Five of our Favourite French Ski Resorts


(2019-07-11 17:26:29)

 

With exciting terrain for all levels of skier and snowboarder, diversity of resorts, lively après ski and suitability for families, few countries match France for the quality of their ski resorts and slopes. Here, you’ll find all the outdoor adventure you and your group could wish for, from sheltered nursery areas and pristine terrain parks, to adventurous off-piste routes and spectacular valley views.

But of course, not all ski resorts are created equal, and some stand out from the competition. Whether for the size of ski area, quality of back-country, child-friendly services or traditional Savoyard charm, here we present five of our favourite French ski resorts, alongside a little extra detail on where to ski, where to stay, and what to do. For parents with kids, thirsty après skiers, nervous learners and seasoned professionals alike, these alpine destinations offer something for all.

Val d’Isère

Set at a dizzying 1,800 metres above sea level in the beautiful Espace Killy ski area, Val d’Isère offers superb snowfall record alongside a remarkably beautiful town centre. This international mega-resort may be known across the world for its high altitude and glamorous boutiques, but it’s an old mountain town at heart – and a very pretty one at that.

The pistes

For learners in Val d’Isère, the la Daille sector is home to some of the most beginner-friendly terrain in the resort, with gentle slopes and easy access. Take the La Daille gondola, the Mont Blanc chairlift and the Borsat Express chairlift to the peak of the Col de Fresse – and from here it’s a beautiful run of green slopes back down the valley.

For more advanced skiers and boarders looking for more challenging terrain, the rolling blue and red level slopes winding down the Col de l’Iseran and Arcelle peaks are ideal. And for further exploration of more diverse and challenging terrain, the 300 kilometres of the famous Espace Killy are at your ski tips!

Where to stay

Val d’Isère’s reputation for luxury precedes it, and discerning snow-lovers looking for something truly special for their next alpine escape are spoiled for choice – but Val offers chalet and hotel options to suit a wide range of tastes and budgets. Across welcoming villages like la Daille, Centre and le Fornet, Val d’Isère is home to all manner of chalets, suites, hotels and apartments, where visitors can enjoy easy access throughout the valley by public bus.

Off the slopes

Val d’Isere is a resort of grand standing, and away from the slopes there’s an amazing range of activities to engage in. For rest and relaxation, you can turn to the many spa and sauna facilities in town. Nestled within the Aigle des Neiges hotel, the Deep Nature spa is widely considered among the finest. There’s also a large climbing wall and sports courts within Va; d’Isere’s well-equipped Sports Centre.

Tignes

Tignes is located over a dizzying two thousand metres above sea level, and offers impressive snow coverage from early December all the way through to the end of April. This purpose-built alpine town may be lacking in pretty streets and historic architecture, but the hassle-free access to the lifts and slopes ensures its popularity all season long. Tignes sits within the expansive Espace Killy ski area, neighbouring the slightly more chic and stylish town of Val d’Isère.

The pistes

For intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders, Tignes is a fine ski resort choice to make. (Beginners can also find good learner-level slopes, but there are better resorts for those mastering the basic turns.) Le Lavachet is home to a beautiful green run known as Digues, for example, which offers ideal learner-friendly terrain. Equally, in Tignes le Lac the Millonex lift offers access to a wide range of lovely green-level runs.

If you’re visiting Tignes as an intermediate or advanced level skier or snowboarder, be sure to pick up the full area lift pass. Tignes and Val combine to offer some of the finest groomed slopes in the Alps, and the off-piste can be amazing too.

Where to stay

Tignes is known for its piste-side chalets and apartments, and you’ll find a fine selection of 3* and 4* properties alongside a smattering of higher quality 5* options as well. Do remember, though, that what Tignes lacks in charm it makes up for in convenience – a really big plus point for groups looking for hassle-free access or parents with youungsters in tow.

Off the slopes

As a purpose built ski resort, Tignes is not particularly well set up for non-ski activities – but there is a great selection of indoor sports to engage in. Le Lagon is Tignes’ wellness centre, and it’s here that you’ll find the best selection of activities. There’s a fitness centre, gym and cardio classes, 25 metre swimming pool with slides, plus hot tubs, saunas and more.  Elsewhere, adventurous visitors can try their hand at thrilling pursuits like ice-diving, sightseeing helicopter trips, husky-sledding, parapente and ice-karting.

La Plagne

The resort of La Plagne is set across a number of different hamlets and villages, over the valley from neighbouring les Arcs in the beautiful Paradiski area. The primary village takes pride of place at 1800 metres above sea level, and the surrounding villages are either original alpine settlements or recent additions.

