12 of the best French village ski resorts

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Agence UROPE
© Agence UROPE

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 23 February 2023

Village ski resorts in France reflect the diversity and charm of traditional mountain habitats: stone and wood chalets with slate roofs rub shoulders with beautiful religious architecture, such as the Baroque chapels that line the Alpine valleys. Some are ski-in, ski-out and linked to major ski areas. All offer fantastic downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking trails, and allow you to meet local artisans and producers along the way. Here are our 12 favourites.

Les Carroz-d’Araches (Grand Massif)

This beautiful balcony village gives access to 265km of slopes in the Grand Massif, linked to Morillon, Flaine, Samoëns and Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval. The area of Les Carroz is wooded with beautiful views of the surrounding peaks and Mont Blanc. In recent years, the resort has been at the forefront of environmental commitment, notably with a bioclimatic hotel (the only one in resort) and the Green Globe label for the ski area.

Les Contamines Montjoie (Hauteluce – Les Contamines)

A stone’s throw from the Mont Blanc massif, the ski area of charming Les Contamines covers 120km, linked with Hauteluce. Alpine meadows, pine forests and wide open spaces alternate across the landscape and are just begging to be explored!

Arêches-Beaufort

In the Pays du Beaufort, Arêches-Beaufort of Gruyère cheese fame is a traditional village living in harmony with its environment and agriculture. Committed to a global eco-responsible approach in the management of the resort, it has also set up four permanent routes dedicated solely to ski touring across the snowy terrain. 'Les Traces' allow visitors to work up an appetite and reach the top of the ski area at 2,320m by veering off the well-worn ski trails. You can then continue with classic hikes to conquer summits such as the Grand-Mont, crossing the legendary Pierra Menta pass en route.

Champagny-en-Vanoise (Paradiski)

Connected to the 225km Paradiski area, Champagny is the best value village in Grande Plagne: an immense domain leading up to peaks at over 3,000m, ideal snow cover, an infinite variety of landscapes and snowsports, and 425km of pistes. It’s divided into two sites:

• the heart of the resort (1,250m) with the traditional village, shops and ski access in eight minutes by cable car;

• the valley of Champagny-Le-Haut (1,450m): a preserved collection of beautiful landscapes and architectural gems, classified as sites naturels and monuments de France. They mainly practice Nordic activities here.

Saint-Jean-d’Arves and Saint-Sorlin-d’Arves

Nestled in the Maurienne valley with the sumptuous Aiguilles d'Arve as a backdrop, Saint-Jean-d’Arves is a quaint, traditional village and part of the 310km of uncrowded pistes in Les Sybelles. The resort shares the valley of L'Arvan with its larger sister resort of Saint-Sorlin-d’Arves, and a five-minute ski bus journey links the two villages.

Valloire (Galibier – Thabor)

At the foot of the Col du Galibier and linked to the slopes of Valmeinier, this quintessential family village offers a 160km ski area across five aspects, a shopping centre and numerous après-ski activities. Valloire's 1,300 permanent residents give the place soul and make it very welcoming.

Villard de Lans (Villard – Corrençon)

On the highlands of Vercors, this village is a mecca for downhill and cross-country skiing with its 125km and 150km of respective terrains. Villard (1,050m) is the shopping heart of the Vercors massif, with well-preserved architectural heritage and a lively atmosphere all year round thanks to a market, wave pool, covered ice rink, bowling alley, casino, museum and pedestrianised streets.

Autrans-Méaudre-en-Vercors

Two villages, one resort. At the heart of the Vercors Regional Nature Park, Autrans-Méaudre-en-Vercors is a top destination for Nordic skiing, with no less than 180km of tracks and a dedicated competition, La Foulée Blanche, held here every year. Both Autrans and Meaudre also offer a good range of options for beginners, with 33 Alpine slopes.

Serre Chevalier (Serre Chevalier Vallée)

Situated in the southern French Alps, Serre Chevalier combines the sun of the Mediterranean with the snow of the northern Alps. It sits in a large valley in the Hautes-Alpes between the Col du Lautaret and UNESCO-listed Briançon, to which several villages are linked by road and piste. With 410 hectares of signposted terrain, the Serre Chevalier Vallée is one of the largest ski areas in Europe.

Le Mont-Dore (Domaine du Sancy)

This historic spa resort in the Massif Central is linked by the Sancy area to Super Besse, creating an 84km area of slopes. Suitable for both beginners and experienced skiers, the resort offers 31 trails and many alternative leisure activities: airboarding, snowshoeing, Nordic walking, cross-country skiing, sledding, ice waterfalls, mountaineering, speed-riding, ice skating and fitness. There’s also a cinema, casino, pub and bowling alley.

Les Angles (Pyrenees)

Gleaming under the sun of the French Catalan Pyrenees, Les Angles provides a ski area of 55km across a site remarquable. Les Angles is a character resort that has retained its charm, while being perfectly equipped for skiers and non-skiers with a 16-seater gondola, six-seater chairlift and an aquatic centre. All snowsports are catered for – downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowpark activities – and its forest trails lead straight down into the heart of the village.

Oz-en-Oisans (Alpe d'Huez)

Situated between Belledonne and the Grandes Rousses, extensive Oz-en-Oisans is made up of 10 hamlets and a resort, spread between 800 and 1,350m: Oz Village, Le Roberand, Le Bessey, Sardonne, L'Ile d´Oz, Le Boulangeard, Le Pontonnier, Le Beurrière, La Voute, Le Pré de l'Arche and L'Enversin. These enigmatically-named hamlets feature many vestiges of the architecture specific to Oisans: old barns, washhouses and fountains, not to mention the 19th-century church in Oz Village with its pyramid bell tower. Nestled at 1,350m in the Alpe d'Huez ski area, Oz has the charm and authenticity of a ski-in ski-out family resort. Visitors can slalom through the heart of the village, between the shops, and arrive at their front door. And thanks to quick and easy access by cable car, Oz is the gateway to 250km of slopes - including Sarenne, the world's longest run at 16km, starting from Pic Blanc (3,330m) and joining the Gorges de Sarenne (1,510m).

Vaujany (Alpe d'Huez)

At 1,250m, pposite the superb Massif des Grandes Rousses, Vaujanyny has all the charm and character of a typical mountain village alongside excellent modern skiing. Its quaint little streets, farms, fountain and bell tower contrast with its connection to the vast Alpe d'Huez ski area, where you can enjoy abundant guaranteed snow and breathtaking mountain landscapes: glaciers, banks of spruce pines and expanses of powder as far as the eye can see.

Your safety and wellbeing are our top priorities

All staff in the French mountains are doing their utmost to ensure you experience an unrestricted and hassle-free holiday, and are at your disposal from the very first steps of your booking.

Specific protocols dedicated to the winter season have been drawn up by professionals from within different sectors. Everyone is adapting to the unique situation in innovative ways, committed to guaranteeing visitor safety while ensuring their full enjoyment.

For more details on the measures in place in French ski resorts, click here.

Further information: - France's 24 linked ski areas (French only)

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