It’s officially winter and in these latitudes of the world that means one thing: snow! That’s right, and with snow, comes plenty of opportunities for skiing. True, at the time of writing this blog post, in France, we are experiencing one of the “warmest” winters on record, but thanks to the mountains throughout metropolitan France, many of the ski resorts are still perfectly enjoyable. And winter is just getting underway. So, get your skis out!
For those of you who don’t know how to ski or have never had the opportunity. France has so much to offer that there is a whole industry that will allow you to enjoy the season from amateur to professional. France has everything to offer you an adventure this winter. The proof is the more than 50 million skiing visits a year that the hexagon receives. In case you’re wondering what that means, a ski visit is one visit per day per person. That figure is spread over 7 million (estimated) skiers according to “Domaines Skiables de France“ who are the national syndicate of Cable Cars in France.
When to go skiing in France?
The mountain resorts are open almost all year round. Of course, as the seasons and weather conditions vary, so do the activities available.
In winter, many resorts open their ski services from the second half of November onwards. Again, this will depend on the weather, so logically the best months for this activity are from January to March.
What activities can I do in winter in the mountains of France?
The mountains in winter are transformed and offer you the opportunity to do a variety of outdoor activities. Among which we can mention,
- Alpine skiing and/or snowbording,
- Cross-country skiing, night skiing, Nordic skiing
- Climbing / Mountaineering
- Ice skating
- Snow scootering
- Hiking trails
- Dog sledging
- Among others.
What indoor activities can you do in France’s ski resorts?
In addition to outdoor activities, if someone in the family is not in the mood while one of the family members is trying their luck on the black ski slopes, many resorts offer a range of activities, such as:
- Swimming pool,
- Among others.
As you can see, there is something for everyone in the mountains. There will be no shortage of activities to do throughout the day. And why not? Incidentally, to enjoy either a “Fondue Savoyarde” or a traditional “Raclette”. In case you can’t wait to get to the ski resort to taste the traditional dish, here’s How do the French eat Raclette? So, you can make it at home ASAP.
What’s the budget for skiing in France?
Like any other activity we must start from your budget and based on that there are different options to analyse. For your budget you must consider mainly 5 things.
- Accommodation: Like any other hotel. Your price will vary according to:
- Season: The peak season during winter will be the months of January to March. This is not surprising as these is when the mountains experience the highest snowfall.
- Anticipation of purchase: Like a plane or train ticket, the further in advance you buy, the better prices you will get.
- Place you choose: In the more than 350 ski resorts in France you have a choice of hotels, chalets, 5-star lodges, etc.
- Ski Pass: That’s right. You must take into consideration the ski pass that grants access to the resort and the use of its facilities, including mainly the cable cars. This price will vary considerably according to the resort you choose.
- Equipment and clothing: The mountains are to be respected. Especially in winter when the weather can get rough. If you don’t have the appropriate clothing, the experience will not be ideal, so we recommend that you look for equipment in advance. Fortunately, there are many sites on the internet or in the resorts themselves that rent equipment such as skis and others.
- Transport: The ski resorts are mostly in the centre south of France so if you don’t live near the resorts, transport is a consideration, ask at the resorts about discounts if you use public transport. Some have such a benefit.
Where to buy equipment?
If you wish, in most resorts you will find several shops selling everything you need. Otherwise, you can visit any shop specializing in outdoor sports and they will be able to guide you perfectly.
Where can I go skiing in France?
Although the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Northern Alps, there are 6 other geographical areas where you can enjoy the snow with your family.
In France you have different options to choose from. There are currently up to 350 ski resorts spread all over the country.
Here in this external link, you can check the list of resorts and search according to your interest: France-montagnes.com
- The northern French Alps: These are located on the border of France with Switzerland and Italy. Especially the departments of Isère, Savoie, Haute-Savoie and Drôme.
- The Southern French Alps: South-eastern France, on the border with Italy. Especially the departments of “Hautes Alpes”, “Alpes Maritimes”, “Alpes de Haute Provence”, “Vaucluse”.
- The French Pyrenees: In the south of France on the border with Spain. Especially the departments of “Pyrénées Atlantiques”, “Hautes Pyrénées”, “Haute Garonne”, “Garonne”, “Ariège”, “Pyrénées Orientales”.
- The central massif: in the south-central part of the country, is home to this ancient volcano. And the ski resorts are mainly in the departments of “Allier”, “Ardèche”, “Aveyron”, “Cantal”, “Gard”, “Loire”, “Haute Loire”, “Lozère”, “Puy de Dôme”.
- The Jura: In the centre-east of France, on the border with Switzerland. In the departments of “Ain”, “Jura”, “Doubs”.
- Vosges: in the north-east of France, there is this small mountain range. And the ski resorts are in the departments “Bas Rhin”, “Haut Rhin”, “Vosges”, “Territoire de Belfort”.
- Corsica: French island adjacent to Italy. Although it is not one of the largest domains, you will probably like it thanks to its view of the Mediterranean.
Which is the largest resort in France?
In France there are two domains or ski areas that compete for the first place in size which are:
- Les Trois Vallées: Considered to be the largest ski area in the world with 7 different ski resorts linked by cable cars with up to 600 km of slopes.
- Les Portes du Soleil: Also with 12 different linked ski resorts, it has approximately 580 km of slopes. Its peculiarity, apart from its size, is the fact that it is in a border area such as can only exist in Europe. It is a shared domain between France and Switzerland.
Which is the smallest resort in France?
Among the 7 mountain areas we can find large domains or small ones that do not even have 1 kilometre of skiable slopes, as is the case of the “Saint Jean de Sixt” resort with 0.2 km of ski slopes.
How much does a day ski pass cost in France?
This will depend on the resort you choose, ranging from “Les Trois Vallées” with a day pass costing €72 to “Saint Jean de Sixt” with a day pass costing €9.50. The key is to buy in advance as mentioned earlier in the article. This will allow you to enjoy significant discounts.
Which is the most luxurious station in France?
There are several luxury ski resorts of which we can mention 4, “Courchevel”, “Val Thorens”, “Chamonix Mont Blanc” and “Megève”. This is based on the number of 4–5-star hotels, Michelin star restaurants and luxury shops located in the villages. Here are their respective links should you wish to visit their websites.
- Of course, the best-located resorts with the most quantity and quality of snow will be more popular with skiers, which will also make them more expensive. But remember that you will be able to enjoy the facilities, if instead of arriving in January or February, you visit in December or April. You will probably find less snow, but you will still be able to enjoy yourself. Look for the webcams located in each ski resort.
- There are different types of ski resorts, for example, resorts suitable for the whole family, resorts mainly focused on downhill, resorts that even today maintain the grace of a small village in small chalets that give a magical touch to your stay.
- You should also think about the location of your accommodation, do you want to be close to the ski slopes, or on the contrary closer to the centre of the village where you will find bars and restaurants.
- Some resorts you will find are highly sought after by tourists or you may be looking for the complete opposite, there are small resorts where there are no major facilities and usually only French people from the surrounding area.
- Finally, especially if you don’t do much exercise, start exercising one or two months before, especially to strengthen your lower body, i.e., abdomen and legs through cardiovascular activities.
In short, you will find your ideal ski resort by trying it out,
See you in the mountains!