Snapshot: Five of the best French ski resorts

8th October 2019 | OTS Staff

Resorts in this article: Courchevel, La Plagne, Val d'Isère, Avoriaz, Les Arcs

Car-free Avoriaz in the Portes du Soleil

Car-free Avoriaz in the Portes du Soleil

Copyright: Gilles Galas / Avoriaz Tourisme

UK skiers are big fans of the French Alps, and with the huge lift-linked ski areas, reliable snowfall, and quick travel links, it's not hard to see why. But with so many top resorts to choose from, how do you narrow it down to the best French ski resort for you and your family?

We've taken the top five most visited French ski resorts on our site and stripped them down to their bare essentials.

Here's a snapshot of your favourite five French ski resorts . . . 

AVORIAZ (1800-2460m)

Ski area: 75.5 km local slopes (650km Portes du Soleil)

Best for: Families, intermediates, freestylers

Highlights: Car-free, sunny village with compact centre, ski-in/ski-out lodgings, shady snowsure slopes, great position on the Portes du Soleil circuit, leading resort for freestylers (five terrain parks and a super-pipe), plenty of good off-piste, access to the legendary Swiss Wall, and a renowned kids' club.

Top tips: Hotels at this top French ski resort are thin on the ground so book early and head to the Amara development or the Falaise quarter which are closest to drop-off point. Horse-drawn sleighs can take you to accommodation further away, but are highly sort after on changeover days. 

Non-skiers: Aquariaz leisure pool, bowling, skating rink, dog sledding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

Apres-ski: Nice selection of restaurants but can get busy. Top bars include the Chalet d'Avoriaz with sun terrace and DJ and The Place  with late-night dancing and live music.

Nearest airports: Geneva (100km/1hr30), Chambery (145km/1hr50), Lyon (220km/2hr30)

Nearest stationCluses and Thonon-les-bains are both around 1 hour away by road

Six-day ski pass: €260

Village des enfants in Avoriaz, France  - © Avoriaz Tourism

Village des enfants in Avoriaz, France

Copyright: Avoriaz Tourism

COURCHEVEL (1350-2738m)

Ski area: 150 km local slopes (600km Three Valleys)

Best for: Intermediates of all standards

Highlights: Excellent lift system, many north-facing runs, great snow record, free beginners' lifts, huge selection of intermediate runs allowing you to clock-up the miles, well-run kids' clubs, freqeuent bus service linking villages

Top tips: Courchevel's villages offer everything from old and rustic to big and swanky, so be sure to choose the right one for you. Courchevel 1850 is the main lift hub. Beginners are best suited to Moriond (1650) and Courchevel (1850). Restaurant prices can reach stratospheric levels, head to Chabotte at 1850 or Petit Savoyard in Moriond (1650) for good value meals.

Non-skiersAquamotion centre has indoor and outdoor pools, a surfing area, water slides, rapids, spa and climbing wall. If you have money to burn, there are plenty of high-end boutiques where you can get kitted out in designer ski wear or book a table at Chabichou for a two-Michelin-star dining treat.

Apres-ski: Hit the Verdons restaurant at the top of the gondola for live music and dancing in ski boots. Later head to one of the many sophisticated hotel lounge bars or dance until 5am at the Grange in 1850.

Nearest airports: Chambery (110km/1hr30mins), Geneva (190km/2hrs)

Nearest station: Moutiers (25km/30mins). Regular buses run from the station

Six-day ski pass: €256

Plenty of intermediate runs in Courchevel  - © Courchevel Tourisme

Plenty of intermediate runs in Courchevel

Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme

LES ARCS (1200-3226m)

Ski area: 200 km local slopes (425km Paradiski area)

Best for: Intermediates, experts, freestylers

Highlights: Car-free villages, beautiful views of Mont Blanc, snowsure slopes, varied skiing with lots of long descents, wooded runs, plenty of challenging steeps, a huge amount of off-piste and a leading terrain park with snowboarder-friendly draglift. 

Top tips: Lodgings in Arcs 1600 and 1800 are very spread out and distances can be much further than they look on a map. The central area of Arc 1600 is compact, uncrowded and perfect for families. Snowboarders beware of the long flat areas at Arc 2000.

Non-skiers: Leisure pool at Mille 8, spa facilities at Sources de Marie, bowling, skating and cinemas with English films.

Apres-ski: This top French ski resort has a quiet nightlife revolving around bars but 1800 is the liveliest village.

Nearest airports: Chambery (127km/2hrs), Geneva (156km/3hrs), Lyon (200km/3hrs)

Nearest station: Les Arcs is very easy to access by rail from the UK as it's located just above Bourg-St-Maurice, which is a direct stop on the Eurostar service.

Six-day ski pass: €265

Snowsure slopes of Les Arcs  - © Les Arcs

Snowsure slopes of Les Arcs

Copyright: Les Arcs

VAL D'ISERE (1850-3,456m)

Ski area: 146 km (300km Espace Killy)

Best for: Intermediates and above

Highlights: High-altitude snowsure slopes, a long ski season from late November into first week of May, ski-in/ski-out accommodation, huge selection of varied pistes, fast modern lifts, terrain parks, one of the best lift-served off-piste ski areas in the world, easy access to Tignes.

Top tips: One of our favourite intermediate areas is the giant playground of reds and blues between the Pissaillas glacier (3,488m) and La Solaise. Food and drink prices are similar to Courchevel; good-value options include Les Marmottes at the Borsat Express chair and the Moris Pub in town. 

Non-skiers: Outdoor ice rink, Aquasportif centre with pools, spas and climbing wall, and two Michelin star restaurants: L'Atelier Edmond (two stars) and La Table de l'Ours (one star).

Apres-ski: Val d'Isere is one of the livelier French ski resorts. If dancing in your ski boots is your thing hit La Folie Douce or Cocorico for live music and open terraces. Later on Dicks Tea Bar is a must with live music every night until 5am or the Pacific Bar has DJs and open mic nights.

Nearest airports: Chambery (145km/2hrs), Geneva (223km/2hrs50)

Nearest station: Bourg-St-Maurice (30km/40mins). Regular buses run from station

Six-day ski pass: €285

Enjoy a full off-piste adventure in Val d'Isere  - © Val d'Isere

Enjoy a full off-piste adventure in Val d'Isere

Copyright: Val d'Isere

LA PLAGNE (1250-3250m)

Ski area: 225 km local slopes (425km Paradiski area)

Best for: Intermediates, families, freeriders

Highlights: Plenty of wide, gental slopes, ski-in/ski-out accommodation, reliable snowfall due to altitude, easy-to-reach powder-packed off-piste, huge choice of restaurants

Top tip: La Plagne is made up of 11 separate villages, think carefully about where you'd like to stay as they're miles apart. Belle Plagne and Plagne Centre are the main hubs of the resort.

Non-skiers: Bobsleighing, Super Tyro zip-line, E-fat bikes, paragliding, ice skating.

Apres-ski: This French ski resort is not famed for its apres, but Belle Plagne is the liveliest of the villages with the popular late-night disco Le Saloon

Nearest airports: Chambery (119km/1hr35), Geneva (197km/2hrs15), Grenoble (192km/2hrs10), Lyon St. Exupery (196km/2hrs15)

Nearest station: for Belle Plagne, Plagne Centre and Montalbert, Aime; for Champagny, Moûtiers; for Montchavin-Les Coches, Landry. Between 10 and 30 minutes.

Six-day ski pass: €265

La Plagne Centre, France.  - © Elina Sirparanta

La Plagne Centre, France.

Copyright: Elina Sirparanta



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