When it comes to skiing in France, no description is worthy.
You just have to experience it for yourself.
France is known for its mammoth ski areas with stretches of snow-drenched terrain. Skiing in this beautiful country makes for a memorable holiday experience on one of the most breathtaking mountain ranges in western Europe.
Whatever type of skiing or snowboarding adventures you desire, you’ll find it in the French Alps. Be it schussing down long stretches of runs or hammering down heart-stopping blacks, the variety of snow sports in France is unmatched.
At Brealpa, we know that settling on a winter escape destination in France can be hard as its resorts are all awesome. To help you select your next winter adventure based on your holiday expectations, we’ve prepared the following helpful list.
So get ready to experience French winter adventures as you devour finger-licking cuisines, and sample the famed French wine.
Chamonix lies on the slopes of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the alps.
The resort is an advanced skier haven due to its challenging terrain. It’s a popular playground for extreme sports such as ice climbing, extreme skiing, and paragliding. The challenging terrain earned Chamonix the infamous nickname, "the death-sport capital of the world."
Chamonix is famous for having been the site for the first Winter Olympics.
How To Get to the Chamonix Resort
The Chamonix resort is nestled in the French Alps at the foot of Mont Blanc. It lies in southeastern France near the Swiss-Italian border.
Visitors access Chamonix via Geneva and Lyon St Exupéry. You may also access the resort via the alternative Milan Malpensa Airport.
There are various transfer options from these airports including rental cars, private transfers, shuttle buses, and trains. Shuttle buses are the cheapest and most efficient mode of airport transfer. You may also take a train ride from Geneva to Chamonix, with convenient stations at Chamonix, Les Houches, Vallorcine, and Argentiere.
Chamonix Resort’s Terrain
Chamonix receives an impressive average seasonal snowfall of between 6 to 14 meters. The resort is situated at a high-altitude location which ensures the snow quality. There are also the cooling effects of the four glaciers which allow the snow to stay fresh longer.
The resort’s terrain is skewed more towards advanced and expert riders. It features one of the steepest height differentials, from 3,842 to 1,035 meters. There are over 150 kilometers of pistes that have the following stats:
- 50% beginner
- 35% intermediate
- 15% advanced
To traverse the vast terrain, the resort has a network of 61 efficient and high-speed lifts. The lifts include gondolas, cable cars, and chairlifts. The Vallee Blanche is the longest off-piste run in the world (18-22 kilometers long). It is accessed via the Aiguille du Midi cable car which was the longest lift of its kind when constructed in 1955.
Where to Stay and Dine in Chamonix Resort
Accommodation at Chamonix ranges from deluxe to budget-friendly. For example, if you want to rest and dine in luxury, you can try the glamorous Grand Hotel des Alpes. You’ll also find smaller pocket-friendly resorts like the Hotel de l'Arve as well as chalets and apartments.
Formerly known as L’Espace Killy, the resort was named after Jean-Claude Killy. Killy is a former World Cup alpine ski racer who swooped medals in the 1986 Olympics.
It is a premier ski resort in France with some of the best terrain in the world. Along with the nearby Tignes resort, it has been named the most beautiful ski area in the world.
How To Get to the Val d’Isère Resort
Val d’Isère is located in the southeast of France, in the Rhône-Alpes region’s Tarentaise valley, about 5 kilometers from the French-Italian border.
The closest airports are Chambéry (2.5 hours), Geneva (3.5 hours), and Lyon Saint Exupéry (3.5 hours). Regular buses ply the route from the gateway airports to the resort, although transfers from Chambéry are rather limited.
The most ideal way to travel to the resort is by train. There are various stations that dot the route from major cities and the gateway airports, served by hyperfast trains such as the TGV and Eurostar.
Val d’Isère Resort’s Terrain
The resort has some of the highest snowfalls in Europe, with an average seasonal snowfall of about 7 to 10 meters. The snowfall quantity and quality are bolstered by the terrain’s high altitude. The great natural snow levels coupled with the largest snow-making capacity in Europe create conditions that support an extended ski season.
The Val d’Isère Resort features three areas:
- Le Fornet (which includes the Glacier du Pissaillas)
These three areas are linked by modern high-speed lifts which include a funicular and high-capacity gondolas.
The resort has 150 kilometers of wide, highway-like runs. The slopes are classified as:
- 57% beginner
- 25% intermediate
- 18% advanced
The highly dynamic terrain coupled with a great variety of pistes gives skiers and snowboarders plenty of options. This means that you can shred powder for several days without repeating a run.
Where to Stay and Dine in Val d’Isère Resort
Val d’Isère has plenty of places to relax and dine. The resort features many 5- and 4-star hotels with a variety of rooms, apartments, and suites. On these hotels, the prices range on the higher end, although you’ll find a few 2-star hotels with pocket-friendly prices.
Some deluxe accommodations include the Hôtel Les Barmes De l'Ours while budget ones include the Victoria Lodge Hotel.
Home to 8 Michelin-starred restaurants, Courchevel is a beginners’ and intermediates’ haven.
It is the largest and furthest of the three ski areas that make up the Les Trois Vallées (Three Valleys).
The resort is family-friendly with many great activities for kids and adults. For example, families enjoy the giant Aquamotion pool and spa facility.
How To Get to Courchevel
The resort is part of the Les Trois Vallées, a group of lift-linked ski resorts that constitute the world’s largest alpine ski area. It is located in the French Alps, in the Savoie, Rhône-Alpes region.
The nearest major town is Moutiers, which is about 24 kilometers northwest of the resort. Paris is 666 kilometers away and visitors can get to the resort using a fast train that operates out of Moutiers & Bourg St Maurice.
