Best places to snowboard in France: Top 20 French snowboarding resorts

Aug 05, 2022 BY Luke Rees

France has the largest ski resorts in the world, some of the highest slopes and the greatest vertical. So it is no surprise that the best places to snowboard in France are some of the best on the planet. Check out this guide to the top 20 French snowboarding resorts to find out where to ride next winter!

best places to snowboard in France Photo by Go Montgenevre on Unsplash

France has more ski lifts than any country and boosts the most skier days, meaning more people hit the slopes there than anywhere else. These stats are not an accident as France offers some of the best skiing on the planet. And where there is good skiing you’ll usually find good snowboarding.

Best places to snowboard in France

Why snowboard in France?

The main reason I have snowboarded in France more than any other country is the proximity to the UK. As our closest European neighbour flights are shorter and often cheaper. Plus it is actually easy to drive, get the train or to travel by coach.

But I wouldn’t choose France purely for the ease of getting there. French mountains host five of the ten biggest ski resorts in the world. They have some of the longest vertical, highest lifts and many snow sure slopes above 2,000m.

The view from Aiguille Rouge Les Arcs one of the top french snowboarding resorts

But as a snowboarder to be honest these stats mean very little to me. It is the quality snowparks, excellent snow record and epic off-piste opportunities that get me excited. It just so happens that these things go hand in hand with larger, higher and more reliable ski areas.

French snowboarding destinations: Off slopes

Beyond the slopes there are also plenty of other reasons to snowboard in France.

Accommodation can be picked up surprisingly cheaply and much is ski-in ski-out or just a short walk from the slopes. While food and drink can be very expensive, at the top end it is exceptional. Plus you can usually pick up a descent pizza or kebab on the cheap.

Plus many of the best places to snowboard in France also happen to be the best places to party. While the apres is not as in your face as in Austria, great times will still be had in most resorts. In particular the Folie Douche bars, and plenty of others, offer on-slope, dance festival style outdoor partying from about 3pm each day.

Top 20 French snowboarding resorts

This list of the best places to snowboard in France is not in order of preference. Instead I have grouped resorts by proximity to each other, starting in the north near Geneva and moving away. Many resorts share ski areas so you can snowboard in a few from the list during a single visit.

Review of Morzine freeride snowboarding holiday in Portes du Soleil one of the best resorts for snowboarding in Europe

Please note I have personally snowboarded in all but three resorts on this list.

Morzine

I am starting with Morzine as I love the town and the massive Portes du Soleil ski area. With friends living there I have spent more time in Morzine than any other resort. What I like is that it’s a proper town with a thriving centre that has a great vibe year round.

With around 650km of almost lift linked slopes the Portes du Soleil it is one of the largest ski areas in the world. But unlike other areas, pistes are not crammed together so there is plenty of off-piste terrain between the pistes and vast rideable areas between the resorts.

A huge advantage is a short hike of 5 to 20 mins will provide fresh tracks days after fresh snow. Read this review of freeride snowboarding in Morzine to find out about the incredible back/slackcountry riding.

The town itself lovely. There are no concrete monstrosities or vast hotels. It is all low(ish) rise buildings with wooden facades, sculpted balconies, and roofs covered in Morzine slate. It is a pretty town with many good bars and restaurants that are not as complete a rip off as they can be elsewhere.

Review of Morzine freeride snowboarding holiday in Portes du Soleil. Morzine one of the best places to snowboard in France

Located at 1,000 meters Morzine is pretty low and can be susceptible to rain. But you don’t snowboard in Morzine. You either go up to Avoriaz, or over to the Les Gets side of the Portes du Soleil, both of which are higher so if it is raining in town it will probably be snowing on the slopes.

The only downside to Morzine is the good slopes are all a few lifts or a bus away. It is not ski-in ski-out territory and you can only ride into resort from the Les Gets side. But this means you can choose a different area to ride each day and use the gondolas of free buses from the town centre.

