Which are the Highest Ski Resorts in France to Stay In?
When organising a ski chalet holiday in France, there are plenty of elements to consider.
With weather patterns becoming less predictable over the last decade, we have seen a significant increase in enquiries for high-altitude resorts to ensure a snow-sure ski holiday. Known for providing some of the best skiing in the world, the ski resorts of France tend to provide consistent snowfall throughout the season, making them particularly popular for early and late season skiing. With this in mind, we have highlighted some of the highest French ski resorts with reliable snowfall for your next ski holiday.
Many of the highest-elevation ski resorts in France can be found in two main areas: The Three Valleys and Espace Killy.
Whilst being located at high altitude doesn’t necessarily mean that the skiing will be first-class, it does generally allow for greater snow depth and fewer trees. Ski resorts in these areas often have plenty of glacier skiing as well as ski-in/ski-out accommodation.
Skiing in the Three Valleys
Offering 600 km of skiing, the Three Valleys (also known as Les 3 Vallées), is the world’s largest ski area with excellent snow cover, breathtaking panoramic views, modern ski lifts and a variety of terrain. With a favourable topography, the resorts in the Three Valleys are located between 1,800m and 3,230m with 85% of the runs set at altitudes of 1,800 metres or more. There are also 25 summits accessible via the ski lifts, including 10 above 2,500 metres. Unlike many other ski areas, resorts in the Three Valleys are connected to each other via mountain ridges at altitudes of more than 2,000 metres. This plays a significant role in guaranteeing exceptional snow quality. The area also has over 2,700 snowmakers dotted around its ski runs to produce artificial snow when needed.
Connecting seven resorts (Courchevel, Meribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle), skiing in the Three Valleys offers something for everyone with almost half the runs being suitable for beginners, whilst the other half are ideal for intermediate and expert skiers.
Val Thorens (1,260m - 3,230m)
- Resort Altitude: 2,300m
- Slopes Altitude: 1,260m - 3,230m
- Km of Skiing: 600km
Located at 2,300 metres at the summit of the Vallée des Belleville, Val Thorens is the highest altitude resort in Europe as well as the highest point in the Three Valleys ski area. The resort’s highest peak, Cime Caron, sits at 3,195 metres and offers a 360-degree view of more than 1,000 summits of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. With an average snow depth of six metres in winter and more than 80% of the slopes at elevations above 2,300 metres, Val Thorens offers excellent snow conditions as well as one of the longest ski seasons in Europe.
The local ski area (Val Thorens - Orelle) offers 150 km of runs, but of course, you have access to the vast Three Valleys ski area too. Beginners are well-served by magic carpet lifts and the gentlest of nursery slopes around the Rond Point des Pistes in the valley. From here, there are plenty of progressive green and blue runs off the Deux Lacs and Cascades chairs from the village. Paradise for intermediate skiers, Val Thorens offers a fantastic variety of long cruising red and blue runs. Expert skiers will likely spend the majority of their time on and around the Caron peak. The Cime Caron cable car serves two black runs and is the starting point for some of the best off-piste itineraries in the area. The are also outstanding opportunities for powder throughout the resort. The resort has a world-class terrain park with four separate courses, plus a World Cup skicross/boardercross course reached from the top of the Deux Lacs chair.
Where to stay in Val Thorens
Leo Trippi has handpicked a selection of luxury ski chalets in France which can be viewed here. Built on mountain slopes, Val Thorens is one of the highest-elevation ski resorts meaning the majority of chalets in Val Thorens provide breathtaking valley views.
Just 10 metres from the slopes, the ultra-luxurious 1200m² Chalet La Datcha offers eight chic en-suite bedrooms. This spectacular chalet also has a marvellous private spa and fantastic entertainment facilities which include a Formula 1 simulator, foosball and a state-of-the-art TrackMan 4 simulator.
Located at the top of Val Thorens are three chalets - Cullinan Orlov, and Golden Jubilee - which have been built into the mountainside. The chalets are just 150m from the slopes and a 10-minute walk from the centre of Val Thorens. Each chalet has a stunning open-plan living area and five to six bedrooms.
Courchevel (1,300m - 3,230m)
- Resort Altitude: 1,300 - 1,850m
- Slopes Altitude: 1,300m - 3,230m
- Km of Skiing: 600km
Situated in the Tarentaise Valley, Courchevel is made up of six villages with 150 km of local slopes between 1,350m and 2,738m altitude. Travel between the villages is easy, either on skis or the free buses.
A wonderful resort for beginners, Courchevel offers a huge range of slopes to learn on, particularly on the slopes around Courchevel 1550 and Courchevel 1650. The Indiens run above 1650 has an Indian village part way down; a real highlight for younger members of the group. Intermediates have an array of pistes to choose from - around 75% of the pistes in the Three Valleys ski area are blue or red. The higher parts of the Courchevel ski area are home to some of the more challenging red and black pistes.
For experienced skiers, an early morning visit to Combe Saulire when the snow is at its best is a must. Alternatively, Chaptelets is as close to ‘back-country’ skiing as you can get without leaving the piste. Perfect when hit first thing in the morning, the run starts off steep and then mellows gently and is accompanied by breathtaking scenery.
For fun and games, the Family Park above Courchevel 1850 has a variety of jumps, rails, tables and obstacles, including an airbag jump. There’s also a boardercross course here. Two smaller “fun zones” can be found above Courchevel 1650 (Snake Park & Fun Park). Above 1550 is the Wood Park with wooden rails and tables.
Read our guide to skiing in Courchevel to find out more.
