Meribel snowboarder chilling out off piste Meribel Snowboarder chilling out off piste

Ski areas of the French Alps

French Ski Resorts Comparison

The first thing to realise about most French ski resorts is that they are usualy part of much larger "Ski Domains". The resorts within these domains are usually linked either directly by lifts (so you never have to take your skis off) or by short shuttle rides. It is possible to buy a ski pass for just the local resort (eg. Meribel, Morzine, St Martin etc) or for the whole domain (eg. 3 Valleys, Portes Du Soleul, Espace Killy). Another important point to mention is that a lot of French ski resorts were purpose built during the 50's and 60's and as such were placed at altitudes that almost guarentee good snow.

French Ski Resort Areas (Domains)

Ski Domain: Ski Runs: Lifts: Altitude Range Connection Type Resort List
Portes Du Soleil Logo. Portes Du Soleil Website 650km 197 Lifts 1000m - 2466m Mostly Lift / Some Bus Morzine / Avoriaz / Les Gets / Châtel / Morgins / Champéry
  • Good For: Exploration and cruising intermediate skiers. There is just so much here and the runs are all so nicely laid out for intermediate skiers, if exploring on skis is your thing then the Portes du Soleil is for you. It's also the perfect place for families to go with its abundance of child and beginner friendly runs.
  • Bad For: A lot of the connections between the lifts require a bit of ski-boot walking across villages.
  • Famous For: Its the biggest ski area in the world! Also car free Avoriaz is pretty cool!
3 valleys ski resort logo. 3 Valleys Website 600km 180 Lifts 2509m - 3490m All Ski Lifts Meribel / Courchevel / La Tania / Bozel / St Martin de Belleville / Les Menuires / Val Thorens / Brides-Les-Bains
  • Good For: The insane amount of high altitude skiing makes the 3 Valleys the pefect place for those who really want to get their ski on! The fact that it has one of the best and most well connected lift infrastructures on the planet only adds to its appeal.
  • Bad For: Expensive - Courchevel and Merbel may be synonymous with chic but this also means they are pretty expensive, Especially if you are a solo beginner and are looking for group lessons or a family on a budget.
  • Famous For: Motorway skiing - wide open high altitude runs. An abundance of high speed lifts and amazing off piste.
Evasion Mont Blanc Logo Evasion Mont Blanc Website 445km 85 Lifts 1050m - 2525m Bus Megève / Saint Gervais / Saint Nicolas / Combloux / Les Contamines
  • Good For: Only an hour from Geneva this old world resort still retains much of the boutique status. With its genuine medieval charm Megeve is perfect for those wanting more than just a ski resort.
  • Bad For: Slow lifts. Lots of them and they are connected in a rather convoluted way. Quiet Apres Ski.
  • Famous For: Fabulously over dressed middle aged French ladies with tiny dogs. Cinq Rues the famous jazz bar.
Paradiski Logo. Paradiski Website 425km 139 Lifts 2509m - 3490m Ski Lift / Bus Peisey-Vallandry / La Plagne / Les Arcs
  • Good For: 70% of Paradiski is above 2,000m so it is great for snow, Huge range of off piste, modern fast lift network. A large range of villages and town styles.
  • Bad For: It is a long linear resort making it difficult to go the length of it in a single day. Le Plagne's villages are scattered and sometimes not easy to access. Paradiski is still a relatively new concept.
  • Famous For: The Vanoise Express - 200 people on a double decker 2km long cable car! It has 3 glaciers!
Les Sybelles Logo. Les Sybelles Website 310km 71 Lifts 1100m - 2620m Mostly Ski / Some Bus Les Bottières / La Toussuire / Saint Jean d'Arves / Le Corbier / Saint Colomban des Villards / Saint Sorlin d'Arves
  • Good For: Familys and Beginners, this is a quiet resort compared to its bigger and more well known neighbours. As such it is a little cheaper. Its gentler pistes make it better suited to people just starting out skiing.
  • Bad For: Being an older resort designed in the 60's it is not the prettiest in the Alps. A family orientated resort means the nightlife is fairly low key.
  • Famous For: Popular with continental Europeans and the French. It has a glacier!
Espace Killy Logo. Espace Killy 300km 90 Lifts 3550m - 1550m Val D’Isère / Tignes
  • Good For: Great for more advanced skiers looking for challenging runs. High altitude means good snow. Apres Ski in Val d'Isère.
  • Bad For: Like all high altitude resorts on a wintery day it can be a complete white out, which is not suitable for kids or the inexperienced. It can be cold!
  • Famous For: Skiing all year round at the famous la Grande Motte glacier in Tignes.
Grand Massif Logo. Grand Massif Website 265km 72 Lifts 700m - 2500m Bus / Lift Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval / Samoëns / Flaine / Morillon / les Carroz
  • Good For: It has an amazing snow record, 80% of slopes face north for better snow. Also features great terrain and a wonderful range of building styles. Less than an hour from Geneva.
  • Bad For: The highest resort is Flaine which is not a very pretty resort. Samoëns has no real snow around it and one must take a lift before seeing getting into skis.
  • Famous For: Unusually amazing snow record, If you need guaranteed snow this is the place.
Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine Logo Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine Website 249km 84 Lifts 1125m - 3330m Ski Alpe d’Huez / Auris-en-Oisans / Huez-en-Oisans / Oz-en-Oisans / Vaujany / Villard Reculas
  • Good For: Another high altitude resort this one has a special area just for snowboarders. Also the Sarenne Glacier and at 3330m the Pic Blanc is a must for those who have a taste for some serious skiing. You can ski through an old mining tunnel too!
  • Bad For: It is a south facing resort so not great for later in the season. It can suffer from long lines at the lifts.
  • Famous For: Known to the French as “La Piste Mythique” La Sarenne is the longest piste in the world (16km). The Tour De France stage.
Chamonix Mont Blanc Logo Chamonix Mont Blanc Website 150km 85 Lifts 1035m - 3842m Bus / Train Grands Montets / Les Houches / Le Tour / La Flegere / Le Brevent
  • Good For: Chamonix is truly the mecca for incredible high altitude skiing. Couple that with the stunning scenery and amazing off piste makes this the place to be for extreme skiers. Also nice is that it is open year round and one of the few ski resorts that is a real town.
  • Bad For: Extremely disconnected resorts. You need to take long bus rides to go between the various resort areas. Its not very good for beginners. Extremely steep.
  • Famous For: Being the extreme sports centre of the French Alps. Squirrel suits and extreme sports. The first winter Olympics was here.