Ski holidays in France 2013
For first-time skiers, it has to be France
Home to the tallest mountain in Western Europe and the largest ski circuit in the world, France is the natural choice when considering your next ski holiday. Even if you're planning your first winter sports excursion, the French Alps are the perfect place to start: with a range of runs which embody both the gentle and the downright terrifying, you'll find no shortage of terrain to explore. Yet there's so much more to France than spectacular and diverse slopes: almost every resort offers exceptional facilities, spellbinding scenery, off-the-slope activities and world-famous cuisine. Indeed, it's like the French Alps were made specifically for ski breaks. Of course, with so many ski villages to choose from, each of a unique beauty and charm, it can be difficult to know where to start.
But there is one thing to bare in mind when booking ski holidays in France: choose private accommodation, and you'll start the holiday as you mean to go on. When a country has such a stellar set of ski credentials, hotel rooms don't usually come cheap. That's why HomeAway Holiday Rentals has thousands of private ski chalets in France, so whatever you budget, need or desire, you can enjoy your dream accommodation. And with the space, privacy and freedom to enjoy skiing at your own pace, you'll enjoy the ski break of a lifetime - whether it's your first or not! Simply read on for our French ski holiday suggestions: while we have holiday rentals in hundreds of French mountain villages, these are just a few of our favourites.
Top ski destinations in France
Located in the immense activity haven that is Portes du Soleil, Avoriaz is one of the world's most beautiful purpose-built resorts. Its specifically-for-skiing nature belies a unique character and charm, as the village is awash with magnificent architecture, cosy, quaint inns and pretty, winding streets. It's also a pedestrianised resort - well, aside from the horse-drawn carriages - and offers convenient ski-in-ski-out restaurants, pubs and shops. As for the skiing, it's some of the finest in France: north facing slopes mean great snow conditions, and you can even pop to Switzerland if you fancy a change! With slopes to suit everyone, Avoriaz is an excellent choice.
Nestled in the Saint-Bon-Tarentaise of the Rhone-Alpes region, Courchevel is one of most picturesque resorts in the famed Three Valleys. Encompasses a range of pretty towns named for their altitudes in metres, it offers plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation: choose from Courchevel 1300, 1550, 1650 or 1850 (the latter of which is actually 1,747 metres high, but so named to compete with rivals!). As part of the largest connected ski area in the world, there's no shortage of slope choice either: the lifts are always queue-free, and can take you to an immense range of green, blue, red and black runs, as well as plenty of off-piste areas.
Tignes is one of Europe's highest resorts, situated 2,100 metres above sea level. Offering exceptional snow conditions and an extensive skiable area, L'Espace Killy, it's the ideal choice for intermediates and experts. There are five separate villages in Tignes, each as beautiful and traditional as the next, yet all offer easy access to the 300 kilometres of piste via a network of 97 lifts. Daredevils should head for the heights of Grand Motte Glacier, which sits 3,695 metres high, for some of the most amazing skiing and panoramic views in the whole of France. But beginners shouldn't worry either - there are some wonderful nursery runs too.
Famed around the world for its challenging terrain and spectacular beauty, Chamonix is the largest and oldest ski resort in France. It's one of the best for expert and off-piste skiers, sitting beneath the highest of the Alps, Mont Blanc, yet sheltered at an elevation of just 1,000 metres. Every day, travel to the skiable areas which lie 2,000 metres above sea level - the highest point lies a whopping 3,864 metres high - and enjoy a truly varied range of runs. Beginners should head for Le Domaine de Balme, intermediates for Flegere and Brevent, whilst advanced skiers will be well catered for at Les Grands-Montets, with its spectacularly steep terrain.
What springs to mind when looking for that perfect ski break? Perhaps a high-altitude resort with guaranteed snow, or somewhere with an immense area of varied, skiable terrain? How about fantastic après ski, or somewhere facing south so you enjoy plenty of sunshine on the slopes? Well look no further than Alpe d'Huez, which offers all of this and more. With a long ski season which lasts till late April, a vast network of modern lifts, and truly spectacular scenery, it's a skier's paradise - whatever your level of ability. Sitting 1,860 metres high, and boasting the longest black run in Europe, the Sarenne, Alpe d'Huez is a winter sports paradise.