The parks up at Avoriaz are some of the best in France and many British seasonaires have settled in Morzine with good reason. Easily one of the best French snowboarding resorts, but if you want snow on tap it might be better to visit it’s neighbour…

Avoriaz

Purpose built Avoriaz sits on a plateau 800 meters above Morzine making it colder and snowier. In many ways the resort is the complete opposite to it’s neighbour. Most buildings are huge with lots of concrete on display. But they have done a good job ensuring they are no square blocks and in a weird way it works with the mountains.

The resort is car free and almost all the accommodation is ski-in ski-out. The highest slopes of the Portes Du Soleil are close at hand as are links to the Swiss part of the ski area. There are three exceptional snowparks, including the infamous Stash, and a half pipe making it one of the best places to snowboard in France.

Review of Avoriaz snowboarding holiday in Portes Du Soleil The stash © Oreli B. - Avoriaz Tourisme

There are plenty of bars and restaurants including a very lively Folie Douche you can hear from half the mountain away. A good night out can be found but it feels more like a holiday resort than a mountain town. On the down side prices are high compared to Morzine, and that does not always mean better quality.

Avoriaz is steeped in snowboarding history. It was one of the first ski areas in Europe to welcome snowboarders and the first in France to have a snowpark. Check out this review of Avoriaz snowboarding holiday for more info.

Les Gets

Les Gets is another resort in the Portes du Soleil ski area, and is just 45 minutes from Geneva. It is widely regarded as one of the top French snowboarding resorts for families.

Like Morzine it retains its traditional look with lots of wooden chalets and in fresh snow it looks very pretty. The Les Gets ski area has 107 km of pistes shared with Morzine. Most of the slopes are tree-lined and in general they are quieter than the rest of the Portes Du Soleil.

There are a couple of good spots to head off-piste such as Chamossière, Mont Cherry and Nyon. But it is more a ski area for cruising round making it great for beginners and intermediates.

best places to snowboard in France -Les Gets snowboarding in Portes Du Soleil

For me it is access to the wider Portes Du Soleil that puts Les Gets on this list of the top ski resorts for snowboarding in France. And despite having to get across Morzine, it is still easy to make the most of the 650km of slopes using the free buses. Check out Ski Famille for excellent family holidays in Les Gets.

Chamonix

Although I have visited, Chamonix is one of just three resorts on this list I have never snowboarded. Which as a lover of freeride snowboarding is pretty remiss of me. Chamonix is widely regarded as one of the top 10 off piste ski resorts with the Freeride World Tour visiting each winter.

What is there to say about this place that hasn’t been said before? Not much, but what has been said is definitely worth repeating. Ask any French skier and they’ll tell you Chamonix is home to Europe’s highest mountain, (they conveniently ignore Mt Elbrus in Russia). Plus more professional snowboarders than you can shake an angry ski pole at.

Topping out at 4,808m Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps and Western Europe. Its steep, exposed and glaciated terrain can terrify the hardiest mountaineer. And Chamonix has the reputation for enticing the rope bearing, crampon wearing extreme snowboarders.

That said, advanced snowboarders will have a blast, especially if you get a guide and a splitboard to explore the backcountry. The Vallee Blanche is renowned as the longest lift accessible off piste route on the planet. Accessed from the Aiguille du Midi there are breathtaking views and on a clear day you can see Matterhorn, Monta Rosa and Grand Combin.

Splitboarding in Chamonix Photo courtesy of Jamie Barrow

While Chamonix is undoubtedly one of the best French snowboarding resorts it is not for beginners. While there are learner slopes, only experienced riders will make the most of it. Plus the spread out nature of the different ski areas accessed from the valley can be frustrating to those who like to cruise the pistes.

Added to all of the above Chamonix is a proper mountain town that thrives year round. The nightlife is very good and there are loads of options for food and accommodation for all budgets.

