18.10
2011 Advice and tips

Home to a whole host of easily accessible resorts of world renown, it’s no wonder that France is so popular for ski holidays. It offers a choice of purpose-built or natural resorts depending on how you wish to spend your time après ski, both catered and self-catering chalet accommodation to suit all budgets and child-friendly fun should you be looking for it.

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Home to a whole host of easily accessible resorts of world renown, it’s no wonder that France is so popular for ski holidays. It offers a choice of purpose-built or natural resorts depending on how you wish to spend your time après ski, both catered and self-catering chalet accommodation to suit all budgets and child-friendly fun should you be looking for it.

French ski resorts are clustered around the Alps in the south-east and the Pyrénées in the south-west. The Alps are home to the likes of Morzine and Les Gets in the North, Chamonix and Tignes further South. Located in the Pyrénées are Cauterets and Ax-les-Thermes. There are more than 300 ski resorts in France and each falls into one of two categories.

These are either purpose-built resorts or traditional mountain villages and one of the biggest differences between them is size. The larger, purpose-built resorts such as Méribel have more runs and more in the way of après ski entertainment too. From swimming to spa treatments, you’ll find everything under one roof.

But what many perceive the purpose-built resorts lack in charm is more than made up for by the traditional mountain villages, which have it in spadefuls. So if you want to avoid the pubs and clubs, Megève might be a better bet. There you can divide your time between the slopes and the pretty little town itself.

Some of the French resorts, including both the purpose-built and traditional varieties have been linked together to create four even bigger ski areas known as Espace Killy, Portes du Soleil, Les Trois Vallées and Paradiski. In this way, keen skiiers with time on their hands can explore a greater number of trails.

Although skiing holidays are generally considered quite expensive bearing in mind the need to fork out for ski hire and a lift pass, there is plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation, even at the budget end. For example, an apartment in a purpose-built resort could work out at a similar price to a whole chalet in a smaller mountain village.

Where there are high rise blocks and space comes at a premium, even self-catered chalets can be expensive in peak season. If you have money to spend, however, nothing beats the luxury of a catered chalet somewhere like Val d’Isère. From the moment you touch down at the airport, everything is taken care of so that you can concentrate on relaxing.

Whilst a top of the range chalet might be just the thing for a romantic break or a holiday with friends when you can share the cost amongst the group, many French ski resorts are especially keen to attract families. The Famille Plus Montagne label is attached to those which provide children’s entertainment, trained supervisors and a dedicated medical service for children.

Furthermore, the Ecole du Ski Français will teach little ones to ski from the age of three. Of course, skiing is not the only winter sport and children can get bored easily. Luckily, there is no end of alternative activities. Ice-skating rinks are commonly found at ski resorts and sleigh rides are always popular.

If you want...

Family friendly:
Le Corbier
Les Houches
Samoens
Val Thorens

Mountain villages:
Les Carroz
Chatel
La Clusaz
Brides les Bains

Good nightlife:
Morzine
Méribel
Val d’Isère
Chamonix

This article first appeared in FrenchEntree.com

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