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Home to big mountain terrain and world-famous resorts, the French mountains are no stranger to fantastic ski slopes.
With a mix of traditional alpine villages and purpose-built resorts, you’ll find something here whether you’re new to winter sports or are a seasoned professional.
|Resort||Ski-in/ski-out||Distance||Lift pass price (3-day adult pass)||Is there a resort village?|
|Meribel||Yes||2.5-hour drive from Lyon||£158||Yes|
|Saint-Lary-Soulan||No||2-hour drive from Toulouse||£105||Yes|
|Chamonix-Mont-Blanc||Yes||2.5-hour drive from Lyon||£165||Yes|
|Courchevel||Yes||2.5-hour drive from Lyon||£158||Yes|
|Val d’Isere||Yes||3-hour drive from Lyon||£135||Yes|
|Alpe d’Huez||Yes||2.5-hour drive from Lyon||£130||Yes|
|La Plagne||Yes||3-hour drive from Lyon||£155||Yes|
|Morzine||Yes||2.5-hour drive from Lyon||£102||Yes|
Make the right decision on where to ski this year using this guide to our top picks of ski resorts in France.
Up-and-running since the early 1930s, Meribel has been a favourite alpine resort among the Brits for nearly a century. Nestled in the middle of the huge Three Valleys ski area, Meribel has runs perfect for all abilities but is particularly accommodating for anyone trying on their first set of skis. Just under half of its runs are green, and there’s even a fast track lift for beginners, which means more time on the slopes to practise.
Saint-Lary-Soulan is one of the most recognised ski resorts in the Pyrenees and a fantastic alternative to the often overpriced and overcrowded resorts in the Alps. Unfortunately, there are no ski-in/ski-out facilities here, although there are over 26 lifts and gondolas that take you to several different altitude stations.
The resort may not be as flashy as those in the Alps, but you’ll find the prices to be much more affordable, and there are even some thermal baths to relax those achy muscles.
Sat in the foothills of Western Europe’s highest mountain peak, Chamonix’s slopes are what pro skiers’ dreams are made of. Not only is its off-piste terrain some of the most exciting in the Alps, but it’s home to the longest run in the world, the iconic Vallee Blanche.
Saying this, you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy skiing at Chamonix. There are four other linked ski resorts that are full of beginner and intermediate runs as well as a highly rated ski school.
Considered to be one of the most luxurious ski resorts in the Alps, Courchevel bursts with deluxe hotels, high-end shopping streets, Michelin-star restaurants and celebrity clientele. Part of the Three Valley ski resort, visitors can enjoy the facilities of five separate ski villages with just one lift pass, which means even more runs and apres-ski fun.
Val d’Isere’s international reputation as an excellent ski resort means prices here have skyrocketed in recent years. While you’ll pay above-average for hotels, you’re guaranteed opulent accommodation and top-class hospitality.
With nearly 2,500 acres of powder to play with, all ability levels are catered for, with intermediate slopes really taking a shine. Hugely popular cocktail bars and Michelin-starred restaurants make for a cosmopolitan and sophisticated apres-ski scene.
Enjoying an average of 300 days of sunshine each year, you’re likely to be skiing with a backdrop of bright blue skies when you holiday in Alpe d’Huez. Add a snow-sure glacier, efficient lift system, lively village and ski runs for all abilities into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a pretty well-rounded ski destination.
As one of the country’s largest purpose-built resorts, La Plagne offers a huge variety of runs perfect for all ability levels. Novices can find their feet on the beginners-only slopes and benefit from unlimited access to the free lifts, which can take you as far as Aime 2000.
Parents and carers can also rest assured that their little ones are in the safe hands of the children’s club staff, while they’re out shredding some powder.
Morzine forms part of the Portes du Soleil ski area that spans across the border of France and Switzerland. Despite being part of one of the largest resorts, its village retains traditional alpine charm with picturesque chalets and affordable lodge accommodation.
Although beginners and intermediates will find plenty of runs to explore, pro skiers may get a little bored on the shorter expert runs.
|Resort||Number of runs||Skiable terrain||Vertical drop|
|Meribel||64 runs (45% beginner, 43% intermediate, 12% advanced)||1,043 acres||2,130 metres|
|Saint-Lary-Soulan||56 runs (40% beginner, 40% intermediate, 20% advanced)||1,729 acres||850 metres|
|Chamonix-Mont-Blanc||119 runs (20% beginner, 66% intermediate, 14% advanced)||761 acres||2,807 metres|
|Courchevel||101 runs (45% beginner, 43% intermediate, 12% advanced)||1,210 acres||2,130 metres|
|Val d’Isere||80 runs (58% beginner, 25% intermediate, 17% advanced)||2,471 acres||1,906 metres|
|Alpe d’Huez||111 runs (58% beginner, 30% intermediate, 12% advanced)||2,020 acres||2,200 metres|
|La Plagne||128 runs (61% beginner, 25% intermediate, 14% advanced)||24,710 acres||2,000 metres|
|Morzine||125 runs (44% beginner, 45% intermediate, 11% advanced)||840 acres||1,466 metres|
You’ll find most of the French ski resorts in the east of the country, close to the Swiss and Austrian borders as well as a smattering of resorts in the south Pyrenees.
The majority of ski resorts open for ski season at the beginning of December and close around mid-April. However, resorts in the Pyrenees tend to have a much shorter season. If you’re searching for guaranteed snow and blue skies, January and February are your best bet.
If you want to compete with fewer people on the slopes, avoid visiting during the Christmas holidays, February half-term and Easter, which are popular seasons for holidaying families.