Ski holidays are for a good time, not a long time. If you’ve only got a week to spend in the French Alps, you want to make it as worthwhile as possible. Choosing the best time of year to go skiing will ensure you get the best slope conditions possible.
It will also deliver the atmosphere you’re looking for during your trip. The perfect holiday will look different for everyone. But being strategic with your planning can take your experience from good to amazing!
Different times throughout the French Alps ski season will deliver different conditions:
- December has the holiday buzz.
- January & February have fresh powder.
- March delivers an excellent après ski.
Regardless of what a ski holiday looks like to you, our guide will tell you what to expect throughout the season. This information will help you choose the best time to go skiing for you when you’re planning your skiing holiday in the French Alps.
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, there’s no place better to spend December than in the French Alps. French ski towns know how to evoke the Christmas spirit and festive charm.
Kids can meet Santa Claus in the North Pole-esque village of Morzine or visit the world-famous Christmas market in Chamonix.
It’s the best time to go skiing if you’re not afraid of crowds and looking to spend your Christmas holiday on the slopes. This is a beautiful time for a family ski trip, since there are tonnes of fun events on, like the Mont Blanc escalade contest or the Mont Blanc ski challenge, or Mam’zelle Pastel’s face painting in the Chamonix Christmas market.
Ski resorts are bustling over this period, so it’s essential to book in advance. Early booking will ensure you get the location you’re after.
It will also be much pricier, especially if you wait to book. There will be a ton of festive events going on, so it’s the perfect time for families to engage in the fun. For New Year's Eve, expect fireworks, delicious dinners and bubbly drinks flowing.
What are conditions like in the French Alps in December?
In regards to ski conditions, it’s still early in the season, so the snow is hit or miss. Within the first couple weeks of December, some ski resorts are only open on weekends.
During this time, they are usually getting the snow machines working in overdrive. The last two weeks are the best time to go skiing in December.
This is especially true if you opt for a resort that is at a higher altitude. That said, do expect that the slopes will be very busy.
They will likely be full of families at different skill levels. The real draw for those going in December is the lively atmosphere. The charm of the French ski villages over the Christmas season is something special.
December is the best time to go skiing for:
To ring in the new year on a high, why not a ski holiday? Not only will the resorts be less crowded, but you’ll also save quite a bit of money going in January.
Since school holidays will be finishing up, the villages tend to be a lot more mellow. That means you won’t have to worry about things booking up as fast, like ski lessons or restaurants for dinner.
If you’re looking for a laid-back and relaxed holiday, then January is the best time to go skiing in France. Everyone else is getting back to work, and you can take advantage of having more luxury chalet rentals available for your pick.
Even though January is slow, that doesn’t mean it’s dead: it has some excellent events, like the Relais des Chamois in Chamonix, a moon-lit ski race where you can compete against locals and tourists.
You're guaranteed to get some good snow in January. The temperatures will have dropped, so make sure to come well equipped for that. But also expect some excellent snow conditions.
Since queues are shorter, you can maximize your time on the mountain and hit a ton of runs throughout your day. January is the best time to go skiing if you’re a beginner.
Since the mountain is less saturated with people, it’s less stressful.
This gives you more room to practice and hone your skill.
That said, it’s also great for experienced skiers who are after untouched powder and off-piste fun! When the temperatures drop too low, or you want a break, stop and grab a hot wine to warm you up.
Best Time to Go Skiing For:
- Groups of friends
- Anyone wanting a laid-back holiday
- Those on a budget
February is the best time to go skiing in France if you’re looking for a mix of snowy conditions and busy vibes. February is another high season. It’s also the only time for many families.
With it comes another rush of people looking for fresh tracks. Like December, booking your stay well in advance is important.
You'll also want to pre-book any ski lessons and dinner reservations as well.
It’s the peak of the season and you can feel it: It’s half-term break throughout Europe, so there are plenty of kids around and the parties go hardest.
There are also a string of other events hosted throughout the French Alps. For instance, the entire town of Avoriaz turns itself into a fairytale wonderland, with countless activities, shows and workshops for the whole family throughout February.
Snow will not be an issue in February, the most snow-sure month of the year.
Beyond that, the temperatures are warmer than January. You can spend more time out on the mountain without needing to get inside your holiday rentals and warm up.
That means it’s the best time to go skiing with families of different age groups, since the weather is more forgiving on children or older people.
Since the crowds are bigger, expect long queues for lifts and try to get up as early as possible to get the most out of your days.
February is the best time to go skiing for:
- Those who like a balance of skiing and lively atmosphere
Ahhhh March. The weather is warming, the snow is softening, and the conditions are still great for skiing.
It’s the best time to go skiing in France since the days are longer and the lifts are open later.
On top of that, high season is over.
You’ll avoid crowds of families and long queues.
Many fun events happen in March, including Rock the Piste. It's one of the biggest music festivals in France and happens to take place right in the Portes du Soleil.
Kids are back in school, so the runs are less busy. They are more straightforward to navigate without worrying about knocking into anyone.
That makes it one of the best times to go skiing as a beginner.
On top of that, the snow will be starting to soften. It’s much easier to learn on softer snow (and also hurts less when you fall).
The days are pleasant, with sunny conditions much more likely. Après ski is booming during March and often outdoors in the sunshine. For that reason, it’s a great time to plan a ski holiday with friends or colleagues.
March is the best time to go skiing for:
- Stag/Hen dos
- Groups of friends/work groups
April is when the ski season starts coming to an end.
It’s the best time to go skiing in France if you’re after a deal or looking to stock up on some new gear, since prices for equipment and snow gear will drop towards the end of the season. You may even return home with a new set of poles or goggles at half-price.
Easter is in April, so it can be an excellent opportunity to take the family at a good price point. It’s also likely to be quite sunny and mild at the base, so it’s suitable for those who like biking or walking as well.
Since the weather is warming, the conditions will tend to be slushy and wet. The softness can cushion falls but can also leave you soaking wet.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to choose resorts at higher altitudes, like Val Thorens or Chamonix, so you can take advantage of the snow that’s left.
Also, we recommend trying to get up on the mountain around mid-morning. Too early and the slopes will be quite icy, but too late and you risk heavy slush. Slushy conditions are harder and more exhausting to ski through. Around 10 am is the sweet spot.
April is the best time to go skiing for:
- Skiers who don’t like the cold
- Large families on a budget
- Those wanting to take part in other outdoor activities (biking, hiking etc.)
So, when is the best time to go skiing in France?
The best time to go skiing in France will depend on each person’s preference and what they're looking for.
But if we had to pick a favourite, we’d have to say March.
Not only is the snow amazing, but the weather is pleasant, the slopes are quieter, and the après is going off! There are tons of fun events going on throughout the region.
And on top of that, the conditions are great for skiers of all skill levels. You won’t spend your whole holiday waiting in queues.
The goal is to have more time exploring the mountains of the French Alps. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But we hope you find the perfect time for you and enjoy a powder-filled holiday in France.