As Europe’s winter season hits its peak and excited households pack for half-term skiing trips, we thought it timely to highlight some useful stats for anyone hunting for a property on a French ski resort! And remember, an Alpine home is as much fun to visit outside of the winter months, especially for anyone who enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle …
Arguably Europe’s favourite winter sports destination, France is home to an estimated 250 ski resorts – more if you include small, non-commercial spots that locals try and keep to themselves! Diversity is key to its popularity. Sure, the French Alps is home to some of the world’s swankiest winter hang-outs, such as Courchevel, Val d’Isère, Megève and Chamonix. But it also boasts a huge choice of family resorts that combine world-class skiing for all levels with excellent amenities and off-slope leisure activities.
Whether you want a large interconnected ski area or a small village with its own slopes, there’s so much to choose from. Would you prefer traditional chalet-style or modern architecture, lively nightlife or a quieter more family-oriented environment? Then there’s the transport. Are you willing to travel 2 hours from the airport? What’s your altitude preference? There are 50 high altitude resorts in the French Alps alone, including Europe’s highest Val Thorens – you’ll find it in France.
The best all-round ski resort in France right now is Alpe d’Huez. Skidata ranked 232 ski stations across France, scoring each for altitude, infrastructure, snow record, pistes and ski area (including north-facing) and cost of ski passes and accommodation. In second place is Serre Chevalier, with the remaining top 10 spots taken by Chamonix, Méribel, Les Menuires, Les 2 Alpes, Les Arcs, Tignes, La Clusaz and Megève. To be fair there’s not a lot between the top 20. The Northern French Alps (Alpes du Nord) is home to all of France’s top resorts – only one of the top 20 isn’t there, namely Serre Chevalier (Alpes du Sud).
France’s highest scoring ski resort outside of the Alps is Saint-Lary Soulan in the French Pyrenees, ranked 37th by Skidata.
Other of France’s 34 Pyrenean resorts include Font-Romeu-Pyrénées 2000 (41st), Les Angles (50th), Ax 3 Domaines (51st) and La Mongie (58th). The other French mountain ranges (‘massifs’) with ski stations include the Jura with nine, including Les Rousses (57th) and Monts Jura (60th), the Massif Central with 13, including Besse Super Besse (102nd) and Le Mont Dore (149th), and the Vosges, which counts Gérardmer (104th) and Le Lioran (121st) amongst its 17 resorts.
The prettiest ski resort in France
Does your dream ski resort look like the cover of a chocolate box? If so, Skidata scores 12 out of the 232 resorts 10 out of 10 for charm, prettiness and harmony with its surroundings. These are Saint Martin de Belleville, Morzine, Méribel, Megève, Val d’Isère, Le Grand Bornand, La Tania, La Clusaz, Courchevel, Combloux, Chamonix, Bonneval sur Arc.
How much does a lift pass cost?
Lift passes for French ski resorts can be a major expense on any ski holiday, so how do the different ski areas and mountain ranges compare? The average cost for a week’s pass across all French resorts is €160 or €31 for a day (based on 2020-21 season). Resorts in Alpes du Nord have the highest average cost – around €190 for a week’s pass, followed by the Pyrenees (€152), Alpes du Sud (€142), the Jura (€133), the Massif Central (€105) and the Vosges (€99).
Looking closer at the Alpes du Nord, Les Trois Vallées is the priciest domain to ski in, with a week’s pass costing in the region of €321 or €64 for a day, followed by Espace Killy – Tignes/Val d’Isère (€305, €61), Les Portes du Soleil (€285, €57). By far, the most expense skiing in Alpes du Sud is the Ski Freeride area in La Grave la Meije – €270 for the week, €51 for the day. The cheapest ski pass in France is in Le Grand Valtin in the Vosges, where a week’s pass costs just €40, €7 for the day!
Ski property in France
Ski property in France continues to be a good investment. Average prices in resorts in Alpes du Nord rose 8.2 per cent in the year to January, 9.3 per cent in Alpes du Sud and 5 per cent in the Pyrenees, according to Meilleurs Agents. Average prices in the French Alps as a whole have risen by 27 per cent in the last three years.
Alpes du Nord is the most expensive massif to buy a French ski property, with average prices now €6,295 sq metre. Unsurprisingly, it’s home to the three most expensive resorts in France, namely Val d’Isère (€13,569/ sq metre), Courchevel (€10,977/ sq metre) and Megève (€10,714/ sq metre). Average prices in Alpes du Sud are €3,304/ sq metre.
The cheapest French massif to buy in is Massif Central, where average prices are €2,470/ sq metre. The Vosges is only marginally more expensive (€2,573/ sq metre) and home to France’s cheapest resort to buy a ski homes, namely Saint-Maurice-sur-Moselle (€1,448/ sq metre).
Considering prices and overall quality of all resorts (accessibility, snow cover, ski area, infrastructure and amenities), Meilleurs Agents ranks Les Arcs (Bourg Saint Maurice), where average prices are €4,290/ sq metres, as best value for money in Alpes du Nord. In Alpes du Sud it’s Pra-Loup (€2,459/ sq metre) and La Mongie (€1,713/ sq metres) in the Pyrenees.