Why France will always be my favourite place to ski

·3-min read
ski holiday france season 2022 why love it - Aman Le Mélézin
ski holiday france season 2022 why love it - Aman Le Mélézin

Many have felt that President Macron has been bruising for a bust-up with Boris and us Brits. But now that there is a green light for tourists to travel to all parts of the country once more, habitués of French ski resorts can get back to doing what they love best: appreciating the French in and around the fluffy white stuff. Because nothing, for me at any rate, deepens my love of France and its people more than a few days in the French Alps.

With a little studious planning, you will discover that France not only has some of the best ski and après ski in the world, but that the experience has vastly improved over recent decades. Yes, you can now get comfy boots, great food and drink, and modern, warm and dry lifts near beautiful accommodation, but there are also technological advancements. Passes work more practically than ever before and allow wider areas to ski in. Perhaps most importantly, it would seem that, remarkably, the French – even those at high altitude – have got friendlier.

A revolution in attitudes has seen the spirit of service soar so that these days the guys shovelling snow, manning lifts and renting out equipment actually give the genuine impression that they are pleased to see you.

It all helps to make a ski trip to France that much more enjoyable, especially when you are introducing new, er, talent – young or old – to the glories of skiing. Indeed, skiing in the French Alps has never been so varied and accessible and so well catered to different budgets.

france ski holiday - Aman Le Mélézin
france ski holiday - Aman Le Mélézin

Of course, one’s dream is to be in the opulence of a place like Courchevel 1850’s Aman Le Mélézin. There, as well as the more standard aspects of extraordinary luxury – from exquisite breakfasts to deep tissue massages in the spa – you will find the hotel lift takes you straight to the ski room. Here, at all times during the day, charming staff are on hand to help you put on your boots, which is eased with a tiny cup of fresh coffee.

You can find something a little more entry level when it comes to accommodation and affordability in the likes of the rather industrial looking Val Thorens in the Tarentaise Valley. At 2,300m (7,500 ft), you are always high enough for good snow – amplified by the now ubiquitous snow-making machines. Within the valley is the vast linked ski domain of what is now called Paradiski – the combined areas of Les Arcs, La Plagne and Peisey-Vallandry. This is the perfect place for families and slightly rubbish skiers (like me) who don’t want to be too challenged but do want to bomb down slopes as fast as possible. They also have clearly annotated maps and signs so that each day you can hurtle down a different array of pistes. At nearby Montalbert, there is even a little home-from-home touch to be found at Union – the mountain restaurant of great British chef Phil Howard.

If your goal is to consume as many calories as you burn, there is plenty on offer. Across the region you can find everything from simple chicken and chips (at Courchevel’s Bel Air) to the oysters and fruits de mer (of Bulle Café at Les Arcs 2000) or blink-and-you’ll-miss-them secret hideouts just waiting to be discovered (such Le Petit Hibou in Peisey Nancroix). There is nothing so fabulous as a great French lunch at high altitude and a long, exhilarating afternoon to ski it off.

Whether you’re looking for an all-out adventure, or a slow and steady break, when it comes to a ski holiday, France is hard to beat. Vive les slopes françaises!

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