018 but is still accessible via Joran gondola or the La Herse Lifts.
Through a lot of accidents have already happened in Chamonix, it continues to attract advanced skiers who are looking for extreme adventures. However, beginners can still enjoy a bounty of non-ski activities such as paintball and visiting museums.
Skiing in La Clusaz
Another ancient ski resort in France is the La Clusaz. Situated near Geneva, it simply started as a small village that specialise in herding sheep in the 1970s. Now it offers 125 kilometres of snowcapped terrains with 49 functioning lifts. Over 85 slopes are available for skiers of all levels. Advanced skiers can take pleasure on any of the 8 black pistes and 30 red pistes. There are 31 blue and 16 green pistes for beginners.
During winter, La Clusaz can reach 1,040 to 2,477 metres elevation. La Clusaz is just an hour drive from Geneva, which is why skiing in France should include a last-minute trip to this wonderful resort. It is also close to a lot of towns such as Manigod, L’Etale, and Le Fernuy.
Kids can enjoy the massive snow park at the La Clusaz. There is also a fun area in the area, making it a perfect winter destination when snow starts to fall. Budget-friendly chalets, hotels, and apartments are available in the area such as Les Cimes or Au Coeur du Village.
Skiing in Avoriaz
Situated at the centre of Portes du Soleil, Avoriaz is another must-visit destination when skiing in France. Avoriaz will give you the best view of the French Alps as you ski down its snowcapped slopes.
The best time to visit Avoriaz is between December and April where snow grows up to 8 metres high. Here you can enjoy 600 kilometres of well-groomed terrains and 189 functional lifts to take you to your desired skiing spot.
Avoriaz is the only ski resort that is traffic-free and vehicle-free. You will have to leave your vehicles at the car park and your only transportation towards the top of the resort is a sleigh or a snowcat.
The paths can really be snowy but it totally guarantees a great place for families. If you’re bringing kids, you can teach them to ski at the Village des Enfants, where the slopes are gentler and less challenging.
On the other hand, advanced skiers can go for the most challenging piste in Avoriaz called Le Pas de Chavanette or ‘Swiss Wall”. Approximately 50 metres of the Swiss Wall needs to be skied. You’ll need to brace yourself for the challenging beginning but expect the slopes to ease out as you go further.
Serre Chevalier offers some of the best skiing in France
Seated beautifully in Hautes-Alpes region of the Alps, Serre Chevalier is one of the main attractions in France. It is located nearby Parc National des Ecrins and the only resort that can give you a picturesque view of the small local villages as you graciously ski downhill.
Although Serre Chevalier has 300 days of sunshine throughout the year, it manages to produce 250 kilometres of snowcapped terrains. It stretches over a total of 6 peaks with multi-variety of settings of woods, icy mountains, and rigorous slopes. In some areas, you will need to ride skiing tows but the peaks are quite safe for beginners. If you want the best skiing in France, don’t miss the chance to visit Serre Chevalier.
Accommodation in Serre Chevalie is quite easy due to the string of villages around the area. There are cabins with small shops, bars, and restaurants nearby. Great accommodations are available at the Chalets de la Ferme de Belline, Aspen House, and Chalet Les Clarines.
There are also great dining areas in Serre Chevalie where you can enjoy delicious local and international cuisines.
Skiing in France might be last on your to-do list when visiting this lovely country but the snowcapped terrains when winter rolls by can be totally alluring.
Visitors may find France as more expensive than other ski resorts but the self-catering hotels and apartments in the area will help you save more than you can imagine.
Book your accommodation in advance and get some fresh deals before anyone does. Happy skiing!