In a tightly fought battle it seems as though France has taken the lead over Austria and Switzerland as Europe’s foremost destination for ski holidays. Easy transport links from mainland Europe and budget flights from the United Kingdom, combined with an enormous variety of resorts and ski runs to suit every age, ability and budget make France the perfect place to learn, improve and perfect your skiing. And once you feel suitably competent you’ll be ready to take on any or all of these ski runs; the ones we consider to be the best 5 ski runs in France.
1. Double M, Tignes
Heading down from the Grande Motte glacier, the Double M piste will take you all the way down into the ski resort of Tignes val Claret. The Double M is a red run which benefits from unusually good snow conditions thanks to its north-facing aspect. At three kilometres in length and offering a variety bends, jump opportunities and wide ‘motorway’ sections, the Double M is a long and thoroughly enjoyable way to descend more than 1400 meters from the glacier and ski your way towards some well-earned après-ski refreshment.
2. Les Cascades (the Waterfalls), Flaine
Beginning atop the Grandes Platières almost 2,400 meters above the ski resort of Flaine in the French Alps, les Cascades is a magnificent fourteen-kilometre ski run which takes you on a seventeen hundred metre descent to the beautiful village of Sixt. This part of the Grand Massif is blessed with breathtaking scenery and the valley through which les Cascades descends is free of ski-lifts, thus your view of the surroundings is unobscured and peaceful. The tricky bit is toward the end of the run where you will encounter the waterfalls after which les Cascades is named. Negotiation here requires some careful/skilful zig-zagging, but once you are down you’ll agree that the effort was well worthwhile.
3. Vallee Blanche, Chamonix
The classic Vallee Blanche run is one of the best known off-piste ski routes in the world. For skiers of moderate expertise the Valle Blanche offers twenty kilometres of stunning Alpine views; this run isn’t about high speed thrills, it’s about taking the time to drink in the scenery and enjoy the sheer solitude and magnificence of the mountains and forests that surround the run. Although the Vallee Blanche comprises skiing that is comparable in difficulty to a combination of red and blue runs, because it is off-piste it is highly advisable to ski it in the company of a guide; crevasses await the unwary. Handled properly though, the Vallee Blanche is justifiably acknowledged as one of the best ski runs in the world, and a highlight of any visit to Chamonix.
4. The Face, Val-d’Isère
Either famous or infamous depending upon your point of view (and skiing ability), the Face de Bellevarde is considered by many a ‘must-ski’ run when visiting the resort of Val-d’Isère. Although by no means the steepest slope in the region, the Face is a technically challenging run of almost three kilometres and features a 972-metre drop. Despite its demanding nature the Face is wide and roughly halfway along its course the adventurous skier is rewarded with panoramic valley views as it continues down to the village of Val-d’Isère itself.
5. Pic de Midi, Tourmalet, French Pyrenees
Still relatively undiscovered by the mainstream skiing crowd, the French Pyrenees nonetheless offer a range of fabulous French ski runs, with one of the best known off-piste options being the descent from Pic de Midi into the village of La Mongie more than a kilometre below. The surroundings, like the snow, are pristine and undisturbed yet still accessible by ski-lift. Whilst there are no crevasses here, choosing your route down the mountain requires technical ability and common sense; it is unlikely that formal pistes will ever be developed here. However, for those seeking exhilaration and aesthetic pleasure in an environment removed from the typical ski-resort crowd, this run in the heart of the French Pyrenees is unmissable.