HOW TO BOOK A SKI HOLIDAY TO THE FRENCH ALPS

French Alps Nov 26, 2019

In this post we’re going to gently guide you on how to book a ski holiday in the French Alps.

In fact, we’ll show you everything from exactly how to book your transport (even for groups!), how to find the right accommodation, and how to choose and get your ski passes. This is your logistics guide on how to book a ski holiday in the French Alps.

Bookmark this page so you can refer back to it while you plan your trip.

Let’s dive right in and answer some basic questions you probably have:


How far in advance should I book a ski trip?

If good accommodation and getting the right luxury Alps chalet are a crucial element to your ski group, you should try to book by the end of August. This is especially true if you’re going during the school holidays. If you plan to book outside of these peak times, you should be able to find some accommodation.


What do I need for a first-time ski trip?

what-do-you-need-for-first-time-ski-trip

The main things you’ll need to be ready for your ski trip are the following:

  • Skis, poles, bindings and boots. It’s up to you if you buy these yourself or hire them at the resort.
  • Snow jacket & pants. Waterproof & warm. It’s also useful if it’s a bright or recognisable colour so that your group can easily find you on the slopes.
  • Waterproof snow gloves. Don’t skimp on the gloves, it gets really cold up there.
  • Breathable layers. Layering is important. Avoid cotton, which can stay wet when you start to sweat. Opt for synthetic materials or wool.
  • Ski socks. Get some from the sports shop specifically made for snow sports.
  • Goggles. It gets really bright up there and the snow might blind you. Plus, sunglasses can easily get lost if you fall.
  • Hand & foot warmers. If you’re sensitive to the cold, snow socks and gloves may not be enough in subzero temperatures. Get some of these hand and foot warmers to save your trip:
hand-warmers-bags

You can either buy them in advance on Amazon, but most ski shops will also sell something similar.

On top of these essential ski items, you may also want to bring:

  • Comfy clothes for relaxing in your chalet
  • A bikini or swimming trunks if you want to hit the spa (or the private sauna in your chalet)
  • A deck of cards for playing at night with your group

Now let’s move on to the logistics of booking your trip:

  1. Transport
  2. Accommodation
  3. Ski equipment
  4. Lift passes

I’m assuming you’ve already chosen the resort. If you haven’t, you can check out our Ultimate Guide to Plan a Skiing Holiday In the French Alps, which will help guide you.




How to book a ski holiday in the Alps: Getting there

Seeing how to book a ski holiday isn’t just about the lift passes. You need to get there first.

You can get to the French Alps by plane, train, coach or car. You can use an app like Rome2Rio to find the best route for you:

GIF of someone booking ski holiday transport using Rome2Rio
Use Rome2Rio to see possible routes

Getting there by car

If you’re in the UK, you can get to the French Alps by car via the eurotunnel.

The Eurotunnel takes 35 minutes to cross. It has up to 4 departures/hour from Folkestone. You can book for about £30 each way, without any extra luggage charge.

You can book your Eurotunnel trip here.

Once you arrive to Calais and get off the shuttle, you’ve got a whole day’s drive ahead of you.

Most of the resorts are about an 8-hour drive from Calais.

From anywhere else in continental Europe, you can take the main motorway that leads to Geneva, Lyon or Grenoble. The resorts are only a couple of hours from those cities.


Getting to the French Alps by train

Train stopped at snowy Chamonix train station in the winter

You can also get to the French Alps by train. This is the most beautiful and most eco-friendly option, but not the shortest or easiest. Here are a few ways to get to the French Alps by train:

The Alps are accessible from:

  • Paris
  • Lyon
  • Geneva

From those cities you can take the following:

Getting to Chamonix by train:

Getting to Morzine by train:

Getting to Les Gets by train:

From St. Pancras International or Ashford International train stations you can also take the Eurostar Ski Train and get to the French Alps by train.

This line takes you directly to Moûtiers, Aime-la-Plagne and Bourg-St-Maurice. From those places, you can take buses or local taxis to your location.


Getting to the French Alps by coach

Getting to the French Alps by coach is relatively easy but not quick. It is the method of transport with the smallest carbon footprint.

Flixbus will take you directly to Chamonix, but also has lines to Annecy, Chambéry, Geneva, Grenoble, and Lyon, all which have relatively easy access to the resorts.

