The Best Ski Resorts In France

Before I begin, it is important to say that I have not skied every resort in France so this is just my opinion based on my experiences.

Val d’Isere

I love Val d’Isere. It is absolutely miles away from the nearest airport but for me, this is part of the charm. You really feel like you are in the middle of the Alps and that the only thing you need to worry about is which run to ski next.

The most surprising thing about Val d’Isere is that although it does have quite a lot of purpose built accommodation blocks, the heart of the resort is an old French alpine village. There are lots of chalets around and you really do feel like you are in a winter wonderland.

The skiing isn’t bad either. The ski area links up with neighbouring Tignes to form the Espace Killy which has around 300km of pistes. Intermediate and advanced skiers will profit most from the ski area as there is a lot of steep stuff, but it is a good place to make progress as a beginner.

The Val d’Isere ski domain can be divided in to 4 main areas: Solaise, Bellevarde, Le Fornet and La Daille. It doesn’t matter too much where you stay as there is a free, regular ski bus that travels around town taking you to the various starting points.

Val d’Isere has not just made this list for its great skiing. It is also a great town for après ski with loads of live music in bars and a couple of good night clubs. For après ski, try Saloon Bar or The Moris Pub, and for after dinner get yourself down to the infamous Dick’s Tea Bar.

Get the best price for transfers to Val d’Isere with our local Val d’Isere taxi and transfer companies.

Méribel

After leaving university I worked in Méribel for my first winter season so it holds a special place in my heart. For those that are not familiar with Méribel, it is situated in the middle of the massive 3 valleys ski domain, which is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, linked ski areas in the world with over 600 km of pistes.

From a skiing perspective, Méribel is hard to beat. You have a choice of places to stay in the 3 valleys but Méribel is literally right in the middle, allowing very quick and easy access to any part of the 3 valleys ski area to almost any level of skier.

I also love Méribel because the village itself has a great atmosphere. Although Méribel is a completely purpose built ski resort (give or take the very odd original alpine chalet), it is one of the prettiest. The local authorities had the good sense to enforce some building regulations in Méribel and so every building is built in what you could call “Chalet Style”. There are loads of good bars and restaurants in Méribel and it attracts a great crowd of season workers, many of whom return year after year.

Méribel is made up of a few different resorts. We would recommend trying to stay in the centre of Méribel, or if you are an extremely keen skier, then staying up in Mottaret is not only a bit cheaper, but also gets you closer to the better pistes and has quicker access to both Courchevel and Val Thorens.

If you are looking for a great chalet holiday in Méribel, check out AktivExperience who have 3 chalets in great central locations.

Our favourite bars in Méribel are Evolution, which you will find down by La Caudanne, La Taverne (aka The Tav) which is bang in the centre of town and Fifty50.

Use FindTransfers for your transfers to Méribel – just click the link to enter your transfer request.

Morzine

Morzine is one of our new favourite ski resorts.

The best thing about Morzine is that it is not really a ski resort. It is a lovely French village that just happens to be in the middle of the Portes du Soleil – an absolutely fantastic ski area. This means that there are a small number of apartment blocks and hotels, and a massive amount of chalets to stay in. It also means that there is an amazing atmosphere in the village centre as locals go about their daily business and tourists are out and about enjoying themselves.

If you stay in the centre of Morzine, you can get out skiing pretty quickly. On the Pleney side of town, the pistes come right down to the village and you can head from here over to Les Gets for a great day out skiing on tree lined pistes. If you want to head higher up, then the Super Morzine lift leaves from the centre of the village and takes you towards the higher slopes of Avoriaz.

If skiing is more important than nightlife to you, then you may want to consider staying in an area called Les Prodains, from where you can take the lift up to Avoriaz in a matter of minutes.

You can also stay in Montriond, which has the best of both worlds as it is a good 25 minute walk in to the centre of Morzine for après fun, but you can also jump on a bus past the spectacular Lake Montriond up to the Ardent lift. This route takes you up to Les Lindarets from where you have quick access to the pistes of Avoriaz and Chatel.

For a great chalet in Morzine, have a look at skiology.co.uk.

