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A guide to the Ski resorts in France

News & Guides / A guide to the Ski resorts in France

France is undeniably one of the most popular countries in the world to visit or buy property for those looking for ski holidays or a ski property investment and in this guide we will look at most of the ski resorts available in the French Alps. These ski resorts are located in 4 departments: Haute-Savoie, Savoie, Isere & Hautes-Alpes which are all situated in the Rhone Alpes region and served by the airports at Geneva, Lyon and Grenoble apart from Hautes-Alpes which is in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region and served by Grenoble airport. All have transfers to the various ski resorts. The guide is listed in order of the size of the ski domain.

The Three Valleys ski zone (600km of slopes up to 3500m altitude)

Resorts : Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens La Tania, Les Menuires, Brides les bains, St Martin de Belleville & Orelle.

Nearest airports: Geneva & Grenoble

The Three Valleys is the largest and best known ski domain in France and has a good variety of ski resorts, each with its own distinct character from the small village of Orelle with few shops or bars but great value to the highly sought after, charming but expensive resort of Courchevel attracting the international jet set. You also have the likes of Val Thorens and Les Meniures which are purpose built and if they lack the charm of Meribel or Courchevel they certainly make up for it in terms of price and altitude.

The Portes du Soleil ski zone (580km of slopes up to 3000m altitude)

Resorts : Morzine, Chatel, Les Gets, Avoriaz, St Jean d’Aulps, Abondance, Montriond,

Nearest airport: Geneva

The Portes du Soleil ski domain is spread over France and Switzerland but in general the best skiing is over on the French side. It is an area mostly made up of charming year round towns and villages of a lower altitude of around 1000m with the outlier being Avoriaz which is a purpose built ski resort sitting at an altitude of 1800m with its own aquatic centre “Aquariaz”. Les Gets and Chatel are particularly charming with the former often likened to the chic alpine town of Megeve.

Paradiski ski zone (425km of slopes up to 2500m altitude)

Resorts : La Plagne, Les Arcs & Peisey-Vallandy

Villages/areas within each ski station:

La Plagne : Plagne centre, Plagne 1800, La Plagne Vallee, Montchavin les Coches, Plagne Bellecote, Belle Plagne, Champagny en Vanoise, Plagne Soleil, Plagne Villages, Plagne Aime 2000, La Plagne Montalbert.

Peisey-Vallandry : Landry, Peisey, Le Villaret, Moulin, Nancroix la Chenarie, Pont Baudin-Ludic, Rousel

Les Arcs: Arc 1600, Arc 1800, Arc 1950, Arc 2000.

Nearest Airports: Geneva & Grenoble

The Paradiski ski domain’s biggest strength is the fact that 70% of its ski slopes sit at above 2,000m in altitude virtually guaranteeing fantastic skiing even when the snowfall in the Alps has been a little low. There are so many different villages and areas within this large ski domain you are spoilt for choice and offer skiers an interesting variety of ambiences and scenery. You have the purpose built resort of Les Arcs with its various ski stations and Apocalypse park, then La Plagne which has a mixture of charming villages like Champagny en Vanoise and new resorts while the area of Peisey-Vallandry has a charm of its own with its five authentic villages.

Evasion Mont Blanc ski zone (400km of slopes up to 2500m altitude)

Resorts: Megeve, Saint-Gervais, Combloux, Les Contamines and Saint Nicolas de Véroce

Nearest airports: Lyon and Grenoble

The Evasion Mont Blanc ski domain lies in full view of the largest mountain in Europe- Mont Blanc and close to it the elegant and traditional village of Megeve is located which is certainly the jewel in the crown of this ski zone and of course the most expensive. If you’re looking for a quiet and less touristy but still charming spot then Les Contamines is a good choice as is Saint Gervais. Overall this is a good ski zone but just be prepared to take buses between the ski stations as it is not all connected with ski lifts.

Les Sybelles ski zone (310km of slopes up to 2,600m altitude)

Resorts : Saint Sorlin d’Arves, Le Corbier, L’Ouillon, La Balme, Toussuire, Saint Colomban des Villards, Bottieres

Nearest Airports: Grenoble & Geneva

The Sybelles ski domain is one of the larger ones in France and distinguishes itself with its great variety of winter activities that include cross-country skiing, ski touring, snow-shoeing and sled rides along with snowmobile rides and paragliding. It is made up of 6 charming villages that are great for families.

Espace Killy ski zone (300km of slopes up to 3650m altitude)

Resorts: Val d’Isere and Tignes

Nearest airports: Geneva & Grenoble

The Espace Killy ski domain situated in the Tarentaise Valley has some of the best snow in the whole of the French Alps due to its glacier and slopes that reach 3,650m in altitude. If you are looking for old world charm then this ski zone is probably not your cup of tea however it has a vert vibrant nightlife and the quality of skiing speaks for itself.

