The best place to ski for beginners in the French Alps

Blog French Alps January 2020

If you want to learn to ski, there’s no better place to do it than the French Alps. It draws millions of tourists each year because of its reliable snow record, varied terrain, and nearly endless choice of slopes. Before you plan your ski holidays to the French Alps, find out which resort will work for you.

First-time skiers are likely to have a good experience at any of the resorts that dot the French Alps, but there are some advantages to booking a resort that caters mostly to beginners. They offer bigger nursery areas and better ski schools to make learning the ropes easier. So if you want to advance your skills quickly, you should holiday at a beginner-friendly resort.


Photo by Lex Valishvili on Unsplash

To help you plan your first ski trip, we’ve put together this list of the best beginner ski resorts in the French Alps. These six resorts have all the amenities you need to have a great time both on and off the slopes.

Chamonix

The best place to ski for beginners in the French Alps.

Chamonix is one of France’s oldest ski resorts. It hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924 and has been renowned as one of the best places to ski in the world ever since.


Photo by Makonnen Dos Santos on Unsplash

Chamonix has 6 different nursery areas and more than 30 gentle green and blue pistes that are perfect for beginners.

Two of the nursery areas, Les Savoy and Les Planards, are low-altitude, so you can get to them by walking or taking the bus from your Chamonix accommodation. They both have flat terrain, easy-to-use drag lifts, and great instructors from a ski school called ESF Chamonix.

The resort also has lots of blue pistes that beginners can take on as soon as they feel more confident.

Our favourite ski area within the resort is Le Tour. It’s the best place to ski for beginners and families who want to venture outside the nursery areas, but still need gentle slopes.

The numbers

It has 11 wide, easy blues with smooth terrain and very few rocks. The ski area is about 20 minutes away from the centre of Chamonix, but it’s a scenic drive. The quality of the slopes is definitely worth the effort of getting there.

The best place to ski for beginners who want more of a challenge is Grands Montets. It has three blue slopes that are mostly mild with a few steeper areas that will test your skills. If you want to build your confidence, head there.

Could Chamonix be the best place to ski for beginners in the French Alps? Well, it has the kind of varied terrain that beginners need to progress from complete novices to confident intermediates. It’s also one of the best ski resorts in the world. And when you’re planning your first ski holiday, why not go with the best? Oh, and when we talk about the best, we also talk about Chamonix accommodations!

Fun activities for all ages

If you want to take a break from skiing for a day or two, you’ll still have plenty to do in Chamonix. There’s a casino, a cinema, and several museums, including the Chamonix Alpine Museum. It’s located in an opulent palace and has a range of exhibits that cover the history of Chamonix.

There’s also a nature reserve in the area called Merlet Animal Park. You’ll get to see wild animals like ibex, marmots, chamois, and more.

Les Gets

The best, most scenic learner’s area

This resort is good-sized, with plenty of gorgeous luxury Les Gets accommodations located in a province called Haute Savoie in the western Alps. It’s also part of a larger ski area called Portes du Soleil, which encompasses 13 resorts.


The Abachi luxury chalet in Les Gets

If you’re a total novice, you should start in the Mappy’s area near the Chavannes cable car. It’s by far the best place to ski for beginners within the resort.

It has spectacular views and plenty of flat terrain for first-time skiers to glide around on. It also has a few easy-to-use lifts, including two magic carpets and a rope tow.

When you’re ready to progress to the next level, you can head to one of the resort’s blue or green slopes. There are more than 30 gentle beginner slopes in total, so you have plenty of options.

Our favourite slope is Bleuet, which is nearby the Mappy’s area. It’s a mellow blue piste with a 9% average slope. It winds through the forest and past the picturesque mountain chalets, so it’s very scenic.

Charming, authentic mountain village

Les Gets is one of the most charming Alpine villages on the list. It has an authentic French feel, due in part to the traditional Savoyard chalets that line its cobblestone streets. And rest assured that your Les Gets accommodation will be as charming as the resort itself!

In the heart of town, there’s gourmet food shops, boutiques, and an outdoor skating rink that’s great for families. There’s also a restored wooden merry-go-round in the village that dates back to 1871.

Courchevel

Courchevel, the smoothest slopes on the Alps


Vanoise National Park, Courchevel

Located in the Three Valleys, which is the largest ski area in the world, Courchevel itself is a sprawling resort with more than 150 kilometres of slopes. It has 7 dedicated learner’s areas and several excellent British ski schools, so it’s a great place to learn to ski in the French Alps.

All of the learner’s zones are closed to other skiers, so you won’t have to contend with ski traffic. Most of them also have magic carpet lifts, which are easier for beginners to use than regular chair lifts.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of skiing in the learner’s area, you can move onto the slopes. Courchevel has 27 green pistes and 40 blue ones that are easy for beginners to navigate.

If you run out of terrain to explore, you can take a short ski lift over to another resort in the Three Valleys. In total, the ski area has more than 180 green and blue slopes, which could keep you busy for weeks!

Courchevel’s slopes are so good, though, that you may never want to leave the resort. The green and blue runs are wide, gently sloping, and pristinely groomed, which makes for a smooth ride.

Most of the slopes are also north-facing, so they hold snow well and don’t get slushy in the afternoon. The ski conditions at Courchevel are ideal, which is why we think it's the best place to ski for beginners in the Three Valleys. Don't wait any longer to book your Courchevel accommodation!

Dining, shopping, and accommodations

World-class ski slopes aren’t the only thing Courchevel has to offer.

It’s known as the most glamorous ski resort in France, and for good reason. It has seven Michelin-starred restaurants and two six-star hotels. It also has lots of designer boutiques including Fendi and Prada.

Even if you don’t ski, Courchevel is worth visiting for its shopping and dining options alone.

