Ski France for some hooray high above the Tarentaise!
Ski France for some hooray high above the Tarentaise!
Skiing France is synonymous with funky architecture (Les Arcs).
Skiing France is synonymous with funky architecture (Les Arcs).
Ski deep powder in France (La Clusaz).
Ski deep powder in France (La Clusaz).
The classic Vallee Blanche above Chamonix, France.
The classic Vallee Blanche above Chamonix, France.
At a market stall in La Rosiere ski resort, enjoy the cheese in France!
At a market stall in La Rosiere ski resort, enjoy the cheese in France!
Ski mega resorts in France like Tignes.
Ski mega resorts in France like Tignes.
Or go from ancient forts to the slopes in Serre Chevalier ski resort.
Or go from ancient forts to the slopes in Serre Chevalier ski resort.
Ski the world's best resorts like Val d'Isere in France.
Ski the world's best resorts like Val d'Isere in France.
Enjoy gourmet French cuisine in mountain huts at Sainte Foy ski resort.
Enjoy gourmet French cuisine in mountain huts at Sainte Foy ski resort.
Ski perfect low angle powder at La Rosiere.
Ski perfect low angle powder at La Rosiere.
Leave powder ski signatures on huge alpine bowls at Sainte Foy.
Leave powder ski signatures on huge alpine bowls at Sainte Foy.
Let it rip down steep Val d'Isere piste trails.
Let it rip down steep Val d'Isere piste trails.
Or steeper freeride terrain at La Clusaz and other French ski resorts.
Or steeper freeride terrain at La Clusaz and other French ski resorts.
Jump for joy in mammoth terrain parks like Les Arcs in France.
Jump for joy in mammoth terrain parks like Les Arcs in France.
Or tree ski in France amongst Serre Chevalier larch forests.
Or tree ski in France amongst Serre Chevalier larch forests.
Travel to ski France in style by train to Bourg St Maurice.
Travel to ski France in style by train to Bourg St Maurice.
Stay at modern ski in ski out accommodation like Tignes in France.
Stay at modern ski in ski out accommodation like Tignes in France.
Or stay in traditional ski resort villages like Montgenevre in France.
Or stay in traditional ski resort villages like Montgenevre in France.
Enjoy the raucous or relaxed apres drinks at French ski resorts.
Enjoy the raucous or relaxed apres drinks at French ski resorts.
Enjoy the view and ski France (Mont Blanc massif's Dent du Géant).
Enjoy the view and ski France (Mont Blanc massif's Dent du Géant).

France

Ski France

Forget frogs, snails, berets, perfume, and the Eiffel Tower. France should be renowned for the fabulous skiing instead! OK the French didn’t pioneer skiing, but they’ve sure taken it on with grand enthusiasm.

With nearly 200 ski resorts in France, it’s surprising that this many can exist in one country without going broke. This speaks volumes for the popularity of skiing amongst the French as well as the Brits and other international holiday makers.

Many of the France ski resorts are massive and are accessed via super sophisticated lift infrastructure. Increasingly, French ski resorts, like other ski areas in Europe are becoming lift, piste and ticket interconnected with each other, making the skiable terrain even bigger.

Snow quality in the French Alps resorts is generally very good. Much of the skiing in France is at high altitude (above 2000m), which contributes to improved snow conditions and long seasons. Ski areas near the soaring Mont Blanc on the French-Italian border, as well as the high peaks of the Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys are known for being snow sure. However, French ski resorts with base areas below 1500m do suffer more from the vagaries of climate change.

Ski resorts in France are in three main areas to the country’s SW. The French Alps stretching from Switzerland near Lake Geneva down the coast near Nice has the lion’s share of the ski resorts. The Pyrenees on the border with Spain and Andorra and the Massif Central (between the Alps and the Pyrenees) are the other two main areas.

French Alps Ski Resorts

The French Alps that border Switzerland and Italy offer some of the most extensive skiing opportunities in Europe and are home to the most well-known and largest ski resorts in France and the world.

Chamonix at the foot of Mont Blanc is world renown and synonymous with superb off-piste and extreme skiing. It is really a collection of disparate ski resorts rather than one large interlinked ski area, yet contrary to popular belief, Chamonix is just as good for intermediate skiers as it is for experts. The impressive ski resort of Megève is also nearby and combines with Les Portes du Mont Blanc and Les Contamines to create the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area with over 445km of trails.

