France is the most popular country for British skiers and snowboarders, and it’s not hard to see why.
The magnificent backdrop of the Alps has welcomed traditional mountain villages, purpose-built resorts and vast networks of lifts and gondolas, with size and easy access meaning our neighbour across the Channel has become a haven for snowsports’ enthusiasts.
The Alps offer some of the best downhill skiing in the world along with some of the most famed resorts and villages, offering something for everyone from complete beginners to experienced off-pisters.
From the challenging slopes of Mont Blanc to the family-friendly mega-resorts of Les Arcs or the unspoiled, idyllic village of La Clusaz, there are dozens of options for those who want to experience skiing in France.
Whether you’ve already been dozens of times or are planning a first visit, read on – we’ve rounded up a list of the best ski resorts and holidays in the country.
Sharing a massive ski area with neighbouring Val d’Isère, Tignes is known as a snowsure destination with one of the longest seasons in Europe. Home to 300km of pistes, it is a good choice for skiers of every level, with extensive beginner areas at Val Claret or Le Lac and advanced on- and off-piste options such as La Sache.
Away from the slopes, there’s a lively après and nightlife scene, with notable venues including Loop Bar, Le Coffee, Couloir and Melting Pot for particularly late nights. For families, Le Lac is the best choice, as a quieter alternative that is near nursery slopes and non-skiing winter activities.
How to ski in Tignes
Residence Ynycio is one of the newest additions to Tignes, right in the centre of Val Claret. Inghams is offering packages to these modern, stylish apartments, which has South American style throughout, with spacious rooms and a magnificent sauna and pool area. In addition, it sits just 150 metres from the lifts and 100 metres from the ski hire shop.
From £1,188pp including seven nights’ accommodation, self catering, return flights from London Heathrow with one piece of checked luggage per passenger, and transfers. Departing 27 January.
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One of France’s premier activity destinations in both winter and summer, Chamonix has a reputation as being one of the best resorts in the world for advanced skiers. It lies near the foot of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in the Alps, giving visitors incredible views and offering dozens of on- and off-piste advanced and expert level runs, including the 18km Vallé Blanche. The valley itself is home to around 170km of pistes, and purchasing the Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass grants access to slopes at Megève, St Gervais and Courmayeur.
With a resident population of around 12,000, Chamonix is one of the larger mountain towns in the Alps, meaning it has a lively centre. It’s car-free too, allowing visitors to enjoy the picturesque Savoyan buildings while sampling the nightlife, centred around Avenue Michel Croz and the Rue du Dr Paccard.
How to ski in Chamonix
British Airways Holidays provides an affordable package to the four-star Morgane hotel in the centre of Chamonix. Rooms are contemporary with rustic touches, while there’s also a large outdoor terrace, indoor pool and spa. The Aiguille du Midi cable car station, the highest cable car in France and a starting point for some the resort’s best runs, is a stone’s throw from the hotel.
From £765pp including seven nights’ accommodation, return flights from London Heathrow and one piece of checked luggage per passenger. Departing 3 February.
One of the main resorts in the famed Three Valleys ski area – the largest in Europe – along with Val Thorens and Courchevel, Méribel is a resort with a variety of slopes and some excellent chalet accommodation. It is home to 150km of pistes – almost 80 per cent of which are blue and red – with good beginners’ areas near Mottaret and advanced skiing around Mont Vallon.
Those who want to explore further afield have easy access to the other 450km of pistes in the Three Valleys, and those looking for après will want to head to the mountainside Folie Douce or Le Rond Point after a long day’s skiing.
How to ski in Méribel
Crystal Ski’s trip to the Hotel Chaudanne provides a stay in a high quality, centrally located hotel that is just two minutes away from the slopes. A blend of a chalet-like facade and cosy log cabin-esque interiors, it provides a comfortable base with impressive spa facilities that include a sauna, hammam and indoor pool.
From £1,638pp, including seven nights’ accommodation, B&B, return flights from London Stansted with one piece of checked luggage per passenger, and transfers. Departing 2 March.
Les Deux Alpes
Les Deux Alpes is popular due to its snowsure conditions and large glacier area, as well as the fact that it’s an affordable, more laid-back alternative to the bigger resorts. It may not be the place to go if everyone in the group is a more advanced or expert skier – there are few black runs and much of the more difficult skiing is concentrated off-piste in areas like Chalance and Le Fee – but its 200km of pistes are excellent for beginners and intermediates.