Megeve

Not far from Chamonix, Megeve is the French answer to the upmarket Swiss resort of St Moritz. The town, created in the 1920s by Baroness Noémie de Rothschild, is beautiful and was the first purpose built ski resort in the Alps.

There are events and festivals year round with great restaurants and plenty of upmarket shops selling everything from ski gear to jewellery. Located at the heart of the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area there are 445km of not quite lift-linked piste to explore, including six snowparks.

Free buses link where the lifts don’t go, but the vast majority of the slopes are interconnected around Megeve and St Gervais Mont-Blanc. Ranging from 1050m up to 2350m it is not a high ski area.

top 20 french snowboarding resorts: Megeve, France freeride snowboarding road trip

On the plus side nearly all the slopes are below the tree line making it picturesque and less affected by poor weather. When it dumps there are plenty of less challenging off-piste options. Check out this review of Megeve snowboarding to find out why it is one of the best places to snowboard in France if you want a bit of class.

Flaine

Much derided for it’s ugly architecture, Flaine in the Grand Massif is a cracking ski resort not far from Chamonix. Located in a huge bowl almost all runs lead back down to the same spot making it good for families, intermediates and mixed groups.

There are 139km of pistes linking together five villages including a boardercross track and a good park with plenty of features. When I visited it was to review a Les Carroz snowboarding holiday. However I spent most of my time riding in the slopes above Flaine.

The beauty of Flaine is you can pretty much go anywhere in the bowl and know that it all links back to the piste. This makes Flaine one of the best French snowboarding resorts for mixed ability groups and those just getting into off-piste.

Meribel

The mighty Three Valleys is home to four of the top 20 French snowboarding resorts.

Folie Douce apres ski meribel courchevel best places to snowboard in france for partying

Located in the centre of 600km of pistes – the largest lift linked ski area in the world – Meribel offers more snowboarding options than you can explore in a season. Great snowparks, epic off piste and miles of snow sure slopes means it has it all.

Off the slopes it doesn’t disappoint either. Known for an abundance of party orientated Brits and seasonaires Meribel the place to go in Three Valleys if you are most interested in apres. The Meribel Folie Douche is where much of the revelry begins and it doesn’t end until the clubs close in the small hours.

The resort is expensive, everything is over priced because of where it is and the endless party has pushed prices up. Another negative is that the main slopes can be very busy as many people want to ski the entire Three Valleys, meaning they pass though on their way to Les Menuires, Val Thorens and Courcheval.

Courchevel

If you can ignore the badly dressed, moneyed, posing skiers, then Courchevel offers a lot to advanced snowboarders. Under the Saulire cable car are several easily accessed chutes that are steep enough to challenge most.

The rolling terrain around 1650 is interspersed with small cliffs, tree groves and bowls to keep freeriders entertained. Beginners will find plenty to keep them busy too.

Best french snowboarding resorts Pixabay Royalty free image of Courchevel

The snowpark offers freestylers plenty to play with. The man-made hits are actually thanks to the golf course that is playable during the summer.

To save money find a good deal on accommodation in La Praz or neighbouring La Tania. Also avoid the mountain restaurants, and discover the drinking holes of the seasonnaire and locals and Courchevel can be affordable to everyone, despite it’s premier reputation.

With all the great slopes of the Three Valleys available Courchevel is well worth a visit. But there are more Michelin starred restaurants, five star hotels and millionaire’s chalets than anywhere else in France. Which makes it the top French snowboarding destination for luxury.

Val Thorens

Located at 2,300 metres Val Thorens is the highest resort in Europe and as snow sure as they come. One of the best places to snowboard in France in early or late season you can expect snow on the ground from November to May. The Apres is very good with the party starting on the mountain at Folie Douche just above the town.

And the slopes aren’t bad either! The town is in a huge natural cirque overlooked by six glaciers with views down into the Belvedere Valley. Val Thorens is above the treeline which can be bleak in poor weather. But part of the outstanding Three Valleys you have 600km of slopes to enjoy some of which is among the trees.