Find transfers to Morzine with a local taxi or transfer company on FindTransfers.com

Serre Chevalier

Serre Chevalier is another resort on this list because of its old world charm. If you like the convenience of purpose built, ski in – ski out accommodation, then Serre Chevalier is not for you. Serre Chevalier is a traditional, family ski resort that thankfully has none of the pretentiousness associated with resorts further North in the alps.

The ski area is spread along the range of the Grand Serre Che, with access points in the valley from the villages of Le Monetier Les Bains, Villeneuve, Chantemerle and the town of Briancon (France’s highest and sunniest town, and a world heritage site…).

The reason a lot of people like skiing in Serre Chevalier is that the tree line is a lot higher than in most other places in the Alps and so you can spend a lot more time skiing among the trees. This is particularly useful in bad weather. Serre Chevalier is well suited to beginner and intermediate skiers. For more advanced skiers, there is not a lot of really steep stuff, but there is plenty of powder to play in if conditions allow.

No matter where you stay, you can experience the other villages as there is a regular bus linking them up with Briancon. We would recommend staying in Villeneuve. Not only because it is the only place we have stayed, but because the best skiing in the valley can be accessed really quickly from here, and it is also the most central area, so it is easier for you to ski the entire domain during your holiday. For slightly livelier evenings, and I do mean only slightly livelier, then you could stay in Briancon. If you do not stay in Briancon you will definitely have to go and visit for a couple of hours.

Get prices for transfers to Serre Chevalier with local taxi and transfer companies.

Flaine

Let’s get this out of the way first. Unless you love Bauhaus architecture, Flaine is an ugly resort. So ugly, that when I first saw it I was genuinely shocked that something like Flaine could have been built in the Alps. However we will need to get used to it as the buildings in Flaine have been given listed status so they are not going anywhere.

Having said that, there is nothing to dislike about the skiing in Flaine. Flaine is situated in a massive bowl and has an absolutely amazing snow record. It is part of the Grand Massif ski area (which is not actually as big as it sounds) linking it with the resorts of Les Carroz (another of our favourites), Morillon, Samoens and Sixt Fer a Cheval.

Flaine is just over an hour from Geneva and there is a wide range of accommodation available. It is possible to ski to and from the door of a lot of accommodation making it a great option for people who want to ski as much as possible, or for those of you that hate walking around in ski boots.

There is a great range of skiing in Flaine and the Grand Massif. It is a brilliant place to learn but it is also a mecca for off-piste, with lots of powder accessible from the lifts and the Gers bowl.

Get private transfers to Flaine by quickly filling out a transfer request on FindTransfers.com

Full area lift pass or local lift pass?

There really is so much to think about when planning a ski trip!

You probably thought that deciding on dates, resort, accommodation and flights was the difficult bit but now you have a few more decisions to make…

Should you buy a full area lift pass or local lift pass?

There are two factors that will help you decide: your budget and your level of ability.

Your budget

Full area lift passes obviously cost more than local area lift passes. The difference in price depends on the ski resort you are going to visit. In some areas the price difference is not too big, whereas in some ski areas the price difference is considerable.

A good way to look at it is to work out the difference in price between the two lift passes. Then divide that by the number of days you will be skiing. The difference will normally be less than €10 / day so if you have one less cup of coffee on the mountain and one less beer in the evening then you can enjoy skiing a much larger area!

Your ability

If you are a complete beginner then this is a no-brainer. You will not need a full area lift pass. You might even find that the resort you are going to offers some sort of “mini pass” that allows you to use a small selection of lifts on the beginner areas.

If you are going to be having ski lessons during your holiday (which is an absolute must for beginners) then it is a good idea to contact the ski school you are using and ask them which lift pass they would recommend for your level.

For intermediate skiers, the decision of whether to buy a full area lift pass vs a local area lift pass is a bit more difficult. While you will normally have plenty of skiing to keep you occupied in your local area, you will have the ability to explore a bit further afield. Skiing the full area might help you decide if you would like to visit a neighbouring resort on your next holiday. Or there might be a really nice restaurant on the pistes of the next valley that you can only reach with the full area pass… If you are a confident skier then it is really down to personal preference.

