Hitting the slopes can be an exhilarating and fun way to enjoy the winter weather. If you’re a ski or snowboarding enthusiast, you may be looking for something more beyond the classics like Vail or Aspen.
When planning your next ski trip, why not consider traveling to one of the many ski resorts located throughout France? With over 200 ski resorts to choose from in France, you may be overwhelmed as to where to start.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best French Alps ski resorts as well as a few tips to think about when planning and traveling.
A Few Factors To Consider Before Selecting A Resort
Before we share our French ski resorts list, there are a few things to consider when selecting which resort you’d like to visit. For your convenience (and to help you narrow down your selection), we’ve chosen French ski resorts near Geneva, as there are quite a few in that area and due to their proximity, you may have a chance to visit more than one.
If you want to see how close some of the resorts are to one another, simply take a look at a French ski resorts map; this will be a good starting point for planning your trip.
Time of Year And The Cost
Cost is almost always a determining factor when planning a ski trip and the prices for visiting French ski resorts will vary depending on the time of year, how long you’ll be staying and similar factors.
March and April are some of the “slower” months in comparison to months like December or January, but the plus side is that there’s typically plenty of good snow on the pistes (or slopes) for skiing. The price of lift tickets greatly depends on which resort you visit and whether it’s considered an on or offseason.
Take the resort, Chamonix Mont-Blanc, for example. The cost of a lift ticket for a child, for one day, is € 43.80 (USD 43.75) and an adult day pass is € 51.50 (USD 63.82). A six-day pass for a child is € 219.30 (USD 271.77), and a six-day pass for adults is € 258.00 (USD 319.73).
Ski passes at nearby resorts may be a little less or more; keep in mind that pass prices may change. If you compare the price of a lift ticket to a French ski resort to the day passes at comparable U.S. slopes like Vail or Breckenridge, you are likely to find that it’s cheaper to ski in France.
When planning your trip, you should also take extra time to research the best deals when it comes to your transportation, lodging, and other amenities not related to the time you spend at the resort. Even though the prices can change at any time and without notice, you may be able to plan a week-long trip to one of the French ski resorts for around $2,000.
Ready, Set, Ski: Check Out These “Must Visit” Ski Resorts In France
Now that we’ve discussed a few things to think about while you’re planning your once-in-a-lifetime ski trip, here are some French ski resorts you should definitely add to your list of possibilities. Remember, we’ve selected resorts that are nearby to one another so that you can plan to visit more than one resort if you wish.
When talking about Chamonix, Snow Magazine says that “Every skier should come here at least once.” The well-known French ski resort is also one of the oldest resorts in France and is located at the base of Mont-Blanc, which the highest summit of the French Alps.
Due to its location, which is at the convergence of France, Italy, and Switzerland, Chamonix is a popular destination for skiers of all expertise levels, particularly advanced and “extreme” skiers. If you are new to the world of skiing, don’t be too intimidated by Chamonix. There are guides to help you along the way and pistes that are suitable for beginners or children.
If you are an expert skier, be prepared to check out one of the most well-known off-piste terrain on Chamonix: Vallée Blanche descent. Skiers who dare to attempt the descent are strongly encouraged to go with a guide and the only way to reach Vallée Blanche is by taking the “world’s highest vertical-ascent cable car” Aiguille du Midi.
Out of the variety of French ski resorts to choose from, Les Gets is one of the most family-friendly destinations to consider if you’re skiing with children. With several activities and events available (besides skiing), Les Gets may be a resort worth staying at for more than a few days.
While there are plenty of nursery slopes available for children and beginner skiers, you can take advantage of the nannies who are available in the child-friendly chalets. While the resort is an excellent place for families, don’t assume that the skiing is reserved for the young and beginners.
With over 200 pistes, there’s something for every skier. Many skiers suggest skiing among the Mont Chery trees if you’re an expert on skis.
Even though La Clusaz is a small village, it is a favorite spot for skiers of all expertise levels. Often chosen as an excellent alternative to Chamonix, La Clusaz has a variety of pistes. There are plenty of novice slopes and a few good spots for freeriding.
The biggest, most popular spot for expert skiers at La Clusaz is the 1500m drop from the summit of Balme to La Clusaz and nearly 50 percent of the pistes are classified as “intermediate.”
If you’re looking for a smaller resort to visit with a variety of options, La Clusaz may be one of your “must visit” picks.
Megève has a long history, and its village dates back to around the 13th century (unlike many other French resorts that were built in the mid-1900’s). Not only is the village of Megève frozen in time, but it’s also one of the most popular resorts to visit.
Like other ski resorts in France, Megève is accommodating to all skiers from children to experts, and there’s even an option to do some cross-country skiing as well. The slopes at Megève are divided into three main areas, which total about 450 km.
While the slopes at Megève have a lower altitude than some of the others, like Chamonix, the pistes at Megève are typically open longer. The highest points and pistes that are favorited by free riders are Cote 2000 and Mont Joly.
Where Megève has historical charm, Flaine gets mixed reviews from many of its visitors but “the big snowy bowl,” which was built in the 1960’s is gaining in popularity after experiencing some low points.
A family-friendly resort in the Grand Massif area, there’s little need for cars as its small enough to get around conveniently. While about 42 percent of pistes are classified as “intermediate,” there are plenty of opportunities for experts and beginners to enjoy some time on the slopes.
Faust, Mephisto, and Serpentine are some pistes that intermediate skiers should definitely check out if they want a little bit of a challenge. With plenty of backcountry, “expert” terrain, many recommend hitting the slopes of Flaine with a local guide to ensure one’s safety.
A Few Packing Tips
Once you’ve chosen your ski destination and figured out the details of your trip, you might be wondering if you should take your skis or rent. While it all comes down to personal preference, you may need to do some math to figure out the price comparison of traveling with your gear or just renting.
Many ski enthusiasts strongly recommend taking your ski boots along because they are likely to fit you much better than some of your options abroad. Most ski resorts in France offer ski gear to rent, but once you’ve selected your destination, it’s always a smart idea to check ahead of time just to be sure.
If you have a skiing helmet, take it along, and if you don’t have one, you may want to consider purchasing one for your trip. Helmets can protect your head from severe brain injuries, and if you’re skiing in unfamiliar territory, you may be more likely to get injured.
While it’s important to pack enough warm clothing, don’t forget to pack some clothes that you might want to wear when you’re not on the slopes. Many French resorts have ongoing activities and events once the slopes are closed for the day. Don’t forget your sunscreen and bring a converter so you can keep all your devices adequately charged on your ski trip.