Photo by T.Loubere OT Val Thorens one of the best snowboarding resorts in France

It’s altitude and location means it has an best snow record in the Three Valleys. So Val Thorens is a the 3V destination for freeriders. There are ample challenging, and more moderate off piste options in and around the cirque and further afield.

Freestylers will love the VT Park, you can often spot pros on the big features and the park is ultra creative. There is also a 900m long VT Fun Ride with tunnels, bridges and banked corners etc and a Family Park for those just getting into freestyle.

Very diffeent to its neighbour Val Thorens, Les Menuires prides itself on it’s friendliness and suitability for families. While not the prettiest resort, there is functional ski in ski out for much of the accommodation and it offers a more convinient and lower cost authentic mountain experience than its neighbours.

Again part of the Three Valleys with 600km of pistes you can explore everywhere from Saint Martin to Courchevel, Val Thorens to Brides-les-Bains, and Orelle to Meribel. But located at the quieter end of the Three Valleys it is less busy.

Head to the La Masse area, which has a new lift as of 2022, for the quietest slopes and excellent off-piste. There is some incredible backcountry riding out beyond the edge of 3V and powder does not get as quickly tracked out around here.

Sun going down from top of Roc gondola in Les Menuires, three Valleys

If you want to join the party in Val Thorens it is easy to ski back to Les Menuires, even after the lifts have closed. Check out this review of snowboarding in Lew Menuires to find out why it is one of the top French snowboarding resorts.

Les Arcs

Les Arcs is split into five distinct resorts, with 1600, 1800, 1950, 2000 and Peisey Vallandry all offering a different experience. Each is self sufficient but they are linked by buses, so if you end up on a night out in Arc 1800 you can still get back to the other areas.

Les Arcs is best places to snowboard in France because it offers something for everyone. From great learner slopes to perfect cruising blues to build your confidence. There are steep blacks and wide but challenging reds, plus a vast amount of runs through the trees above Peisey Vallandry that are great during poor visibility.

Most of the Les Arcs slopes are over 2000m so it provides snow sure skiing reaching up to 3226m at Aiguille Rouge. There are 200km of piste in Les Arcs, but it’s also linked to La Plagne via the Vallandry Express. This creates the Paradski area with a whopping 425km of lift linked slopes.

The snowpark above Arc 1800 is exceptionally good. With lines for everyone it can be lapped via a chairlift – which takes the pressure off your front foot!

Freeride in Les Arcs best french snowboarding

The off-piste in Les Arcs is very good with dedicated freeride areas below Aigille Rogue, lots of between piste and some impressive backcountry options. Check out this review of Les Arcs freeride to find out why it’s one of the top French snowboarding resorts.

La Plagne

Linked with Les Arcs La Plagne has 225km of slopes on it’s side of the Vanoise Express. Like Les Arcs it is a collection of villages that are linked together by free buses. With more than 2.5 million visitors per season, La Plagne is the most popular resort in Europe and has more beds than any other ski resort in France.

You’d have thought this would make it feel super busy but it doesn’t. As with anywhere there can be queues in peak times, but a super efficient lift system keeps everyone moving. Check out the article about my holiday snowboarding in La Plagne to find out why it’s one of the best places to snowboard in France.

The 11 different villages all have bars, restaurants and other facilities meaning that people are spread over the mountain. And unlike other resorts a lot of the lifts do not have runs straight back down below them. This means you are forced to move around the ski area, this aids exploration and seems to reduce crowds.

La Plagne has a good reputation for off-piste with a number of dedicated freeride areas, epic backcountry options and some good areas to explore between pistes. The Grand Col is particularly good although you should take a guide if you do not know the area.

europe snowboarding holidays - la plagne freestyle comp flickr image by Robert | www.robertvandijk.com

The 7 Cube Snowpark above Plagne Central is huge and diverse plus there is a halfpipe. There is also a fun park for those new to freestyle.

