French Alps: A pocket guide
The picturesque French Alps provide ski opportunities for all abilities, from beginners to pros, and luxury resorts are plentiful. In addition to such famous names as Chamonix and Megeve in the Mont Blanc region, there are traditional farming villages, relatively undisturbed by tourism, that offer easy access to some of the largest ski domains in Europe.
Chamonix sits in the corner of France bordering Switzerland and Italy. It is one of the oldest ski resorts in France, especially known for Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe at 4810m. It can be viewed by taking the cable car lift to the Aiguille du Midi which also grants access to the famous Vallée Blanche off-piste ski-run. The Aiguille du Midi has recently added the thrilling “Step into the Void” attraction, a glass-sided box with view of Mont Blanc and a 1000-meter drop under your feet. Many visitors make their way to the Mer de Glace, the “sea of ice”glacier which is accessed by the Montenvers train.
Courchevel is the playground of the rich and famous, with some of the Alps best luxury ski chalets. It is a part of Les Trois Vallées, the largest interconnected ski areas in the world. It also has one of the most efficient ski-lift systems, creating a virtual line-free system. In addition to the fabulous slopes, the town is food-lovers paradise with a total of 11 Michelin stars shared over seven restaurants.
The popular resort of Val d’Isere has a charming village with a mix of old and new Savoyard architecture. You’ll find beautiful luxury chalets featuring stone, log and wood-beam. You can stroll the pedestrian-friendly streets of the center lined with shops and restaurants preparing local specialities like fondue and raclette. Most passes for this valley gives access to Espace Killy resorts Val d’Isere and Tignes, a large expanse of open bowls and glaciers with excellent skiing in the shadow of the Rocher du Charvet. From Tignes you can take a funicular to La Grande Motte glacier for views of the La Grande Casse (3852 m) and distant Mont Blanc (4808 m).
The larger, purpose-built ski resorts abound with glamorous apres-ski hangouts and boutiques selling Chanel, Dior, Gucci, and Moncler. A wide assortment of warm-weather activities like hiking, mountain-climbing and paragliding make the French Alps a year-round destination.