EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › EpicSki Community › International Zone › Best family resorts in France?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Best family resorts in France?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Heading to France in February, 2017. 


Will be traveling with a large group:


4 adults, all very capable skiiers, with one true expert looking for occasional off-piste adventure

5 kids, all have skied in the past at least twice, some are already very good skiers, no true experts, age range from 6 to 12


Will be traveling from Paris during France's "ski week" so may be busy.


Which resorts are best for:


Ease of access from Paris?

Family friendly environment (e.g. cars vs. no cars)?

Reliability of snow?




post #2 of 15
I'm in a similar boat. Why Paris? Geneva is better entry point for French skiing. why France and not Switzerland? I'm interested in both.

I've only been to chamonix and wengen (very briefly). Wengen would be a great family spot. No cars, very nice village, pretty easy terrain, nice scenery. And can explore Murren and Grindewald nearby.

Chamonix is great, too. Nice town though with some cars. A little spread out skiing wise. Has more challenging terrain for experts. Only 1 hour from geneva.

Good question tho. Best place for families in Europe with an expert option too
post #3 of 15

While opinions will vary but there is a reason, to many, arguably as per many who know better than moi, the world's greatest single ski area (it's two adjoined) is L'Espace Killy, concur wholeheartedly. Views to live for, terrain is unreal, off-piste everywhere, probably will be crowded, but Tignes Val Claret was the best and by a long shot, best ski-in/ski-out place we have ever landed in and it was pure good fortune. ESF ski schools are excellent for kids, and experts will find terrain, that will challenge them far beyond their imagination, and for the intermediates there is a so much to ski. Only one thing, many of the so-called Blues, and all the Reds are generally steeper than one might have experienced. But the place,, magical, it's 42,000 acres + .Trip report tells the story.



If you search, there are many trip reports and other counseling threads about skiing in France. Chamonix while legendary for its Aguille du Midi and related glacial terrain, is not the easiest to get around, but that will depend on taste. The Tarentaise Valley has more ski options than one can imagine, and all good as far as one knows. This is a Wikipedia extract: (Geneva is closer than Paris but that's up to you)


At the foot of the valley, in the west, is the city of Albertville. Going east up the valley, Moûtiers is reached, then Aime, and finally the last large town, Bourg-Saint-Maurice.

The area is internationally best known for its world-renowned ski resorts, including Les Trois Vallées (Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens etc.—off a side valley from Moûtiers), Paradiski with La Plagne above Aime, and Les Arcs above Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Espace Killy with Tignes and Val-d'Isère is further up the valley. These communities hosted most of the events for the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics.[citation needed] A weekly lift ticket in any of the described systems gives skiers a choice to ski one day in each of the other two systems mentioned. There were once plans to interlink all systems and resorts to create the—by far—largest ski area in the world. However that vision was ended with the creation of the Vanoise National Park.[citation needed] Other ski areas includes Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise, La Rosière, and Valmorel.

In the winter, the valley is a cul-de-sac, with its road finishing at Val d'Isere. In the summer, there is a pass over to the Maurienne Valley at the head of the valley (the Col de l'Iseran), and a couple of others further down, including the Little St Bernard Pass eastwards to Italy via La Rosiere and La Thuile and the Cormet de Roselend northwards.

Both sides of the valley, but especially the sunnier northern side, have rural farming communities all the way along. The colder southern side tends to be dominated by the ski resorts but has occasional small hamlets.

post #4 of 15

Well Feb in France means the French schools are on holiday for Le Ski and child friendly resorts will be busy really busy. 


Avoraiz is worth considering. Snow sure at that time of year and a traffic free resort. Most accommodation is ski in ski out. Plenty skiing to keep the more adventurous happy.If you catch the first lift out in the morning and plan your routes you should stay ahead of the crowds until lunch in Switzerland. I think it would be as good a choice as any bearing in mind the likely hordes

post #5 of 15

As others have mentioned, the French School Holiday Period (typically 4 weeks total) is busy, with the Paris holiday weeks the most crowded. Am guessing the OP's group might have kids in Paris schools...


