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France Guide


French Ski resorts France

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There are more than four hundred ski resorts in France, so choosing which one to visit is not easy. In France there are ski resorts in the Alps, Jura, Pyrenees, and Vosges mountains, in the Massif Central and also on Corsica, surprisingly enough.

In the Alps, the largest group of interconnected resorts is at Les Portes du Soleil (literally "the gates of the sun"), which straddles fourteen valleys in between Lake Geneva in Switzerland and Mont Blanc in France. There are thirteen resorts offering access to 650km of pistes and 230 lifts. This is one skiing trip where you will need a lift pass AND a passport!

Les Trois Vallées is made up of the three valleys of Courchevel, Méribel and Belleville. The nearest airport is at Geneva, which is a three to four hour coach ride away. The 200 hundred or so lifts take you onto the 600km of pistes, making the inaccessibility worthwhile. You might also spot some celebrities in Courchevel!

The oldest French ski resort is Chamonix, one hour away from travel links at Geneva. It is here that the first Winter Olympic Games were held in 1924. The area is dominated by Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc, which was first climbed by Jacques Balmat and Michel Gabriel Paccard in 1786. There are 48 lifts and 170km of pistes.

The lively resort of Les Deux Alpes is 90 minutes away from Grenoble and it has about 35,000 beds, 200 shops, 40 restaurants, 200km of pistes, 63 lifts and clubs that open all night. It is also home to Europe's largest skiable glacier.

For the more timid or novice skier, some of the smaller and lower of France's ski resorts are to be found in the Pyrenees, for example in Andorra, Cauterets or the Vallée d'Aspe, or in the Massif Central, such as Le Mont Dore. If you are set on going to the Alps, a good area for beginners or intermediate skiers is the Vercors massif.

When choosing a ski resort you might want to think about how close the resort is to the slopes, so whether you can ski right back to your front door or whether you need to walk or get a bus back to the village. Serious skiers might want to be able to ski from the moment they leave the accommodation, whereas other skiers prefer to make a trip to the slopes on odd days and spend the rest of the time soaking up the atmosphere in the ski resort.