Style & Travel
The ultimate guide to skiing in France
Luxurious chalets, Michelin-starred restaurants, A-list guests and more slopes than you can shake a (ski) stick at: France, with both the Alps and the Pyrenees on its doorstep, has some of the best skiing in the world.
For our pick of the best, we head to the Alps – the mountain range that divides Europe, curving from Austria to France – and the ski resorts that sit on the north-facing side of its towering, snow-capped peaks.
The largest resort within Les Trois Vallées – a group of connected resorts that also features Meribel and Val Thorens – Courchevel has more than 150 km of runs in its own right. But when you add in its links to the neighbouring valleys, you’ll have access to 600 km – that’s plenty to keep even the most advanced skier entertained.
Plus, once you’ve tired of the slopes, this luxury resort plays host to numerous boutiques and shops and not one, but eight, Michelin-starred restaurants. We’d recommend the three-starred Le 1947, run by Yannick Alleno, who gathers local produce from the mountains to create mouth-watering dishes.
Best for: maximum variety
Home to 249 km of ski runs, Alpe d’Huez is bursting with options. But with a heavy proportion of green and blue runs (41 and 34 respectively), it’s especially good for beginners. For those with a little more experience, it’s also home to the longest ski run in Europe: La Sarenne, a 16 km black route that descends from the top of Pic Blanc down 2,200 metres, past gorgeous panoramic scenery.
Plus, having earned the nickname l’Isle au Soleil – meaning Sunny Island – for its 300 days of sunshine each year, this lively resort is as appealing to sun-lovers as it is skiers.
Best for: beginners (and sun seekers)
With a reputation for being one of the liveliest resorts in the Alps, it’s no surprise that Val d’Isere is home to more than 25 bars and clubs. Head to Le 1954 for artfully made cocktails, curl up next to the fireplace at the M bar, or enjoy live music as you dance on tables in your ski boots at La Folie Douce – dubbed Europe’s ‘highest club’. Wherever you end up, you’re sure to have fun.
By day, there are great ski schools for beginners, while more advanced skiers can test their skills on the black run, La Face de Bellevarde; the infamous downhill course created for the 1992 Olympics.
Best for: a holiday that’s more après than ski
Sitting in the shadow of the Mont Blanc massif, Chamonix established its legendary status when it was chosen as the site for the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924.
It’s since developed a reputation for its dangerous and challenging runs. In fact, the slopes on the Grands Montets mountain feature the biggest drops in height – going from 3,300 to 1,235 metres – for a heart-stopping ride. For a serious challenge, head to one of Chamonix’s infamously steep valleys, such as the Grand Gervasutti Couloir.
Best for: black diamond experts and off-piste adventures
Les Deux Alpes
On the map as a four-season destination thanks to its summer ski camps, Les Deux Alpes sits on the largest skiable glacier in Europe, meaning year-round snow and long, fast descents. But it’s not just the high-altitude terrain that has us booking – the resort’s ice cave and Belvédère des Ecrins skywalk are both worth a visit too.
Stay at the four-star, family-run Chalet Mounier for its luxurious spa and Michelin-starred restaurant, Le P’tit Polyte.
Best for: out-of-season skiing
Skiers can spend plenty of time on their feet at the vehicle-free Avoriaz resort, which is perched at 1,800m above sea level in the Portes du Soleil ski area. From its pedestrian-centric design to its ski-in/ski-out chalets, it’s ideal for those wanting to really soak up the mountain atmosphere. The resort’s eco-credentials include an energy reduction plan, a flora and fauna observatory to protect biodiversity and regular clean-up days, making it one of the most sustainability-focused French ski resorts. Its cedar-clad chalets were even designed to blend seamlessly into the rocky backdrop.
Plus, its position on the French-Swiss border means it’s perfect for a day-trip into Switzerland if you want to broaden your horizons.
Best for: a greener ski trip