Don’t get stuck in a different resort

Our last piece of advice on this subject is that if you decide to buy a full area lift pass, then make sure you are aware of what time the last lift is and how long it will take you to get back. It can be an extremely expensive mistake if you get stuck on the wrong side of a mountain when the lifts stop as you will have to ski down to the nearest resort and take a taxi home, which can cost a fortune as they will have to take the long way round the mountain.

What else do we have to decide on?

Is deciding which lift pass to buy your last big decision? Have you bought your ski outfit yet? Goggles or sunglasses? (Goggles) Hat or helmet? (Helmet)…

What about airport transfers? You should have this sorted by now if you are looking at lift passes but if you haven’t then don’t worry. This is where we can help. Just visit FindTransfers.com and get great prices for your ski transfers from local companies. You can then just choose the quote that is right for you!

Have a great time!

Our guide to Courchevel

Courchevel is located in the Tarantaise valley, in the Rhone-Alpes region of France. It is part of the famous Three Valleys ski area, which is the largest ski area in the world.

Courchevel in recent years has become associated with being a millionaires’ playground full of fur coats, designer shops and more Michelin stars than you can count. While this might be true for Courchevel 1850 there is still a lot to enjoy in this area of the 3 Valleys for us mere mortals! We will attempt to introduce the different villages of the Courchevel Valley and to give you some personal recommendations.

Let us start with the “odd one out”:

La Tania

When Albertville hosted the winter Olympics some of the events took place around the Three Valleys and they needed to build a base where some of the competitors and journalists could stay. Thanks to this the village of La Tania was born and opened at the end of 1990.

Since then it’s grown from strength to strength and it is a very popular destination. The advantages that La Tania offers is a ‘traffic free’ resort with a new area of lovely chalets. You get great access to the rest of the Three Valleys and lovely tree runs to ski back on at the end of the day. It is the perfect place for families and beginner skiers. It is also a budget-friendly way to stay in the Courchevel Valley. La Tania is small but offers plenty of entertainment. It has a few bars and plenty of restaurants to keep you happy after a long day on the mountain. Our favourite après-ski venue is the Ski Lodge at the bottom of the Folyères piste. They have a cheerful food menu, live music and the owner is a fantastic character. Say hello to Tim for us!

For a nice meal out in La Tania you have Le Farcon, the new Michelin star addition to La Tania’s restaurant scene. If you fancy something different then try La Taiga, the food is plentiful and delicious.

If you find yourself in the Three Valleys at the end of the winter season then make sure to head to La Tania for its famous Charity Day. It is what all seasonnaires wait for and it is a fun day helping a good cause. Beer has never tasted better!

Skiing around La Tania is also fantastic. The runs are very pretty mostly winding down between the trees back to La Tania. It is also very easy to pop over to Meribel from La Tania, it is only 2 lifts away. La Tania also offers plenty of great off piste skiing but please be careful. Never venture off piste without the right equipment and sufficient information about the area and potential dangers.

If you want to find out more about La Tania then check out this brilliant guide – http://www.latania.co.uk – we especially enjoy their Celebrity Watch section.

For private, shared or luxury airport transfers to La Tania please fill in the form on our homepage and you will receive no-obligation quotes from local transfer and taxi companies.

Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz)

Le Praz (also known as Courchevel 1300) is a lovely, traditional French mountain village that has plenty to offer. Le Praz has got a really nice buzz thanks to some great pubs and restaurants. When you arrive in Le Praz the first thing that stands out is of course the Olympic ski jump that is still in use for competitions today. Just next to the ski jump are the Le Praz gondolas. You can buy your lift pass from the bottom of these.

You can either take the Le Praz gondola which goes up to Courchevel 1850 or the Foret gondola which will take you above La Tania.

To ski or snowboard back to Le Praz you can choose between red and black runs so beginners should consider taking the gondola or the free ski bus back to the village. The Jockeys black run goes from La Tania back to Le Praz and if the conditions are good it is a fun piste to do! Avoid it on tired legs though.

After a long day on the slopes I’m sure you will enjoy a beverage in one of Le Praz’s pubs or bars. We recommend the L’Escourchevel (or better known as the Sports bar). They sometimes have live music on and they also show the main sporting events so you don’t have to miss out on your favourite football game. The food is plentiful, mainly burgers and pizzas. You should stick to these, for anything gourmand there are other great choices in Le Praz. Drinks are also rather reasonable here; we would avoid ordering the house wine though based on personal experiences.

