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Only an hour drive from Geneva, the Chamonix-Megève region in the Savoy Alps at the foot of Mont Blanc – Europe’s tallest mountain at 15,000 feet — was the original French ski resort. Here it’s all about altitude and challenge, with a good dose of danger posed by the steep vertical drop and extreme conditions. But as with most other major alpine ski mountains, there is more-gentle terrain for beginning and intermediate skiers and boarders. While Chamonix is known for its nightlife, nearby Les Carroz is well-suited for families with children. Boarders should head for the snowboarding Mecca of Avoriaz, one of several resorts in the Les Portes ...

Only an hour drive from Geneva, the Chamonix-Megève region in the Savoy Alps at the foot of Mont Blanc – Europe’s tallest mountain at 15,000 feet — was the original French ski resort. Here it’s all about altitude and challenge, with a good dose of danger posed by the steep vertical drop and extreme conditions. But as with most other major alpine ski mountains, there is more-gentle terrain for beginning and intermediate skiers and boarders. While Chamonix is known for its nightlife, nearby Les Carroz is well-suited for families with children. Boarders should head for the snowboarding Mecca of Avoriaz, one of several resorts in the Les Portes du Soleil group; neighboring Morzine has plentiful facilities for beginners, and its ski pass includes the trails at Les Gets, some of which are reserved for children only. Also good for families in this area is La Chapelle d'Abondance. Les Arcs and La Plagne in the Haute Savoie have some of the highest pistes, reliable for snow in light winters and at the edges of the season. Also high are the slopes of Val d'Isère, many of whose 185 miles of pistes are over 8,000 feet altitude. Although it is one of Europe’s most expensive ski areas, it has a good range of terrain for all skill levels and offers a much longer season, where some skiing is possible at almost any time of year. Les Trois Vallées — Courchevel, Val Thorens and Les Menuires — is the world's largest ski terrain accessible with a single pass, offering almost 200 ski lifts and more than 300 miles of trails and slopes. It also has artificial snow to tide it through light winters. Courchevel is one of the most fashionable (and expensive) ski resorts, with a lively après-ski and nightlife scene. Closest to Grenoble and one of the largest Alpine resorts, l'Alpe d'Huez has terrain for beginners, but also good off-piste skiing for the more experienced.

Lura Seavey
About the Expert

Lura Seavey is the author of Fun with the Family in Vermont and New Hampshire and she has contributed to several Thomas Cook guidebooks, including Drive Around Catalonia, Travellers Mallorca, and Travellers Barcelona.

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Lura Seavey for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The French Alps are those parts of the Alps mountain range which lie in France. They are within the regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur and Rhône-Alpes
  • Language: French
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    November through February usually has the best snow conditions.