There are so many great ski resorts out there, but it can be hard to know which one to choose. Do you go for the big famous ones that everyone knows and talks about, or how about the highest ones to make sure you have enough snow, or perhaps a small one because they are cheaper?
High and snow-sure
So let’s start with one of the big boys. Val Thorens is legendary amongst seasoned skiers and boarders and has been voted the best ski resort in the world for several years. There are several reasons for this! Firstly, the village itself is the highest in Europe at an incredible 2300 metres. This would normally mean that if you are going to find snow anywhere at the beginning or the end of the season, it is going to be here. You can be practically sure that you can ski back to the village anytime of the season, and potentially find fresh snow by taking its lifts to the peak at 3200 metres. The main down point to this resort is that because it is so high, all of its pistes are above the treeline, meaning they are bleak and empty and all blend into one without trees or greenery to break them up. However, another big positive about Val Thorens is that there are also loads of shops, bars, restaurants and virtually every extra activity outside of skiing you could imagine.
Traditional with Savoyard charm
La Clusaz is one of those resorts where many people don’t want you to talk about it as they want to keep it a relative secret from the masses. It is a gorgeous Alpine village with only wood and stone architecture all of which is low to make sure everything blends into the surrounding scenery instead of standing out like in some 1960’s purpose-built resorts. This village tries hard to maintain its small resort character by not allowing too many buildings to be built, whilst those that are built must respect a very strict code when it comes to style and size. However, this isn’t the only positive factor to La Clusaz. The skiing here is also exceptional with plenty of pistes, bowls and free riding to keep every level of skier or rider happy. This is made evident by the fact that many people will only ski here and nowhere else, even if practically none of the big tour operators offer packages here. So you’ll have to either drive down or fly into Geneva airport and arrange your own transfer (or ask France Skiing to arrange everything for you).
Montchavin La Plagne
Small with easy access to a huge ski area
This small village offers something very rare in the Alps. You’ll be staying in a traditional farm village with cobbled streets, small privately-owned chalets ran by family run tour operators and easy access from Geneva airport. However, what is so rare is that from here, you have access to one of the biggest ski domains in the world; the Paradiski Area! You take 1 lift and if you go to the left, you can easily access Les Arcs via the massive Vanoise Express. Or you can keep going up to the right and check out the huge resort of La Plagne. Both of the domains offer snow sure skiing thanks to its highest lift being at a lofty 3250 metres. There are 425km of pistes to keep you busy which you’ll be hard pushed to cover in 1 month, let alone in 1 week. You can then take your time skiing back down to Montchavin either via the blues and reds surrounded by pristine alpine forests, or for the more adventurous, you can ski through the forests all the way back down to the centre of the village. One additional bonus is that even during peak times such as half term, there are rarely queues at the ski lifts so you can start skiing without the hassle of waiting for 20 minutes just to get onto the chairlift.
Sainte Foy Tarentaise
Some of the best off-piste in Europe, also great for beginners and families
This small village ironically offers families the perfect place to start off their ski holiday careers thanks to a very intelligently designed resort where every regular piste leads back to a specific central point meaning it is impossible to get lost; plus all the accommodations are within a 5 minutes-walk or a 2 minute shuttle bus ride away. Meaning parents can feel comfortable even leaving relatively young children to go off skiing alone knowing that they will eventually ski back to you if you are waiting for them at the bottom. In addition, the pisted ski area is small with only 6 lifts, which translates into very cheap lift passes but offers more than enough skiing for those who don’t need to cover a different run every day of the week. However, here is the ironic part about this familial resort: it offers incredible off-piste skiing almost unparalleled anywhere else in Europe. It is so good, so extensive and has so much untouched powder snow in the surrounding valleys and over the other side of the pisted slopes, that the ski instructors that work in the nearby resorts such as Val d’Isere, Tignes and La Rosiere all come here on their days off. For those who are not familiar with off-piste skiing, please use a guide otherwise you could get lost or worse.
There are of course so many other possibilities but if we get carried away, you’ll be reading a 10000-word dissertation!
If you have any questions at all about either the above resorts or any other ski holiday requirements you may have for chalets, hotels, apartments as well as the extras that go along with ski holidays such as transfers, lift passes, ski hire or lessons, please don’t hesitate to contact our good friends at France Skiing as they will be more than happy to help you out to book your next France ski holiday!
Don’t forget to mention MadDogSki.com when you get in touch!