St Foy

With just four lifts and 40km of slopes St Foy is by far the smallest resort on this list of the best places to snowboard in France. But it’s one of the top French snowboarding resorts purely for it’s freeride potential.

Within the bounds of the ski area are a number of freeride zones that are only opened once made avalanche safe. Furthermore, there is an incredible amount of backcountry snowboarding to be had off the back of the resort.

The impeccably maintained slopes run from 1550m up to 2620m and there is no snowpark. But you can make your own fun instead with a dedicated off-piste freestyle area set aside for freeriders to get creative.

St Foy is quiet and you can still find fresh lines days after it has snowed. This is why ski instructors go there for fun. Read this review of Sainte Foy freeride snowboarding for more info.

All-mountain Borealis Viking snowboarding review in Sainte Foy, France

Tignes

A testament to Tignes snowboarding culture was that the European X Games was held there until 2013. It is a shame the X Games stopped coming the Europe, however Tignes has continued to produce world class parks and half pipe.

The DC park has large and XL features while the ‘standard’ park has XS, small and medium hits. There is fun to be had for all levels of freestyler and parkrats will be in their element.

But Tignes is not one of the best places to snowboard in France just because it will keep freestylers busy for weeks on end. It is part of Espace Killy linked with Val d’Isere offering more than 300km of marked pistes.

Ranging from 3,456m at the top of the Grande Motte cable car down to 1,550m in Tignes le Brevières. There are lots of long runs, plenty of challenging pistes and brilliant beginner areas. And away from the marked slopes you have some of the best off-piste in France.

Val d’Isere is well known for it’s freeride but the slopes around Tignes are amazing too. Check out Ski Vertigo for great chalets in Tignes and Val d’Isere.

December-snowboarding-holiday-in-Tignes-to-review-Skadi-ski-app-Photo-by-Jamie-Barrow-3

And if you want a night out Tignes will usually deliver. There are on-piste parties at Folie Douche and plenty of bars in the town. The nightlife goes big early and carries on late.

Val d’Isere

For many people Val d’Isere is the pinnacle of French snowboarding resorts. As Tignes bigger brother, it has a fast and efficient lift system, endless immaculate pistes and more off-piste and backcountry than you could ride in a whole season.

Terrain parks are regularly maintained and even rival Tignes, keeping freestylers stoked.

Off the snow there’s seemingly endless activities to participate in such as dog sledding, paragliding and ice climbing. The nightlife can range from trendy to obnoxious and sophisticated to sweaty dives. There is no shortage of money being flashed about, often by Brits, but some reasonably priced bars and clubs can be found.

Val d’Isere regularly tops the list of the most popular ski resorts with Brits. Even a nigth out there can be like Britain because people get proper dessed up.

Guide to Val d'Isere skiing holidays Image Courtesy of Val d'Isere tourist board

Be awawe that between early apres and the proper night out there is a lull when most of the bars are quiet until after nine. From experience if you turn up to Dicks in snowboard attire they will send you home to get changed!

Check out this review of Val d’Isere snowboarding for more info.

Alpe d’Huez

If it’s sun you’re looking to soak up whilst cruising wide, expansive slopes and relaxing with a beer or three, then Alpe d’Heuz is the French resort for you. South facing, sun-laden slopes dominate here.

With an average of 300 days of sun it’s one of the best French snowboarding destinations to top up your tan. Not that snow is lacking either as the resort has a good snow record.

This is helped because the slopes reach up to 3,330m at Pic Blanc. And with more than 2,200m of vertical, 250km of runs and 10,000 hectares of mountains there is plenty of varied terrain to explore.

best places to snowboard in France top french snowboarding resorts Photo Alpe d'huez

For freestylers there is a good sized snowpark with both expert and beginner areas. You’ll also find a boardercross track and very good beginner area. It is one of the best places to snowboard in France located in the Southern French Alps. Find out more at the resorts website.

