Although skiing feels like a thoroughly modern sport in many ways, its history actually stretches back into the mists of time ̶ in fact, in the 1960s, archaeologist Grigoriy Burov found remnants of ski-like artefacts in northern Russia that date to 6000 BC and it’s thought that they were originally used to help our ancestors hunt for animals like deer more effectively.
However, at least since the first Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix in 1924, France has been regarded by many as the heartland of skiing and snowsports in general and an entire tourism niche has developed around these activities.
If you’re thinking of taking a skiing holiday next year but wondering which stunning resort best suits your needs, you’re in the right place ̶ read on for the lowdown on three fab French ski resorts which richly deserve to be called winter wonderlands.
The flagship resort of the Three Valleys ski area, Val Thorens is Europe’s highest ski resort and sits at an impressive 2300m, which sets the scene perfectly for snow-sure conditions throughout a lengthy season.
There are lots of red and blue runs here for intermediate skiers and the pistes are groomed constantly so that they’re always in top condition. Val Thorens caters for kids too ̶ ski school ESF provides lively lessons and there’s a 1km fun slope with wild obstacles like bridges and tunnels.
Tip: don’t miss Europe’s highest nightclub La Folie Douce ̶ dancing at 2600m up is divine!
A car-free ski resort below Aiguille Rouge and facing Mont Blanc, Arc 1950 is a great fit for families. This is a purpose-build resort with ski-in/ski-out convenience and unlike some of its neighbouring villages in the wider Les Arcs area, the architecture here is based on more traditional than modern styles.
There are pistes here for skiers of all aptitudes, the Petit Cariboo Club offers childcare for kids as young as nine months old and if you like a medicinal pint or two of the black stuff after a thrilling day on the slopes, head to the excellent Irish bar Belle Pinte.
Tip: book an Arc 1950 ski holiday with Erna Low and every element can be customised.
Another terrific Three Valleys ski resort, Courchevel is a tasty treat for foodies, boasting no less than seven Michelin-starred restaurants.
There are four villages here which range from 1300m to 1850m and the wider area has 600km of pistes as well as several snowparks and countless off-piste areas. You can shop for everything from chic home furnishings to everyday essentials here and children’s facilities include a Native American-themed Indian camp with lots of cool activities, as well as tobogganing, go-karting and an English language cinema.
Tip: this Tripadvisor guide to shopping in Courchevel is definitely worth a look.
Pick whichever of these fantastic French ski resorts suit you best and you’ll have the time of your life ̶ you’re welcome!