France is one of the best countries in the world for a ski holiday. Its resorts have a long, prestigious history and are some of the most famous anywhere on the planet. Here’s a selection of the best.
Les Gets is a great resort for those holiday makers with children. The whole family can not only enjoy skiing, but the resort’s ice rink, tobogganing, and plenty of quaint shops. Les Gets has over 400 individual runs with 52 ski lifts able to carry over 60,000 skiers every hour.
Courcheval is well known for the great strides it made in resort technology, such as rapid lifts meaning there’s rarely a queue even during peak periods. There are about hundreds of runs you can head out on, ranging from beginner to expert, including a well known powder bowl – perfect for afternoon skiing. Most of runs are wide open and well marked, although though there is plenty of off-piste skiing and some great wooded areas for when the weather is poor.
Meribel is located in the heart of the three valleys and some luxury chalets in Meribel provide fantastic panoramic views of this magnificent resort. Perhaps the most typically “Alpine” of all French resorts, Meribel has for years been popular with British skiers. The resort also hosted the all five of the women’s alpine events at the 1992 Winter Olympics, which provide the basis for excellent skiing all over the resort.
For an awesome high altitude, and often very sunny skiing, Alpe d’Huez is hard to beat. There are several very long runs, which mean that it’s sometimes possible to ski for long periods of time without having to take a lift. Known locally as the Island of Sunshine, Alpe d’Huez is one of the oldest ski resorts in France. It very popular with all levels of skiers and snowboarders, and attracts both locals and foreigners because of its snow sure slopes. In additions to skiing, dog sledding trips are offered, as well as an ice cave, which houses a number of spectacular sculptures.
Skiing is possible from autumn through to May most seasons, due to the extremely high altitude of Val Thorens. It starts at over 2,000 metres, with the highest skiable peaks sitting at a lung busting 3,200 metres. On occasion, Val Thorens has been known give skiers a free day of skiing – if they can find better open piste rates. The slopes are not extremely sunny, so the conditions hold out well throughout the day. The resort also offers snowshoe outings and paragliding for a different experience. There are plenty of private rentals, chalets and holiday villages available to suit almost any budget.
Nicknamed “The sportiest ski resort”, Tignes offers a wide variety of winter and summer activities for the whole family. Ice diving, snowmobiling, ice climbing and snake gliss (a fun banana boat type activity) are just a few of the winter sports available, aside from skiing and snowboarding. There is plenty of nightlife for relaxing or dancing, and high altitude restaurants with awe inspiring views of the mountains. Tignes boasts one of the longest ski seasons, with summer ski possible on La Grande Motte Glacier and awesome back country skiing for freeriders.
If you like sunny weather skiing, Serre Chevalier is known for having at least 300 sunny days per year. The resort consists of 13 villages, making it the second largest ski area in the world. The mountain scenery is spectacular, and many runs take you through the treeline, meaning there’s a good amount of scenic runs. For après ski fanatics, Serre Chevalier is famous for its natural hot springs, which have been bubbling away for centuries. It’s a great way of ending a hard day on the slopes.
Situated within the Three Valleys, Les Menuires has 62 pistes and 39 lifts to accommodate skiers of all levels. In the 1992 Winter Olympics, the resort hosted the men’s slalom alpine skiing event. The resort has sometimes offered a snow guarantee, where holiday makers can get reimbursed for accommodation if conditions do not meet standards promised. There are also a mouth-watering 48 restaurants available to choose from for your dining pleasure.
For a romantic ski holiday, this is a slightly less busy spot without all the hustle and bustle. The major party minded skiers avoid it, so if you want quiet time and less crowded skiing this is the place. It is also the location of one of the best restaurants in the French Alps, La Bouitte.
If snowboarders are big fans of Avoriaz as it offers excellent options for its exponents. There isa half-pipe, snowcross course and “The Stash”, which is a great free-riding park to their hearts content. Situated at a height of 1,100 metres and rising to over 2,000, there are a number of premium snow making options to guarantee good skiing conditions.
Our guest author, Jonathan, is a keen skiier and likes to blog about his passion, he’s enjoyed luxury ski chalets in resorts ranging from Alpe d’Huez to Zermatt.