One of the most beautiful places to practice skiing and snowboarding from Europe is for sure France.
This amazing country is conveniently located near the UK and Germany and is a cheaper option to the extremely expensive Swiss resorts.
The closest and most important ski area to drive to is the french Portes du Soleil which includes the beautiful resorts Morzine, Avoriaz and Les Gets on the French side and Champery and Chatel on the Swiss side.
From all these 5 villages the most famous and authentic are Morzine, Avoriaz and Les Gets.
Let’s discover together the secrets of these amazing traditional french villages and why you should go skiing here.
Portes du Soleil
Portes du Soleil is one of the biggest ski areas in the whole world with 289 ski runs totalling 650 kilometres spread across the valleys of Abondance, Aulps, Morgins and Illiez.
Of course, you can also choose to go to the Grand Massif or to Val Thorens or why not La Clusaz but in my opinion Portes du Soleil is the best.
Even if there are no high peaks around, the area has its own microclimate influenced by Mont Blanc which is located a few kilometres to the south.
The ski trails run through beautiful forests from one village to another, from the top of the mountain to its bottom.
The village of Morzine is the most important ski resort in the whole area.
It is just 547 miles from Calais meaning that in less than 9 hours you will reach this amazing ski resort.
The cheapest and easiest way to get from Calais to Morzin, one of the closest french ski resort to drive to from UK is to follow the A6 route.
Besides the fuel cost, you have to add up the tolls which are around 70 euros for this section of the road. Take with you snow chains and an ice scratcher because you’ll need them for sure when driving to the Alps.
The village of Morzine is located between 1.000 m to 2.470 m altitude and is one of the best places to go if you are interested in traditional architecture.
There are certain rules and regulations which have to be followed when building a hotel or a chalet in this area.
The purpose of these rules is to keep the local architecture alive.
The ski club was founded in 1910 and the first ski lift was built in 1934 trying to attract tourists in their part of the mountain.
This picturesque village with its amazing slopes is perfect for beginners and intermediates as well as families.
It is awarded the Famille Plus and the Top of the French Alps labels, being one of the best ski holiday destinations in this part of France.
I am sure that after a long day at ski you are looking for a good place to chill and chat with your friends.
Locals from Morzine have thought about everything and opened many après ski: 10 altitude restaurants, 2 cinemas and a lot of bars, shops and clubs.
Where to sleep
Hotel le Petit Dru is our choice for this village. The resort is located close to the village centre and ski slopes and offers high-quality services at great prices.
The hotel features a pool, two restaurants and a lounge where you can relax and sip a glass of wine.
Located at an altitude between 1.800 m to 2.460 m, Avoriaz is a man-made resort built around the 1960s.
The person who designed and imagined everything was Jean Vuarnet, the one who won a gold medal in the downhill at Squaw Valley Winter Olympic in 1960.
This beautiful mountain village was among the first villages from France in which cars were forbidden. There are no roads, nor car parks, so the place is designed just for pedestrians.
So the entire resort is a paradise for parents with young children as the area is really safe.
The closest french ski resort to drive to from UK is located 550 miles (885 kilometres) from Calais which means it is 8.5 hours drive from Calais if you follow the A26 route.
The area is perfect for children and beginners as there are a lot of green and blue slopes, most of them starting directly from the resort.
Intermediates are also welcomed here as there are more than 10 red pistes spread along the mountains.
La Combe de Machon and the Swiss Wall are the most popular pistes for experts going down the mountain giving the adrenaline dose needed by experts. It is one of the best places from France where experts can test the ski gears and get their doze of adrenaline.
Starting with the summer of 2020, a completely new waterpark was open to the public.
Just imagine how amazing it is to be in a tropical jungle at 1.800 metres altitude! The place is an attraction for children and adults and offers many rivers and pools with warm water where to chill after a day at ski.
Where to sleep
Coquet studio dans la fabuleuse station de Avoriaz 74 is a cosy apartment located close to Avoriaz Ski School and within walking minutes from bars, restaurants and shops.
You have a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room and a balcony from where you can admire the beauty of the place.
3. Les Gets
Les Gets is the village perched on a mountain pass, located at altitudes between 1.170 m to 2.460 m.
It is one of the oldest french resorts from the area being founded in the 14th century by Jews driven out of Tuscany.
It is considered by many skiers and snowboarders as the most beautiful and the closest french ski resort to drive to from UK, being 543 miles from Calais.
In about 8 hours and 40 minutes, journey time from Calais you reach this amazing village if you follow A6.
Spread across the mountains around the village there are 280 slopes out of which 34 green, 119 blue, 101 red and 32 black.
196 ski lifts serviced the 650 pistes from the mountain and the highest top resort is located at 2.350 metres.
Les Gets is great for beginners, intermediates and families and was labelled Famille Plus and the Top of the French Alps.
The Snow park Les Gets is one of the most modern ski parks in the area with different modules available for all categories of skiers.
Where to sleep
One of the best places to stay while in Les Gets is Chalet-Hôtel Le Labrador, a beautiful hotel located close to the pistes and walking trails.
This 4 stars hotel offers a wellness spa and a gym, 21 rooms and 13 self-catering apartments.
The good news about Portes du Soleil is that children up to 5 years old ski free and you remain a child up to the age of 16.
Actually, Port du Soleil is the ideal place to go if you are interested in a winter escape close to the UK.
In about 8 hours you reach this place from Calais, so why don’t you start planning your winter escape right now to the closest french ski resort to drive to from UK?