The 10 Best French Ski Resorts

The 10 Best French Ski Resorts - UPDATED 2020/21
Tim Lambourn
Written by Tim Lambourn / Photos by Greg Burke
Last updated May 15, 2020
Map View

Known for high, purpose-built resorts with reliable snow and mammoth ski areas, there’s actually a lot more to France than you'd expect. We've picked out the 10 best skiing spots in the 185 mi swathe of peaks making up the French Alps; the Pyrenees also have a handful of decent resorts. 

Map View

Known for

Part of the largest lift-linked ski area in the world. Consisting of 3 Vallées, and another four unique luxury villages

Highlights

  • Access to sheer number of runs in 3 Vallées provides endless skiing
  • Efficient lift system even during holiday periods
  • Tobagganing and heli ski available
  • Courchevel 1850 is quite expensive

Closest airports

Chambéry Airport - 70 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Geneva Airport - 88 mi (2.5 hour drive)
Skiing Courchevel French Alps
Ski the largest lift-linked ski area in the world!

Courchevel in France is one of the best, and it's not hard to see why. It's part of the largest lift-linked ski area, the 3 Vallées, providing more than enough fun for weeks and home to four unique villages! The separate villages sit amongst the north-facing slopes on the left side of the map and offer probably the most balanced selection of runs in the 3 Vallées. Courchevel 1850 is the largest of the four, complete with luxury accommodation, impressive fine dining and a wealth of other activities. It's no wonder why people love coming to Courchevel 1850!

Map View

Known for

World class slopes for intermediates and experts, almost universally at high altitude

Highlights

  • Lively town center and great nightlife
  • Deserved reputation for reliable snow all season long
  • Fast lift system and modern facilities
  • Poor weather conditions means lifts are shut more frequently than other resorts

Closest airports

Chambéry Airport - 90 mi (2 hour drive)
Geneva Airport - 110 mi (3 hour drive)
Val disere cable car
Enjoy great snow all season long at Val d’Isère

Val d’Isère has earned its spot on this list for having pretty much guaranteed excellent snow all season long – thanks to its high elevation and mostly north facing runs. Although Val d’Isère is quite a long drive from the nearest big airports and can get overcrowded at times, for many, the thriving center and après ski is worth the journey. It might not have the party town reputation as other ski resorts in Europe but its vibe, lively nightlife and the vast choice of accommodation makes it an awesome pick.

Map View

Known for

Famous mountain town with a lively apres scene and legendary off-piste

Highlights

  • Amidst the most dramatic scenery in the French Alps
  • Easy and inexpensive transfers from Geneva airport
  • Spectacular, jagged mountain terrain with genuinely testing black runs
  • Several ski areas, linked by bus and not by lifts, and very few easy runs

Closest airports

Geneva Airport - 63 mi (1.5 hour drive)
chamonix cable car French Alps
Advanced and expert skiers you don't want to miss on Chamonix

Chamonix is the most famous mountaineering town in France, with a year-round tourist appeal. It's dark location in a gorge and towny feel makes it quite different to many other Alpine ski resorts. The Brévent and Flégère ski areas are directly above the town, but you’ll need to hop on a bus to reach other areas on the lift pass. Its epic steep and deep terrain makes it the ultimate resort for experts who aren’t afraid to go off-piste. There’s so much choice for experts it’s difficult to know where to start, and it might annoy skiers that the ski area is disjointed.

Map View

Known for

High altitiude village and interconnected with La Plagne to form an enormous ski area

Highlights

  • Tobogganing and waterslide available
  • Quicker lift system than La Plagne
  • Excellent blacks and off-piste routes for intermediates and advanced
  • May experience high season queues and crowded pistes and few green trails

Closest airports

Chambéry Airport - 85 mi (2 hour drive)
Geneva Airport - 105 mi (2.5 hour drive)
Skiing Les Arcs Paradiski France
Skiing throughout Les Arcs is easy with a few key lifts to take you from one end to the other

Sitting in the French Alps, Les Arcs offers impressive skiing with plenty of high altitude slopes and snowy bowls. Within the Paradiski ski area, Les Arcs is ideal for the pure skier, with better designed lifts and cleverly-designed trails quickly connecting distant spots. Les Arcs edges it for experts and red run skiers with a steeper pitch, while some of the blue terrain consists of long catwalks. Generally speaking, the lowest villages are prettier and quieter places to stay, while the higher outposts are purpose-built centers which won’t win any beauty contests but have quicker access to the slopes.

Map View

Known for

Being one of France's snowiest resorts, great for families and friends

Highlights

  • Plenty of runs for beginners and intermediates
  • Wide range of ski-in/ ski-out accomodation
  • Endless winter activities from sledging, diving to overnight in an igloo
  • Low altitude resort base means it may rain instead of snow at times

Closest airports

Geneva Airport - 60 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Avoriaz Portes Du Soleil Alps
Good lift links to the rest of Portes du Soleil makes Avoriaz an ideal choice

If traveling is within your nature, then Avoriaz is the perfect base for exploring France’s second largest ski area, Portes du Soleil, and its 12 ski resorts. The car-free purpose-built village of Avoriaz provides convenient lift links to surrounding resorts, making it an ideal base for exploring the ski area. The local slopes link directly into the main skiing circuit and often have the best conditions in the area when snow is poor, thanks to their altitude. The slopes next to the town are also reliable for snow and you can head for the trees in Morzine on wild days.

