Skiing season is upon us and the French Alps are gearing up to welcome travellers with itchy skiing legs. From high altitude skiing heavens to more laid-back thermal towns, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is dotted with ski resorts that are as picturesque as they are exhilarating.
Which resort to pick? We’ve gone over some of our favourites to help you choose.
Open from December 2nd 2023 to May 5th 2024
Chamonix may be one of the world’s best known ski resorts, but it also lies at the heart of a characterful valley, surrounded by spectacular, beautiful nature. This winter, the buzzing alpine town is celebrating 100 years since it staged the world’s first ever Winter Olympic Games.
Snowsport lovers head to Chamonix for the world-class skiing of course, with snow-sure conditions from December to May as 90% of the skiing is above 2,000m. Whilst Chamonix has forged its reputation on its outstanding off-piste possibilities, the valley also offers plenty of great intermediate-level cruising terrain, tree-lined trails, snow parks and several excellent beginners’ areas.
Epic trips can include a cable car ride to the famous Aiguille du Midi at 12,000ft with its 360° breathtaking panorama, also the starting point of the legendary Vallée Blanche descent. Snow-shoers may delight in the spectacular backdrop of the Mont Blanc region which is a sanctuary for wildlife including chamois, ibex, deer, white hares, black grouse and ptarmigan.
Open from November 25th 2023 to May 5th 2024
In the heart of the Trois Vallées, at 2,300m high, Val Tho’, as it is affectionately known, is in the running again for ‘Best Ski Resort in the World’ this year at the World Ski Awards. Offering entirely ski-in/ski-out facilities, the resort is also known for its breathtaking panorama of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. Make sure you snap some shots of the summits before descending the excellent slopes – and with access to 600km of pistes, you’re spoilt for choice.
There’s fun for the whole family, with beginner’s and fun slopes but also sledging, snowtubing and Europe’s highest zipline and a plethora of other non-skiing activities for those days off the slopes. The après-ski offer is as rich as ever with a wide choice of hotels, bars and restaurants, a revamped Malaysa club and new additions to the spa facilities.
Les Deux Alpes
Open from December 2nd 2023 to April 28th 2024
Les Deux Alpes, perched high in the heart of the Ecrins massif in Isère, is a haven for thrill-seekers and skiing enthusiasts. This resort boasts one of the largest skiable glaciers in Europe, ensuring exceptional snow conditions year-round. With an extensive range of slopes for all levels and reaching 3,600m high, it’s perfect for families and expert skiers alike. The bustling town offers a lively après-ski scene, vibrant nightlife, and a myriad of restaurants serving exquisite mountain cuisine. For a breathtaking experience, don’t miss the new Belle Etoile Telemix lift which allows skiers and pedestrians to reach the Crètes sector at 2100m.
Open from December 2 2023 to May 5th 2024
With access to over 300km of slopes on the edge of the gorgeous Vanoise National Park in Savoie, Val d’Isère has a great ski offer but not only: paragliding, ice-skating, dog-sledding, hiking, icefall climbing…the mountain is your playground and Val d’Isère, your ticket to real fun in the snow. To make the most of all these off-the-slopes activities, a new 4-hour ski pass will be available to enjoy the best of both worlds.
To make bookings even smoother, the resort is launching a new app for this winter season, streamlining to process to buy lift passes.
Open from December 3rd 2023 to April 23rd 2024.
Alpe d’Huez, also known as the “Island in the Sun,” is a winter paradise. Situated in the Grandes Rousses Massif, it enjoys an abundance of sunshine and remarkable skiing conditions. The vast ski area offers a variety of terrain for all skill levels, with numerous groomed slopes and challenging off-piste runs. From its 3,330 m of altitude reached via cable car, the Pic Blanc dominates the 250 km of slopes that plunge down to the villages of Vaujany (1,250 m), Oz-en-Oisans (1,350 m), Villard-Reculas (1,480 m), Huez (1,500 m) and Auris-en-Oisans (1,600 m).
The picturesque alpine village provides a cozy, authentic atmosphere and an array of charming cafes. After a day on the slopes, bask in the warm alpine glow and take in the stunning views of the Ecrins National Park.
Open from November 25th 2023 to May 5th 2024
Nestled in the heart of the French Alps, Tignes is a skier’s paradise. Its high-altitude location ensures reliable snow throughout the season, making it a favourite for winter sports enthusiasts. The resort offers a mix of challenging slopes for experienced skiers and gentle, wide pistes for beginners, including a new, family-friendly fun themed trail on mountain animals and some new activities for infants and toddlers.
But Tignes isn’t just about skiing; it’s a vibrant town with a lively après-ski scene. After a day on the slopes, you can unwind in cozy alpine lodges and enjoy delicious Savoyard cuisine. There’ve been some additions to the slope-side eateries too: Le Casse-Croûte and The Panoramic. Whether you’re carving through powdery trails or sipping mulled wine by the fire, Tignes offers the perfect winter escape.
