Home to many of the world’s biggest ski resorts, it’s no surprise France is the number one ski destination for Brits. We love racking up the miles in these world-class ski resorts and covering as much terrain as possible. Skiing from first lift to last run, we pack as much skiing or snowboarding as we can into our week’s holiday. But with some of the biggest French ski resorts to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? Let us help, by sharing our expertise on the largest ski areas in France with you.
The names to look out for are the Three Valleys, the Portes du Soleil, Espace Killy, Paradiski, Les Deux Alpes, the Grand Massif and Alpe d’Huez. They all have so much to offer, and are seriously big. The Three Valleys, for example, has over 600km of slopes. That’s a lot of skiing to cover in a week, so read on for our guide to the largest ski areas in France.
It’s all about the superlatives when it comes to the Three Valleys. It’s not just the biggest French ski resort but the biggest in the world. The Three Valleys spans the gorgeous valleys of Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens with over 600km of runs linking the three.
Ambitious intermediates and experts will be in their element here. It has everything from epic off-piste routes around Saulire or Mont du Vallon to challenging pistes such as M or Covili. And with excellent beginner facilities in each village and confidence-building blue runs, it makes a great destination for a group holiday of mixed abilities. There really is something for everyone here.
Spanning the border between France and Switzerland, the Portes du Soleil is one of the biggest ski resorts in France. Home to 12 individual villages, it includes the popular ski destinations of Morzine, Avoriaz, Les Gets, Châtel and Champéry. The runs and lifts link the lot together to form a world-class international circuit with 400km of slopes.
We love the mix of villages for a variety of accommodation. Some, such as Avoriaz, offer ski-in ski-out convenience, while others, like Les Gets, have pretty chalets and old family farms. As for the skiing, it’s endless and varied, from the excellent nursery slopes in Avoriaz to the swathes of blue runs around Châtel. You can even find some of the faster reds around Pre la Joux. Freestylers will also love the Portes du Soleil. it has a whopping 11 terrain parks and four boardercross courses. What else would you expect from one of the biggest French ski resorts?
Two of our favourite ski resorts make up the Espace Killy – Tignes and Val d’Isère. First-rate world-class ski destinations, the pair make a formidable duo. In fact, many visitors return year after year simply because there’s no better ski area in France.
The terrain is spread over 300km of slopes and range in altitude from Tignes les Brévières at 1,550m to the Grande Motte glacier at 3,550m. This ski area spans an adventure playground like no other. You’ll find World Cup black runs down steep faces and long swooping red runs through forests and open valleys. There are also cruising blues among rolling meadows, as well as excellent nursery slopes.
We defy you to get bored in the Espace Killy. The only tricky decision is do you stay in Tignes, with its high-altitude ski-in ski-out resorts? Or Val d’Isère, with its luxurious ski chalets and hotels? As part of one of the largest ski areas in France, both have excellent nightlife and a buzzing atmosphere.
The newest destination to the list of largest ski areas in France is Paradiski. It was formed in 2003 when the neighbouring ski resorts of La Plagne and Les Arcs were linked by the Vanoise Express. This is a mighty double-decker cable car spanning the valley between the two neighbours.
Creating 425km of linked slopes, Paradiski is ideal for those who love skiing hard and fast. The slopes range can range from rolling reds to flattering blues. But don’t let that put off any beginners or early intermediates in your group. The resort centres have excellent places to learn (particularly Arc 1600 and Plagne Bellecôte). And for experts, there is some of the French Alps’ best off-piste terrain to discover.
Topping out on the glacier at a breath-taking 3,600m, skiers and snowboarders have terrain covering a vertical drop of 2,300m and 220km in length to play on in Les Deux Alpes. More than enough to keep even the most active of intermediates happy for a week, the ski resort is split into seven sections. Our favourite is the freeride zone at La Fée with its itinerary runs, while freestylers will love the huge terrain park at Toura.
In the village, you’ll find lively bars and some great-value accommodation. The narrow village runs the length of the valley, so it’s all very convenient as the ski lifts are evenly spaced throughout. This makes Les Deux Alpes one of the most convenient and largest ski areas in France.
Despite being one of the biggest French ski resorts, the Grand Massif is still under the radar for many Brits. You’re well advised to make its acquaintance as it’s wonderfully underrated. Under the Grand Massif umbrella you’ll find the ski resorts of Flaine, Les Carroz, Morillon, Samoëns and Sixt Fer à Cheval. Together they make France’s fifth largest ski area, with 265km of slopes.
In a stunning location under an hour from Geneva and in the heart of the Alps, the Grand Massif is heaven for intermediates and families. Les Cascades is a gorgeous 14km-long blue run from the top of Flaine to the little village of Sixt, and the Marvel run through the trees in Morillon is one of the longest green runs in Europe.
A strong contender for being one of the most popular ski resorts in the French Alps, Alpe d’Huez inspires great loyalty in its many fans. Its sprawling, lively village sits below 250km of snow sure slopes that are as attractive to beginners as they are experts. One of the largest ski areas in France, it boasts huge amounts of slope variety.
Les Bergers is our favourite of the eight Alpe d’Huez quartiers to stay in. We like its convenience for the slopes and we love racing down the Canyon red or getting away from it all on the Col de Cluy from Signal de l’Homme. Beginners and early intermediates should feel at home as there are 52km of green runs to play on. Many are in the heart of the resort so more experienced friends can venture further before returning to meet for après drinks on one of its many sunny terraces.
To discuss which of the largest ski areas in France is right for your ski holiday, speak to our team of ski experts. Call us on 020 7471 7700.