United but unique
This is the hallmark of the "connected ski areas" of France. Vast areas of trails spread over several resorts with distinct but complementary tourist offerings, as well as packages which mean you can ski from one resort or valley to another… It’s a real treat for lovers of all kinds of skiing who can enjoy an exceptional ski experience in France. Here’s a small selection of the major ski areas to explore this winter.
The 3 Vallées, one of the largest in the world
In the heart of the Northern Alps, the 3 Vallées is one of the largest ski areas in the world. Eight resorts (Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle), 600km of slopes between 1300m and 3230m high, 200 lifts, 25 connected peaks... Whether you’re a beginner, a seasoned skier or a free rider, the best skiing awaits you in the heart of the 3 Vallées! No buses needed, the whole ski area is accessible on skis.
In one day, you can easily travel to the foot of the glaciers at Val Thorens, descend the vast snowy expanses of the Menuires or pose in front of the cliffs at the Vallée des Avals in Courchevel. 85% of the ski area is more than 1800m high and, with the biggest collection of artificial snow making equipment in France, snow is guaranteed throughout the season.
The Portes du Soleil and Espace San Bernardo, skiing without borders
Close to Lake Geneva and in the heart of the Chablais massif, Portes du Soleil has an astonishing 280 runs. It connects 12 resorts and two countries: France (Abondance, Avoriaz, Châtel, La Chapelle d'Abondance, Les Gets, Montriond, Morzine and St Jean d'Aulps) and Switzerland.
With its abundance of powder, Portes du Soleil also offers 10 snowparks for lovers of all forms of snow sports: skiing, snowboarding, telemark skiing, mono-skiing, snowblade... Whether you're a fan of on-piste skiing, freeride skiing or freestyle, you'll find a wide variety of skiing areas tailored to your ability and preferences. Ideal for disconnecting and relaxing, enjoying nature, slaloming in the heart of forests, alpine pastures, admiring the area's historic chalets and travelling on skis from one resort to another, valley to valley. Way to go "ski safari"!
You can even play border jumping in Espace San Bernardo . It connects Rosière 1850 (Savoie Mont Blanc, France) to La Thuile (Italy) via the Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard pass, and has a double exposure to the north and south, guaranteeing excellent skiing and breathtaking panoramic views from the slopes, with a high point of 2800m in the French sector at Mount Valaisan. Family holidays are part of the DNA of Rosière: there’s specially adapted entertainment and accommodation, special pricing, ski slopes for all levels, play areas dedicated to children, permanent ski touring courses that encourage the beginner’s introduction to the sport and an area for snow kiting...
Paradiski, up among the clouds
Created in 2003, Paradiski (Savoie Mont Blanc) has reinvigorated the ski areas of Arcs/Peisey-Vallandry and La Plagne thanks to a 200-seat cable car: "Vanoise Express". It takes just four minutes to get from one valley to another and opens up 425km of trails. Paradiski ranges from 1200m to 3250m above sea level and provides exceptional landscapes, with Mont Blanc as its stunning backdrop.
Don't miss: the glaciers and beautiful red/black runs descending from the top of the Aiguille Rouge at 3226m to Villaroger, 1200m below. Experienced skiers will love it. But Paradiski has much more to offer with activities suitable for the whole family from sledge dog rides, a visit to the Igloo Les Arcs Village, sledging, etc. Don't forget to download YUGE, this customisable app is included in your Paradiski domaine pack. Ideal for the whole family.
L'Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine Ski, between fir trees and glaciers
With 240km of pistes and 84 lifts, the Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine Ski offers one of the most important descents in the world (over 2200m). Those looking for a lively and active holiday will find l’Alpe d'Huez ideal, while travellers in search of a more relaxed stay will find the five resorts-villages connected to Alpe d'Huez stations are just right: Auris-en-Oisans, La Garde, Oz-en-Oisans, Vaujany and Villard-Reculas.
If you’re a novice, the gentle drop at the base of the slopes will help you to get to grips with the green runs and beginner zones. But, if you’re looking for a challenge, take the Pic Blanc cable car and the Marmottes III gondola to test your technique on the black runs. And, if you want something even more exceptional, head to the 16km-long Sarenne track, the longest black run in the world.
Les Deux Alpes, all-season skiing
Skiing in all its forms, diverse mountain activities, renowned après-ski, festive nightlife, international events and a wonderfully preserved heritage. Les Deux Alpes, the flagship resort of Isère, doesn’t have an international reputation for nothing! It’s home to the largest glacier ski area in Europe, at an altitude of 3600m, high enough to benefit from natural snow every year and good enough to ski not just through winter, but even in summer.
Les Deux Alpes are also distinguished by a 2km-long avenue, lined with bars and restaurants accessible on foot, by horse-drawn carriage or bus. And there’s accommodations offering direct access to the slopes and lifts. The perfect way to start (and end) a day of skiing.
Tignes/Val d'Isère, sports and partying
These two large resorts bring together 300km of diverse ski slopes plus a host of activities. Tignes/Val d'Isère offer more than 40km of cross-country ski slopes, two snow parks for freestylers and two glaciers - Grande Motte, which has the world's highest panoramic cable car – and Pissaillas.
But skiing is not the only king in Tignes/Val d'Isere you can also go karting on ice, heli-skiing, snowmobiling, ice climbing or ice diving. At the end of the day, the lively nightlife of the domaine will delight revellers with its wide choice of restaurants, bars, traditional cafés and discos.
Les Sybelles, a beginner's paradise
The No. 4 ski area in France with 310 km of pistes, Les Sybelles links six resort villages (Saint-Sorlin d'Arves, Saint-Jeand'Arves, Les Bottières, Saint-Colomban-des-Villards, Le Corbier and La Toussuire) which are charming and timeless, with the majestic Aiguilles d'Arves as a backdrop.
Here you’ll find "low cost skiing", and ultra-competitive prices. It is also a perfect playground for beginners to enjoy the gentle slopes, even at such a high altitude.
Other areas that should be tried in France
If you need even more inspiration, The Grand Massif connects the resorts of Flaine, Samoëns, Les Carroz and Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval and includes two nature reserves. The Galibier-Thabor area is divided between the Valmeinier and Valloire resorts with 85 pistes and 150 km of pistes. The Grand Domaine has than 60 blue and green runs for beginners, and about 30 runs (black and red) between Valmorel and Saint-François-Longchamp, ideal for experiences skiiers. See the 19 linked ski areas in Savoie Mont Blanc :
Finally, in the Hautes-Alpes, one of the most beautiful skiing areas in the Southern Alps can be found in the Forêt Blanche, a perfect marriage between the resorts of Vars and Risoul. Although Vars is best known for its speed ski run and snow parks, Risoul is renowned for its quintessential alpine environment and larch forest.