Where to stay in Courchevel
There are several villages to choose from when staying in Courchevel. The highest of the villages, Courchevel 1850, is known for its luxury chalets, five-star hotels, designer shops and Michelin-star restaurants. The ski lift from here takes you straight up to Courchevel’s highest point at La Saulire (2,738m). Some of the top chalets here include La Coquelicot, Chalet Tahoe and Chalet Airelles 1946.
Lower down the valley, Courchevel 1650 is well-suited to families. You can reach Courchevel 1850 in a few minutes and there are some fantastic bars and restaurants here too. Recommended chalets include Ultima Courchevel, Chalet Licorne and Chalet Dolce Vita.
Courchevel 1550, also ideal for families, has direct access to Courchevel 1850 in less than five minutes. There’s plenty to keep children amused here from the Aquamotion Centre just 600m from the centre to the 2.5 km toboggan run which goes all the way from 1850 back to 1550. New luxury chalets are popping up here, most recently the incredible Chalet White Sand which has its own pétanque pitch!
Sitting at 1300m altitude, Courchevel Le Praz is more traditional in style with narrow streets and a more authentic soul. Home to France’s only Olympic ski jumps, you can reach Courchevel 1850 in eight minutes by cable car. There are some superb luxury chalets in Courchevel Le Praz too, including the contemporary Chalet Celeste and the brand-new Chalet Bois du Ban.
Skiing in Espace Killy
Made up of two interconnecting ski resorts - Val d’Isere and Tignes - Espace Killy provides 300 km of marked pistes between 1,550m and 3,450m. With 60% of the slopes sitting above an altitude of 2,200m, you are virtually guaranteed good snow cover until the beginning of May. Accessed by 90 lifts and funicular railways, the ski area includes the Grande Motte Glacier which rises to a lofty 3,450m. This is not only accessible in winter but in the summer months too.
Val d’Isere (1850 - 3,456m)
- Resort Altitude: 1,850m
- Slopes Altitude: 1,850m - 3,456m
- Km of Skiing: 300km
With slopes for every level of skier, it is no wonder that Val d’Isere is such a popular resort, attracting skiers from all over the world. The local slopes can be divided into three main areas - La Solaise, Bellevarde and Le Fornet. La Solaise is the resort’s central area and is the best area for beginner and intermediate skiers. Accessible via the Olympique cable car or high-speed Bellevarde Express chairlift from the town centre, or the funival from La Daille, Bellevarde offers plenty of gentle rolling pistes as well as some steeper slopes including the famous Face Olympic piste. Le Fornet is a quieter part of Val d’Isere with guaranteed good snow. It provides access to some of the most easily accessible and best off-piste runs.
There are two nursery areas in Val d’Isere - one in the centre of the resort and the other in La Daille at the bottom of the pistes. Advanced skiers can challenge themselves on one of 25 black runs. Snowboarders and freestyle skiers have access to the Val Park in the Bellevarde area which has several different routes depending on ability.
Find out more about skiing in Val d’Isere in our blog.
Where to stay in Val d’Isère
When it comes to luxury ski chalets in France, the snow-sure resort of Val d’Isère certainly has plenty to offer. For ski-in/ski-out convenience, Chalet Elephant Blanc is a beautiful five-bedroom property located right next to the Solaise piste. For ultimate luxury, Chalet Marco Polo has everything you could possibly look for in a luxury French chalet, providing an opulent spa and ample entertainment. Finally, found at the highest point of Le Fornet, both Orca and Orso offer breathtaking views and provide five luxurious bedrooms each.
Tignes (1,550m - 3456m)
- Resort Altitude: 1,550 - 2,100m
- Slopes Altitude: 1,550m - 3,456m
- Km of Skiing: 300
Made up of five villages of varying altitudes, Tignes offers some of the finest lift-accessed slopes in Europe. The main resort sits on the edge of Le Lac (2,100m) but the lower villages still boast altitudes of 1,550m and 1,850m. The crowning glory of the Tignes ski area is Grande Motte Glacier, which at 3,450m, offers the highest skiing. Open year-round, it can be accessed by either the funicular railway or by taking the Lanches and Vanoise chairlifts, followed by the Grande Motte cable car. Skiing on the glacier offers breathtaking scenery and a variety of wide-open blue runs and some more challenging reds.
Further cruising blue and red runs can be found around L’Aiguille Percée/Palet. Experienced skiers will enjoy the exhilarating 10 km long black run from the top of the Aiguille Percée chairlift through a spectacular valley to Tignes Les Brévières.
Linking to Val d’Isere, the Tovière sector tends to be one of the busiest in the whole ski area. It offers everything from gentle blues and challenging reds to the steep black Trolles piste down into Le Lac. Les Brévieres is the lowest part of the Tignes ski area. Often a suntrap, this is the perfect spot for a long lunch, especially in the warmer months when the slopes become a little soft. Freestylers can enjoy themselves in the snowpart at the top of the Grattlu chairlift and there’s an impressive halfpipe situated at the base of Les Lanches chairlift, at the top end of Tignes Val Claret.
Find out more about Tignes in our Ultimate Guide
Where to stay in Tignes
For proximity to the ski slopes, Tignes Le Lac is the best village to stay in. There are plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes and a number of luxury chalets to choose from. The most picturesque village of Tignes is Les Brévières. Nestled at the bottom of the valley next to the river, it is made up of traditional chalets, farmhouses and hotels as well as French bistros and boutique shops. This is where you'll find the Black Diamond Residence which consists of six chalets (Tango, Charlie, Raven, Babylon, Banksy and Ubud). The residence has a shared entrance and spa area but each chalet is individual in style and offers a private space to call home.
Let us help you plan your holiday in one of these high-altitude resorts this winter