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From high altitude to family friendly: 15 of the best French ski resorts

Home to thousands of kilometres of slopes, France has options for all types of ski holiday - whether you want a family-friendly resort, one with great nightlife, the best slopes or a place with some options for non-skiers, here's a look at the best places to go.

From high altitude to family friendly: 15 of the best French ski resorts
Skiers sit in a chairlift at the Val Thorens French resort on its 2022 opening day. (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD / AFP)

France is home to more than250 ski resorts and 10,000 kilometres of slopes, so there really is something for everyone – from expert to beginner, family-friendly resorts to party towns.

The French ski regions

The most popular ski destination is the Alps, located in southern France. This mountain range stretches for hundreds of kilometres, culminating in the summit of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in western Europe. From the northern alps in Savloie to the famous Trois Vallées, it is home to 600km of runs. 

You might also consider the Pyrenees mountains, located on the border with Spain. The ski resorts in the Pyrenees are known for being more modern, and they are typically less expensive than those in the Alps. 

There’s also the Vosges mountain range, the Massif Central, or the Jura mountains. The Vosges are located in north-east of France, between Alsace and Lorraine. While lower in altitude than the Alps or the Pyrenees, the Vosges have lots to offer, including many runs for cross-country skiers.

The Massif Central are the largest stretch of volcanoes in Europe and remain largely unknown to non-French skiers. The highest peak in the Massif Central is Puy-de-Sancy at 1,885 metres in height. As for the Jura mountains, altitudes go up to 1,720 metres, with several ski resorts for those looking to enjoy a winter vacation right next to Switzerland. 

Best options for families

When looking for a family-friendly ski resort, you can always check to see if the resort in question has the label “Famille Plus” meaning it has taken certain steps to ensure that family-friendly options and activities are available for people of all ages.

Avoriaz – Home to three “beginner zones” and 37 green runs, there are plenty of options for new skiers. Children under the age of five ski for free, and the child ski-pass rate applies up to 15 years old, rather than 12 years old which is the limit at many other resorts. The resort also offers English language ski lessons, and is home to a children’s village at the centre of the resort. 

Les Ménuires – Located in the Trois Vallées, the ski resort “Les Ménuires” has held the “Family Plus” label for several years. From snow mazes to sledding, there are plenty of non-ski activities for children to enjoy. The resort also offers childcare for children from three months and older, and chairlifts are equipped with special safety systems (gard-corps). 

Le Grand-Bornand – located in Haute-Savoie in the Alps, the ski area offers day-care centres and ski schools. It has also received a “Green Resort” label for offering a wide selection of environmentally friendly activities. 

Les Karellis – This small ski resort is located in Savoie, and is a great way to avoid the crowds you might find at other more well-known resorts. Also holding the “Family Plus” label, there are children’s ‘clubs’ – a baby club for infants and toddlers, the children’s club (ages three to 11), and the teenager’s club from 12 to 17 years old. Childcare is also available at certain villages in the resort, like Arc en Ciel and Carlines.

Best for high altitude

If your party is made up of experienced skiers and/or snowboarders, then you probably want to head to the high-altitude resorts for the best snow.

Val Thorens – the highest ski resort in France, and one of the highest in all of Europe. The resort itself is huge, with over 600 kilometres of trails. Much of the ski area is between 2,000 to 3,200 metres in altitude and it can generally guarantee snow from November to May.

Tignes – this ski area is located in Haute-Savoie, with altitudes above 2,000 metres, Tignes has some of the highest skiing in the world, with over 300 km of runs. The ski area is also connected by lift links to another well known resort – Val d’Isere. It also boasts several off-piste options too, as well as ice diving and paragliding on skis for those looking for an extra burst of adrenaline. 

Val d’Isère – with the village sitting at 1,850 metres, the highest ski lift goes up to 3,456 metres. Known for off-piste skiing, the area links eight resorts and 600 kilometers of runs, from valleys to glaciers. Val d’Isere is known for being a luxury ski resort (daily passes average at €63 for adults) with a long season.

Most affordable

While the high-altitude resorts listed above tend to be more expensive, there are several choices for those looking to enjoy winter sports in France on a budget.

Aussois – Ranked as one of the most affordable ski resorts in France, Aussois is located in Savoie and offers over 50km of slopes. The average price per day was €34.50, with accommodation coming out to approximately €400 per week to share a four-person apartment. 

