Finding the best ski resorts in France for beginners can be a challenge, with numerous options to consider. In this list, we’ve gathered some firm favorites in the Alps, although it’s by no means exhaustive. Let’s explore the top choices which promise to make your snowy adventure a memorable one.
CHÂTEL IN THE PORTES DU SOLEIL
Located a short transfer from Geneva airport, this village is unspoiled and has retained its traditional French charm. It’s a great place to base yourself because it offers access to the Portes du Soleil. This includes 650km of pistes on both French and Swiss slopes. Châtel is just over the hill from Avoriaz and Morzine, so the ski area is huge.
Châtel is definitely one of the best ski resorts in France for beginners. Châtel’s slopes include 17 blue and 11 green slopes, aswell as red and black. Pré la Joux is the best location for young skiers. There are also 222 blue runs within the Portes du Soleil region, so plenty of pistes for novice skiers. Children can also learn at the Jardin d’enfants.
The Super Châtel lift provides access to several green and blue runs directly from the village. The whole area is very well connected from Châtel so no buses are needed. There’s a choice of restaurants but no real headbanging nightlife. The Super Châtel gondola has a restaurant at the top which is accessible on foot. Non-skiers can take the free bus to Pre la Joux which is a good place to meet skiers for coffee. There are plenty of restaurants in the village, it’s best to book in advance. One of the main pubs is Pub l’avalanche. If you stay at Chalet la Fontaine in Châtel, it’s opposite the bus stop and very close to the ski lifts.
Nearest airport: Geneva airport, 1 hour 30 mins by bus
ALPE D’HUEZ, GRAND DOMAINE
Alpe d’Heuz is a beautiful place and forms part of the wonderful Grand Domaine ski area. It combines the resorts of Alpe d’Huez, Auris-en-Oisans, Huez-en-Oisans, Oz-en-Oisans, Vaujany and Villard Reculas into one huge winter playground. Alpe d’Huez is one of the best ski resorts in France for beginners because it has something for every level. There are two large and four smaller nursery ski areas, 41 green pistes and 34 blue pistes. It’s great for mixed ability skiing too, there are even some blue, red and greens that run parallel to each other. Alpe d’heuz offers easy navigation and there are lots of activities around the main town although no crazy nightclubs. There are also lots of off-piste trails. The local slopes can get crowded so it’s best to get on the first lift and get far away early on.
Nearest airport: Grenoble airport, 1 hour 30 mins by bus
LES ARCS, PARADISKI AREA
A very family-friendly resort that’s ski in ski out. From 1200 up to 3250m, the ski area covers 425 km of pistes that link Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry and la Plagne. The village resorts are built in two different areas: Arc 1950 and Arc 2000 and Arc 1600 and Arc 1800 which are lower down. There are lots of activities for kids and it has a lovely ski resort vibe, so it’s definitely one of the best ski resorts in France for beginners. First-time skiers and snowboarders, or beginners looking to improve their technique will find plenty of good areas to practice in Les Arcs. There are three green pistes, 64 blue pistes and a couple of “Ski Tranquille” zones, or slow speed areas. These are great to build confidence at your own pace. The village is car-free and everything you need is near the accommodation. There are plenty of wide, high-altitude blue runs to progress onto. Arc 1800 is one of the best areas dedicated to beginner skiing.
Nearest airport: Chambery Airport 2 hours 30 mins by bus (Grenoble/Lyon 2 hours 50 mins by bus)
MONTGENÈVRE, VIA LATTEA
Montgenèvre in the Milky Way, or Via Lattea, borders France and Italy. The ski area comprises 400km of slopes, in six separate ski resorts offering something for everyone. Montgenèvre is a beautiful resort and is perfect for learning and cruising. It’s both quiet and friendly which makes it one of the best ski resorts in France for beginners. Sestriere or Sauze d’Oulx are also good places to stay. They have great ski areas and access to Montgenèvre. It’s quiet in the evenings so don’t expect a party vibe. Recent investment in Montgenèvre has been significant, especially for beginners.
The layout of the slopes and the easy runs are perfect for beginners. Montgenèvre has 59 slopes, covering 100km of pistes. There are 25 beginner runs, 23 intermediate and 11 are black. One great plus point, is that some of the beginner-friendly runs are at the top of the resort. This is great because beginners can experience cruising through the trees. Although beware, some of the pistes are shared blue and red runs!
Nearest airport: Turin Airport 1 hour 20 mins by bus
SAMOËNS, GRAND MASSIF
Samoëns is located in the Grand Massif and Haut-Giffre. This is one of the largest ski areas in Haute-Savoie. The area at Samoëns 1600 is one of the best ski resorts in France for beginners, who can step off the gondola onto wide, open, green and blues.
Beginners can also take the Grand Massif Express lift up to Samoëns 1600. There are some good green slopes here. Plus, ask about a special beginner-only lift ticket that covers the lifts required for first-timers. Most accommodation is however a bus ride away from the gondola. So you’ll need a bus ride and a gondola ride before you reach the nursery slopes. Most of the French Ski School’s teachers speak English. The drive from Geneva is straightforward. Keep an eye out on the gondola ride up to the ski slopes, the views are spectacular.
Nearest airport: Geneva Airport 1 hour 40 mins by bus
If you’re keen to start booking your holiday, make sure you read our handy guide on How to Book a Group Ski Holiday