Here’s everything you need to know about going on a French Alps ski holiday in 2023:
- The ski season in France
- Best time to ski in the French Alps
- Best ski resorts in the French Alps
- Ski holiday package vs. book by yourself
- Is it cheaper to book a ski package holiday?
- Booking your trip independently
- Best airports for ski trips in France
- Spending money for a ski trip in France
- Ski holiday insurance
When is the Ski Season in France?
In general the French ski season runs from Mid-December to April.
However, in the highest resorts like Val Thorens, Tignes and Les Deux Alpes, the ski season begins in November and lasts until May.
When is The Best Time to Ski in the French Alps?
January and February are the best months for your French Alps ski holiday, when there is the highest chance of fresh snowfall.
Best Ski Resorts in the French Alps
1. Les 3 Vallées
Les 3 Vallées or ‘The 3 Valleys’ is the largest ski resort in France, made up of the famous resorts of Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens.
Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in France, which means you’ll get the best snowfall in this area.
The whole ski domain is connected by chairlifts, gondolas and cable cars, so you can buy a Les 3 Vallées ski pass and traverse 600 km of runs during your ski trip.
Val Thorens has great après ski and nightlife, whilst Courchevel and Méribel are more family-friendly resorts.
2. Tignes – Val d’Isère
As the second highest resort in France, Tignes is another one of the best ski areas to choose for your French Alps ski holiday.
Tignes and Val d’Isère were formerly known as the ‘Espace Killy’ after a French Olympic champion and the two resorts are fully connected by lifts.
Your ski pass allows you to ski all 300 km of the domain.
Val d’Isère is known for being a trendy and luxurious spot with designer shops and high-end restaurants (and partying!) whilst Tignes is slightly more affordable.
3. Alpe d’Huez
Alpe d’Huez is the third highest resort in the French Alps and home to the longest black run in Europe (16 kms long!).
You can whiz down 249 km of ski slopes in Alpe d’Huez.
Paradiski is the ski domain made up of La Plagne and Les Arcs ski areas.
The joint lift pass offers access to 425 km of ski runs in this area.
Both areas have great restaurants, bars and nightlife.
5. Les Portes du Soleil
Les Portes du Soleil is a ski area encompassing Avoriaz, Morzine, Les Gets, Châtel and Champery with over 600 km of pistes.
The highest resort is Avoriaz, which is a completely car-free village so all of the accommodation is ski-in ski-out!
Les Portes du Soleil area is really close to Geneva so it’s a great choice for a short airport transfer.
6. Les Deux Alpes
Les Deux Alpes is home to the second highest glacier in France and offers 229km of ski runs (you can even ski in summer on the glacier!).
Les Deux Alpes is well known for its après ski and buzzing nightlife, making it popular with a younger crowd.
Should You Book a Ski Holiday Package or Book Everything Separately?
When booking your ski holiday in France you have two options: book your entire trip as a package holiday or book everything separately yourself.
Skiing package holiday operators allow you to book your flight, airport transfers, hotel & meals, ski passes, ski equipment hire and skiing lessons all together.
Ski Holiday Packages are great for taking the stress away from your trip.
The reps from the holiday companies ensure that you are on the correct airport transfers, provide your pre-booked ski passes when you arrive, help you with equipment hire and ski lessons and resolve any issues you may have throughout your trip.
Is It Cheaper to Book A Ski Holiday Package or Book Separately?
In general it is cheaper to book a ski package holiday deal rather than booking everything separately yourself.
This is because the ski holiday operators have deals with hotels, transport companies, ski hire shops and ski pass vendors, meaning they can pass discounts onto you.
For example, if you book your 6 day ski pass through a travel operator like Crystal Ski, you will get a $20-$30 discount on the normal price of the ski pass.
Similarly, when you book a package holiday you will usually be transferred from the airport to resort on a coach, which is much cheaper than booking your own private transfer in a smaller minibus.
The downside of a Ski Holiday Package is that you are limited to the accommodation options that the ski holiday companies have contracts with.
However, as long as you book in advance there are lots of options to suit your budget and requirements, from luxury hotels and chalets to cheaper choices.
If there is a specific hotel or Airbnb you would like to stay in that doesn’t have a deal with a ski holiday company, you would need to book your ski trip independently.
What You Need to Consider if You are Booking Your Ski Trip Independently (No Package)
If you choose to book your ski holiday independently without the help of a ski holiday company, you need to book the following things:
- Flights including luggage/ ski carriage (use Skyscanner for the cheapest deals)
- Transfer from airport to resort (use Alps 2 Alps or Mountain Drop-Offs)
- Hotel, chalet or apartment (use Booking.com for hotels, Ski France for chalets and Airbnb for apartments)
- Ski lift passes (Google ‘buy ski lift pass’ for the resort you are staying in)
- Ski equipment hire (use Intersport or Ski Set – both shops available in most resorts)
- Ski Lessons (Book with ESF or Maison Sport)
Which Airport Should You Fly to For Skiing in the French Alps?
Geneva is the main airport to fly to for skiing holidays in France, due to its size as a large international airport.
Whilst Geneva Airport is of course in Switzerland not France, the transfer time to most of the French ski resorts is around 2-3 hours.
Chambéry and Grenoble airports are slightly closer to the French ski resorts, however they are both very small so there are significantly less flights available.
How Much Spending Money Do You Need For a Skiing Holiday?
French Alps ski holidays are known for being costly.
In ski resorts, expect to pay around $18-$30 for a lunch dish in a restaurant, $7-10 for a pint of beer and $5-$8 for a glass of wine.
In general, the closer to the ski runs, the more expensive the restaurant.
If you choose a restaurant at the top of the mountain which can only be accessed by Ski-Doo (no road access) then you’re going to pay significantly more for your food and drink.
Your best bet is to ski back down to the main resort areas where there are more restaurants and snack bars available.
You can save money on the mountain by taking a packed lunch with you and eating it in the picnic areas (indoor and outdoor) which can be found in many areas.
Many people who stay in hotels with breakfast included will whip themselves up a cheese or ham baguette in the morning and wrap it up for lunchtime.
If you want to enjoy some après ski on a budget, filling a hip flask is a great way to enjoy a tipple without paying mountain prices.
Ski Holiday Insurance
Please note that most French Alps ski holiday packages don’t include insurance.
You will need to ensure that your holiday insurance policy covers you for winter sports.
If you choose to go off-piste, please remember that most insurance companies will not pay out for an accident that happens whilst you are not on the designated slopes.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to organising a French Alps Ski Holiday in 2023.