03.01
2012 Mountain activities

Many of France’s most popular ski resorts are located within broader ski ‘domaines’ – linked series of resorts and runs of all colours – which allow visitors to buy special passes in order to explore more and more runs beyond the resort in which they are staying. Here is a round up of the main French ski areas to look out for. Simply pick up your a hands-free lift pass and explore!

Paradiski

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Many of France’s most popular ski resorts are located within broader ski ‘domaines’ – linked series of resorts and runs of all colours – which allow visitors to buy special passes in order to explore more and more runs beyond the resort in which they are staying. Here is a round up of the main French ski areas to look out for. Simply pick up your a hands-free lift pass and explore!

Paradiski
This collection of three ‘stations de ski’ consists of Peisey-Vallandry, La Plagne and Les Arcs, and has a rather impressive altitudinal range of 1,200m to 3,250m (70% of the area sits above 2,000m, which guarantees excellent snow coverage). Facing the impressive Mont Blanc, the huge array of ski runs total 425kms in total – more than enough to satisfy all skiers no matter what their ability or stamina!

You can take your pick of restful village ambience at Peisey-Vallandry (comprised of five authentic Savoyard villages), check out Les Arcs’ reputation as a hub for new winter sports by heading to the Apocalypse Parc in the middle of the ski area between Arc 1600 and Arc 1800, or explore the six high altitude resorts that make up La Plagne (1800 to 2100m). They are all ski-in-ski-out and are inter-linked by pistes and a free bus service.

For more information, go here

Les 3 Vallées (Three Valleys)
This is the world’s largest skiing area and comprises of the resorts of Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires-Saint Martin, Val Thorens and Orelle.
For the convenience of visitors keen to explore as much of the area as possible, they are all linked together by ski runs and ski lifts, with 600 kms of interconnected slopes and 180 ski lifts. There are also many snow-parks and half-pipes for fans of new winter board-sports.

The differing sizes and styles of these eight resorts – which range from the world-famous high-end feel of Courchevel to the more homely and quaint village of Orelle – offer a vast array of accommodation, ranging from low cost options to prestigious five star ratings. Those seeking serious après-ski fun will be just as welcome as those seeking a more tranquil escape of family friendly break.

Portes de Soleil

This large collection of resorts – numbering 12 in total – straddles the French-Swiss border and offers lovely skiing through mountain forests and snow meadows. Take your pick as a base from Abondance, Avoriaz, Châtel, La Chapelle d'Abondance, Les Gets, Montriond, Morzine-Avoriaz, St Jean d'Aulps, Champéry, Morgins, Torgon and Val-d'Illiez - Les Crosets - Champoussin.

The domaine’s statistics are impressive, outlining its vastness and array of facilities: 283 slopes (27 black, 104 red, 119 blue, 33 green), 197 mountain lifts, 650 km of groomed slopes, 10 snowparks and no fewer than90 slopeside restaurants.

To learn more and plan your stay, head to the website.

Espace Killy

Set in the Tarentaise Valley and named after the legendary French downhiller Jean-Claude Killy, Espace Killy is made up of two of France’s most famous resorts, Val D’Isère and Tignes. With a highest elevation of 3,550m it boasts 154 runs across 300kms – the longest being the 10km La Sache – 90 lifts and two snowparks.

Val d’Isère is where Killy learned to ski and today this well-known party town is also a great place for beginners to get their first taste of piste action in large beginners’ areas with excellent snow.

Choose your destination at www.espacekilly.com

Les Sybelles
There are six resorts within the large domaine Savoyard of Les Sybelles – Toussuire, Corbier, St Jean d'Arves, Bottieres, St Sorlin d'Arves and St Colomban des Villards – which are all linked through the point of Ouillon.

With 310km of runs, it is it one of the most extensive ski areas in France and numbers two snow parks, special runs for new styles of skiing, ski touring routes, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails, as well as sled and snowmobile rides and, for adrenaline junkies, micro-light and paraglider flights.

In addition to the on-piste fun you can also immerse yourself in traditional Savoyard life, with resorts such as St Jean d’Arves providing a perfect family holiday destination within a natural environment.

For more information on the resorts, please see the Sybelles website.

Les Grandes Rousses
Although the most famous of Les Grandes Rousses’ resorts is Alpe d’Huez – this winter playground is known as the Island in the Sun thanks to its south-facing, 1,860m altitude slopes and impressive sunshine hours record – four other stations de ski in the domaine all have their own appeal.

Auris en Oisans, Oz en Oisans, Vaujany and Villard-Reculas combine to make up a lift served area extending from 1,600 metres to 3,330 metres with 240 km of lift-served runs. There are also are 8km of cross-country trails.

Throught the domaine skiers of all abilities are well catered for – beginners and intermediate skiers can explore the large number of wide runs and dedicated nursery slopes located around the villages, while for more advanced (and brave) skiers and boarders there is the challenge of 'La Sarenne' to take on. This 16 km run is reputed to be the longest black in the world.


Grand Massif

Consisting of five resorts – Sixt, Samoëns, Flaine, Morillon and les Carroz – France’s fourth biggest linked ski area has 140 slopes, 72 ski lifts for 265 km of pistes to enjoy. There is also one Jam Park, two play areas and exceptional snow cover throughout the season.

Among these resorts are some of the most charming in the Alps, with places like Samoëns offering real Alpine traditions in a village atmosphere – après-ski activities here are rather charming and restful. Perhaps another key to these resorts is that they don’t experience crowded slopes and long queues like some of the other larger destinations.

If you are near Samoëns or staying in Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval, don’t miss the outstanding natural beauty of its waterfall and nature reserve.

Flaine, meanwhile, is a purpose-built concrete resort that is more functional than known for its natural beauty and atmosphere.

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