The choice of where you go depends on where you’re coming from.

If you take the bus to Geneva, there are a lot of shuttle buses that head to the Alps from the airport.

You can see the schedule/book the second bus on this website.

All buses to French ski resorts leave from the Geneva Airport (which is really easy and fast to get to from the main train station, Cornavin).

From there, the shuttle bus is your best bet.

Bus connections are available from Geneva Airport to the following ski resorts in the French Alps:

Abondance, Aime, Avoriaz, Nourg St Maurice, Brides les Bains, Chambéry, Chamonix, Châtel, Couchevel, Crolles, Flaine, Grenoble, La Chapelle d’Abondance, La Clusaz – Manigod, La Plagne, La Rosiere, La Tania, Le Grand Bornand, Les Arcs, Les Carroz, Les Contamines, Les Gets, Les Houches, Les Menuires, Meribel, Morillon, Morzine, Moutiers, Peisey – Vallandry, Pralognan la Vanoise, Saint Gervais les Bains, Saint Jean d’Aulps, Saint Jean de Sixt, Saint Martin de Belleville, Sallanches, Samoens, Sixt Fer à Cheval, Taninges, Tignes, Val d’Isère, Val Thorens, and Valmorel… and more.

You can also take coach services from London Victoria Coach Station to Cluses in the winter, stopping at Folkestone and operated by Snow Express.


Where to fly into for the French Alps

You can’t fly directly into the French Alps because of the mountain range, but you can fly to neighbouring cities. The closest and best-connected airport to most of the French Alps resorts is Geneva. The Geneva airport offers shuttle buses to almost all the ski resorts in the French Alps.

Other well placed airports are Chambery, Grenoble and Lyon St Exupery.


Transporting skis/luggage to French Alps

If you have a family and a lot of luggage/skis, it might seem complicated to carry skis and all your luggage and take transport like the train or coach. If you decide to take your ski equipment via plane, double-check ski carriage policies, as it can get expensive. You may need to book it in advance, which you should do at the time of booking your ski holiday.

On the other hand, for a lot of skis and snowboards, the cost alone of taking them on the plane will be worth more than the equipment itself. Unless you fly with Swiss Airlines which is still the only airline to offer free ski carriage.

Another option is just shipping your luggage to your accommodation in the Alps. Instead of using shipping companies, we recommend going with companies that are specialised in delivering luggage.

Some companies that offer this service are:




Where to stay in the French Alps

One of the best things about a ski holiday in the French Alps is staying in a cosy and rustic-yet-modern ski chalet. There’s a lot of different kind of accommodation in the French Alps. The most popular are self-catered chalets and package/all-inclusive.

If you want a special ski holiday with everything to your taste, you’re better off DIYing it. Self-catered chalets are great, private, and usually better quality than the ones included in packages.

how to book a ski holiday and book a luxury chalet in Chamonix
Eyong - Luxury ski chalet in Chamonix

You’re here to learn how to book a ski holiday, so that probably means you want to do it yourself.

You can stay right in the adorable Alpine towns of Chamonix, Les Gets and Morzine. Here are some options for chalets in prime French Alps resorts:

From the towns, you can easily access most pistes by local shuttle buses, which is included in the price of your ski pass.


How to book a ski holiday: Should I pre-book ski hire?

Best practice is to always book your ski hire in advance. The ski shop will only need your height, weight and skill level to prepare for your arrival. That way you’re sure to have what you need. You can usually pre-book from the website of the resort you’ll get your lift tickets from.


Is it cheaper to buy or hire ski equipment?

This depends on a few factors. As for most things, if you use it often, it will be cheaper to buy. If you’re only going once a year and you’re flying or taking the train to the French Alps ski resort, it will probably be easier and cheaper to hire your ski equipment.


How to buy lift passes for a ski resort

This step is relatively easy. You can either buy them online in advance (as we always recommend) or buy them at the ski resort on the day you arrive. Prices range from €26 for a day pass to €327 for an unlimited week pass.

If you want to buy them in advance, you can get them directly from the resort websites:

If they aren’t listed on here, you just need to type in Google the following formula: <Name of resort> + buy ski pass.

And it’s as easy as that!




Enjoy your trip to the French Alps

We hope this helped you understand how to book a ski holiday in the French Alps. All your logistics should be covered now, and you should be well on your way to a stress-free holiday in the French Alps.