Chamrousse – This resort is located in Isère and it is known for being one of the ski stations of the 1968 Olympic Games. The budget friendly resort offers 90 km of slopes, with daily passes averaging at €36 per day.

Cauterets – Found in the Hautes-Pyrénées, this resort is ideal for those looking for both a resort and a spa. It also offers proximity to nature, being right on the edge of the Pyrenees National Park. Daily ski passes start at €34.85 the day.

Most nightlife

Once the skiing ends there is the après-ski, and there is quite a wide variation in the type of nightlife on offer in French resorts.

Tignes – the Tignes resort, already listed above as one of the top high-altitude resorts in France, is also known for throwing an unmissable New Year’s Eve party each year, and it is home to many bars and nightclubs. The ski area comprises of five villages, so visitors have plenty of après-ski options.

Les 2 Alpes – Known for having a young and festive reputation, this ski resort located in Isère is well-known for its soirées. One of its popular bar/ clubs offering DJ sets and live music is the Pano Bar, located at 2,600 metres in altitude.

Méribel – Also known for its après-ski scene, the Méribel ski resort is popular amongst French people and foreigners alike. Some popular destinations for your night out on the slopes are La Folie Douce, the Le Rond Point, and Doron Pub. The ski area itself is offers plenty of green runs, so it is a good place for beginners, but it is also well-connected to other resorts in the Trois Vallées, like Val Thorens which offer more advanced slopes.

Best for groups with non-skiers

If you are heading off with some non-skiers in the mix, it is important to find resorts that offer other activities besides skiing and snowboarding.

La Clusaz – Located in Haute-Savoie, this resort is known for offering many restaurants, bars, and stores. It is also under an hour away from the Geneva international airport, so it is not too difficult for the non-skiers to get away for a day if they need a break from the mountains. The resort is also home to a warm, outdoor swimming pool. 

Les Arcs – This resort, located in Savoie, is known for having many non-ski related activities. From an ice rink, sledding, yoga classes, an ice village, and aquatic centre with saunas, hammams, and jacuzzis, there are plenty of non-winter sports options for the non-skiing members of your group.

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For members


9 of the best activities to do in Paris on strike days

If you're visiting Paris on a strike day you may find that public transport is disrupted and certain tourist attractions are closed - but don't despair, there are still plenty of fun activities that are unaffected by strike action.

9 of the best activities to do in Paris on strike days

If you’re in Paris on a strike day, be aware that certain services like public transport might be disrupted – you can find the latest details on big strikes in our strike section HERE. It’s also worth checking in advance if any demos are planned, so that you can avoid the demo route and the large crowds that are usually present.

Then there’s the question of what to do – depending on the strike and its level of support, you may find that big tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower or Versailles are either closed or have changed opening hours, and some of the bigger city museums may also close.

Fortunately, there are a lot of alternatives, so here are some suggestions;

Parks and Gardens

Paris is home to several beautiful and accessible parks and gardens. From Parc Buttes Chaumont in the 19th arrondisement in the north of the city, known for its artificial lake, hilly topography, and collection of over 47 different species of plants and trees, to the Luxembourg Gardens in the 6th arrondisement near the Latin Quarter and the Parc Montsouris at the edge of the city at the bottom of the 14th arrondisement.

Be sure to check the park’s opening times before visiting – inclement weather, such as high winds, might lead to early or unexpected closures.

If you had tickets to the Louvre, but the museum closed unexpectedly due to strike action, you might still enjoy going nearby to visit the Tuileries Garden and to see the iconic pyramid structures at the museum’s entrance. 

The Jardin des Plantes is another option. Located along the Seine near the Asterlitz train station, the Jardin des Plantes is home large greenhouses, a zoo and a paleontology centre. 

There are also the larger parks – the Bois de Vincennes and Boulogne – located on both east and western edges of the city respectively, which offer wider spaces to picnic, relax, or even go for a jog.

If you fancy a walk, try the Promenade planté (Coulée verte René-Dumont) – this is former elevated Metro track that has been converted into a green space – similar to the High Line in New York. Walking along its 4.7km length gives you a great bird’s eye view of the city as you enjoy the plants. There are also plenty of entry and exit points so you don’t have to walk the entire length.

Take a stroll along the water

Talking of walking, there are many who say that the best way to see Paris is to become a flâneur/flâneuese – that is to take a relaxed stroll while talking in the view and possibly thinking elevated thoughts.