Open December 2nd 2023 to April 21st 2024
As one of the first resorts in the Alps (1938!), Meribel is the epitome of a classic Alpine ski resort. Nestled in the heart of the Three Valleys, it offers access to one of the world’s largest interconnected ski areas. Surrounded by nature, the resort gives you access to the Tueda natural reserve and its deep blue lake and to La Traie, to gaze upon the majestic alpine peaks.
Meribel’s picturesque chalet-style architecture – the legacy of architect Charlotte Perriand – and charming village atmosphere create a cozy and inviting ambiance. Skiers of all levels will find their perfect trails here (you could even join the brand new ESF Masterclass to perfect your skills), while the resort’s excellent amenities ensure a seamless stay. With gourmet dining, quaint shops, and a range of off-slope activities, Meribel seamlessly combines the thrill of skiing with a touch of luxury.
Open from December 9th 2023 to April 19th 2024
Les Menuires, situated at 1,850m in the Belleville Valley, offers a wide range of skiing opportunities for all levels. The resort “the safe bet” of the expansive Les Trois Vallées ski area, making it an ideal destination for families.
Les Menuires’ modern facilities and affordable lodging options ensure a comfortable stay. The surrounding landscapes are breathtaking, and the relaxed atmosphere makes it an attractive destination for those seeking both adventure and tranquillity.
Open from December 16th 2023 to April 27th 2024
Nestled in the Tarentaise Valley, Les Arcs/Peisey-Vallandry is a skiing haven with over 70% of slopes located above 2,000m. Its vast and diverse terrain caters to skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Thanks to its position within Paradiski, one of the world’s largest ski areas, visitors can enjoy an array of trails and breathtaking vistas. End the day in style with a new offering this winter season: the Last Tracks experience where you can descend with the ski patrollers and enjoy a sunset apéritif.
Little ones and big kids alike will love the new Malgovert Giants emerging from the forest, while parents Traditional mountain architecture and a warm, welcoming atmosphere characterize the villages of Peisey and Vallandry, offering a charming contrast to the exhilarating skiing experiences.
Open from December 9th 2023 to April 7th 2024
Megève is the epitome of alpine elegance and sophistication. This historic resort, nestled in the French Alps, offers a refined skiing experience. The well-groomed slopes, on not one but two domaines accessible from the village, cater to both novice and expert skiers. On one side of the village, the Rochebrune, Cote 2000 and Mont d’Arbois mountains in the Évasion Mont-Blanc ski area, connected to the resorts of Saint Gervais-les-Bains and Saint Nicolas de Véroce. And on the other side of the village, the Le Jaillet mountain, part of the Les Portes du Mont-Blanc ski area, connected to the neighbouring resorts of Combloux and La Giettaz.
The charming village center exudes timeless charm, with cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and boutique shops. Megève is a culinary delight, with a multitude of Michelin-starred restaurants serving gourmet cuisine. This resort seamlessly marries traditional alpine beauty with a touch of luxury, making it a sought-after destination for discerning travellers.
Open from December 16th 2023 to April 28th 2024
La Plagne, a resort located in the Paradiski ski area, is an inviting destination for winter sports enthusiasts. With an excellent mix of slopes, it caters to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. And once you’ve put the skis away, there’s still a wealth of snowy activities to enjoy. For the first time this winter, a new bobsleigh experience will open to the public, introducing lucky participants to the sport with professionals.
The resort’s 10 distinct villages offer a wide range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly to luxurious. Apres-ski activities are plentiful, and the breathtaking vistas from the Bellecôte glacier make La Plagne an unforgettable destination for mountain lovers. The new Glaciers lift will take you to meet the summits at 3,000m for a relaxing and contemplative experience among the peaks.
Open from December 16th 2023 to April 21st 2024
Flaine is a unique and striking ski resort renowned for its bold architecture. The village was awarded the 20th Century Heritage label and some buildings are even classified as Historical Monuments. The modernist buildings blend seamlessly with the snowy landscape, creating a distinctive atmosphere. Did you know you could enjoy sculpted art workby Picasso or Dubuffet in the village too?
Located between 1,600m and 2,500m, the resort boasts excellent skiing conditions, and the Grand Massif ski area offers a diverse range of trails. Don’t forget to look up and around before you head down the slopes: the resort unparalleled 360° views of the Mont Blanc range will take your breath away. Flaine’s family-friendly vibe, ski-in, ski-out convenience, and superb childcare services make it a top choice for those traveling with children.
For a peaceful Alpine getaway, Brides-les-Bains offers a refreshing change of pace. This charming spa town is known for its thermal waters and wellness services. While it’s not a traditional ski resort, Brides-les-Bains serves as an ideal base for exploring the vast Trois Vallées ski area, including Meribel and Courchevel. After a day on the slopes, relax and rejuvenate in the town’s soothing thermal spas, making it an appealing destination for those seeking a restful mountain escape.
Lead photo credit : Flaine © OTFlaine / M.Dalmass
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