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France – the El Dorado of Skiers: Top 10 Resorts

Snowboarder admiring the panorma before forsome surfing in the courchevel
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Snowboarder admiring the panorma before forsome surfing in the courchevel

French ski resorts might be expensive, but their tracks are known all around the world. In the French Alps, many of them stretch for hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres. Here, skiers, snowboarders, extreme sports enthusiasts, and even families with young children will find a mountain, track or trampoline suitable for their needs. Travel on Spot presents you with 10 French ski resorts worthy of your attention.

1. Courchevel

View at Courchevel ski resort, French Alps
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  View at Courchevel ski resort, French Alps

Located at the fringe of the giant ski region Trois Vallees (or Three Valleys in English), this town is considered to be one of the most luxurious places in the French Alps. Many of the planet’s wealthiest people have their villas here. In terms of ski tracks, however, this resort is ideal for beginners. These lengthy, downhill tracks will give you enough space and freedom to practice and get ready for even steeper slopes. In total, the resort has around 600 km’s worth of tracks, so if you ever get bored with Courchevel, you can always climb the steepest and highest mountain of the region. A six-day ski pass costs around 290 Euros.

Cheaper accommodation can be found in nearby towns. Just make sure to book in advance, as most of the available rooms get taken already in summer.

2. Val d’Isère

Top view over Val d Isere, a village and ski resort in the French Alps
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Top view over Val d Isere, a village and ski resort in the French Alps

This ski resort is located up high in a remote valley. Just like most ski resorts today, Val d’Isère is designed for intermediate and advanced skiers, although professional athletes and those who like to ski on black-painted – the most difficult – tracks will feel at home here as well. Furthermore, if you hire a guide to show you around the toughest paths, an adrenaline-filled day is guaranteed. Few resorts in the world have such a variety of tracks, designed for every visitor.

Moreover, Val d’Isère shares the valley with another popular French ski centre – Tignes. In total, the valley has 78 lifts and 300 km’s worth of tracks, with 17% being black, and 26% - red. A six-day ski pass here costs around 260 Euros.

3. Tignes

Village Tighnes between snow mountains in Paradiski region
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Village Tighnes between snow mountains in Paradiski region

Just like Val d’Isère, the aforementioned Tignes belongs to the Espace Killy skiing valley. Its tracks, located at an elevation of 2100-3455 m, give one the opportunity to ski 10 months out of the year! In mid-November, visitors can already start skiing on the 1,400 m long glacier of La Grande-Motter – most of the world’s ski resorts can’t guarantee that even in February. Furthermore, it’s an Olympic ski centre. A six-day ski pass here costs also around 260 Euros.

4. Martin de Belleville

Video
Video by Michel Lahy.  

In winter, most of the French ski resorts are usually full of entertainment and people. So, if you’re after a romantic week in a cosy Alpine haven, you should probably choose St. Martin de Belleville. It’s the cosiest corner of the major ski region Trois Vallees. This cheese-making centre has maintained its calm and authentic mountain atmosphere to this day, an accomplishment that makes the locals proud, and not without reason. Furthermore, here you’ll find a number of excellent blue- and red-painted tracks. If you ever get bored with these, you can also take a lift to Méribel and other tracks in the valley. A six-day pass here costs around 290 Euros.

5. Méribel

Video
Video by Merinet.com - Meribel Resort Guide.  

This is the opposite of a small, romantic ski village. Méribel is the crown jewel of Trois Vallees that has won the hearts of even the most spoiled of tourists. The resort is located at the very centre of the region. What makes it attractive are its abundance of hotels, good restaurants, excellent ski tracks and lifts, and ancient mountain cabins that blend in with the dense Alpine forests. Due to the large, international crowds that congregate here, it also hosts some of the most fun ski parties in all of France. For this reason, hubbub in Méribel can sometimes last until 5 in the morning.

Worthy of mention is the fact that in 1992, the resort hosted six ski competitions during the Olympics, as well as a hockey championship. This is all the evidence needed to prove the resort’s quality. From here, you can also easily reach the other ski resorts of the Trois Vallees. A six-day ski pass here costs around 283 Euros.

