With its picturesque landscape of snow-capped mountains, tranquil lakes, lush forests, and quaint farming villages, it’s no wonder why the French Alps is considered one of the most beloved alpine destinations in the world and has become home to numerous iconic ski resorts.
The region takes pride in the reputation it has steadily built through the years. It is the place where Olympic medals are won, Michelin stars are earned, and après-ski is an absolute must. Its charm comes from its breathtaking scenery paired with world-class luxury and hospitality that has left A-list jet-setters coming back for more.
Dreaming of someday hitting the slopes of the French Alps? Here are five of France’s top ski resorts you should definitely consider on your next ski trip.
Dubbed as the “St. Tropez of Winter Sports”, Courchevel features the world’s largest linked ski networks. It joins together seven ski resorts in the vast Les Trois Vallées (Three Valleys) with a whopping 600-kilometer expanse of slopes which both beginner and expert skiers would enjoy. It opened its doors as a winter retreat to the public in the mid-1940s–a stark difference from its humble beginnings as a lowly farming village from earlier periods.
It has 60 lifts easily accessible to skiers leading them to 150 kilometers of Alpine runs for them to explore. If you’re a skier looking to put yourself to the test, Le Grand Couloir is your best bet. Its astonishing altitude of 2,700 meters and steep drop of 340 meters is definitely not something to miss. La Tania’s glades, on the other hand, offer a more relaxed skiing experience with the beauty of the lush fir and spruce forest surrounding you.
Spa and wellness centers are one of Courchevel’s most prized highlights. You’ll find eccentric treatments such as chocolate massages, sensory showers, and saltwater cave baths to soothe your tired body after a long day skiing.
An hour away from Geneva is the posh mountain commune that is Megève. Starting as a medieval farming town as early as the 13th century, Megève has been developed into the stellar status it is best known for today, all thanks to the Rothschild family, who saw its potential as one of France’s trendiest ski spots in the 1920s.
Megève has done a tremendous job preserving their heritage as seen in their traditional architecture while seamlessly incorporating the luxuries of the modern age. The once-pastoral town has now become a bustling cosmopolitan center that is home to the world’s finest entertainment and gastronomical experiences.
There are three main ski areas in Megeve. Rochebrune, the closest to the resort village is linked via gondola. The second, and also the largest area, Mont D’Arbois is connected by cable car. Meanwhile, Le Jaillet on the other side of town can be reached by a charming ride on a Calèche, a horse-drawn carriage, or by bus.
With over 400kms of slopes, it is one of the biggest ski areas in the world. While Megève offers a vast playground for riders of all levels, it is more suited for beginners and intermediates and is a favorite for families.
The trendy winter resort is more than just ski trips. It has become the choice venue for international mountain biking races and snow polo tournaments as well. Come springtime, when everything turns to a delicious verdant hue, the Megève International Jazz Festival comes to life bringing together the world’s best Jazz musicians in one stage.
The site of the first-ever Winter Olympics, the Chamonix is situated on the 4,807-meter Mont Blanc. The stunning vista it offers is enough reason why it has held a legendary status for so long. Known for its superb expert terrain and off-piste skiing, the high-altitude spot is further enhanced by the chilling breeze of the four glaciers providing perfect snow conditions in the Alps.
The Chamonix spans through many ski villages. Known as the go-to place for pro-skiers, it also offers the most ideal terrain for beginners, such as the Le Tour at the Domaine de Balme. Its gentle slopes are conducive for those who wish to train and gain confidence in their skiing.
Expert runs, meanwhile, at Grands Montets is definitely not for the faint of heart. Sharp drops from 3,300 meters to 1,235 meters will surely keep your heart racing. Those who wish to have a glimpse of the World Cup experience should visit the Verte Piste famed for its 3.5-kilometer steeps and jumps.
Far from the adrenaline-inducing experiences of the Chamonix is its town proper, home to top-notch entertainment and dining. While there, you can also have guided heritage tours, where you can discover a different side of this busy resort village.
4. Val d’lsere
Situated in the vast Espace Killy, Val d’lsere boasts a magnificent high valley characterized by more than 3,000-meter peaks, 150 lifts giving access to 300 kilometers of terrain, while elevated at a towering 1,550 meters. The variety this skiing destination offers is enough for you to lose yourself in the alabaster slopes for an entire day.
Val d’lsere offers longer skiing seasons due to the high altitude, heavy snowfall, and the largest snow-making capacity known in Europe. As a matter of fact, Glacier du Pisaillas extends the season up until June–something uncommon for any ski resort.
While its expert black runs and outstanding off-piste skiing are enough to lure extreme skiers, Val d’lsere’s thriving culture has dilettantes flocking the mountain ski town. Music and film festivals are staples throughout the year, adding glamour to this wintry paradise.
Perched near the gargantuan Les Trois Vallées, Meribel caters to all ski levels but can be described as the perfect family affair. Its mild slopes are kid-friendly at best, letting them enjoy the pure joy of skiing. The Moon Wild is a delightful experience for children who can explore the trail where they can discover hidden life-sized animals in the woods. P’tit Moon’s mini boardercross and banked turns cater to skiers aged 7 to 12.
With 26 red slopes in its vicinity, intermediate skiers can brace themselves for a heftier run. Its highest peak can be found in Mont Vallon, starting at 2,952 meters with a thousand-meter descent, making for a thrilling and immersive experience with an unprecedented view of the Alps.
Meribel showcases one of the most picturesque Alpine villages in France lined up with gorgeous-looking chalets. The Olympic Park is a recreational facility filled with modern amenities that you can all enjoy housed in one gigantic complex. It includes a swimming pool, ice rink, and a spa & fitness area. It has also become the preferred setting for forums, conventions, and conferences.