One of the many reasons why France remains a major tourist destination lies in the spectacular peaks and lofty altitudes of the famous French Alps. Nestled within the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur and Rhone-Alpes region, this expanse of snowy and rugged terrain attracts millions of visitors every year. Although France shares the magnificent mountain range with neighboring countries such as Switzerland and Italy, its highest mountain, and also considered the highest Western European Mountain, Mont Blanc is located on the French-Italian border. This is probably why most skiers and snowboarders prefer the French Alps over anywhere else as it offers a wide variety of pistes and skiing opportunities.
Les Trois Vallees, which literally means The Three Valleys, is situated in Savoie, France and connects three valleys by ski lifts and slopes. Saint-Bon, Belleville and Allues are interlinked to form the world’s largest lift-linked ski area. With its more than 600 kilometers of ski slopes and 120 kilometers dedicated for cross-country skiing, Les Trois Vallees is a favorite among ski enthusiasts. Settled at one end is Courchevel of Saint-Bon-Tarentaise, a ski resort that has the best snow in the area and an array of slopes suitable for everyone, from beginners to experts. Courchevel is composed of four resort villages namely Courchevel Le Praz, an old and rustic village with the ski jumping hill used during the Olympics in 1992 as its main landmark; Courchevel Village, a serene and quiet backwater; Courchevel Moriond, a well-developed village; and Courchevel, the largest resort and the most prestigious and luxurious of the four.
Another great ski resort to put on the list is Serre Chevalier of Hautes-Alpes in the southeastern part of France. It is known for its natural snowfall and 250 km of tree-lined slopes and 300 days of good weather annually. Serre Chevalier consists of three major villages: Villenueve, Chantemarie and Le Monetier-les-Bains, the highest of the three villages and a popular spa resort. The ancient town of Briancon adds charm to the laid-back Serre Chevalier. Enjoy skiing while taking in a glimpse of its mountainous scenery. This is the best place to look for intermediate slopes.
Espace Killy is a ski region shared by two neighboring communities in the Tarentaise Valley: Tignes and Val d’Isere. Its name was derived from the famous French World Cup alpine skier Jean-Claude Killy who was a triple Olympic champion during the 60’s. This ski area is composed of 300 km of pistes that offers green, blue, red and black runs and also includes 44 km of cross country ski trails. Espace Killy takes pride on their high standard when it comes to piste grooming. Val d’Isere is ideal for advanced skiers as it has some of the most challenging slopes. In fact, it serves an ideal venue for several ski and snowboard events yearly such as the highly-anticipated Criterium de la Premiere Neige which happens during mid-December. Tignes, on the other hand, with its altitude of 3455m and the Grande Motte glacier, allows skiing for 10 months of the year.
Les Portes du Soleil is one of the largest ski areas in the world and a top-notch snow destination with its vast 650 km of terrain. It encompasses thirteen ski resorts between France and Switzerland. Seven of these thirteen resorts are French and five are Swiss. Avoriaz, one of the seven French resorts, is among the world’s most modern and largest purpose-built ski destinations. It was coined the snowboarding capital as it introduced snowboarding in Europe in the late 1980’s. There are three major parks skiers can choose from: the Chapelle Park, ideal for beginners with its kicker lines from green to red; Arare Park, with airbag and pro lines; and Stash Park, with three lines of different levels stretching through the forest. There are also two parks that are specially made for kids, making it a perfect spot for family adventures. Another family-oriented resort within this area is Les Gets. With its pedestrian-friendly center, nursery slopes and shuttle, Les Gets is an ideal destination for family vacation.
Another hidden gem for French skiing is nestled at the foot of the 400 meter Dent Parrachee. This traditional village of Aussois with rural France ambiance is a great getaway for some ski holiday. With its 55 km of slopes and 10 lifts, anyone can enjoy a more relaxed and intimate ski experience. Now which one to choose first?!