For a nice glass of wine and some French-style tapas head to Cave des Lys. It is a small wine bar but the atmosphere is great and the wine is divine!

Our favourite restaurant in Le Praz is hands down the Bistrot du Praz, the quality of the food is amazing and their set menu is usually cracking value. They have an extensive wine list as well; you can find something for any taste (and budget).

For private, shared or luxury airport transfers to Courchevel 1300 Le Praz please fill in the form on our homepage and you will receive quotes from local transfer and taxi companies.

Courchevel 1550 (Courchevel Village)

Maybe the lesser known part of Courchevel is 1550.  It is a mixed bag of traditional-style chalets and bigger (uglier) hotel and apartment buildings. But the overall impression is good, it is a good base for a holiday. It is a quieter village than the others but it also means that accommodation prices can be cheaper. Courchevel 1550 is linked to the other levels by a free bus service and there is also a direct gondola between 1550 and 1850. The sledge run from 1850 finishes right at the gondola station so you can hop back on for another round. It is a real fun afternoon out! You can rent sledges from most ski hire shops.

The ski run coming back to the village is nice and wide, it is a good place for beginners to start. You can take the gondola straight to 1850 and start skiing from a bit higher as well.

For going out there is Le Caterail which has live music every Thursday or the infamous “The Bar”. It is where most seasonnaires hang out and make the most of the cheap drink prices. Our favourite restaurant in 1550 is L’Oeil du Boeuf. Steaks cooked on an open fire with delicious sides – what more can you want? Make sure you book ahead as this is a very popular choice between the hungry folks of Courchevel. It is not cheap but if you like beef then you have to try this. We found the service typically French but the food compensates the lack of smiles from the waitress. The guy who owns it is great, have a chat with him!

For private, shared or luxury airport transfers to Courchevel 1550 please fill in the form on our homepage and you will receive quotes from local transfer and taxi companies.

Courchevel 1650 (Courchevel Moriond)

Courchevel 1650 Courchevel Moriond France
Courchevel 1650 (Courchevel Moriond)

In Courchevel 1650 we are getting closer to the luxury levels, there are some very nice hotels and chalets based here but don’t fret – cheaper options are still available! 1650 is a good place to look for self-catering accommodation, which probably explains why there are 3 supermarkets in this small village. Maeva, Pierre Vancances and many individual owners rent out apartments on a weekly basis.

There is a regular bus service between Courchevel 1650 and 1850 until quite late but there isn’t a direct gondola between the two.

Skiing in Courchevel 1650 is truly excellent; it offers some great pistes for all abilities and also plenty of off piste itineraries. The pistes are nice and wide which beginners will appreciate. If you are here with kids then don’t miss the Indiens piste. You can stop half-way down and visit the wigwam, shoot arrows and even get some fighting spirit in you with the help of some facepaint. The red runs around the Chapelets chairlift are usually really nice to ski, especially first thing in the morning. One piste to avoid at all cost in the 1650 area is the Roc Mugnier, for some reason it is icy and bumpy pretty much throughout the entire season. Our favourite part of Courchevel 1650 is skiing down from the top of the Roc Merlet lift into the Valley that separated 1650 from 1850. If you like hiking and some back country then this is a good starting point.

There are a few bars in Courchevel 1650 that are run by British Tour Operators, like Rocky’s and the Bubble bar. For some French atmosphere we really liked having a couple of drinks in Le Schuss bar, it is also a restaurant offering typical Savoyard dishes. The Funky Fox has a pool table, live music and DJs, plus cheap pizzas. In terms of restaurants you have a great choice, most hotels take dinner bookings, Le Portetta and the Hotel Manali are famous for their haute cuisine. If you want to satisfy your meat and cheese cravings then head to La Table de Marie, Le Montagne or the Petit Savoyard, the latter also serves the best pizzas in the whole of Courchevel.

For private, shared or luxury airport transfers to Courchevel 1650 please fill in the form on our homepage and you will receive quotes from local transfer and taxi companies.

