France is a firm favourite for summer hols and it’s a top spot for family ski trips too. It’s famed for huge, high-altitude ski areas and modern lifts – not to mention one of the best snow records around. And with everything from laid-back villages to large, lively resorts, it’s easy to find somewhere that works for you. So whatever kind of family you are, here’s why France has got you covered, as well as some of the best resorts to go to.
Why’s France so good for families?
Top-notch ski areas
France is home to some of the best high-altitude skiing in Europe, and lots of the areas have a glacier, which means conditions are good throughout the season, including Christmas and the Easter school holidays. As for the terrain, there’s plenty of pistes to suit all abilities, and lots of them are above the treeline, so they’re often very wide and have panoramic views.
The lifts are well-connected and there’s lots of them, which makes exploring as a family quick and easy – just slide from the end of one run straight on to the next chairlift or gondola. Many resorts also sell both local and area lift passes, so you can stay close to home if you’re just starting out or venture far and wide when you’ve got a few ski miles under your belt.
Great for little learners
In France, children can start ski school from 3 years old, with lessons in separate kids’ areas away from the main pistes. Packed with games and songs, sessions are all about having fun in the snow and are a great way to ease youngsters into their ski boots.
And as French resorts tend to be up the mountain rather than in the valley, it’s usually only a short walk to the nursery area from your accommodation, making it easy to drop off the little ones in the morning. Or if you’re ready to explore as a team, head off to tackle fun runs and kid-sized snow parks.
Accommodation for everyone
France is known for its excellent self-catering apartments, which come in all shapes and sizes and often have extra perks like pools and spas. You can find one with the right number of bedrooms to give everyone their own space, and lots have a separate living area, so you’ve got somewhere to unwind after the kids have gone to bed. And when it comes to meal times, you can eat what and when you want – head out to try the local restaurants or stay in and whip up something quick.
If you’d prefer to have breakfast and dinner taken care of, go half board in a family-friendly hotel. Some even have their own kids’ clubs and games rooms, where younger ones can play and make new friends.
Which French resorts are best for families?
Best for: Families with young children
Planning your first ski holiday? Flaine’s top-rated ski school, free nursery lifts and low-key atmosphere make it a popular pick for families with first-timers. Then once you’ve all built up some confidence, there’s a network of gentle blues above the resort that’s ideal for exploring as a team. Or make the most of our Crystal Childcare, where kids can get stuck into crafts, activities and games in the snow, plus ski lessons for the older ones. And while they’re having fun, you can go off and spend a few hours working on your own technique.
Flaine itself is pretty distinctive, with concrete buildings designed to contrast against the natural shape of the mountains – it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly stands out. There are plenty of excellent apartments just metres from the slopes, as well as a row of great restaurants right by the main lift – handy for a lunch stop. And when you’re ready to slip off your ski boots, spend some time at the resort’s 6-lane bowling alley to see who can get the most strikes.
Best for: Families with teenagers
Known for its brilliant beginner and intermediate terrain, La Plagne’s got speedy links to 425km of wide, rolling runs in the huge Paradiski area. You can stay local and explore the runs around the villages – make tracks to the fun slope at the top of the Arpette lift to spend a couple hours lapping the jumps, bends, bridges and tunnels. Or if you’re eager to venture further afield, you can get an area lift pass and head over to neighbouring Les Arcs too.
The resort also packs in more activities than you can shake a ski pole at, so you’ll never be short of something to do during your downtime. Take a ride on the Olympic bobsleigh and hurtle down the track at over 120km/h, or whizz through the air on the 200m zipline. Looking for something that’s more laid-back? Take the lift to the Plagne Bellecôte glacier and explore the underground Ice Grotto.
La Plagne’s made up of a collection of purpose-built villages that have everything you’ll need close at hand, from ski hire to shops and restaurants. They’re not too big either, so teenagers can head out on their own to have a look around without going too far. And with lots of great ski-in, ski-out accommodation, you’ll be able to click straight into your skis each morning. If you’re staying with little ones too, make sure to base yourself in Aime La Plagne, where you can add on our Crystal Childcare to your stay.
Best for: Mixed-ability families
Need to cater for both beginners and more experienced skiers? Look no further than Alpe d’Huez. The highly rated ski area has gentle nursery slopes next to the resort centre, as well as lots of steeper terrain higher up – including the longest black run in the world, the 16km Sarenne. It also has one of the best weather records in the Alps, with over 300 sunny days a year – perfect for youngsters who prefer skiing when it’s a little warmer. And as lots of the pistes are over 3,000m, you’ll still get crisp snow even on the sunniest days.
It’s not just the skiing that’s varied either. The lively resort’s packed with activities for all ages. Older kids can zoom around hairpin bends at 40km/h on the alpine coaster – a kind of toboggan run with a bobsled-style cart on rails. You can even choose to ride with VR goggles to feel like you’re flying through waterfalls and down log flumes. And the leisure centre is your one-stop-shop for action-packed afternoons. Lace up on the ice rink, make a splash in the pools and have a go on the 12m climbing wall. Or for some friendly competition, challenge the family to a game of mini-golf or laser quest.
Best for: Intermediate and advanced families
Val d’Isère is just how you’d imagine an alpine village to look, with its snow-covered chalets and buildings clad in wood and stone. As for the skiing, it ticks all the boxes for families who are already seasoned skiers, serving up some of the most challenging terrain in the Alps.
There are glaciers on both sides of the 300km Tignes-Val d’Isère ski area, and as most of the pistes are above 2,300m, it’s a safe bet if you’re planning some early-season skiing over the Christmas hols. Warm up on the cruisy slopes in the Solaise area before tackling La Face – the famously steep Olympic downhill run. The local area’s known for its lift-accessed off-piste too, so any budding powder hounds can enjoy first tracks in fresh snow.
When they’re not carving down the mountain, older teens can get their thrills on the Bun J Ride – part bungee jump and part zipline, it’s certain to get the adrenaline pumping. Or for a different kind of rush, they can try racing an ice cart around a frozen lake.
When it comes family fun this winter, say ‘oui’ to ski. Check out our latest ski deals to France and use the ‘best for families’ filter to find the resorts that are right for you.