Les 2 Alpes

One of the best things about Les 2 Alpes is it’s a single base resort which makes it good for mixed ability groups as you all end up in the same area. It also means the apres ski is concentrated into one base as opposed to being spread over a number of centres. For on slope partying check out the Pano Bar.

Topping out at 3,600m it’s one of the highest altitude ski areas in the Alps with an impressive vertical of 2,300m. There are more than 410 hectares of marked ski runs plus plenty of between piste freeride and backcountry options, for example you can snowboard into La Grave.

The slopes are good with seven different sectors to explore with just the central zone getting busy. There is an annoying cat track through the middle of the ski area that you have to carry some pace on, but apart from that it is excellent. If you are there during a powder day try to get on the Diablo lift out of town as blacks off of that are epic.

The glacier means Les 2 Alpes is snowsure and the excellent snowpark even moves onto it for summer skiing. I have visited a few times and it is one of my favourite French snowboarding resorts. Check out this review of Les 2 Alpes snowboarding holiday to find out why.

Review of Les 2 Alpes snowboarding holidayCopyright © Office de Tourisme Les 2 Alpes / Nico Lafay

Serre Chevalier

Serre Chevalier is the largest ski area in the Southern Alps and one of the best places to snowboard in France to escape the rest of the Brits! The resort is actually a string of villages along the foot of a mountain range including Chantemerle, Le Monetier, Villeneuve and the 17th century fortified town of Briancon. There are 250km of lift linked pistes to explore.

You’ll find varied ski runs that suits all abilities with excellent parks and a lot of off-piste to explore. A few of the lifts are still old, but in recent years all the major ones have been updated. So the lifts are fast and efficient and runs never seem to get too busy. Check out the unique off pistes through the Larch forest for some fun freeride!

Unfortunately, banging après is lacking as the accommodation is too spread out, but it is relatively cheap and fun can still be had. Food and drink, accommodation and lift passes are great value compared to the more well known French resorts. Find out more about Serre Chevalier here.

St Lary

Of course the Pyrenees also offer places to snowboard in France. Of the numerous resorts in the French Pyrenees St Lary stands out for snowboarders. This is partly because the De La Rue brothers hail from here.

Xavier, Victor and Paul-Henri all cut their teeth on these slopes and often still ride in the area. And let’s face it, what’s good enough for freestyle, freeride and boardercross pros is surely good enough for the rest of us?

French Pyrenees ski resort news New ski area Pyrenees 2 Vallees St Lary (C) David Vilanova

St Lary has 100km of slopes to explore with a good sized and creative snowpark. The off-piste options are impressive with plenty of easy acesss between piste options but also impressive backcountry. Freeride events are often held here with some very challenging faces.

St Lary is one of the best French snowboarding resorts if you want to try something different. It is almost more French and more traditional than the Alps with a slight Spanish twist particularly when it comes to the food. Find out more in this review of snowboarding in St Lary.

La Mongie

Last but not least is La Mongie. Together with Bareges it makes the Grand Tourmalet ski area with 69 runs and more than 100km of pistes. Pistes reach up to 2500m and it is the largest lift linked ski area in the French Pyrenees with good variety and a well regarded snowpark.

Rising to 2877m Pic Du Midi towers above the ski area and offers an incredible 2000m freeride descent. An observatory and planetarium with a number of telescopes take advantage of the height, clear air and lack of light pollution.

It is possible, and well worth it, to stay at the observatory.

Review of La Mongie snowboarding and freeriding from Pic Du Midi

There are no pistes from Pic du Midi but there is the longest freeride run in the Pyrenees offering 2000m of descent. Check out this review of la Mongie snowboarding to find out why it is one of the best French snowboarding resorts.

Do you agree these are the best places to snowboard in France? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And check out these France snowboarding holidays to book a trip.

 
 

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