Overview of Skiing in France
There’s a magic in the majesty of the mountains, the crisp Alpine air, and the crunch of snow under your feet, that makes you feel more alive.
Perhaps that’s why for generations France has been a favourite destination for British holidaymakers charmed by its combination of culture and cuisine, Alpine snow sports and awesome après-ski. Blend these inspirational ingredients together and you’re ready for a captivating holiday with a certain je ne sais quoi.
Whether you travel by train, plane or car, Erna Low has the passion and professional expertise to create the perfect customised French ski package holiday for you and your family – including flights, transfers, accommodation and even ski passes, equipment and lessons.
If skiing across pristine powder with a beautiful Alpine backdrop during the day and social soirees spent with friends and family sounds sublime, we can help you hit the slopes to have the time of your life.
We’ve been organising French Alps ski holidays for eight decades, so it’s no wonder we’re best equipped to ensure you embrace every opportunity that this wonderful part of the world offers.
Ready for the best ski resort packages tailor-made for your total satisfaction? Let’s go!
Best Ski Resorts in France
Best for snow quality
The French Alps are renowned for fresh powder snow that’s superb for skiing and snowboarding, but when you prize premium slopes above all else, head for the gorgeous glaciers of high altitude ski resorts. Here are a few of our selections:
Vibrant Val Thorens is Europe’s highest ski resort so, up there where the air is rarefied, you can be sure of sublime snow-covered slopes here from November all the way through to mid-May.
Tignes is another terrific choice, because its elevated altitude and north-facing slopes mean snow conditions are conducive to superb skiing and snowboarding throughout the season.
Les Arcs is part of the Paradiski ski area, which includes 425 km of pistes and three peaks at an altitude of over 3000m. You’ll find spacious pistes here for all levels of skiers – from nursery slopes for beginners to blue and red runs for intermediates and black runs and off-piste for the most experienced.
La Plagne is a cluster of linked high altitude ski resorts which includes Plagne Bellecote, Plagne Centre and traditional villages like Montchavin and Les Coches. But Belle Plagne might be the pick of the bunch here – it’s great for glacier skiing as 70% of its slopes are above 2000m.
Best for family groups
There are plenty of French Alps ski resorts superbly set up for families, with a range of comfortable accommodation options – many of which are ski to door, pet friendly and even have spa or swimming pool facilities. Here are a few outstanding options that we recommend for your tribe:
Aime 2000 ski holidays include well-appointed accommodation options like Les Hauts Bois, which has its own swimming pool and spa and is in close proximity to a brilliant blue run with ski school for beginners, as well as the nearby town centre with a disco, games room, cinema, shops and restaurants. For first time skier families, Aime 2000 ticks every box.
Alpe d’Huez is another amazing option for families and a luxurious accommodation option like Daria-I Nor offers easy access to the slopes since its only 100m from Les Bergers Gondola. Guests enjoy free access to the in-house fitness centre, hammam, heated swimming pool, sauna, free Wi-Fi, private ski lockers and breath-taking balcony views. If you’re looking for a luxe option, you’ve found it with Daria-I Nor.
Courchevel is another family favourite ski resort which combines great Gallic hospitality and easy access to slopes and shops from popular apartments like Les Chalets du Forum in the middle of Courchevel 1850. A breakfast delivery service can be booked prior to arrival and bakery and main meal delivery options can be arranged on site. There’s free Wi-Fi throughout and facilities include well-equipped kitchenettes with all the mod cons, comfortable bedrooms and an LCD TV to keep you entertained during cosy at-home evenings.
Best for groups of skiers or snowboarders
When your holiday group includes skiers at all levels of aptitude, you’re best opting for a ski resort with a choice of nursery, blue, red, black and off-piste runs that ensure everyone enjoys themselves as much as possible. Rest assured that there are a number of these all-round accessible resorts in the French Alps, including the following fantastic options:
Tignes is nestled in the Tarentaise Valley and is part of the world-renowned Espace Killy ski area. Main villages Tignes Val Claret and Tigne le Lac are both located at 2100m, so there’s ample snowfall throughout the season and slopes are suitable for all levels of skiers and hikers. There’s also a plethora of pubs and restaurants, as well as a choice of child-friendly activities.