The Grand Massif ski zone (265km of slopes up to 2500m altitude)

Resorts: Flaine, Les Carroz, Morillon, Samoens, Sixt Fer à Cheval

Nearest airport: Geneva

The Grand Massif ski domain is a great mix of the old and the new. The biggest ski station is Flaine at 1600m which is purpose built and modern with lots of facilities, festivals, restaurants, bars etc but it is surrounded by four charming villages. The most desirable of these traditional villages is Samoens which offers a restful apres ski and doesn’t have the crowds or the queues of the higher altitude resorts.

Serre Chevalier Vallee ski zone (250km of slopes and an altitude from 1200m to 2800m)

Resorts: Briançon, Le Monêtier-les-Bains, Chantemerle and Villeneuve

Nearest airport : Grenoble

The Serre Chevalier ski domain is the most Southern of all the larger ski domains in the Hautes-Alpes department making it one of the sunniest with 300 days of sunshine each year. It is not the best known amongst international skiers but offers a fairly large ski domain at rather reasonable prices and is near the Ecrins National Park making it an attractive place to come in the summer too with activities like cycling, hiking, climbing and kayaking. It can lack snow at times but the slopes are lined with snow cannons if the snow level does drop too low. The largest town is Briancon made of the old centre and the more modern extensions and the other villages on the valley floor are quite charming year round villages with cobbled streets and a fairly rustic feel.

Alpe d’Huez ski zone (249km of slopes up to 3300m altitude)

Resorts : Alpe d’Huez, Auris, Villard Reculas, Oz en Oisans and Vaujany

Nearest airport: Grenoble

The formal name of the Alpe d’Huez ski domain is actually Les Grandes Rousses although its most famous ski station within it is of course Alpe d’Huez. It is known for its south facing, fairly high altitude ski slopes above 1800m and is best for intermediates and beginners with its wide slopes but does have one of the longest black runs in the world too called “La Sarenne”.

Espace Diamant ski zone (185km of slopes up to 2069m altitude)

Resorts : Crest-Voland & Cohennoz, Flumet & Saint-Nicolas-La-Chapelle, Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe, Praz sur Arly, Les Saisies and Hauteluce.

Nearest airport: Grenoble

The Espace Diamant ski domain is a very charming collection of interconnected traditional alpine villages with slopes to suit all levels cutting through the forests or with big vistas. The ski domain is spread between the Chaine des Aravis and the Massif du Mont-Blanc and connects the massifs of Beaufortain and the Val d’Arly. Some interesting activities here apart from skiing are the luge, hot air ballooning and biathlons.

La Foret Blanche (180km of slopes and an altitude from 1650m to 2750m)

Resorts: Risoul and Vars

Nearest airport: Grenoble

The Foret Blanche ski domain gets its name from the vast larch forest which covers the area in the heart of the Guillestre region of the Southern Alps. Risoul is made up of several hamlets like hamlet L’Eglise and hamlet Barbeing while Vars is modern and purpose built. Being located further South than most other large ski resorts La Foret Blanche has numerous snow cannons to ensure reasonable snow coverage on the lower slopes but still has great snow higher up and is good value and less crowded than many ski resorts. Numerous winter sports include ice skating and dog sledding and in the summer why not try the canyoning or Mountain biking.

Chamonix Mont Blanc ski zone (170km of slopes up to 3840m altitude)

Resorts : Les Grands Montets, Aiguille du Midi, Le Tour, Le Brevent La Flegere, Le Domaine de Balme, Les Houches, Les planards, La Vormaine and Le Savoy, Argentiere, La Houches, Servoz.

Nearest airport: Geneva

The Chamonix Mont Blanc ski domain is consistently voted one of the top ten ski resorts in the world and it’s easy to see why with its high altitude slopes ensuring excellent snow, the varied terrain and its fantastic vistas. Chamonix hosted the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924 and is a traditional and charming town of Belle Epoque architecture with 10,000 permanent residents and is busy both in the summer and winter with plenty of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants and a lively nightlife. For those that love exploring and going off-piste there are many fantastic long runs here with scenery that includes ice falls, crevasses, caves and clifftops and it is worth hiring a ski guide here to take you to the best spots. To get around the ski domain you will need to queue and jump on buses as it is not all connected by ski lifts but it’s well worth it as you will be able to discover Chamonix’s charming surrounding villages and do some fantastic skiing along the way.

Valmenier ski zone (160km of slopes up to 2600m altitude)

Resorts: Valloire and Valmenier

Nearest airport: Grenoble

The Valmenier ski domain is officially known as the Galibier-Thabor ski domain and sits between the Les Ecrins and La Vanoise national parks with 70% of its runs above 2000m altitude. It has a great selection of winter activities that include snow tubing, paragliding and performing jumps onto the big air bag while the stunning scenery makes it a fantastic place to come in the summer for biking and hiking. Both Valloire and Valmenier are year round traditional alpine villages where the latter is made up of several hamlets and both are very much family orientated ski resorts with a good selection of restaurants and bars etc but a quieter nightlife than some of the bigger resorts.

For related information on ski property sales and ski property rentals in the French Alps take a look at our pages: new ski property for sale in France and ski property rental management in France.

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