South of Chamonix the legendary Tarentaise valley has several mega sized interconnected ski resorts and smaller skiing areas, as well as the snow and elevation to be the Powderhounds pick for some of France's best snow destinations. Sainte Foy ski resort is our favourite and is juxtaposed against the enormity of the other Tarentaise resorts. The ski area formerly known as Espace Killy links the huge resorts of Tignes and Val d'Isère. Known for its high alpine off piste & glacier skiing, plus over 300km of well-groomed piste, Tignes is perfect for intermediates whilst Val d’Isere is a little more upscale but with sensational freeride terrain. Heliskiing is also available from both resorts. La Rosiere is another Tarentaise ski resort perfect for families.

The Paradiski area is another huge Tarentaise ski resort interlinking Les Arcs & La Plagne with 8 other smaller resorts into an area with a whopping 425km of trails. Les Arcs is the pick of them with brilliant access from Bourg St Maurice.

Les Trois Vallées (the 3 Valleys) is the world's largest ski area and incorporates an immense area of lift and piste interlinked ski resorts including Val Thorens, the upscale Courchevel ski resort, the party scene of Meribel plus the high altitude Orelle (so it should be called 4 Vallees, but the Swiss have scored that name for the Verbier area!). The 3 Vallees has a combined 600km of ski runs. Wonder how long it takes to do them all? The Powderhounds will try and find out. 

To the north of Chamonix, very close to Geneva, is the Portes du Soleil ski area. This huge ski resort is a combination of 8 smaller French ski resorts including Morzine and Avoriaz, plus several Swiss ski resorts including Morgins and Champery. Portes du Soleil is the closest major ski destination to the UK, so it might be a tad popular! Due to its geographical location, it can get huge dumps of snow in a good year. Another nearby snow magnet is the extensive and lesser known Flaine and Samoens interlinked ski area, the Grand Massif. To give a sense of the size of the resort, Le Grand Massif has a piste trail that runs over 1700m vertical - gobsmacking for a ski area most people in the world have never heard of! Given these resorts proximity to large cities, they can be incredibly busy during peak periods. Other resorts in the area include La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand near Annecy.

In the southern (or maritime) Alps, the huge resorts of Alpe d’Huez, Les Deux Alpes, La Grave and Serre Chevalier dominate. Another cluster of smaller ski resorts (remember previous definition of small!) are in the mountains further south toward Marseille. The largest of them is Risoul-Vars and whilst you haven’t heard of it, rest assured the ski resort is bigger than most – go figure!

French ski resorts with international links include La Rosiere (linked with La Thuile in Italy – Espace San Bernardo), Montgenèvre (linked with Oulx and Sestriere in Italy - Via Lattea) and of course Portes du Soleil.

An incredible number of smaller ski resorts abound in the French Alps. Smaller being a relative term in that it might best refer to the size of a resort’s reputation as opposed to its size. In the Maurienne valley, Valfrejus, Bonneval, La Norma, Sybelles and Galibier Thabor, plus a host of others, provide ample alternatives to the mega resorts further north and at a fraction of the cost. On a powder day, these resorts are equal to or better in terms of skiing and snowboarding quality and experience.

Pyrenees Ski Resorts

There are plenty of ski resorts in the Pyrenees, including Ax, Saint Lary and Peyragudes. Some of these ski resorts are relatively unknown to non-Europeans, however the intrepid skiers and snowboarders from the UK have usually staked a claim in them at some point. Pyrenees resorts tend to be smaller, less developed, less crowded and less expensive than those in the Alps.

Massif Central Ski Resorts

Over 30 ski resorts are in the volcanic mountainous region known as the Massif Central in France. All have summits lower than 1900m elevation, but skiable vertical is still over 700m in some resorts. The larger Massif Central ski resorts have up to 60 piste trails and include Super Besse, Le Lioran and Le Mont Dore.

Summer Skiing and Snowboarding in France

Summer skiing is available in France at 3 ski resorts. Tignes, Val d’Isere and Les Deux Alpes provide glacier based skiing in summer. Tignes has the highest and most extensive variety of terrain (including advanced runs) and lifts available in France on the Grand Motte glacier. Val d’Isere has at least 6 easy and intermediate trails on the Glacier du Pissaillis open during summer. Les Deux Alpes has a small number of easy and intermediate trails but also an impressive terrain park operating for the summer season.

