When it comes to skiing, there’s nowhere better to slice through the powder than in the French Alps. The scenery is breathtaking, the weather usually behaves, and the pistes are among the best in the world. Meanwhile, the après-ski scene is renowned for its elegance, with as much fun to be had off the slopes as you’ll enjoy on them!
Accommodation wise, there’s a lot of choice in the French Alps region. Whether you want a self-catering apartment, fully-serviced chalet or all-inclusive hotel, it’s all right here. Some places are closer to the slopes than others, so do your homework before booking if you want to be able to ski right from the door.
Here are some of the best resorts for ski holidays in France, to help you decide where best suits your requirements and skill level.
You’ll find the pretty village of Orelle tucked away in the Maurienne Valley in Savoie. Known as the gateway to the popular ski area of Les 3 Vallées, Orelle makes the perfect base for active french alps holidays. It’s an authentic, low-key resort, away from the glitz and glamor of some of the larger areas. This makes it perfect for families searching for a quiet break and couples seeking a dash of romance.
If you’re looking for an intimate fairytale ski holiday, this is the place to come!
Orelle is well connected to places like Val Thorens, Courchevel and Meribel, so you’ll have heaps of choice for ski locations. You could go somewhere different every day if you wish! A high-speed gondola links some of the resorts, prolonging the ski season into April and May thanks to the easy high-altitude access. There are pistes for all levels of skier, from beginner slopes to hard-core black runs for the experts.
In your downtime, you can discover the valley hamlets of Orelle, where churches and traditional houses capture the imagination. The architecture is typical of the region and the settlements here are favourites with photographers.
Over in the Belledonne mountains, the ski resort of Chamrousse is easily reached from Grenoble. Its dynamic setting is a great place for families to come and let their hair down, with lessons for those who haven’t yet perfected their snowplough. There are 43 slopes to choose from, and plenty of ski lifts to save you the effort of climbing up to the top. This is alpine skiing at its best, no matter how skilled you are at the sport.
The resort has been built into the forested hillside which means the views out over the valley are some of the best in the region. A free shuttle bus trundles around the resort, taking away the hassles of transport logistics for those without a car. Not keen on skiing? Then you’re in luck – there’s snow mobiling, snowshoeing and spas here too.
The Chamrousse experience is particularly alluring during February half term, when the Gaboureaux run is illuminated by floodlights. This means you can watch the sunset then enjoy zooming down the slopes under the watchful gaze of the moon. Night skiing has never been so good, or accessible.
Popular in summer with hikers and alpinists, the glittering town of Chamonix makes the perfect playground for snow seekers during winter. This world-class mountaineering resort is the place to go if you’re looking for challenging runs, thanks to the steep slopes that run up and down the valley.
The first ever Winter Olympics was held here, in the shadow of none other than Mont Blanc – the highest peak in western Europe. Expert skiers will love the pistes at Grands Montets which offer some of the steepest drops in the world. There are jumps too, if you’re feeling brave.
Meanwhile, beginners should head to Le Tour in the northern reaches of the Chamonix Valley, as this is where the slopes are gentler and less terrifying. Les Houches also has several runs suitable for families, with easy tracks winding their way through the forests.
Multiple cable cars whisk skiers and explorers up to the rocky ridges that seem so far away when you’re standing down in the town. The infrastructure here really is world-class, making a ski holiday in Chamonix both easy and enjoyable. Some of the best snow conditions in the Alps can be found here, thanks in part to the presence of several major glaciers.
Val Cenis is the biggest winter resort in the Maurienne region, made up of three villages that are all interlinked by the ski area. This is a superb place to learn how to ski and snowboard, with nursery slopes providing easy runs against a stunning mountain backdrop. Numerous ski lifts give easy access to the best routes, and there are several off-piste trails with bowls and gullies for freeriders to enjoy. Plunging though forests surrounded by snow-laden trees is one of life’s greatest winter adventures.
The views here are breathtaking, as a result of the resort’s proximity to the Vanoise National Park. The border with Italy lies nearby, with dozens of lofty alpine peaks keeping an eye on the valley. Another benefit of Val Cenis is that the snowpack is reliable, which isn’t always the case in other resorts. The villages themselves are worthy of a closer look, with their artistic legacies and eye-catching architecture beckoning culturally curious travellers.
One of the benefits of enjoying a skiing holiday in Val Cenis is that the resort is well connected to the rest of the country. It only takes 4.5 hours to travel to Val Cenis from Paris on the TGV fast train, and Geneva isn’t far away either. You could come just for the weekend if you can’t take any more time off work.
It’s time to take to the slopes
Wherever you decide to head for your winter skiing holiday in the French Alps, you know you’re going to have a blast. The snow sports scene here is second to none, and there are resorts and slopes that cater for everyone, from young first-timers to professional athletes.
Just make sure you book your accommodation, ski passes and rental kit in good time. It’s a popular place and all the top spots get booked up well in an advance.