The fastest way to get to the resort is by taking a flight to the local airport. You can also fly in via any of the gateway airports. These airports include:
- Geneva International Airport which is 140 kilometers away (a 2 to 2.5-hour drive to the resort)
- Lyon St Exupery which is about 187 kilometers away (also 2 to 2.5 hours away by car)
- Chambéry Airport, which is the closest at 110 kilometers (about a 1.5-hour drive to the resort).
Courchevel Resort’s Terrain
Courchevel receives an average seasonal snowfall of between 5 to 7 meters. While this is decent at best, the resort bolsters natural snow by having a snow-making infrastructure that keeps the fun times rolling for thrill seekers.
The resort has about 150 kilometers of pistes accessed by 58 lifts. The lifts include gondolas, cable cars, and chairlifts, which transport revelers up a massive skiable vertical of 1,640 meters.
The official stats for the resort’s terrain include:
- 57% beginner
- 36% intermediate
- 7% advanced
There is an extensive range of green and blue runs for novices and intermediates, which are perfect places to learn skiing and snowboarding. There are also great freeride and off-piste skiing that delights advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Where to Stay and Dine in Courchevel Resort
The resort consists of a series of five villages that are linked by slopes, roads, and lifts. The villages’ names correspond to their elevation level in meters. These include Courchevel, Moriond, Courchevel Village, Courchevel La Tania, and Courchevel Le Praz.
The Courchevel accommodation includes chalets, apartments, and over 40 hotels. These range from deluxe to budget-friendly options, with many of these being ski-in/ski-out.
Les Deux Alpes
This ski resort is considered a top high-altitude ski destination, with Europe’s largest skiable glacier overlooking the resort.
Les Deux Alpes is popular with tourists looking for a thrilling time in the French Alps. In particular, thrill-seekers love the resort due to its gentle terrain situated high up the mountain.
How To Get to the Les Deux Alpes Resort
The resort lies in the southwest of France, in the Auvergne Rhone-Alps region’s Isère department. Grenoble City which is about 67 kilometers away by road is the closest major city and transport hub.
Visitors access the airport via two gateway airports, Lyon St. Exupery and Geneva International Airport. A train or bus ride is the most recommended mode of airport transfer. However, if you are traveling with your family or in a group, a private transfer is more recommended. While a private transfer is more comfortable and convenient, keep in mind that it is more costly than other methods.
Les Deux Alpes Terrain
Les Deux Alpes lies in the region of the French Alps with a great snow cover. It receives an impressive seasonal average snowfall of over 8 meters. The high elevation of this resort’s terrain ensures a decent quality of snow which stays fresh longer.
The resort features about 200 kilometers of runs, the longest of which is 16 kilometers. A whopping 50 lifts provide fast and efficient access to the slopes, transporting revelers up a 2,268 vertical.
The official stats for the terrain include:
- 55% beginner
- 28% intermediate
- 17% advanced
Where to Stay and Dine in Les Deux Alpes
The resort’s accommodation is spread across one main village and two smaller ones. These villages are linked via lifts, buses, and slopes. Many of the lodging facilities provide ski-in/ski-out convenience with their services ranging from deluxe to budget-friendly. Some great places to stay and dine include Alpe d’Huez and Vénosc.
Val Thorens is Europe’s highest ski resort, and also part of the 3 valleys.
The resort offers thrill seekers a great winter experience by combining a serene alpine atmosphere and great skiing.
It has great snow conditions which peak in November and May, providing superb skiing and snowboarding adventures.
How To Get to the Val Thorens Resort
Like Courchevel, Val Thorens is located in the French Alps, in the Savoie, Rhône-Alpes region. The best way to get to the resort is by train and by flying to the local airport. You can also drive from Lyon which is 217 kilometers (about a 2.5-hour drive) from the resort.
The gateway airports are Lyon St Exupery and Geneva and are connected by a fast train network. You can also ride the fast TGV train from Paris to the station at Bourg St Maurice.
You’ll find convenient transfer options from the train station and the airport in the form of taxis, shuttles, and public buses. If you hire a rental car, you can enjoy more flexibility on your trip and be able to visit more places within and outside the resort.
Val Thorens Resort’s Terrain
Val Thorens is one of the most snowsure resorts in Europe. This is because almost all of its terrain lies above 2,000 meters above sea level, and two glaciers form a part of its terrain. The resort receives an average seasonal snowfall of about 6 to 7 meters. As part of the 3 valleys, artificial snow-making capability bolsters the natural snow.
This magnificent resort features over 150 kilometers of pistes. The extensive terrain is accessed via 30 lifts that ascend a lofty 2,130-meter vertical. Part of the lift fleet includes 7 gondolas and 16 high-speed chairlifts.
Val Thorens’ terrain is classified as follows:
- 54% beginner
- 33% intermediate
- 13% advanced
Where to Stay and Dine in Val Thorens Resort
Val Thorens features Europe’s highest alpine village with great accommodation options. Most of the lodgings are practically right on the slopes, providing ski-in/ski-out access. You’ll find chalets, hotels, and apartments to suit every need and budget. A popular lodging and dining spot loved by all visitors is the charming La Norma.
We’ll Be Glad to Help You Make Your Next Winter Destination Memorable
The same ambition and scale that birthed the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées helped turn vast mountainside areas into snow playgrounds.
We’re sure you’ve already picked your next holiday spot from our list. If you’re curious about other European winter escape destinations, our list of the best ski resorts in Switzerland and top ski locations in Austria may interest you.
To make an informed choice for your next winter adventure, Brealpa curates accurate and up-to-date information to help you. We provide you with helpful information on:
- Resorts with top-tier accommodation including deluxe lodges and dining as well as great budget-friendly options
- Inspiration for snow activities to keep your whole family engaged
- Resort seasons, opening, and closing times