Courchevel 1850 (nowadays just referred to as ‘Courchevel’)

Courchevel 1850 France ski resort
Courchevel 1850

Here we go, welcome to the home of bling, fur coats and luxury hotels! Courchevel 1850 is one of the most expensive resorts in the World but you can still survive here (just about) without re-mortgaging your home.

It’s an interesting trivia fact that the centre of Courchevel 1850 is actually only 1747 metres high. They named it 1850 for marketing purposes to compete with the resort of Val d`Isere, which actually is 1850 metres above sea level! Apart from skiing and 5 star luxury hotels, Courchevel is also famous for its fine dining with 11 Michelin stars awarded (probably more by the time you read this) to 7 of its restaurants. All of these are absolutely fabulous and if you get the opportunity then you should try them. Out of the high-end restaurants the most famous ones are the Chabichou with 2 Michelin stars and Le Bateaux Ivre.

For a cosier affair check out Le Cloche opposite the church or La Fromagerie, both offer Savoyard cuisine with an emphasis on melted cheese. Restaurants in Courchevel 1850 are generally quite expensive so it is worth considering hopping on the free bus and getting better value for your money in one of the other villages. If you are self-catering and on a budget then it is a great idea to rent a raclette set from the local Sherpa supermarket. You get all your cheese, potatoes and charcuterie for a fraction of the price compared to a restaurant and usually you have enough left for raclette grilled sandwiches the next morning.

If you fancy a drink you can go to L’Equipe, this is where most ski instructors hang out based on our experience. Le Refuge is probably the most reasonable bar in Courchevel 1850 and its British run. They sometimes have live music during après-ski and this is where seasonnaires hang out as well. For more of a bar atmosphere you can head to L’Oxygen, they sometimes have a DJ on after 10 pm. Our favourite bar is the Le P’tit Drink at the entrance of 1850 opposite the fire station. This wine bar has some excellent tapas dishes and a fantastic selection of wines by the glass.

If you want to carry on enjoying the night then you can choose from two very expensive night clubs in Courchevel – La Grange and Les Caves. Both are great for spotting celebrities and Russian multimillionaires.

You can of course visit the luxury boutiques in Courchevel – if for nothing else but a bit of window shopping. Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Dior, Fendi, Hermes and many other luxury brands have shops here.

As we’ve mentioned before Courchevel 1850 is extremely popular with Russian skiers and the resort organises special celebrations and fireworks to celebrate Orthodox Christmas and the Russian New Year.

If you fancy owning a holiday apartment in Courchevel 1850 you might want to think about it twice, as Couchevel is the 6th most expensive place on the planet – on average you are looking at paying £25000 per square metre!

Skiing around 1850 is excellent though – it offers a quick access to the rest of the 3 Valleys and also great skiing around the resort itself. Our favourite areas in 1850 are the Creux valley and the Suisses black run. If you are an expert skier you can challenge yourself on the famous Grand Couloir from the top of the Saulire cable car. The entry in to the Couloir is very narrow with huge drops on either side and usually with big moguls making it even more difficult to navigate your way into it. After the entry it opens up into a wide and very steep mogul field. In other words – not our idea of fun.

There is also a fun Family Park under the Verdons cable car which is a great way to have some fun with your kids.

We hope our guide will help you get a better idea about what the different levels of Courchevel have to offer. One thing is sure though, skiing in Courchevel and the 3 Valleys is fantastic!

For private, shared or luxury airport transfers to Courchevel 1850 please fill in the form on our homepage and you will receive quotes from local transfer and taxi companies.

Distance of Transfer from Geneva Airport to Courchevel: 145 km
Transfer Time from Geneva Airport to Courchevel: App. 2 hr 15 mins

Distance of Transfer from Grenoble Airport to Courchevel: 180km
Transfer Time from Grenoble Airport to Courchevel: 2hr 10mins approx

Distance of Transfer from Chambery Airport to Courchevel: 109km
Transfer Time from Chambery Airport to Courchevel: 1hr 30mins approx

Distance of Transfer from Lyon Airport to Courchevel: 185km
Transfer Time from Lyon Airport to Courchevel: 2hrs 10mins approx