The pistes

There are many good reasons to make a ski trip to La Plagne, and one of the best is that it works for so many different levels of skier and snowboarder. Visitors have easy access to a stunning selection of groomed slopes, with gentle terrain for nervous learners and steep backcountry for bold adventurers. There are also around 15 free lifts for youngsters and kids learning the basics on the snow. If you have beginners in your La Plagne ski holiday group, you’ll find the best learner-friendly lopes around the villages of Plagne Centre, Aime-la-Plagne and Plagne-Bellecote.

For intermediate and advanced skiers looking to tuck in the miles, la Plagne’s variety of terrain is a real boon. Across the La Plagne valley and over into Les Arcs, there’s a fine range of steeper slopes where you can pick up your pace nicely. 

Where to stay

Larger accommodation blocks dominate the resort of la Plagne, but across older villages such as Montchavin you’ll also find a great range of individual chalets – both with and without UK flights and transfers included in the price. There’s precious little by way of luxury accommodation to choose from, but the 3* and 4* chalets and hotels are warm and welcoming.

Off the slopes

La Plagne is overall a rather peaceful resort, with little of the lively nightlife of resort slike Meribel or Courchevel – but there’s plenty to do! Constructed for the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympic Games, the bobsleigh track attracts brave thrill-seekers keen to test their mettle, and you can also enjoy other activities like skidoo hire and snow-shoeing.

Méribel

Located at a respectable 1400 metres altitude, the iconic resort of Méribel enjoys a central location within the world-famous Three Valleys ski area. It’s nestled between Courchevel and La Tania to one side, and St Martin, les Menuires, and Val Thorens to the other, with lifts running up both sides offering amazing access to the diverse terrain.

The pistes

The Altiport sector is home to some of the finest beginner-friendly terrain in the Alps, with gentle slopes running down through the trees and a number of gentle chairlifts offering easy uplift. You can reach this corner of the valley with ease from the Rhodos gondola in Meibel la Chaudanne.

For intermediates and expert skiers and boarders, a full Three Valleys lift pass offers access to a staggering range of groomed slopes. Lifts are swift and efficient, with annual upgrades to keep Meribel at the forefront of snow-lovers’ minds.

Where to stay

Méribel has a reputation as an expensive alpine destination, and while there are plenty of cheaper places to ski, the value for money remains comparatively very good. There’s a good range of comfortable 3* chalets and hotels, and of course at the top of the scale the resort’s luxury accommodation offerings rank among the finest and most impressive of any resort in the Alps.

Off the slopes

Away from the snowy slopes, it’s remarkably hard to get bored in Meribel! Most of the non-ski activities can be enjoyed at the well located Parc Olympique, and climbing, gym, cardio training, weights rooms, rowing, cycling and running machines are all available. Meribel is also home to an impressive selection of wellness facilities, with welcoming and stylish saunas and spas in many of the higher-end hotels.

[caption id="attachment_17277" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The pretty ski resort of Meribel[/caption]

Courchevel

Courchevel’s reputation for luxury skiing precedes it, and it’s widely seen as an Alpine playground for the rich and famous – but be sure not to let that put you off! The main resort sits at 1,850 metres above sea level, with its neighbouring villages located down the valley at 1650m, 1550m and 1300m. The villages combine to offer something for everybody, from simple chalet-apartments to 6* hotels, and the bars and restaurants are diverse.

The pistes

One of the main reasons why Courchevel remains so popular is its beautiful pistes – which sweep gracefully down from the peak of the Saulire mountain, to la Croisette in Courchevel 1850 and down through the forests to the base of the valley. The best of the beginner slopes can be found around la Croisette in Courchevel 1850, where there’s plenty of space for nervous learners to master their turns on the snow. The Pralongs, Biollay and Coqs chairlifts are superb too, with ease access to wonderfully gentle terrain.

For slightly more accomplished skiers and boarders, it’s possible to choose any corner of the Courchevel valley and enjoy easy access to the slopes above. But for advanced skiers keen to make the very most of the Three Valleys terrain, staying in Courchevel 1850 is best. It’s from here that you have the fastest access to the Courchevel slopes, and those of Meribel, les Menuires, and Val Thorens.

Where to stay

At the top end of Courchevel’s accommodation offerings, the 6* chalets and hotels offer a level of opulence rarely seen, and there are a number of beautiful Michelin-ranked restaurants to complement them. But away from the luxury offerings, there’s also a good range of more modest offerings around the 4* and 5* marks. Generally speaking, the lower down the valley you go, the more affordable the accommodation.

Off the slopes

With many of the world’s luxury brands finding a home of Courchevel’s high streets, it’s a haven for shopping till you drop – from Cartier, Prada, Louis Vuitton and more. But this family-friendly resort also offers plenty of traditional arts and crafts shops for families to peruse, and the Forum Centre offers a wide range of indoor activity and adventure to enjoy.

For more details on the resorts featured in today’s blog, our ski holiday experts are on hand and happy to help. You can reach us on 0203 0800 202 or find us via our handy chat service.