France is the most popular Alpine country for British skiers and snowboarders. It took advantage of being comparatively late to join the pantheon of ski nations. Unlike Austria and Switzerland, where skiing evolved gradually from mountain villages, France didn’t build many of its most famous resorts (such as Les Arcs, La Plagne and Avoriaz) until the 1960s, so it was possible to select the highest, most snow-sure places to ski in France. However the initial high-rise “space-age” architecture began to pall as the decades unfolded and during the 21st century there’s been a trend to build any new accommodation in a more rustic, sympathetic style alongside the original concrete towers.
There are of course some traditional French ski resorts, of which the chic resort of Megève is a prime example. And the upmarket resort of Courchevel is another area that blossomed early in the history of French skiing. Courchevel is a key gateway to the vast area of the 'Les Trois Vallées (The Three Valleys) which is arguably the biggest linked ski region in the world. Its only rival is the Portes du Soleil network of ski areas (with Avoriaz and Morzine at its heart) which spreads across the French border into Switzerland. The Three Valleys is dominated by four major resorts: Courchevel, Méribel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens – the highest ski resort in the Alps. Each of these four resorts has more than enough terrain to keep a skier or boarder happily occupied for a week or more during a skiing holiday in France, so the opportunity to ski all four provides unlimited permutations.
In the Portes du Soleil, neighbouring Avoriaz and Morzine are gateways to a dozen or more family ski resorts in France and Switzerland. Chamonix, dominated by the Mont Blanc Massif, is another major attraction with several resorts scattered along the valley, including Argentière, rated by some keen off-piste skiers and boarders as one of the best ski resorts in France - or the entire Alps for that matter. They will also be keen to try the Vallée Blanche – a classic off-piste descent - with a high-mountain guide. The traditional route is not seriously demanding, leaving skiers to concentrate on the outstanding scenery, but a guide will help negotiate the occasional crevasse. There are a handful of more demanding alternative routes including the Vraie Vallée Blanche and the Envers du Plan.
Another resort overlooked by the imperious Mont Blanc is Flaine, linked with a handful of sibling resorts, with some of the most extensive slopes in France. That’s even more true of the Espace Killy – the linked areas of Val d’Isère and Tignes - named after the celebrated Olympic triple-gold medallist Jean-Claude Killy. Together these neighbouring resorts provide some of the most exciting skiing in France, particularly for off-piste enthusiasts. Tignes has the added advantage of regular glacier skiing on the Grande Motte glacier.
Two more giants of the French skiing world which are joined at the hip and undoubtedly among the best family ski resorts in France are La Plagne and Les Arcs. They’re celebrating their 10-year-partnership as Paradiski, made possible by a huge cable car linking the resorts which opened in 2003. La Plagne has a dozen or so linked hamlets and villages spread across slopes in all directions, while Les Arcs too, like Courchevel, has a handful of ski villages and satellite resorts at various altitudes.
Further south in the French Alps are two more favourites: Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez. And in the same part of the world, just as those in search of culture and impressive architecture in Austria are drawn to Innsbruck and Kitzbühel, one of the big attractions for ski holidays in France is the Serre Chevalier ski network, linked with the historic bastion-town-cum-ski-resort of Briançon.
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The combined resorts of Val d'Isère and Tignes produce a formidable ski area which stronger skiers and snowboarders will get the most from. The region is named after the celebrated Jean-Claude Killy, who grew up in Val d'Isère, dominated skiing in the late 1960s and won three gold medals at the 1968 Grenoble Olympics.More information
High up in the world famous Espace Killy ski area, which it shares with Val d’Isère, is the resort of Tignes, famed for its unbeatable snow record as well its excellent skiing for intermediates and experts.More information
Val d’Isère combines with Tignes to form the fantastic Espace Killy, offering endless excitement to suit all tastes and abilities. The resort is composed of La Daille, Val d’Isère centre and Le Fornet, all linked by a free bus service.More information
Set high in the Tarentaise region of the French Alps, the slopes of Les Arcs and La Plagne – each already famously large areas in themselves - were joined a few years back to create one of the largest lift-linked ski areas in the world.More information
The superb ski area of La Plagne joins with that of neighbouring les Arcs to form the huge Paradiski domain - just perfect for intermediate skiers and families. The resort comprises some ten villages.More information
Les Arcs’ vast ski reserve combines a great snow record with sumptuous north facing snow fields. The impressive Vanoise Express cable car provides easy access to a further 225 kms of pistes in neighbouring la Plagne.More information
As one of the largest ski areas in the world, the Three Valleys provides high altitude, world-class skiing, as well as a guarantee of great snow all season long, from November to May.More information
Ski Val Thorens! Book skiing holidays in Val Thorens this year and take the mountains by storm. At an altitude of 2300m, Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe and as part of the huge Three Valleys area, is undoubtedly one of the very best!More information
Book your skiing holidays in Courchevel this season and fall in love with this truly world class ski resort. This world renowned resort set in the famous Three Valleys offers great skiing for all abilities and with its immaculate pistes and stunning scenery.More information
Skiing holidays in Méribel, one of France's most attractive ski resorts, are an absolute delight. Skiing in Méribel is set in the heart of the famously beautiful Three Valleys ski area, one of the world's largest ski areas and justifiably renowned for its endless exciting terrain for all levels.More information
The resort of Serre Chevalier takes its name from the peak that dominates the Guisane valley and is made up of 4 separate villages. This amazing ski area has 250km of well interconnected pistes, plenty of off-piste opportunities and probably more trees than any other resort in Europe.
Les 2 Alpes stretches along a spectacular valley which has developed into a popular ski resort from its original mountain origins. The après-ski is lively with an impressive number of shops, bars, restaurants and an animated nightlife.More information