Paris is home to two large bodies of water that are perfect for walking alongside. The first is the Seine – take a stroll from the Musée d’Orsay to Notre-Dame and take in all the sites and landmarks in Paris’ city centre.

For those looking for a less crowded option, the Canal Saint-Martin in the trendy 10th arrondissement is also very walkable, with plenty of shops and cafes along the route. Try starting near the popular cafe Chez Prune and walking up (for as long as you want, or until your feet get tired).

Both the Seine and the Canal also offer private boat services, such as Bateaux-Mouches, if you want to cover more ground or enjoy the water without the walking part.


It may sound a bit morbid, but Parisian cemeteries are a popular location to visit. They are full of history, and many famous, important figures are buried inside them.

Montparnasse and Père Lachaise are two of the most visited cemeteries in the city. You can try to find the tombs of Oscar Wilde, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir, among many other notables. (The Local’s tip for Père Lachaise – check out the tomb of Victor Noir and its amusing backstory).

Smaller museums and galleries

While larger museums and monuments, such as the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, Chateau de Versailles or the Eiffel Tower, might be subject to unexpected closures on strike days, smaller monuments and museums are more likely to stay open.

Some options to choose from might be the Musée de l’Orangerie, a museum with impressionist and post-impressionist paintings near the Tuileries garden, or the contemporary photography museum (the Maison Européenne de la Photographie), located in the heart of Paris near the Marais district.

Further north, there is also the Musée de la Vie Romantique, a literary museum focusing on the lives of George Sand and other prolific authors. Along the Seine, with a view of the Eiffel Tower, you might opt for the contemporary and modern art museum the Palais de Tokyo.

If you are more interested in art galleries, rather than museums, then there are plenty in the Marais district to choose from, such as the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Oftentimes, galleries are free to enter as well.

Keep in mind that when it comes to museums, many close on Mondays or Tuesdays (particularly if they stay open all weekend). During a strike day, be sure to go to the museum’s website to verify it is indeed open and check its normal operating hours. You might be able to reserve a ticket in advance too.

Churches and places of worship

Places of worship remain open on strike days in France, which means you have plenty of options if you want to visit one of Paris’ 197 historic and modern churches and cathedrals. Aside from Notre-Dame, Saint-Sulpice, which was built in the 17th century and is situated on Paris’ left bank, is the second largest church in the city. 

The Sainte-Chapelle chapel, filled with colourful stained glass, is also a popular monument for many tourists. You need tickets to enter, and therefore would be advised to verify opening hours before making the trip.

The Grand Mosque of Paris is also a popular site, known for its outdoor garden, café and restaurant. Many people visit the Grand Mosque of Paris specifically to taste the tea, but the religious centre is also home to a hammam (a steam room offering massages and exfoliation), though this is exclusively for women.

Consider an alternative way to see the view

If the Eiffel Tower happens to be closed on the day you were looking forward to seeing a view of the city, consider some alternatives.

You can climb to the top of one of the high-end shopping malls near Opera, like the Printemps Haussman centre, and have a glass of wine while admiring the view. The Montparnasse Tower also has an observatory – though you need to book tickets to get up to the 56th floor.

You might also consider visiting Sacre-Coeur or the lesser known Belvédère de Belleville for a view over the city.

Shopping and markets

Private stores and shops do not close on strike days, although some may close for at least part of the day if they are close to the route of a particularly large demo. Whether you were looking forward to shopping at the vintage ‘kilo’ shops or high-end designer stores, strike days might be the best time to do so.

If you’re feeling rich or you just want to enjoy the stunning art deco building, check out the newly-reopened La Samaritaine – one of Paris’ oldest department stores.

Markets are also a popular activity – filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, there is likely to be an outdoor (or indoor) market in your area at some point during your stay in Paris.

READ MORE: All you need to know about shopping at French food markets

Cafés and Restaurants

Cafés, bars and restaurants remain open on strike days too. There are plenty of well-known, historic cafés across the city, if you want to get a dose of history – from the Shakespeare and Company café to La Maison Rose and Les Deux Magots (once frequented by famous authors like Ernest Hemingway). 

Spa day

Finally, if you want to stay in and relax during strike day, then consider booking a spa day. As mentioned above, you can do so at the Hammam at the Grand Mosque of Paris, but there are plenty of other smaller places to get pampered – especially if you have walked all over the city and have tired feet.