Last Updated on 11th August 2023 by Steve
If you have been skiing or boarding around French ski resorts for a while, sooner or later you are bound to be asked the question: “Which is the best ski resort in France?”
And, of course, like so much in life, the answer is: “It depends”. (Although we do of course all have our secret favourites!)
So rather than choosing an overall “best resort”, here are a few ideas for different types of skiers:
Best ski resort in France for beginners
One of the last things you want to do on your first ski holiday is to start out with a long journey from the airport. Les Gets is one of the most accessible ski resorts in France, with a journey time of just over an hour from Geneva airport.
Many French ski resorts are designed for efficiency rather than beauty, Les Gets, on the other hand, is a little closer to most people’s dreams of a winter holiday in the Alps, with plenty of chalets and not many high-rise blocks of apartments.
There are easy runs with short drag lifts close to the edge of the village. A dedicated beginners instruction area called Mappys with magic carpets and drag lifts is halfway up the slopes on the Chavannes side of the resort.
If you are interested in more information about Les Gets, visit our Les Gets ski resort page.
Alternative option for beginner skiers: Flaine
Flaine is a purpose-built ski resort in the Grand Massif area and is another option that is easily accessible if you are booking a flight to Geneva airport. Much of the journey is on the motorway and with the final climb up to the plateau should take around 90 minutes.
Most of Flaine accommodation, especially the older buildings, is not going to win any awards for beauty (although it has won architectural praise). But the accommodation is right on the ski slopes and the altitude of 1600 metres pretty much ensures good snow conditions for the first time on skis.
Best ski resort in France for intermediates
France has more than enough large ski areas which are ideally suited to intermediate skiers and both ski resorts listed in this section are part of massive interlinked regions in the Tarentaise area of the Alps.
Les Arcs, like Flaine, is another purpose-built ski resort constructed in the 1960s. There are five different ‘levels’ plus some lower villages which have been incorporated into the ski region. The different areas of the ski resort are usually referred to by their altitude in metres – the biggest and most popular, for example is Arc 1800.
Les Arcs is linked to the neighbouring ski area of La Plagne in a ski region known as Paradiski. The Paradiski area has 425 kilometres of ski runs and about 200 of those trails are classed as ‘easy’ or ‘intermediate’.
Another advantage for intermediate skiers is the mixture of types of ski run. There are open high altitude trails at more than 3000 metres in altitude, with great powder snow after a storm, or lower runs through the forests down to the villages of Villaroger or Plan-Peisey.
Alternative option for intermediate skiers : Méribel
Méribel was once the archetypal ski chalet resort in France. Supermarkets would be filled with upper-class British chalet staff making their last purchases for a cordon bleu dinner experience for their guests after a day on the slopes.
Things have changed a bit since those days as the chalet sector has declined in importance, but the attraction of Méribel to intermediate skiers remains the same.
Méribel lies at the heart of the Trois Vallées – the three valleys which form one of the largest connected ski regions in the world. The three Méribel villages (Méribel Centre, Méribel Les Allues and Méribel Mottaret) are in the central valley, with connections through to Courchevel and La Tania on one side and Les Menuires and Val Thorens on the other.
The Trois Vallées ski region offers 600 kilometres of marked ski runs served by 180 lifts. The vast majority of the trails around Méribel itself are beginner or intermediate standard (marked green, blue and red).
Best ski resort in France for experts
Val d’Isère is one of the group of ski resorts that are renowned worldwide for the challenges and opportunities that they offer to any skier or boarder.
Expert skiers will find Val d’Isère offers an attractive combination of steeps, bump runs and off-piste possibilities.
The World Cup ski race circuit usually makes a stop here near the beginning of the winter season. The Face de Bellevarde run above the town is the ski run used for the race and is one of the renowned and lengthy black runs in the ski area.
But there are plenty more on-piste options at the tougher end of the scale, including the ‘Naturide’ runs (ungroomed but avalanche-controlled). And, of course, Val d’Isère is linked to the ski resort of Tignes and its own selection of black runs via the Espace Killy lift ticket.
Anyone exploring the multitude of off-piste options here is highly recommended to have proper equipment and to use the services of the many ski guides. (For those skiing in Europe for the first time, anywhere outside the marked runs is classed as ‘off-piste’ and is not necessarily patrolled or safe.)
Other option: Argentière
Argentière is a small village in the Chamonix valley with some of the most challenging skiing in France in the Grand Montets area above the accommodation.
Currently, the two cable cars which used to serve the top station of the ski area are out of action because of a fire some time ago at the intermediate station. Rebuilding the replacement has been delayed and a fixed date for completion has not yet been issued.
Much of the ski area is unaffected though, with plenty of tough options which offer powder experiences on snow days and bump runs if the weather has been dryer.
If you are interested in more information about the skiing here, visit our Argentière ski resort page.
Best ski resort in France for families
Avoriaz is yet another purpose-built ski resort – somewhat more attractive than some of the brutalist architecture in other more modern winter developments.
It is not that far from Geneva airport – always important when travelling with younger skiers and is set right on the ski slopes.
Accommodation is mostly, although not entirely, in apartments and the lifts and ski runs run, quite literally, past the door.
There are plenty of beginner and intermediate ski trails close to the village and, for any more advanced family members, there is the whole of the massive Portes de Soleil ski region between France and Switzerland to explore.
If you are interested in more information about the options here, visit our Avoriaz ski resort page.
An alternative family option: La Plagne
And yet another of the purpose-built resorts in the French mountains…
Of course, being purpose-built means convenience, and the different villages which make up the La Plagne ski area all have easy access to the ski slopes and the ski school teaching areas, if required.
La Plagne has a reputation for intermediate family skiing with plenty of cruising red and blue runs. But better skiers and boarders are unlikely to get bored with the amount of skiing that is on hand here, as well as the connection across to Les Arcs as part of the Paradiski ski region.