Though plans for a gondola link to Alpe d’Huez remain in the works, Les Deux Alpes has more than enough to keep visitors entertained, and the same is true off the slopes. Smithy’s Tavern, O’Brians, Polar Bear Pub and Pano Bar are the notable venues in a destination that is known for its lively après scene.
How to ski in Les Deux Alpes
If you’re looking to beat the post-Christmas blues, book a group skiing getaway in a self-catered chalet with Sunweb. Chalet Husky sleeps up to 12 people within its striking wooden walls and contemporary interiors, and sits just 80 metres away from the slopes.
From £1,194pp, including seven nights’ accommodation, self catering, return flights from Stansted, one piece of checked luggage per passenger, lift passes and ski and boot hire. Departing 6 Janaury.
With all the characteristics that make a world-class resort – from snowsure conditions to an array of excellent accommodation – Tignes’ neighbour does not live in its shadow. Its own 150km of runs mainly cater to intermediate and advanced skiers, though the area at the summit of the Solaise gondola is great for beginners. Some 69 per cent of the runs are blue or red, with experts able to challenge themselves with the resort’s famed off-piste (and lift-served) routes including Banane, Le Fornet and Le Grand Vallon.
The resort has one of the best après scenes in the Alps too, with the 2,400m-high Folie Douce a great way to end the skiing day with striking mountain views or the famed Dick’s Tea Bar back down in town. For families, there’s a good amount to do away from the slopes, with plenty of daycare options also available.
How to ski in Val d’Isère
Expedia offers a stay at Hotel Altitude, where rooms are rustic with a touch of North American, lumberjack style, with balconies overlooking the village and the surrounding mountains. The hotel is located four minutes away from two lifts and the Solaise gondola, offering easy access to a large range of the area’s runs.
From £1,251pp including seven nights’ accommodation, B&B, return flights from London Gatwick and one piece of checked luggage per passenger. Departing 17 February.
Another resort in the Three Valleys ski area, Val Thorens sits at 2,300m and is a resort with some of the most reliable snowfall and one of the longest seasons, running from around mid-November to mid-May. It is home to around 140km of pistes, with gentle beginners slopes in the heart of the resort and excellent runs for intermediates. Many runs start at around 3,000 metres, and there are challenging black runs at Pointe de la Masse and the Orelle Valley.
There’s also the extra 450km of runs offered by the wider ski area to explore.
Val Thorens is another attractive resort where wooden buildings meet traffic-free streets. The location of the nursery slopes makes it a good choice for families and learners, with an exciting toboggan run nearby too. Après is particularly energetic, with the mountainside La Folie Douce and the slightly lower Bar 360 the highlights, though Summit and Malaysia provide late nights in town.
How to ski in Val Thorens
Choose a Ski Solutions package to Chalet Noella for a later-season trip to Val Thorens. It is built into the mountainside, sitting next to the Plein Sud blue run, so has good access for most levels of skier. Guests can enjoy free use of the third-floor sauna and steam room and will receive five days of breakfasts, afternoon teas and four-course dinners.
From £1,689pp including seven nights’ accommodation, chalet board, return flights from a London airport and airport transfers. Departing 2 March.
Alpe d’Huez is a vibrant resort with 250km of pistes, mainly consisting of green, blue and red runs, though it does also possess the longest black run in Europe, the Sarenne. It contains one of the best beginners’ areas in the country too, just above the village itself, and the Les Bergers area with 12 green and seven blue runs.
Alpe d’Huez is a more affordable option than other major French resorts, with plenty of well-priced accommodation options that are suitable for families and groups of all sizes. Those looking for après will enjoy the on-piste La Folie Douce, while in-town options include Sphere Bar and Freeride Cafe.
How to ski in Alpe d’Huez
For a memorable ski holiday with minimal fuss, choose the British Airways Holidays package to Club Med Alpe d’Huez. A stylish and modern all-inclusive hotel with a magnificent terrace overlooking the mountains, it has ski-in/ski-out access and offers spa and pool facilities. International cuisine will be served for your meals in either of its two restaurants, while the La Bulle lounge is the place to enjoy an evening drink.