La Plagne might be another option. It is one of the most visited in the world with good reason-


large domain that connects with Les Arcs (Paradiski) 

Terrain for all levels- lots of easier terrain on the La Plagne side and out of Les Arcs 1800, but with true expert terrain (North Face of the Bellcote glazier for true off piste as well as some "natural: aka ungroomed, "on piste" terrain out of Les Arcs 2000

Train service from Paris 

Might be somewhat less expensive than places like Espace Killy or 3 Vallees BUT expect to pay higher lodging prices everywhere during this time period

Good snow reliability (but never guaranteed anywhere)

A variety of villages to choose from (where you stay in a particular resort does make a difference, so research this also)


Espace Killy, 3 Vallees & Avoriaz/Port du Soleil are also great places to consider. Personally, I wouldn't consider Chamonix for your group. Chamonix has some great skiing, but the different resorts are not as well connected as Paradiski, Espece Killy or 3 Vallees. While in town accommodation might be cheaper in Cham, it will likely mean taking a bus to different resorts (with not everyone preferring the same area). While I think ski in/out or short walk in/out is always best with families, if budget considerations make this difficult, I would consider someplace like Bourg St. Maurice, walking distance to the funicular that goes directly to Les Arc 1600. There is ski rental/storage right at the base of the funicular as well as in 1600, so this makes the schlep easier.


Wherever you decide, I'd book early- this includes lodging, train, rentals,ski school, off piste guides, restaurant reservations etc. as the Paris school holiday period is the busiest time of the season for all French resorts.  


I'd cross post (or do a search) on Snowheads.com- lots more former European skiers (aka British) there who have vacationed extensively in the French Alps.

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Wow, what great information!


Quick answers:


1. We will be visiting from the the southeast USA!  We have friends who just relocated to Paris for a three-year work assignment as well as a neighbor who is french and who is quitting his job and moving to Paris to be with his ailing father for 6 months.  So we decided this was the time to pull up stakes and head to Paris (for a week) before skiing in les alpes!


2. I see multiple comments about Geneva and that sounds great but the flight home leaves Paris at about 10:45 AM and we'll probably be skiing until the day before.  Maybe I can extend the vacation a bit.


3. The ski week trip is meant to coincide with our Paris friends whose kids will be out.  I understand the crowds will be bad but sort of out of my control.


I really appreciate the information.  Great stuff!  Getting excited!

post #7 of 15

How are you planning to travel to the Alps? TGV plus a transfer coach would be low stress. 


When were you going to book.This is an extremely busy week and if i wanted specific accommodation in a specific resort in France in Feb I would book a year ahead. This was in the days before I found out how uncrowded the Dolomites were in Feb. 


I bet the accommodation is getting scarce and you will be after something where you are in the same building at least.

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Man you're making me stressed out!  It's only mid-September!  I will take a look at it this weekend and get moving.  As far as transportation, I was thinking the train is the best option because it would be fun for our kids, but I've considered renting a car which I bet is cheaper.  I leased a car through a company in 2001 which was an incredible deal.  We stepped out of the plane into a new Renault Megane Scenic and it was much cheaper than buying 4 Eurail passes for our group.  We traveled through Europe and rotated driving responsibilities.  It was a lot of fun.  I did get a parking ticket and a speeding ticket in the Italian alps but it was worth it.

post #9 of 15
Dude, don't stress, get a van service to drive to Tignes Val Claret, email Sebastian, Caroline Paul at Hotel Vanoise and tell them Dax recommended . Finest folks who will host you . Train to Bourg St Maurice from Paris you can book now and splurge a little , don't drive, get driven, way nicer, save the adrenaline for the slopes ; L'espace Killy will blow your mind , that is a promise with high confidence . Their organic meals are unreal, I don't eat soup, and was devouring couple of bowls at night at dinner
post #10 of 15

Given the time of year you'll be going, it might be better to go to eastern Switzerland or western Austria instead of one of the French or western Swiss ski areas. The difference in the distance from Paris isn't huge, so it might be worth it if you can get smaller crowds and lower prices on accommodation.

post #11 of 15

Sound advice above.   See the Euro school holiday calendar below.   If you must do a Paris school holiday week, it seems clear to choose the first one, Feb. 4-11.  The week of Feb. 11-18 has more of France plus all of Great Britain on school holiday as well; that's the one to avoid if at all possible.


