Posted on 22 January 2018
Reports in recent years say the popularity of snowboarding is decreasing, yet interest in skiing is growing every year. The sport plays a huge part in the winter tourism season, and for most Europeans who are beginners to the pastime, French ski resorts are their first choice, especially for Brits who don’t have far to travel.
The attraction also lies in the fact that France is a major ski destination and has been for many decades, so establishments in resorts know what beginners want and they offer assistance at every step of the journey to skiing perfection.
Providing everything from rental equipment, to all-inclusive packages to basic skiing technique lessons from experts, beginners will find the industry caters to their every whim. Before we discuss the best French ski resorts for beginners, there are some tips worth knowing before you book your first lesson.
Tips for Choosing the Best Beginner’s French Ski Resort
Research Where You Plan to Stay
There is nothing worse than arriving at your chosen destination to find out only experienced skiers are catered for, and you spend the week feeling intimidated or worse still, scared to hit the slopes. France and the rest of Europe has a grading system for their runs based on the level of difficulty. Green pistes are easy, blue is moderate, red is intermediate and black is for the experts.
Beginner Ski Holiday Packages
If you want to be in like-minded company, book a beginner’s ski holiday. Most of these include ski lessons in the package, and your fellow students are beginners like you. This can also work out cheaper than private one-to-one lessons and easier than a self-catering holiday because resorts can baffle beginners who have little knowledge of the terminology and layout. Having an expert on hand allows you to concentrate purely on your skiing lessons.
Drop the Nerves
A common myth says the older you get, the harder is to learn, but it is just simply all about focus. The benefits far outweigh any nerves because learning to ski is a significant confidence boost. Also, skiing fast downhill is only for experienced skiers. Beginners start on the gentle slopes, allowing you to progress at your own pace. Oh, and expect to fall. Everyone does when they are learning.
Don’t Buy Equipment
Before you rush out and spend thousands on equipment and gear, stop to think if this is something that you will be doing long term. For people who only ski once a year, renting the equipment is cheaper and more cost-effective. Secondly, we have based our choices of the best beginner resorts in France, on the selection of equipment hire shops and variety of ski schools and/or private instructors of which many are English run or have English speakers.
Four of the Best French Ski Resorts for Beginners
Sitting in the Alpine Les Allues Valley, many ski experts say Meribel is the best French ski resort for beginners. Fifty-one green runs including the Floret and Blanchot offers a gentle pace, and should you complete the Rhodos slope, then the choice of 238 intermediate runs opens up to you.
Given Meribel’s colossal selection of easy routes, and popularity with beginner skiers, ski schools and private instructors are in abundance, and this likewise attracts a considerable amount of families. If there is anyone within your group, that decides skiing is not for them, Meribel has a vast range of other activities to keep them occupied while you carry on with your lessons.
The top-rated La Plagne resort, sitting at an altitude of 1970 metres presents beginners with a vast choice of easy runs to develop your skills at a comfortable pace. The family-friendly atmosphere includes a beginner’s zone in the centre, and should you take it to quickly, you can progress up the mountain to the more intermediate slopes.
The Plagne Bellecote area also has a beginner’s zone as well as a surfer’s lift to the centre. Given La Plagne’s reputation as a family-friendly resort, apres ski is low key but still enjoyable.
Nobody can deny the fantastic view, so the Alpe D’Huez ski resort, one of the biggest beginner’s areas in France, with 41 green pistes to practise your new-found skills on. The central location of Les Berges serves 12 of those green marked ski slopes, and more importantly, it is a designated low-speed zone so that beginners can practise without fear.
Les Berges also links easily to the DMC area with its beginner’s snow park and 12 green pistes. The resort has a multitude of ski hire shops, a few schools and private instructors. Alpe D’Huez is one of those ski resorts catering for everyone whether they want a full-on experience with lively nightlife or a low-key week.
Courchevel has the reputation as to the glitzy place to be seen for intermediate and experienced skiers, yet it does an excellent job of accommodating beginners with its four zen zones. The Zen label means Zones for the Evolution of Novices and is named Pralong, Golf, Micky and Envolee.
The 1850 and Moriond villages are best for beginners and highly noted for their family-friendly environments. If prices at 1850 stretch beyond your budget, opt for the latter
Further Reading: To know more about the skiing resorts of France, check out our area guides listed on the menu bar or if money is no object, read about the best luxury ski resorts of France.