From £2,578pp including seven nights’ accommodation, all-inclusive, return flights from London Gatwick and one piece of checked luggage per passenger. Departing 28 January.
Known for its wide, north-facing slopes and good beginner areas in Moriond and Le Praz, Courchevel’s 150km of pistes cater to intermediates and advanced skiers too (and offer access to the rest of the Three Valleys’ 600km network of slopes).
Courchevel’s highest village (formerly known as 1850, now just as Courchevel) is known for being an expensive destination, illustrated by a slew of Michelin-starred restaurants and opulent accommodation, though the other five villages – including Moriond (also known as 1650), Le Praz (1300), La Tania or Saint Bon – offer more affordable places to stay and livelier nightlife.
How to ski in Courchevel
Affordable luxury is not out of reach in Courchevel, as proven by Ski Solutions’ package to Chalet Estrella, located 500 metres from the centre of Moriond. This characterful wooden chalet contains 10 en-suite bedrooms, an open-plan living and dining area and its own private outdoor jacuzzi, while the closest lifts are just 300 metres away.
From £1,504pp including seven nights’ accommodation, chalet board, return flights from a London airport of your choice and transfers. Departing 20 January.
Les Arcs is a haven for families and groups alike, with plenty of ski-in/ski-out accommodation, a more laid-back attitude towards après and easy access to myriad intermediate runs. It consists of seven villages, the most lively and biggest of which is 1800 and the newest of which is 1950, which was built 20 years ago in pretty, Alpine style. For the eco-conscious, you can get to within seven minutes of 1600 via the Eurostar ski train into Bourg St Maurice and catch the funicular into resort.
Les Arcs’ 200km of pistes offers plentiful blue and red runs, while anyone looking to venture further can explore neighbouring La Plagne and its 225km of pistes if they buy a full area lift pass.
How to ski in Les Arcs
Those who have chosen the sustainable option can travel flight-free to Arc 1800 for a week-long stay at the Residence Prestige Odalys Edenarc with Sunweb. It’s situated close to the centre and lies 250 metres from the nearest ski lifts.
From £752pp, including seven nights’ accommodation, self catering, and lift passes. Departing 6 January.
La Clusaz’s proximity to Geneva makes it a great destination for a quick weekend break. Though only an hour from the famed Swiss city, this is a less-visited destination that has retained its traditional architecture and a true mountain village atmosphere, making it one of the more charming places on this list. This is not a place to come for hard partying, but rather for sampling some real French charm.
La Clusaz contains 125km of runs to suit all levels. The Massif de Beauregard is best for beginners, Col de Balme is best for the advanced and pretty much everything else caters to the various stages of intermediates. The resort is not the highest – the village has an altitude of 1,100 metres, and the highest lift reaches 2,470 metres – so it’s best to visit in the middle of the season.
How to ski in La Clusaz
For a pre-Christmas getaway to La Clusaz, book a modern-chalet style room at the St-Alban Hotel & Spa courtesy of Heidi. You’ll be right in the centre of La Clusaz and six minutes away from the lifts, while the hotel has a spa, sauna and indoor pool.
Prices from £764pp, including seven nights’ accommodation, room only, return flights from London Gatwick and airport transfers. Departing 9 December.
The second part of the Paradiski area along with Les Arcs, which it’s linked to by cable car, La Plagne contains 225km of pistes that are mainly suited to intermediate and advanced skiers (as well as excellent off-piste options in the Biolly sector). Plagne Centre has the best slopes for beginners.
La Plagne is a very popular destination for UK holiday companies, so the accommodation options are good throughout the villages, though Montalbert, Montchavin and Les Coches are the quietest. Belle Plagne is where to head for livelier nightlife.
How to ski in La Plagne
For an affordable pre-Christmas getaway to Belle Plagne, opt for a Crystal Ski package. You’ll stay at the Constellations Apartments, a short walk from the village centre and with easy ski-in/ski-out access on a gentle blue slope. Apartments are rustic with a classic Alpine design, and contain balconies for maximising the enjoyment of the mountain views.
From £717pp including seven nights’ accommodation, self catering, return flights from Luton with one piece of checked luggage per passenger, and tranfers. Departing 16 December.
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