Best Ski Resorts in France
The best place among legendary ski destinations goes to the Alps, the majestic mountain range that divides Europe in a curving line from Austria to France. Whatever your taste in skiing, winter activities, lodging, or après-ski life may be, there’s a place for you in the French Alps. Some of the best ski resorts in the world lie on the north-facing slopes of these peaks, in the French Savoie. And wherever you go, one thing you can be sure of is spectacular mountain scenery.
Ski resorts are also situated on Pyrenees and other mountains in France, but the world-class mountains where Olympic medals are won are those in the Alps. Here, in addition to dependable snow and superb skiing for all skill levels, you’ll find snug Alpine villages, traditional chalets, family-friendly lodges, modern hotels, and ultra-chic resorts with Michelin stars and A-list guests.
Here is the list of the best ski resorts in France.
Situated to the north of Mont Blanc, between the peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges and the notable Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in France. It was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924. The Chamonix commune is popular with skiers and mountain enthusiasts, and via the cable car lift to the Aiguille du Midi it is possible to access the off-piste (backcountry) ski run of the Vallée Blanche. The holding of the first Winter Olympic Games in Chamonix in 1924 further raised Chamonix’s profile as an international tourist destination.
Val d’Isère is a ski resort in the French Alps, lies 5 km from the border with Italy. The ski area of Val d’Isère and Tignes forms the Espace Killy. The western and central areas of Val d’Isère are most recognizable by their “chalet” architecture, while in the eastern part of the town high-rise architecture dominates the landscape. Here, ski lifts give access to sites like the steep Face de Bellevarde, a black-rated piste, and the Grande Motte glacier, known for summer ski runs. Val d’Isère is renowned as having some of the world’s best lift-accessed off-piste and has many independent instructors and guides who specialise in off-piste tuition and guiding.
Avoriaz is a station on the main circuit of one of the largest skiing areas in the world, Les Portes du Soleil, named after a pass between France and Switzerland. The Avoriaz part of the skiing area consists of about 130 km of piste. Avoriaz’s trails are largely red and blue for intermediates, with a smattering of beginner and expert pistes; boarders flock here for five different terrain parks and a superpipe. Two parks are designed especially for kids.
Alpe d’Huez is one of Europe’s premier skiing venues. The site of the Pomagalski’s first surface lift in the mid thirties, the resort gained popularity when it hosted the bobsleigh events of the 1968 Winter Olympics. With 249 kilometers of piste and 84 ski lifts, the resort is now one of the world’s largest. Extensive snow making facilities helped combat the ski area’s largely south-facing orientation and helped Alpe d’Huez appeal to beginner skiers, with very easy slopes. The proximity to the exclusively off-piste resort of La Grave as well as tree skiing at Serre Chevalier and the glacier and terrain parks of Les Deux Alpes have made Alpe d’Huez a popular base for skiers looking to explore the Oisans region.
Courchevel is the largest and most famous resort of the Les Trois Vallées (Three Valleys), the biggest connected ski area in the world. Courchevel’s 60 lifts give skiers and riders access to 150 kilometers of alpine runs and provide links to 600 kilometers in the three valleys, encompassing 10 summits with altitudes above 2,500 meters. Four meters of annual snowfall and expert grooming keeps trails in top condition for all levels of skier. Courchevel has one of the largest bases for ski instructors and other seasonal workers due to the size of the Les Trois Vallées. Courchevel’s couloirs are considered some of the most difficult black runs in the world.