Arc 1800 ski resort is the beating heart of the entire Les Arcs ski area and since it’s located at Aiguille Grive, it offers easy access from its accommodation to the slopes. There are pistes for every level of skier, but it’s also popular with snowboarders thanks to its nearby snow park and three permanent boardercross courses. If you and your partner prefer skiing but your teens love to snowboard, Arc 1800 keeps everyone happy.
Flaine is found in the Grand Massif ski area and it’s a great option for groups of family and friends since it’s a 100% car-free village and is blessed by bountiful snowfall and sun-kissed slopes throughout the season. The Grand Massif is one of France’s largest ski zones and includes the villages of Les Carroz, Samoens, Sixt and Morillon – with a collective 256 km of pistes for snowboarders and skiers of varying abilities, powder runs and adrenalin-fuelled off-piste areas.
Ski Areas in France
France has something to offer every type of snowsports and outdoors enthusiast and its ski areas are regarded by many independent experts as the best in the world.
Whether you’re a family group looking for safety, comfort and fun on the slopes, commodious accommodation and kids entertainment, or a large group of friends with intermediate and advanced skiers yearning for exciting adventures on the slopes and awesome apres-ski experiences, welcome home.
France’s ski areas include traditional and authentic Alpine villages as well as modern ski-in, ski-out resorts with lodgings that range from standard to sumptuous. Here’s the Erna Lowdown on the nation’s foremost ski areas:
Les Trois Vallees (The Three Valleys) is the world’s largest ski area and this fabulous fact is backed by some mind-blowing statistics: it contains 600km of pistes accessible on skis, 328 downhill skiing pistes, 1512 hectares of maintained pistes and a total skiable area covering 10,500 hectares. You’ll find Val Thorens here, which has been voted the world’s best ski resort, as well as the stunning Meribel and Courchevel resorts.
Paradiski is another picture-perfect French ski area that ranges from an altitude of 3937 to 10,662 ft. In a region of outstanding natural beauty, Paradiski’s scenery might be the jewel in the crown and it’s home to prepossessing resorts like Les Arcs and La Plagne.
Portes du Soleil is a major Alpine snowsports destination that comprises thirteen resorts between Mont Blanc in France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland, and 600km of skiing in total. The choice of resorts is deep and diverse, with Les Gets, Avoriaz and Morzine each having their own distinctive charms.
Seasonal Snow Conditions in France
With so many high-altitude resorts, seasonal snow conditions are generally excellent in France, which means you can hit the slopes and have fun at any time resorts are open for business. However, here are a couple of standout destinations:
As mentioned, Val Thorens offers some of the most consistently good snow in the world, with a resort height of 200m, 150km of prime pistes and slopes between 1800-3230m high, including two glaciers. The season typically lasts from late November to early May, so it’s perfect for frolics over the festive season or even a family trip during the Easter school holidays.
Snow conditions are also particularly pleasant in Val d’Isere – it boasts a resort height of 1850m and the Espace Killy ski area it’s part of has 300km of pistes and slopes between 1550-3455m. Located on the north side of the Alps close to the Italian border, the resort also has glaciers and snow can arrive from the south east to top up the local covering. The Val-d’Isere season also lasts from November to May but it also usually re-opens its glacier from mid-June each year for around six weeks.
For some French Alps holidaymakers, the hospitality that awaits after a day’s exertions on the slopes is just as important as the action on the piste – this is perfectly understandable, because no matter the makeup of your group, evening entertainment, relaxation and socialising makes for a more satisfying experience. Luckily, Alpine excursions and apres-ski culture fit snugly together like feet and ski boots – here are a few resorts where the ambience heats up as the sun goes down:
Val Thorens isn’t only famous for being one of the world’s most snow sure resorts, it’s also home to Europe’s highest open-air club, La Folie Douce. Here you can enjoy delicious dishes like octopus carpaccio and Savoy rainbow trout with mountain views on La Fruitiere terrace restaurant, before enjoying live DJs, tabletop dancing and toffee vodkas with fellow revellers as the evening unfolds.
