8 of the best French ski resorts to tick off your list

Rise and glide down the French Alps and Pyrenees Mountains.

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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.

Quickly compare France’s best ski resorts:

ResortSki-in/ski-outDistanceLift pass price (3-day adult pass)Is there a resort village?
MeribelYes2.5-hour drive from Lyon£158Yes
Saint-Lary-SoulanNo2-hour drive from Toulouse£105Yes
Chamonix-Mont-BlancYes2.5-hour drive from Lyon£165Yes
CourchevelYes2.5-hour drive from Lyon£158Yes
Val d’IsereYes3-hour drive from Lyon£135Yes
Alpe d’HuezYes2.5-hour drive from Lyon£130Yes
La PlagneYes3-hour drive from Lyon£155Yes
MorzineYes2.5-hour drive from Lyon£102Yes

Which is the best ski resort in France?

Make the right decision on where to ski this year using this guide to our top picks of ski resorts in France.

Skiing Area Trois Vallees, Haute-Savoie, France. (Photo By: MyLoupe/UIG Via Getty Images)

1. Meribel, Haute-Savoie: Best for apres-ski and skiing lessons

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.

  • Location: Northern Alps, Haute-Savoie (2.5-hour drive from Lyon)
  • Runs and terrain: 64 runs (45% beginner, 43% intermediate, 12% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 1,043 acres
  • Vertical drop: 2,130 metres
Browse flights prices to Meribel, Haute-Savoie

Pros:

  • Access to Three Valleys
  • Good snow coverage
  • English-speaking ski schools

Cons:

  • Overcrowded slopes
  • Apres-ski can get rowdy
  • Moguls form quickly

BAQUEIRA BERET, SPAIN - MARCH 03: Elena Tablada and Daniel Arigita are seen on March 3, 2013 in Baqueira Beret, Spain. (Photo by Europa Press/Europa Press via Getty Images)

2. Saint-Lary-Soulan, Haute-Pyrenees: Best for budget-friendly holidays

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.

  • Location: French Pyrenees, Hautes-Pyrenees (2-hour drive from Toulouse)
  • Runs and terrain: 56 runs (40% beginner, 40% intermediate, 20% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 1,729 acres
  • Vertical drop: 850 metres
Browse flights prices to Saint-Lary-Soulan, Haute-Pyrenees

Pros:

  • Large skiable area
  • Great for snowboarders
  • Family-friendly amenities

Cons:

  • Few challenging runs for experts
  • No ski-in/ski-out
  • Quiet apres-ski scene

CHAMONIX-MONT-BLANC, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 24: Alpine skiers prepare to descend on a piste at Le Brevent ski resort on February 24, 2018 near Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. The French Alps are a popular destination for skiers and climbers, though they are also dangerous. Several visitors have fallen to their deaths while skiing or snowboarding off piste just in recent weeks. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

3. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Haute-Savoie: Best for experts and off-piste skiing

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.

  • Location: Northern Alps, Haute-Savoie (2.5-hour drive from Lyon)
  • Runs and terrain: 119 runs (20% beginner, 66% intermediate, 14% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 761 acres
  • Vertical drop: 2,807 metres
Browse flights prices to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Pros:

  • Affordable accommodation
  • Vibrant apres-ski
  • Can ski to other resorts via off-piste routes

Cons:

  • Runs are prone to closure due to bad weather
  • Long queues for the best runs
  • Lots of road traffic through the village

Ski resort Courchevel, lift station Vizelle, Trois Vallees, Haute-Savoie France. (Photo by: Gunter Fischer/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

4. Courchevel, Haute-Savoie: Best for Michelin-starred dining and tree skiing

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.

  • Location: Northern Alps, Haute-Savoie (2.5-hour drive from Lyon)
  • Runs and terrain: 101 runs (45% beginner, 43% intermediate, 12% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 1,210 acres
  • Vertical drop: 2,130 metres
Browse flights prices to Courchevel

Pros:

  • Lots of separate beginner zones
  • Huge shopping complex
  • High annual snowfall

Cons:

  • Flashy and expensive
  • Few challenging runs
  • Busy runs

A picture shows the village of Val d'Isere in the French Alps, during the men's official downhill training of FIS Ski World cup in Val D'Isere, 30 January 2008. Val d'Isere hosts the alpine skiing world championships from 03 to 15 February 2009. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

5. Val d’Isere, Haute-Savoie: Best for luxurious accommodation and intermediate skiing

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.

