Ski holidays in France
With the highest mountain in Europe, more than 100 good sized ski holiday areas, glacier skiing and domestic visitors who leave the ski pistes for long lunches, no matter how deep and fresh the snow, then there is much to recommend a ski holiday in France. The main ski holiday areas are located to the south west of Geneva, with great access from that city or the many regional airports and fast rail connections that serve the ski holiday resorts in France.
France offers more ski holiday areas with sufficient altitude to pretty much guarantee skiing. Resorts such as Val Thorens, with a ski holiday resort height of 2300m is in fact higher than the top height of many northern French, Andorran and Austrian ski holiday resorts. Tignes
, Val d Isere, Chamonix,
Les Deux Alpes and
La Plagne are some of the leading ski holiday resorts in France that offer glacier skiing. Resorts in the Northern areas of the French alps are lower but still benefit from weather systems that pour over Mont Blanc.
Whilst many of the purpose built, French ski holiday resorts are monstrous, many also offer great access to the slopes and resort amenities that are not found it the chocolate box type villages of Austria and Switzerland. Flaine is much derided for its architecture but it offers a superb ski holiday base for families with immediate access to the slopes and the ski holiday resort amenities. Cars are very few and controlled, whilst the transfer from either Calais or Geneva is one of the shortest available. La Plagne also offers superb access to the pistes from much of the accommodation and dedicated childrens ski programs operate from the many different villages in La Plagne. La Tania is small, almost car free and has excellent access to tree-lined gentle ski pistes. La Tania is part of the massive 3 Valleys ski region and parents can easily access huge terrain whilst the kids ski through hoops and mushrooms in the resort.
Not everything is idyllic with ski holidays in France. There are a number of purpose built ski holiday resorts that simply defy explanation. Thankfully the experimentalist architecture seems to have had its day and in recognition of the blight that many have caused, efforts are underway to give make-overs to the worst offending ski holiday resorts in France. Until the French government opt to use them as summer target practice for the French Air Force, then progress in some ski holiday resorts will remain too slow for many skiers. Some French ski holiday resorts do buck the trend however, with the wonderful Samoens offering resort charm to match anything in Switzerland or Austria. Morzine is located nearby in the region and offers an attractive and thriving village. Meribel is the chalet capital of the Alps and low rise chalets on the edge of the woods make for a genuinely attractive setting.
Chamonix is synonymous with extreme skiing and whilst the actual on-piste skiing in Chamonix is somewhat tame, there is an abundance of extreme terrain on offer, off-pitse. La Grave is less well known but offers a ski holiday destination for those looking for the most extreme skiing in France. The lifts are few in number and the ski pistes are limited, but leave them (with a guide) for the ski routes and couloirs that descend into La Grave and you will be amongst the challenging ski terrain in the whole of Europe.
Aprθs ski in French ski holiday resorts varies from the good to the atrocious. Austria leads the way on European aprθs ski and few French ski holiday resorts even come close to the second league of Austrian aprθs ski resorts. That said Val d Isere is truly international and vibrant, if expensive. Meribel is a great place to spend a fortune ensuring a lunch time start the following day, whilst Les Deux Alpes is popular with Grenoble students and rugby clubs. Morzine offers a great night out in an authentic French market town that doubles as one of the bigger regional ski holiday resorts.
France leads the world in linking ski holiday areas to create massive interlinked ski regions. Avoriaz is at the heart of and is the highest resort in the vast Portes du Soleil ski region. Les Carroz d Araches is a charming and authentic village that accesses the Grand Massif ski area and makes a refreshing change to the concrete of Flaine. Les Menuires is a horror show of a resort but it has a great access to the 3 Valleys ski region.
Money to burn?
For lottery winners there is Courchevel 1850 on hand to ensure that there is nothing left for jealous relatives to fight over. And for those who arent interested in sharing a gondola with a Nouveau Riche Russian, then there is always Megeve. The fur might be slightly older and the accents more French but the ski holiday resort is ideal for those with no financial worries.