Skiing in France - Characteristics

A wonderful characteristic of most skiing in Europe is the presence of a traditional village at the ski resort base. In France, some of the older ski resorts have an associated village. These traditional towns have evolved into ski towns and they continue to ooze rustic charm. Examples include the charming  Val d'IsereMegeveChamonix or the chalet prolific Meribel. However, many of the French ski resorts were purpose built at a time when the architectural style hasn’t necessarily stood the test of time. Resorts like Tignes and Les Arcs may lack quaintness and the traditional European look, but they possess advantages such as the convenience of ski-in ski-out accommodation, self-contained apartments and a generally higher resort base altitude that older villages struggle to provide.

As a rule, many of the French ski resorts are incredibly busy over the Christmas break (Christmas to end first week in January) and during school holidays in February. However, many of the larger resorts cope well with the numbers, and the huge variety of smaller resorts provides options if forced to visit during these busy times.

One key attraction for skiing in France is the ease of access. Many of the ski resorts are close to gateway airports in regional France, and the flights from the UK are short. For international travellers from further afield, airports in Paris, Lyon, Geneva and Milan provide relatively easy access to most of the French Alps resorts. Many ski areas are accessible by train, including fast TGV from Paris or Milan.

The popularity of skiing in France in some respects also contributes to most of the mainstream France ski resorts being rather expensive relative to most other ski areas in Europe.

The term “après ski” might be French, but ski resorts in France aren’t as vibrant after skiing when compared to some of the famous Austrian and Italian ski resorts where partying continues on until the wee hours. Party animals shouldn’t lament though. There’s still plenty of apres ski action at resorts such as Chamonix and Val d’Isere.

More Reasons to Ski France

Massive interconnected ski areas, a range of ski terrain including tree skiing and high altitude snow should be enough reasons in themselves to ski France, but of course part of skiing in Europe isn’t about the skiing or snowboarding at all. A major priority should be the food and alcohol. “Cuisine” was invented in France, and some would say France is the wine capital of the world, so France definitely comes up trumps in the foodie stakes!

Ski Tours that include France

Safari (Road Trip) Tours
Tarentaise Valley Ski Safari DETAILS
GUIDED OFF-PISTE ADVENTURE
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Days Skiing | 3+ Resorts
From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in EURO inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,189
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Ski some of the most famous ski areas of the world in France with an experienced guide riding vertical descents of up to 2,000m through untracked powder even days after a snowfall. Join a "fixed date" tour or get your own group of 4+ together for a custom tour.
More
Chamonix Mont Blanc Powder Skiing Safari DETAILS
GUIDED OFF-PISTE ADVENTURE
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Days Skiing
From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in EURO inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,066
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Ski off-piste for 6 days around Mont Blanc, discovering the largest glacial ski area in Europe. Ski descents of between 1500 and 2800m in virgin snow via the most beautiful summits and passes in Chamonix France and near Courmayeur Italy. Join the "fixed date" tour or get your own group of 4+ together for a custom tour.
More
Powder Skiing Safari France-Italy DETAILS
GUIDED OFF-PISTE ADVENTURE
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Skiing Days | 3+ Resorts
From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in EURO inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 2,276
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Skiing between the French and Italian alps over the southern alpine glaciers, this exceptional tour begins in La Grave, France, passes through Serre Chevalier and ends in Sestriere, Italy. Great off-piste combination of high alpine and tree skiing, plus beautiful villages and accommodation.
More
See all Safari (Road Trip) tours that visit France here
Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area Tours
Chamonix Ultimate Experience Ski Tour DETAILS
GUIDED SKI TOUR | MIXED GROUP
8 Days | 7 Nights | 6 Ski Days
From price based on twin/double-share room.
Base/invoice currency is in USD ex taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 3,495
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Ski 3 countries in one week based in the legendary Chamonix. Experience the Grands Montets, Aiguille du Midi, the Valley Blanche, Verbier and Courmayeur in amongst the highest peaks of the Alps.
More
Tarentaise Valley Star Ski Safari DETAILS
GUIDED OFF-PISTE ADVENTURE
2 to 5 Days | 2 to 5 Nights | 2 to 5 Skiing Days | 3+ Resorts
From price based on twin/double-share room occupancy.
Base/invoice currency is in EURO inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
Price p/p
USD 763
Ability: Strong Intermediate to Expert
Ski some of the most famous ski areas of the world in France with an experienced guide riding vertical descents of up to 2,000m through untracked powder even days after a snowfall. Join a "fixed date" tour or get your own group of 4+ together for a custom tour.
More
See all Single-Base, Multi-Ski-Area tours that visit France here