Val d’Isere is another vibesy ski resort where you’ll never be bored – its bustling night time economy is supported by Cocorico, where you can slake your thirst with a few ice cold beers while listening to the live band that plays daily, after which the resident DJ hits the decks and turns the party up to maximum overdrive. After hours, shimmy across to Dicks Tea Bar where partygoers with stamina shake their tail feathers til 4am.
Avoriaz is also synonymous with apres-ski, thanks to the terrific tapas and chilled champers available at chic JaJa Bar, live DJs and themed evenings at Le Globe Trotters Café, and Le Shooters, which has a staggering 50 flavours of shots available.
Ski Accommodation in France
When you’re expending energy all day on the slopes, you need congenial accommodation where you can rest and relax of an evening – and whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic bolthole or an extended family that needs to unwind in a spacious apartment, your ski package can be customised to suit your needs.
Here are some of the advantages of ski apartments in France:
If you want to spoil yourself and can’t be bothered cooking, choose a catered apartment where you wake up to breakfast, return from the slopes to tea and cakes and enjoy a full meal with refreshments in the evening. It’s such a pleasure knowing that you don’t need to worry about everyone being fed and watered each day.
Self-catered apartments are preferable when you enjoy cooking and the independence of choosing what you eat daily on a more ad hoc basis. Pick up some fresh local ingredients at the supermarket and impress your significant other by throwing together your signature dish and serving it up with a smile.
Many apartment complexes have facilities like hot tubs, spas and swimming pools, so there are several ways to recharge your batteries and massage those leg muscles.
Apartments offer privacy – you can relax in your own surroundings and if you’re travelling in a large family group, it’s possible to book apartments adjacent to each other. Here are some of the advantages of ski hotels in France:
Ski hotels have excellent availability and flexibility in terms of types of room or suite.
They’re usually centrally located, close to shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as ski lifts and slopes.
They’re very convenient for short stay ski trips.
If you like to mix and mingle, ski hotels are more sociable.
Options from bed and breakfast to half board and all-inclusive are available.
Your room can be made up each day – you can relax without worrying about cleaning up.
Ski Flights and Transfers to Resorts in France
Self-drive ski holidays are popular with many customers, but for others it’s hard to beat the convenience of a package that includes ski flights and transfers.
For example, if you’re travelling with kids of various ages in tow, sometimes taking the car, making regular pitstops and ensuring no one has been left at the last service station can feel a little like herding cats, in which case a hassle-free complete package is preferable.
We can offer flights to all of our French ski resorts from airports across the UK – including Heathrow, Gatwick, Belfast, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Newcastle, Manchester and practically everywhere else. And transfers can be arranged at the other end from Geneva to Morzine, Moutiers to Courchevel, Grenoble to Alpe d’Huez and Geneva to Les Trois Vallees, La Plagne or Les Arcs.
For a flexible and stress-free French ski holiday, the ski flight and transfer combination option is worth serious consideration.
Ski Passes and Other Extras in French resorts
To complete your customised French ski package holiday, you’ll need ski passes and possibly a few other ski extras. Here are a few hand tips:
It’s possible to pre-book ski passes for many resorts – these can be sent to you beforehand so that when you arrive there’s no time wasted and you can hit the slopes tout suite.
You can also easily arrange ski and snowboard hire from trusted partners at reasonable prices, which saves the hassle of having to shop around on arrival.
Ski school can also be included in your deal – there are lessons available for intermediate and more experienced skiers as well as novices because there are always pro tips to pick up which improve your technique and help you stay on top of your game.
Ski insurance is another must-have and you should make sure that it covers all of the activities you plan to undertake for the full duration of your French ski holiday – we can advise on the most robust policies.
And voila – as you can see, French ski resorts offer a kaleidoscopic range of attractions for all types of travellers. Whether you’re a confirmed powderhound, a keen novice or appreciate apres-ski culture as much as your time on the slopes, you’ll be completely satisfied.
Furthermore, the range of resorts is so diverse that you’ll find somewhere you slot in perfectly as a solo skier, couple, family group or extended group of friends and family.
At Erna Low, skiing and snowsports are much more than mere pastimes – they’re passions that influence every aspect of our lives, which we have the privilege of sharing with others thanks to being lucky enough to work in an industry that we adore.
We’re very proud to be longstanding players in the international snowsports community and we can’t wait to welcome you with open arms!