The popularity of France as a ski destination is obvious; high resorts with large ski areas, guaranteed snow, fantastic lift systems and great après make it easy to see why skiing in France is so popular with the British public. We’re here to help you learn a bit more about the largest ski areas in France and let you know what kind of accommodation is available in each, helping pick your next ski destination even easier.
1. Trois vallees / 3 Valleys
600km of pistes - 335 runs
The 3 Valleys have over 600km of runs, all linked together via a superb lift system, making it the largest connected ski area not only in France but the World. The area is so large that you can keep going back year after year and never get bored, it’s the perfect place to go skiing if racking up the kms each day is number one on your priority list.
Covering the valleys of Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens. Each village has something for everyone, from total beginners to those that are advanced. Snow is guaranteed here and the runs are varied; from the tree-lined slopes of La Tania to the wide glacier slopes of Val Thorens and the narrow couloirs of Courchevel.
Depending on where you base yourself then there is a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets to choose from; Courchevel is more upmarket and has a large number of luxury hotels and chalets. Meribel and Val Thorens have great après and are mostly focused on chalets and a range of self-catered options as well. Meribel's accommodations tend to be spread out, however, Val Thorens are more ski-in-ski-out.
Learn more about Meribel here
Get more information on Courchevel here
Discover everything about Val Thorens here
2. Portes du Soleil
650km of pistes - 308 runs
The Portes du Soleil means “Gateway to the Sun'', and due to its proximity to Lake Geneva, it benefits from great snow whilst enjoying lovely sunny conditions and a shorter transfer time. This large ski area covers mostly France but you can pop into Switzerland also. There is over 600km of pistes, however, they aren't all linked. There are 12 villages the most famous of those being Morzine, Avoriaz, Les Gets, Chatel, Morgins and Champery, this ski area is perfect for those looking to get away for a week or a cheeky weekend.
The skiing has something for everyone, from gentle wide open slopes in Avoriaz to short runs through the trees in Les Gets. There are some great sweeping runs where you can let the skis do the talking and the backcountry is easy to reach and doesn't get skied out for weeks at a time. In addition, there are no less than 11 snow parks and 4 boardercross runs and we recommend doing at least ‘the Stash’ whilst here.
The town of Morzine is a working town with an authentic feel to it, but Avoriaz is ski-in-ski-out purpose-built and traffic-free. The après ski is lively and the restaurants and bars tend to be a bit cheaper than some of the other big areas like the Espace Killy. Whatever your budget is, there is something suitable; Morzine has a mix of chalets and hotels. Up in Avoriaz, there are ski-in-out chalets, self-catered apartments and hotels available too.
Learn more about Morzine here
Get more information on Avoriaz here
Discover everything about Les Gets here
Read more about Chatel here
Uncover the secrets of Champery here
425 of pistes - 260 runs
One of the largest ski areas in France with over 425km of piste and fantastic guaranteed skiing. The Paradiski covers Les Arcs and La Plagne and has a great lift system that is both modern and well-linked. The skiing is diverse; for beginners, there are some lovely easy runs to get a footing on. Intermediates have wide open slopes and winding tree runs to choose from, and for advanced, there is some great off-piste like the north face of the Bellcote which is over 2000 vertical metres of descent.
Although there is less après here, there are some surprisingly good areas like Les Arc 1800 and 2000 that have good après bars.
In terms of accommodation there is something for all budgets; with ski-in-out chalets and chalet hotels throughout the Paradiski. However, Les Arcs 1950, 1800 and La Plagne have a diverse range of self-catering accommodations to choose from. Hotels are also scattered across the area, with Les Arc 2000 having the most.
Learn more about La Plagne here
Disover Les Arcs here
4. Espace Killy
300km of pistes - 158 runs
The Espace Killy Ski area is named after Olympian Jean-Claude Kill, Val d’Isere is one of the stops on the FIS World Cup circuit with the famous ‘La Face’ black run. Another of the largest ski areas in France, the area covers both Val d’Isere and Tignes; both of these resorts have legendary après ski, nightlife and a combined area of 300km of varied pistes. There is high-altitude skiing, great off-piste, a lift system that is both modern/quick and 2 glaciers that make the conditions as guaranteed as you can get and suitable for all abilities.
Tignes does have more ski-in-ski-out accommodation options and offers a range of accommodation options from lovely chalets to self-catered apartments that are kinder on the wallet. Val d'Isere on the other hand does tend to be pricer with many higher-end accommodation options including luxury hotels and chalets.
More on Tignes
Disocver more about Val d'Isere
5. Le Grand Massif
265km of pistes - 126 runs
Le Grand Massif is big by name and big by nature and is highly regarded for its reliable snow conditions. Covering 40,000 hectares and over 260km of pistes at high altitudes, 80% of which are north facing making the snow conditions exceptional. Another of the largest ski areas in France, it is a haven for intermediate skiers and families alike and it faces Mont Blanc where the panoramic views are beautiful. The Grand Massif is famed for having the longest blue run in Europe (La Piste des Cascades) with a massive 14km descent and the Marvel run is one of Europe's longest green runs through the trees in Morillon.
It connects the resorts of Flaine, Les Carroz, Morillon, Sixt and Samoens. The area overall is great value for money, it has a good range of hotels, including a fantastic all-inclusive option, but predominantly there is plenty of self-catered accommodation here. You get more bang for your buck with the restaurants and bars being reasonably priced compared with some of the other ski areas mentioned in this article. It has a very short transfer from Geneva airport making it a great base for a weekend or a week-long skiing holiday. Although more on the quiet side than resorts like Morzine, there are some nice bars in Flaine like the White Pub.
Learn more about Flaine
Read more about Les Carroz D'Arraches
More on Morillon
6. Alpe d'Huez (Les Grandes Rousses)
249km of pistes - 135 runs
The climb to Alpe d’Huez is infamous on the Tour de France competition in the summer. However, in winter Les Grand Rousses ski area, with its short transfers from Grenoble, high altitude skiing and 249km of varied ski terrain, make it on to our list of largest ski areas in France and a veritable heaven for UK holidaymakers.
The runs are easiest near to the town with wide open slopes particularly suitable for beginners and intermediates. The higher up you go the more interesting the skiing gets, with the longest black run in the World (La Sarenne - 16km long) here. The area itself has some great blues and reds, with particularly interesting trips down to Vaujany, Oz en Oisans and Auris en Oisans. The 6-day lift pass also gives you one day over in Les Deux Alpes.
The food and drinks tend to be a bit cheaper here and the town itself has lots of nice restaurants, a couple of bars and even a nightclub called Igloo… Needless to say that the après ski is fun here. The town also has an ice skating rink and a heated outdoor pool which is free to use with your ski pass, making the large ski area great for skiers and non-skiers alike. Alpe d’Huez has a good range of accommodation options to suit most budgets, from nice chalets to good ski-in ski-out chalet hotels and self-catered accommodations available.
Learn everything you need to know about Alpe d'Huez here
Discover more about ski resorts in France here.