Winter sports: how to choose your ski resort

Winter sports: how to choose your ski resort

The winter sports season is approaching! It's time to dust off your skis or your snowboard. But before you jump headlong into the powder, do you know where to hit the slopes this winter?

France has several hundred ski resorts, which makes it the country with the most ski areas in the world. From the Northern to Southern Alps, from the Pyrenees to the Massif Central, from the Vosges to the Jura via Corsica, it's a difficult choice.
How do you choose the perfect ski resort for you this winter? We give you our tips on making the right choice. For 2 days or a week, with the family, friends or in a couple, spring snow or skiing on powder, whatever the equation to resolve, you will have a good time!

Winter sports: how to choose your ski resort

How long are you going for?

A weekend
Only have 2 days to get away? Do the tour of the resorts near you. OK, if you’re in the Paris area then that could still be far away, however if you can go by train then you’ll beat the fatigue. Ideally, plan on leaving Friday evening to avoid losing half a day on the slopes. Go for a smaller resort so you don't waste time choosing the slope for you among the resort’s 170 downhill options! You will also discover the whole area in 2 days and feel like you have really made the most of it.

One week to a fortnight
Have time to enjoy yourselves? Choose a resort with a choice of slopes to work your snowplough. Ideally, one that is connected to other ski areas for the days when you want a change of scenery!

You plan on coming back every year because you like to create rituals
In the same vein, if you're counting on just one resort for your next 10 years of snow weekends then choose something pretty big so you don't go round in circles every year!

Winter sports: how to choose your ski resort

How to know if a resort is too big or small?

Just look at the number of kilometres of slopes advertised for each area. A factor that also makes a difference is the option of accessing other resorts on the slopes. There are many ski areas that offer passes that include the use of climbing tracks of surrounding resorts.
Also keep an eye on side activities to skiing (such as the option to go snowshoeing or a spa!), really useful on bad weather days or heavy tiredness.

Winter sports: how to choose your ski resort

How many people are travelling?

This year, the season is happening as a couple or in a duo. You both like to make the most of the snowy slopes. You can opt for a hotel stay or a small, fully equipped studio. To emphasise the cosy side of the holiday, village resorts are ideal: the downhill enjoyment and village charm under the snow!

With the family or your clan
With your friends or extended family, you will need facilities that can accommodate groups. If you fall for a small resort then you need to plan ahead. As is often said: “first come, first served”! The risk is finding that 8 of you are sharing one double bed which is honestly not very comfortable. Also think about your meal planning: do you want to be cool and plan to go to the restaurant? Or have you already divided up meal preparation between the holidaymakers? In which case, you need a lodge equipped for cooking and kitchenware for big groups.

And of course, the more of you there are, you will need varied sporting activities. Something for every taste! When we go with Uncle Gilbert who is a snowshoe enthusiast and cousin Hortense who was born with skis on her feet then it's better to head to a resort where everyone can meet up!

And what about the kids? The young ones will need a snow garden or ski lessons to allow the parents to breathe for about 45 minutes... OK, granted that’s not long ;-).

Our advice is to find out what everyone wants before leaving in order to find the area and services that suit everyone!
Don't forget that on average nearly 1 out of every 2 people that visit the snow don't ski!

Winter sports: how to choose your ski resort

What activities interest you?

The playground areas differ from one resort to another! Do you want more downhill skiing? Off piste? Cross-country skiing? Snowshoeing? Sledging...
Some resorts are known for their off piste area or their kilometres of cross-country ski slopes in the great outdoors. Don't know what to choose? Tourist offices will be able to help you out:
There you will find the activities list for each resort, seasonal entertainment (festivals, sledge runs or night skiing downhill, or even snowshoeing evenings), etc.

Also take into account everyone’s practice level. Travelling with beginners? Better to focus on resorts with lots of green slopes!
Conversely, if you have too few black slopes or you are crazy about powder snow, go for a resort with more challenging slopes and off piste options.

Finally, you can also ask what you are looking for in the landscape! Are you looking for big snowy expanses or pine forests?
Depending on the region and the altitude, the landscape can be totally different! To make it easier: the higher the resort, the less forest there is.

Are you travelling with friends and you want to party? Some resorts offer a nightclub atmosphere on the slopes and of course, make sure your destination doesn’t have just one bar that closes at 9 p.m...
Looking for a relaxing holiday? Check that the thermal baths or spa hotels are near your location.

Winter sports: how to choose your ski resort

What is your budget?

We won't lie to you, going skiing can quickly cost you an arm and a leg depending on the fall. Again, we don’t wish that on anyone!
Overall, the price of a pass for a huge resort offering many ski lifts will be higher. Of course, this type of resort attracts an international clientèle, often well off, which has an effect on prices and all resort services: apartment rental, equipment material, restaurants, etc.

Obviously, going to a renowned ski area in season can often be more expensive. That said, some resorts sometimes have interesting offers so look out for potential promotions... especially when the snow is taking a little longer.

Conversely, those with basic ski lifts are more affordable. However, agreed that this generally means a smaller area and reduced number of slopes.

Another criteria affecting the budget: the resort’s reputation. No need to say much about this, but the more well-known the resort area, the greater the risk of finding a bad score.

Finally, the period you plan on going on holiday also affects the price.
In short, if you only have a limited budget then take advantage of off-season skiing offers.

Winter sports: how to choose your ski resort

When are you going?

The period you choose to go on holiday affects several factors: snowfall and price!

The season is getting longer and resorts may have little snowfall for the Christmas holidays, however they generally catch up in February. The higher resorts enjoy snowfall until spring.
If you like to ski in the forest then low altitude resorts are perfect for you! Especially since you will be less restricted by the weather as you can easily ski in the forest even when it's snowing! Early in the year is the perfect period for you.
If you want to go in spring when the slopes are a little warmer then opt for a high altitude resort. Colder temperatures at night maintain the snow layer later into the season.

If you travel during peak holiday periods, rental prices will be higher than if you have the option of travelling off-season. Obviously, it's much easier if you don't have kids or if they're past school age. Outside holiday periods is cheaper and there are fewer people on the slopes. For example, in January you can also enjoy significant snowfall. Well, it's great!
But of course if it was this easy then everyone would travel off-season...
School holidays dictate many family holidays and there are still price difference between them.
Everyone dreams of Christmas in the snow and it's often the most expensive period, these two weeks of holiday are much the same for all regions. If you like torch runs and fondue on Christmas Eve then the Christmas and New Year holidays are for you (despite the price).
The February holidays generally offer the best snowfall and the days begin to seem a little longer.
If you like the spring snow then you can ski at altitude for less during the Easter holidays.  

Winter sports: how to choose your ski resort

Want to reconnect with nature?

Cabins, yurts, plastic bubbles and igloos grow like mushrooms in resorts! You can choose to spend a night, or several, at the heart of the mountains. Some organisations even offer snowshoe walks and nature awareness during these stays.
Learn to build an igloo, to recognise spruces and observe animal tracks in the snow...

There you go, now you have a few pointers for choosing your ski resort this winter. We hope you enjoy the slopes!

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