When you’re an experienced skier, planning your annual trip to the mountains is a walk in the park. But for first-time family visits or hobbyists hitting the slopes with little experience, the logistics might feel a little bit daunting.
Visiting the French Alps is a must for any winter sport enthusiast. Covering every detail is essential throughout the booking process though. With the right preparation and some organisation before you leave, you can ensure that you’ll make memories to last a lifetime.
Our five-step guide explains exactly how to get it right.
1. Choose when to go
If you want to go skiing in peak season, you’ll usually need to pay a higher price. Even though there are a few tips for skiing on a budget out there, it’s hard to avoid spending extra money on ski hire and lift passes, especially if you don’t own your own kit outright. But even if you do, flying might cost extra with all your kit in the hold.
For the best overall rates, try to book as early as possible in the season or at least a week after the busy Christmas period.
2. Choose a resort
Once you’ve started doing your research, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer variety of resorts on offer. Within close proximity of bustling French towns, there are so many ski resorts for snowboarders and skiers to choose from.
No matter your experience or skill levels, you’ll be able to find a resort that suits your boots. A few of our favourites include:
- Tignes and Val d’Isère
This charming site offers around 300 kilometres of slopes. With two neighbouring resorts nestled close to the Italian border, it’s an area that’s suited to beginners and experienced skiers alike. There are beginners’ slopes in both Rond Point des Pistes and La Daille, so you won’t need to buy a pass while you learn the ropes.
- Alpe d’Huez
This famous site lies upon a south-facing plateau, 1,860m above sea level. Its sunny position will keep all skiers happy, along with the possibilities and generally trendy nature on the resort.
You can ski to the highest point in the range, Pic Banc, which sits at an impressive 3,330m. In the resort, there are at least 37 green, blue and red runs, plus a further 17 black runs for the more advanced skier.
Courchevel is one of the best all-rounder choices for skiing in the French Alps. Renowned for glitz, glamour and the excess we all head to the Alps for, it’s not a suitable choice for budget trips but could promise the winter holiday of a lifetime. World-class restaurants and ample slopes give it an impressive allure for visitors from across the globe.
- Les Deux Alpes
If you’re looking to strike that perfect balance between a sporty and trendy resort, don’t overlook Les Deux Alpes. Situated at an altitude of 1,600m with exceptional ski areas soaring above 3,000m nearby, the resort itself is a long, narrow village comprised of quaint chalets and plentiful restaurants, bars and entertainment venues too.
- Val Thorens
The mythical Val Thorens is the highest resort in Europe and includes the highest point of the 3 Valleys area. At an altitude of 2,300m, this resort certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted but promises outstanding views and incredible skiing too. Snow is almost guaranteed, making it a brilliant choice for late or off-season trips.
3. Decide where to stay
Once you’ve chosen the most suitable resort, you’ll need to book the best accommodation possible. The French Alps are not short of luxury resorts to choose from. If you’re travelling as a couple, a romantic hotel room could make a suitable choice. However, if you’re headed to the mountains in a large family group or with the whole gang, a large, self-catered chalet could give you more flexibility.
4. Book your transport and transfers
We’ve listed some of the best ski resorts available in France, and these can all be reached with ease from the busiest European hubs for winter sports fans.
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly approach to your plans for this season, you could take advantage of the new Eurostar ski train from London St. Pancras to the French Alps. This low-carbon option ensures that you reach the heart of your ski destination without the need for a coach transfer or needing to fly at all.
Larger groups might however need added logistical convenience. If you are flying out of the UK with all your ski equipment, direct Lyon Airport transfers to your resort will get you there with ease.
5. Sort out your ski gear and lift pass
This step is vital but doesn’t need to be arranged first. If it’s your first time skiing, booking an all-inclusive resort will help to guarantee an easy transfer and should leave you with quality, reliable ski gear too. Remember that if you ski every season, buying your own kit could become a sensible investment.
But if you’re taking your own equipment, it’s important to arrange it with your airline before you fly. And the sooner you book, the more likely you’ll be able to secure a spot for your bags.
Skiing holidays require a lot of planning, but they’re always worth it. Once you’ve finalised your plans and covered your ski resort, equipment hire and lessons – if you need them – you can simply sit back and enjoy the adventure. Lastly, just don’t forget your goggles!