France is one of the most popular countries for ski holidays, and its huge range of resorts is just one reason why. From traditional to purpose-built, and luxury to budget-friendly, it’s got a bit of everything. There are plenty of famous towns in the best ski areas, but you can often explore the same great slopes while staying somewhere that’s less well-known – and also cheaper, quieter or prettier. Take a look at these top picks…
Samoëns for the Grand Massif area
If you like the sound of the Grand Massif ski area but aren’t keen on the Brutalist look of Flaine, its main resort, stay in Samoëns instead. This ancient village is full of stone buildings and narrow cobbled streets, with a pretty square in the middle. Spend your time there browsing the gourmet food shops for local treats, or wandering around little boutiques for retro souvenirs.
If you can tear yourself away, hop on the gondola to explore 265km of piste. Most of the slopes are north-facing, so the snow stays in good condition, and the long blues and reds make it one of our best ski areas for intermediates.
Brides-les-Bains for the Three Valleys area
This little spa town is a great-value pick in the world’s biggest linked ski area – especially in peak weeks, when prices here can be much lower than in better-known Three Valleys resorts like Courchevel or Val Thorens. It’s pretty and peaceful, with a few bars and restaurants, and one of the biggest thermal spas in France. So you can ski all day and then head back here in the evening to wind down, before doing it all over again.
Speaking of skiing, Brides-les-Bains is connected to Méribel via the Olympe gondola, so you can be in the heart of the 600km Three Valleys in 20-30 minutes. It might not be super quick, but it’s well worth the compromise if you want excellent skiing and a cheaper, quieter resort.
Stay: Hotel Amélie – People come back year after year to this value-for-money hotel, with traditional rooms and a lively bar.
Les Menuires for the Three Valleys area
If you’d rather be closer to the action in the Three Valleys, take a look at Les Menuires. This purpose-built resort sits just below Val Thorens, with its own local runs and direct lifts to the rest of the ski area – perfect if you want to max out your slope time. It’s also the second-highest resort here, so the snow’s usually in tip-top condition. And to get there, you can skip the flight and travel by snow train instead.
Les Menuire’s had a pretty extensive makeover through the years, and most of the buildings are now decorated with wood and stone, giving it more of a classic alpine feel. There’s accommodation to suit every style, and plenty of bars where you can celebrate the end of each ski day without blowing your budget.
Stay: Hotel Neige et Ciel – With its kids’ entertainment and a central location, this one’s a popular pick for families
Châtel for the Portes du Soleil area
A traditional resort with access to one of the biggest ski areas in the world – there’s a lot to love about Châtel. It’s a proper village, with wooden chalets, working farms and friendly locals. But the charm is only part of the lure here. The big draw is the 650km of piste all around you.
These slopes link some of the most well-known French resorts. Head north to explore the high-altitude runs around Avoriaz, and then carry on over to Morzine and Les Gets.
And just like in Montgenèvre, you’ll get the added bonus of being able to ski two countries – the Portes du Soleil area spreads across the border into Switzerland.
Stay: Residence Les Fermes de Châtel – Get ski-in, ski-out access and plenty of Savoyard charm at these high-quality apartments.
Check out all of our ski resorts in France to find your new favourite.