  • Location: Tarentaise Valley, Haute-Savoie (3-hour drive from Lyon)
  • Runs and terrain: 80 runs (58% beginner, 25% intermediate, 17% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 2,471 acres
  • Vertical drop: 1,906 metres
Browse flights prices to Val d'lsere

Pros:

  • Fantastic off-piste skiing
  • Snow-sure
  • Range of runs for all abilities

Cons:

  • Expensive accommodation and apres-ski activities
  • Long transfer from airport
  • Spread-out village

People ski on the Sarenne glacier at the Alpe d'Huez resort in the French Alps on November 16, 2013, three weeks before the official opening of the ski season. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP via Getty Images)

6. Alpe d’Huez, Haute-Isere: Best for guaranteed blue skies and mixed ability runs

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.

    • Location: Western Alps, Haute-Isere (2.5-hour drive from Lyon)
    • Runs and terrain: 111 runs (58% beginner, 30% intermediate, 12% advanced)
    • Skiable terrain: 2,020 acres
    • Vertical drop: 2,200 metres
    Browse flights prices to Alpe d'Huez

    Pros:

    • Big main resort and lower, quieter villages
    • Popular with snowboarders
    • Good visibility

    Cons:

    • Can get slushy later in the season
    • Expert runs tend to close in bad weather
    • Apres-ski is low-key and spread out

    General view taken on January 6, 2010 shows the La Plagne ski resort. AFP PHOTO JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP via Getty Images)

    7. La Plagne, Haute-Savoie: Best for families and open-bowl skiing

    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.

    • Location: Tarentaise Valley, Haute-Savoie (3-hour drive from Lyon)
    • Runs and terrain: 128 runs (61% beginner, 25% intermediate, 14% advanced)
    • Skiable terrain: 24,710 acres
    • Vertical drop: 2,000 metres
    Browse flights prices to La Plagne

    Pros:

    • Snow-sure
    • Caters to all abilities
    • Lots of alternative snowsports available

    Cons:

    • Little to no apres-ski scene
    • Large queues for lifts
    • Untraditional ski village

    Chalet, Morzine ski resort, Portes du Soleil skiing area, region of Chablais, Haute-Savoie department, Rhone-Alpes region, France. (Photo by JARRY TRIPELON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

    8. Morzine, Haute-Savoie: Best for cross-border skiing

    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.

    • Location: Rhone-Alpes, Haute-Savoie (2.5-hour drive from Lyon)
    • Runs and terrain: 125 runs (44% beginner, 45% intermediate, 11% advanced)
    • Skiable terrain: 840 acres
    • Vertical drop: 1,466 metres
    Browse flights prices to Morzine

    Pros:

    • Budget-friendly
    • Great for beginners and intermediate skiers
    • Tree-lined runs

    Cons:

    • Crowded at the weekend
    • Unreliable snowfall due to low altitude
    • Limited runs for experts

    Best ski resorts in France by the numbers

    ResortNumber of runsSkiable terrainVertical drop
    Meribel64 runs (45% beginner, 43% intermediate, 12% advanced)1,043 acres2,130 metres
    Saint-Lary-Soulan56 runs (40% beginner, 40% intermediate, 20% advanced)1,729 acres850 metres
    Chamonix-Mont-Blanc119 runs (20% beginner, 66% intermediate, 14% advanced)761 acres2,807 metres
    Courchevel101 runs (45% beginner, 43% intermediate, 12% advanced)1,210 acres2,130 metres
    Val d’Isere80 runs (58% beginner, 25% intermediate, 17% advanced)2,471 acres1,906 metres
    Alpe d’Huez111 runs (58% beginner, 30% intermediate, 12% advanced)2,020 acres2,200 metres
    La Plagne128 runs (61% beginner, 25% intermediate, 14% advanced)24,710 acres2,000 metres
    Morzine125 runs (44% beginner, 45% intermediate, 11% advanced)840 acres1,466 metres

    Where can you go skiing in France?

    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.


    When is the best time to ski in France?

    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.


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