A beginner’s guide to skiing in France!

For novice skiers, it can be an overwhelming process to prepare for your first ski holiday! From basic ski terms to what should go in your suitcase, here’s everything you need to know if you’ve never booked a trip to the French slopes.

What are ski lifts?

Ski lifts help you get to the top of the mountain and are the main way to travel around the slopes. Depending on the resort you choose, you will likely see a variation of ski lift types. Some common types are-
• Surface lifts
You are pulled uphill while you remain on the ground.
• Chairlifts
You sit on these lifts without removing your skis or boards, and travel above the ground at a faster speed than surface lifts.
• Gondola lifts
You need to put down your equipment for this ride. It is an enclosed carriage that transports large numbers of skiers up the mountain quickly.
• Cable cars
Cable cars have two cabins. When moving, one cabin is pulled up whilst the other cabin is pulled down. They can hold quite a few people.

What is a ski lift pass? Do you need one?

A ski lift pass is your ticket to the slopes and gives you access to the ski lift system on that mountain; without one, you can’t access the slopes. You can purchase them at the ski resort on the day you arrive, but we recommend you buy them online in advance. Some ski resorts also offer 3, 5 or 7 day lift passes or even senior and youth lift passes, family and child lift passes and non-skier lift passes.

What are the different ski slope colours and what do they represent?

Ski slope colours refer to the steepness of the gradient and the level of difficulty. The colour coding is generally a good indicator of how difficult the ski slope is but keep in mind that this can differ between resorts.
Green is for shallow and wide slopes that are suitable for beginners, including children. Blue is for skiers who are already familiar with skiing but not well enough to try the downhill. Red is for intermediate, confident skiers; the routes are steeper or narrower (or both) than the blue runs. Black or Double Black Diamond is for expert skiers who can handle very steep, uneven gradients. Double Black Diamond is the hardest, most challenging run.

Are there family- friendly ski resorts in France?

Absolutely! The place you pick and how you plan your family ski trip will depend on who’s coming with you. There are ski resorts with nannies and daycare centers so you can head out to hit the slopes knowing that they are well taken care of. Slightly older children can partake in ski classes and take advantage of the children’s prices on ski passes. Most ski resorts will normally allow children aged 3 years+ to take part in ski lessons. Some ski resorts also offer age-appropriate sessions which are specifically catered to the needs and abilities of your child. Always remember, the best way to prevent injury during skiing is to teach your children to ski responsibly.

Some rules to keep in mind are –
• Make sure your children's ski equipment is suitable for them and their ability and ensure the equipment is adjusted by a qualified technician
• Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails
• Take adverse weather predictions seriously
Of course, there are many non-ski activities like ice skating, sledging, snowman building, swimming, cinemas and more that are ideal for when you want to spend that quality family time together!

Do you need to prepare physically for your ski holiday?

Yes, just like you would train for a marathon, or prepare your body for a hiking trip, specific training is important for a ski holiday too. Ski resorts are at a high altitude and if your goal is to ski all day every day, training is necessary as it can get very intense. In order to enjoy your vacation and not be bothered by mild aches and pains, do a comprehensive conditioning regime at least 6 weeks before your winter holiday.

What to pack for your ski holiday?

While all your essential equipment such as skis and snowboards, boots and helmets can be hired in the ski resort, you will need to purchase some basic ski clothing. Beginners spend more time standing around and getting used to the slopes, so you can expect to fall down quite often- thus it is important to wear several layers for that extra protection. Items you will need are:
• Thermal bottoms and tops
• Warm jumpers or fleece
• Ski jacket
• Ski trousers
• Fitted ski-socks
• Waterproof ski-gloves
• A scarf
• A warm hat
• Sports sunglasses
• Sunscreen and lip balm with a high SPF
• Swimming costume
• A rucksack

A ski holiday in France is a great way to experience the country’s mountain sports and its diverse ski areas both in summer and in winter! With this guide, you’ll be able to have an unforgettable and safe ski vacation. Bon voyage!