Why France should be top of your destination list

4 reasons why France should be on the top of your ski destination list

France is without doubt the most popular destination for British skiers. Whether you’re looking for a mega resort with miles of pistes or a cosy little village with Alpine charm, France really does offer something for everyone.

Fresh croissants and baguettes to start the day, cheese fondue and vin chaud for apres-ski – skiing in France is about the finer things in life, so it’s no wonder we Brits flood to the French Alps year after year.

According to the latest consumer research by the Ski Club of Great Britain, nearly 50% of Brits who go skiing head to France. An incredible 48% of Brits skied in France in 2017, compared with the next most popular country, Austria, where 17% of Brits headed.

So why is it so popular? Is it because French ski resorts are relatively easy to get to? Is it because the French Alps offer so much variety? Is it because most of us learn French at school and therefore feel most comfortable in a country where we at least know how to say yes, no, please and thank you?

Snow Business

The top reason quoted in the Ski Club research is guaranteed snow, followed by the size of the ski area, how busy the slopes are, price and quality of accommodation. All of which France’s skiing destinations offer in buckets.

Chris Gill, editor of the new guidebook Where To Ski In France (and former co-editor of Where to Ski and Snowboard, known as “The Skier’s Bible”) agrees: “The appeal of France remains essentially unchanged: big ski areas (including the world’s biggest) at high altitude, where you can expect or at least hope for good snow conditions, and plenty of resort villages with ski in/ski out lodgings.”

There have been many changes to the mega-resorts that were once stark, uninteresting villages set high in the mountains. Val Thorens is one case in point, where huge improvements have been made to the buildings in recent years and the centre (and sports centre) is due for redevelopment.

“Many purpose-built resorts have been improved in atmosphere and appearance over the last decade or three, partly by expanding them in a more appealing style and partly by retro-fitting traditional elements such as pitched roofs and stone/wood cladding,” adds Chris Gill.

The French Alps are ahead of the game

French ski destinations constantly keep ahead of the curve, offering impressive facilities and slopes for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, whether you’re a first-timer looking for easy-access nursery slopes or a seasoned pro wanting challenging black runs and off-piste.

French ski resorts are constantly updating their infrastructure – new faster, covered lifts, more snow cannons to guarantee good snow conditions all season long, and updating restaurants, hotels and bars as well as family facilities. For example Val d’Isère recently opened the new family-friendly area and base at the top of Solaise, and Les Arcs opened the Mille8 leisure area with tubing, sledging, a restaurant and specific beginner facilities.

World-class après-ski

Although Austria and Switzerland are lively, France truly wears the crown when it comes to après-ski activities – whether you’re looking for sledging, tubing, sleigh or husky rides, ski-joring or hard partying. There’s always going to be at least one or two throbbing bars in most French ski resorts, and some have more than a few! The Folie Douce chain now has open-air nightclubs that get going at lunchtime up in the mountains across Méribel-Courchevel, Val Thorens, Megeve-Saint Gervais, Alpe d’Huez and the original Val d’Isère-Tignes.

Get a taste of real France

France offers such a huge variety of ski resorts, says Cat Weakley, deputy ski editor at The Telegraph, who part-owns a chalet in Sainte-Foy, a small ski resort close to Val d’Isère in the Tarentaise Valley.
“France is justifiably loved and popular for its snow-sure high altitude resorts and huge ski areas – Val d'Isère, Courchevel, Méribel, Les Arcs to name a few – where it's possible to stay for a week and barely go on the same run twice. But what really makes it special for me is the variety of its ski resorts. Even within the big ski areas there are lower altitude traditional villages that make atmospheric places to stay where smaller, traditional bases can be found.”

Examples include St Martin de Belleville in the Three Valleys (incorporating Val Thorens, Méribel and Courchevel, with 600km of pistes), Peisey-Vallandry in the Paradiski (incorporating La Plagne and Les Arcs and 425km of pistes) or Chatel in the Portes du Soleil.

Cat continues: “And for those that want to strike out, so many smaller, lesser-known ski resorts exist where there's a taste of real rural France to be found in their base villages, with farms to visit and cheese to see being made. Plus, I usually find there’s less competition for first tracks off-piste!”
These include ski areas such as Serre-Chevalier, Valloire or Valmorel in the Maurienne Valley.

Club Med offers a huge range of all-inclusive resorts in the French Alps, bringing you the best of the snow and all-inclusive luxury.

Club Med Ski - The pioneers in all inclusive ski holidays