Les Arcs

The best non-skiing activities

Les Arcs is a large ski resort in Savoie, France. It has more than 400 kilometres of slopes, many of which are novice-friendly.

Arc 1800, one of Les Arcs’ seven villages, caters to beginners. The Villards piste and Le Cube run are excellent places to learn the ropes. They both have a very gentle slope and are wide enough for beginners to hone their turns.


Picture from Les Arcs website

Arc 1800 also has an easy-to-use travelator lift and a great ski school called Evolution 2. All of these novice-friendly features make Arc 1800 the best place to ski for beginners at the resort.

After you’ve skied around Arc 1800 for a few days, you should head to Arc 2000. It's the highest-altitude village, so it has spectacular views.

It also has a few shallow blue slopes that are well-suited to beginners. Our favourites are the Cascades run and the Plan Vert piste.

Activities and amenities

If you get tired of skiing, Les Arcs has plenty of other activities for you to enjoy. The resort offers winter sports like snowshoeing, tobogganing, and dog sledging. There’s also two ice skating rinks, a bowling alley, squash courts, and a swimming pool.

Les Arcs is by far the best place to ski for beginners in the Savoie region of France. The resort has plenty of activities to keep you busy when you’re not skiing too. All in all, it’s a great place for your next family vacation or solo ski retreat! Very soon we will offer your luxurious Les Arcs accommodations!

Alpe d’Huez

The best place to ski for beginners, intermediates, and experts

It’s hard to find a resort that satisfies people of all skill levels as well as Alpe d’Huez. It’s the best place to ski for beginners, intermediates, and experts alike. If you’re travelling with skiers of mixed ability levels, you really can’t go wrong by booking this resort (not to mention it’s one of the best party ski resorts in the French Alps).


Picture of L'Alpe d’Huez from The Travel Magazine

The resort has an excellent British ski school called Masterclass. With the help of their experienced instructors, you’ll be able to level up fast. Soon after you begin your lessons, you’ll be ready to take on the resort’s 75 green and blue pistes.

For mid-level skiers, the resort has nearly 30 challenging red runs. Our favourite slopes are in the Signal l’Homme area. They’re long and quiet, so they make you feel like you’re the only person up on the mountain.

Alpe d’Huez also offers lots of challenges and thrills for experts. It’s home to the longest black run in the world, the Sarenne, and has plenty of off-piste terrains to explore.

Alpe d’Huez is one of the best French ski resorts for beginners and intermediates as well as experts. If you’re trying to keep everyone in your travel group happy, an Alpe d'Huez accommodation is what you should pick .

Non-skiing activities

If the weather conditions are too bad to ski for a day, you’ll still have plenty of things to do. Alpe d’Huez has a huge indoor sports centre with over 20 activities. You can try your hand at archery, squash, badminton, and table tennis.

The resort also has an ice skating rink, an alpine coaster, and several high-end spas. With all of these amenities, you’ll never be bored.

Flaine

The longest beginner slopes in the Alps

Flaine is one of the best, if not the best, place to ski for beginners in the northern French Alps.


Flaine Winter Resort

The resort has dedicated nursery areas away from ski traffic in Flaine Forum and Flaine Forêt. They have plenty of room for you to glide around and get a feel for your skis before you try out the slopes.

Both nursery areas also have free beginner ski lifts, which is a bonus.

Advanced beginners can skip the bunny slopes and head straight to the green and blue runs. Flaine has more than 30 to choose from, so you’ll be spoiled for choice.

To ease into your ski holiday, we suggest that you start with easy blues like Mephisto and Toumaline. Once you’re feeling warmed up, you can progress to a tougher blue run like Portet or Les Cascades.

Les Cascades is the longest beginner slope in all of Europe. It’s a quiet, scenic blue run with great views. It even goes past a few waterfalls.

The slope has some trickier areas towards the bottom, so it’s a great way to test your skills. It’s probably not the best place to ski for beginners who are still cautious or shaky on their feet, though.

Other winter sports

Flaine isn’t just the best place to ski for beginners in the northern Alps. It's also the best spot for several winter sports, including ice driving and snowboarding.

Flaine has the largest ice driving circuit in France, which clocks in at 1500 metres long. It also has great snow conditions for snowboarding and slopes for people of all skill levels.

Samoens

The most charming ski resort in the Alps

Samoens, a resort in the famous Grand Massif ski area, has some great skiing for beginners.

At Samoens 1600, there’s a learner’s area that’s the perfect place to spend your first day. Gliding on the wide, flat terrain will help you get used to the feel of your skis before you take on the bigger slopes.


Photo by J G D on Unsplash

Once you start getting the hang of things, you can try out one of the resort’s more challenging green or blue pistes. Almost half of all the slopes at Samoens are blue, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

Our favourite is a slope called Silice. It’s long, quiet, and surrounded by trees and wildlife. It also has some nice wide sections that are easy to navigate and great for practising turns. It’s the best place to ski for beginners in the resort.

Samoens is also a great place for kids to learn to ski in the French Alps. A local ski school called ESF runs a kindergarten that children as young as 3 can join. It gets them on skis for the first time and teaches them some of the basics to get them ready for ski school.

Zig Zag, another ski school in the area, offers one-on-one classes for kids ages 3 to 6. They also run small group lessons for older children.

Historic village

In addition to great beginner slopes, Samoens has one of the most charming villages in the French Alps. It dates back to the 12th century and has beautiful stone architecture throughout.

If you’re a history buff, you should take an afternoon to explore the town’s nine stunning chapels. You’ll especially love Le Bérouze, a quaint little church built in the 15th century.

Plan Your Trip

Now that you know where all the best beginner ski resorts are, the only thing that’s left to do is book your ski trip. Where will you go?

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