6. Alpe d’Huez

The Alpe d Huez ski domain in the French Alps
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Alpe d Huez ski domain in the French Alps

Alpe d’Huez is situated in the Gran Rouiz Alpine massif. It’s a small resort, located above the Romanche Valley, in the southern part of the Pic Blanc Mountains, 60 km from Grenoble. It started becoming popular in 1968 when it hosted the bobsleigh matches of the Winter Olympics.

Alpe d‘Huez is famous for its extreme track called Tunel, a part of which stretches through the skating rink. The other tracks here are also of the highest quality – the resort hosts the World Ski Championships every year.

The Alpe d Huez ski domain in the French Alps
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Alpe d Huez ski domain in the French Alps

The architectural image of Alpe d’Huez is quite eclectic and unusual, reflecting the chaotic development of the region. On the other hand, the town is very well suited for travelling both on foot and on the free bus. The beginner-level tracks are very conveniently arranged. Here you’ll also find a number of pools, saunas, gyms, skating rinks and golf courses. Those who are after entertainment can use the resort’s five discos, two movie theatres and 12 restaurants with live music playing in two of them. A six-day pass is around 255 Euros.

7. La Plagne

Young man on skis out of slopes. Off-piste skiing La Plagne, France
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Young man on skis out of slopes. Off-piste skiing La Plagne, France

La Plagne is one of the most universal resorts on this list – it’s well suited both for families and mountain skiing enthusiasts, whose principal aim is to cover as many kilometres on skis as possible. This region has more of the simple, blue tracks, although there’s also quite a few red and black ones, specially designed for professional skiers. There’s also a number of night skiing tracks (Aime la Plagne and Plagne Centre).

La Plagne consists of several small towns, scattered in the area. Each of them is unique in its own way, united only by their common tranquillity. Looking through a window, instead of road traffic, here you’ll more often see ski tracks and lifts, making their rounds up and down the mountain. A six-day pass costs around 291 Euros.

8. Avoriaz

Snowboarder prepares for the next ride in Avoriaz, France
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Snowboarder prepares for the next ride in Avoriaz, France

Avoriaz is part of another large French and Swiss ski region – Portes du Soleil (or Sun Gates in English). It’s one of the best spots for snowboarders. In 1993, Avoriaz had built the Europe’s first half-pipe for snowboarding tricks. Now it can be used by everyone who cares to. The resort has excellent conditions for those who are not yet capable of performing tricks, but want to start their path towards extreme sports.

In total, Portes du Soleil ski region has around 200 lifts and 650 km’s worth of tracks. So even if you’re not good at snowboarding tricks, you can ski on different routes for a whole week. A six-day ski pass costs around 248 Euros.

9. Chamonix

Bar and street viewin Chamonix town in French Alps
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Bar and street viewin Chamonix town in French Alps

The Chamonix resort is legendary not only in France, but also in the entire continent. Here, all throughout the year, you can meet people from all around the world, who come here not only to ski, but also to climb the Alps. The nearby Mont Blanc – the highest peak in Europe – has become the resort’s symbol. The traditional ski town will meet all your needs – from skiing and fun in the outdoors, to night clubs and entertainment. Chamonix regularly hosts various winter sports championships, so it’s fun to not only ski here, but also observe the world’s top professionals. A six-day pass is around 293 Euros.

10. Aussois

View the neighborhood of Aussois
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  View the neighborhood of Aussois

The Aussois region, located in the Maurienne Valley, we recommend to those who are looking for a decent, yet less expensive ski resort in France. This is one of the most remote regions in the French Alps – most winter sports enthusiasts never make it here. Here, you can easily supplement your skiing with the exploration of the French cuisine and its countryside traditions. Moreover, since Aussois is still developing, prices here are quite a bit lower.

In total, there’s 55 km’s worth of tracks and 10 lifts, but a six-day ski pass costs only 140 Euros. If you were to find the tracks a little too short, you can always take a bus or lift to nearby ski resorts. There’s also plenty of entertainment other than skiing here: you can go mountain climbing, hiking in the outdoors and paragliding. In any case, this region offers a fairly decent ski resort for the lowest price.

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