If you're doing both weeks, maybe go for one of the top tier French resorts the first week, then somewhere off the beaten path for the second week.




post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

Where did you get that school holiday calendar?  That thing is awesome and really illustrates why we are having problems with finding accommodations!  Many of the resorts have a 7 day minimum during ski week.


Dustyfrog (Dax) -- Many thanks for your recommendation for Hotel Vanoise.  They had nice things to say about you and remember you well.  They were willing to help us but we can't offer enough nights to really meet their minimum needs.


Current thinking is to try western Switzerland, e.g. Saas-Fee or Zermatt, or Avoriaz.  Any thoughts about those resorts?


Happy skiing!

post #13 of 15
Just read your post. As you are coming from Paris. The easy way to travel is direct TGV from Paris to bourg saint maurice. Then stay in one of the Les Arcs stations. You do not need a car and getting around is very easy with free buses connecting to the funicular at the train station.

If you book now you should be Ok, but if you have a problem finding somewhere let me know as i have contacts in the area for places to stay.

Les Arcs is a great place for family groups and also good skiers. Plenty for all levels and you might even get an invite to join us for some off piste if you are at that standard.

I have stayed in all the stations you have mentioned. Avoriaz is a gamble at this time of year. Not very high ski area. Zermatt is good but long trip to get there. Same with Saas Fee and much smaller ski area. Paradiski has two glacier areas and plenty of skiing above 2500m plus loads of tree skiing if bad weather.

Hope that helps.
post #14 of 15
Originally Posted by NewSouth View Post

Where did you get that school holiday calendar?  That thing is awesome and really illustrates why we are having problems with finding accommodations!  Many of the resorts have a 7 day minimum during ski week.


Dustyfrog (Dax) -- Many thanks for your recommendation for Hotel Vanoise.  They had nice things to say about you and remember you well.  They were willing to help us but we can't offer enough nights to really meet their minimum needs.


Current thinking is to try western Switzerland, e.g. Saas-Fee or Zermatt, or Avoriaz.  Any thoughts about those resorts?


Happy skiing!

Did not realize that you were not doing a full week. A large % of European ski resort accommodations work on a Saturday to Saturday (with a few Sunday to Sunday) basis. Some accommodations do offer more flexibility, but I think the full week formula seems to increase utilization efficiency which many seem to pass on in the form of more reasonable prices. 


At many destination resorts, Saturday is the least crowded day on the slopes but most crowded day on the road and for trains. Depending on where you are going, it can be quicker to take the train than to drive. 

post #15 of 15

Zermatt would be way down my list as you need to walk then take a bus to get to and from the lifts. Also VERY expensive both for accommodation and eats. Getting there will be a right pain


Les Arcs via TGV to Bourg Saint Maurice would be the easiest travel and stay in 1600 at the top of the funicular NB there are 5 different villages all can be accessed by free bus from the top of the funicular. .The free stuff stops around 9 pm but it is easy to book a minibus transfer.


Avoriaz at 1800 m is snowsure at that time of the year in my experience. Slightly prettier and of course traffic free.The nearest train stations for Avoriaz are Cluses and Thonon-les-bains which are both around 1 hour away by road.


Expect to have to pay for the week even if you only stay 4 nights.


In your place I would get stressed about travel and accommodation. This is when some of the busiest ski weeks in France with the school holidays happen. Start looking now don't leave it.


When evaluating accommodations the French are required to give the ' Superficie ' which is the size of the whole apartment usually given in square meters. Make sure you pace it out and understand what you are getting. French ski apartments are often tiny in relation to the number of beds which my be bunks. 


Anyway sort out the logistics the first day in the mountains makes it all worth while.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: International Zone
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › EpicSki Community › International Zone › Best family resorts in France?