Map View

Known for

Epic views, long black runs and superb beginner terrain – an unusual combination

Highlights

  • Archery, tobogganing, night skiing or a spa treatment, the off-slope options are endless
  • An extensive web of gentle runs for beginners
  • Testing blacks and reds, particularly if you don’t mind mogul fields
  • Sunny weather means the runs can get slushy

Closest airports

Grenoble-Isère Airport - 66 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Geneva Airport - 133 mi (3 hour drive)
alp dhuez ski resort view
Top up the tan: Alpe d'Huez is one of the sunniest spots in the French Alps

Alpe d’Huez serves up some of the best slopes around. While the beginner terrain is superb here, the off-piste routes, black runs, and the occasional tough reds rule the roost. Alpe d’Huez is a sizable, purpose-built resort in the middle of the ski area, with a rocket-shaped church and quite a few activities for non-skiers. From indoor archery, winter paragliding, dog-sledding, ski joering, or just relaxing with a spa treatment, the off-slope options are endless. The town has several suburbs but try to stay in one of the higher ones for easiest slope access.

Map View

Known for

Traditional village with underrated cruising above and within larch forests

Highlights

  • Inexpensive hotel and chalets
  • Long top-to-bottom runs and amazing tree skiing
  • Less internationally known – great option for something different
  • Fairly long transfers from major airports and limited nightlife

Closest airports

Grenoble-Isère Airport - 98 mi (2.5 hour drive)
Geneva Airport - 163 mi (3.5 hour drive)
Serre Chevalier ski
Ski Serre Chevalier before the resort of the world does

Serre Chevalier is the ultimate getaway from the purpose-built mega resorts of the Northern Alps without compromising on piste mileage. Serre Chevalier is actually four resorts connected by bus, strung along a busy valley road and marketed under a single label. Chantemerle and Villeneuve are centrally located, Briançon is a World Heritage Site, while Le Monetier is quiet and isolated. With tons to explore, Serre Chevalier’s ski area is filled with high, snowy bowls. Serre Chevalier is perfect for intermediate skiers especially those who are happy with red runs because there’s a wide range of great trails to enjoy here.

Map View

Known for

Authentic mountain village atmosphere with varied slopes in a snow pocket close to Geneva

Highlights

  • Extremely family-friendly
  • Great for beginners to learn and plenty of intermediate runs
  • Quick transfer from Geneva airport (45 minute drive)
  • Traditional resort vibe means there isn't alot of apres ski

Closest airports

Geneva Airport - 46 mi (1 hour drive)
Les Carroz at Grand Massif French Alps
Les Carroz is our ideal base for exploring Grand Massif

Best on the list for extensive slopes without forking out for a more expensive lift pass; Les Carroz is one of the top spots to explore in the Grand Massif ski area. Les Carroz is a sizeable town – though be careful to stay near one of the magic carpet lifts up to the main gondola, or prepare to use buses. While Flaine is most well known here in the Grand Massif ski area, Les Carroz offers easy access to the other ski resorts. Most of Les Carroz’s slopes are wooded and of intermediate gradient, but there are also a few runs dedicated to beginners.

Map View

Known for

French historic town with panoramic views of Mont Blanc

Highlights

  • Charming town with high end shopping, dining and lodging
  • Easy access to/from the Geneva airport (1.5 hour drive)
  • Quiet slopes, great for beginners and intermediates
  • Black runs here are not as challenging as elsewhere

Closest airports

Geneva Airport - 57 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Megeve ski
From the quiet slopes to the classic French town, Megève is quite the resort

Megève is a genuine, old French town in a broad valley, with a fashionable clientele and the associated high prices for food, drink, and some accommodation. Staying here means you’re centrally placed for all three ski areas; if budget’s an issue, self cater to keep costs down. The slopes are spread across three separate sectors which each have an excellent mix of green, blue, red and black runs, though it’s safe to say that most of the blacks are pretty tame here. In particular, the sheer number of woodland runs at Megeve are perfect for exploring during snowstorms.

Map View

Known for

Purpose-built French resort with buzzing apres and being budget-friendly

Highlights

  • French skiing without breaking the budget
  • Bustling resort with lively apres ski
  • High altitude of the slopes calls for reliable snow
  • Surprisingly small ski area for a well-known resort

Closest airports

Grenoble-Isère Airport - 68 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Geneva Airport - 134 mi (3 hour drive)
les deux alpes france
Ski snowsure slopes at Les Deux Alpes

If you’re after snowsure skiing without breaking the budget then Les Deux Alpes is for you. A lively resort by French standards, the purpose-built town spreads along the top of a steep-sided pass. Thanks to a convenient row of access lifts at 2 Alpes, you’re unlikely to be staying too far from the nearest one and with no other resorts sharing the ski area, there are no rival bases. Intermediates will love the long runs off the Glaciers chair and the glacier has genuinely easy blues for those less confident. Regardless, you’re bound to find a run that will tickle your fancy.

The 10 Best French Ski Resorts
Courchevel
Val d'Isère
Chamonix Mont-Blanc
Les Arcs
Avoriaz
Alpe d'Huez
Serre Chevalier
Les Carroz
Megève
Les 2 Alpes
Courchevel