Excellent infrastructure, ready access and world class accommodation catering to all abilities of skiers make French Alps the number one choice for planning a skiing holiday. The vast mountain terrain has a fast and efficient ski lift network, which makes transfer time to some of the super speciality resorts very quick, resulting in less travel and more time spent on the slopes.
This utterly friendly guide will not only explain which resort to head to, but as to what to bring from home in order to have a fabulous day on the French slopes.
A part of the Les Menuires ski area, the ski resort of Les Bruyeres at 2700 m assures year long skiing and snowboarding. The resort is slightly underrated for some, but the fact is that it is home to some of the best intermediate runs in the entire Three Valleys region, both on and off the pistes. You should pre-book through a good ski agency like Ski Famille to avoid disappointment in peak season.
The majority of the customers here are families, as it allows guests to explore a vast ski area on a budget. Les Bruyeres is the ideal place for mixed ability of skiers, which together with the family friendly chalets all make the perfect recipe for a relaxing family vacation.
This small skiing village is located in the famous Three Valleys region, covering over 650 km of pistes. The whole area is very popular with skiers of all levels. There are gentle runs for beginners and intermediates while experts will find challenging black runs and some excellent off piste throughout the area.
Apres-ski in Reberty 2000 is a bit on the quieter side as the bars and nightclubs close early. The nearby Les Menuires area is a better option. Non- skiers have plenty of activities like bowling, swimming, cinema and ice skating to keep themselves occupied.
This fantastic family ski resort in the Alps is the second largest in the world and guarantees a high level of skiing in the famous Paradiski area. With blue runs spread across the entire ski area, La Plagne is perfect for beginners. The six high altitude resorts here are where the bulk of skiers stay and none are more than 100 m from the slopes, enabling plenty of ski-in and ski-out options.
The facilities for kids are first class, with each resort having its own childcare facilities where they can play and learn to ski. For non-skiers there is zip lining, paragliding and ice skating. Apres ski activities are at a low key, with only one late night disco Le Saloon in operation.
If you are a group of skiers with mixed abilities, then it is worth going to Les Gets a part of the huge Portes du Soleil area, spanning the French-Swiss border. The beginners area includes a section for children and an intermediate ski zone with a good mix of blues and reds.
The local lift pass is combined with the neighbouring Morzine resort, so one can ski over the 120 km of pistes, using the two gondola lifts. One of the best runs here comes off the back of the Les Gets Bowl, a red run named Melezes, which extends till the end of the Perrieres section of the village.
Packing list for the French Alps
Skiing the French Alps is considered to be the trip of a lifetime. Packing for warmth and comfort can be challenging as laundry is expensive. Hence it is essential to carry certain items that will keep the body happy as nobody wants to tote the cumbersome ski gear all the time.
So try and save some euros by packing wisely, and spending them at the apres-ski bar, rather than on the avoidable purchases. Also keep in mind that ski gear is heavy, so to avoid the notorious limit of 20kg on flights, pack only what you need.
- Skis: Check with the airlines if they accommodate ski equipment, else you can rent them at the resort.
- Ski boots: If you have a good pair carry them, as it will be difficult to get your feet into the unfamiliar rented boots. You can also roll up your socks and stick them inside the boots to save space.
- Goggles: Another must on a ski trip, take your own goggles irrespective of the price. Cannot do without them while skiing.
- Helmet: Wearing a helmet is mandatory. Though you can rent one at the resort, it is better to have your own knowing it fits well and will keep you safe and warm.
- Backpack: A small 6 litre pack to carry some essentials like tools, tissues, snacks and drinks while on the mountain.
- A multi tool: Very handy to have in case your bindings need to be adjusted and you are in the middle of nowhere.
- Gloves: Carry a few heavy waterproof pairs with liners. Dry them completely overnight to avoid any unpleasantness in the morning.
The items listed vary from person to person, depending on length of stay and your reaction to cold weather.
- Thermal bottom and tops: Very essential during the colder months of January and February.
- Warm fleece: To protect your body and especially the neck when the temperature plunges.
- Skiing jacket and trousers: Take specific ski clothing to safeguard against the below freezing winds on the slopes.
- Ski socks: Take at least three pairs of proper snow socks, as well as a thin one to wear underneath.
- Warm hat: One skiing essential which can ruin a ski holiday. A warm fleece winter hat for the slopes as well as for the evening.
- Sunglasses: The sunlight on the mountain can blind you with its intensity. Take a pair with four layer protection.
- Jeans: For the time spent off the slopes pack a pair of jeans or other trousers for a French dinner.
- Sunscreen and lip balm: Wear a good one for protection from the rays of the sun as they reflect from the snow, unless you want to get seriously sunburnt. Will also protect your from the wind.
- Swimming costume: More and more resorts have a spa, hot tub and swimming pool. It really helps to unwind after a hard day at the slopes.
France has always remained a top option for skiers and it is easy to understand the reason behind it. The snow is sure, the skiing areas are big and the choice of accommodation is endless. From families, beginners, intermediates to experts, there is no dearth of suitable terrain and you can ski a different area each day, without having to dig deep in your pocket.