Which French ski resort should you visit this winter?
When it comes to planning a luxurious winter getaway to the French Alps, it’s important to remember that no two resorts are the same. In our blog today, we’re comparing the three destinations that play host to Consensio’s stunning properties: Val d’Isère, Courchevel, and Méribel. Whilst you couldn’t go wrong visiting any of these three classic resorts, they all contain their own distinctive brand of alpine magic – so it’s worth being able to make the distinction before you start planning your trip. Here’s the lowdown on which French ski resort you should visit this winter.
We’re a little spoiled for choice here; Val d’Isère, Courchevel and Méribel all offer vast amounts of skiable terrain – and you’d be hard-pressed to spend a week in any of these resorts and feel as though you’d seen it all by the end of it. That being said, there are clear winners when it comes to the sheer amount of pistes available – and it’s Courchevel and Méribel – two of the constituent parts of Les Trois Vallées Ski Area, the largest ski area in the world. Visitors to Courchevel and Méribel can travel freely between each resort in the area (including Val Thorens), and get access to an eye-watering 600km of groomed slopes. All this means you’ll rarely have to visit the same piste twice if you don’t feel like it – and you can guarantee an entire holiday spent exploring.
This is perhaps the most important element to get right when deciding on a skiing location – and it’s especially important if you’re travelling with a group of mixed abilities. As mentioned before, as part of a colossal ski area, Méribel and Courchevel are best suited to provide for mixed groups. Beginners can gain confidence on the gentler pistes, whilst the more impatient amongst your group can exhaust themselves on the endless couloirs.
Val d’Isère, on the other hand, is a thrill-seeker’s Mecca. From the incredible off-piste areas to the formidable Face de Bellevarde, it offers a tantalising assortment of challenges, even for more confident skiers. Whilst Val d’Isère may not be able to provide for beginners quite as comprehensively as its Trois Vallées cousins can – there’s certainly more than enough for developing skiers to get to grips with – and with a Consensio holiday at least, there are multitudes of off-piste options to rival the thrills available on the slopes, anyway.
Whilst the quality of après-ski entertainment in all three resorts is exceptional, there are small differences to be found. Of our three resorts, the more notable outlier would be Méribel – which caters particularly well to guests looking for a more laidback approach. Courchevel offers high-society entertainment on every corner, and you won’t be short of classy drinking spots and restaurants. Val d’Isère would fit this description too, with some iconic nightclubs keeping the après-ski parties running all night long.
Thankfully, given their respective altitudes, all three resorts can reasonably claim to be snow-sure. Climate change has undeniably impacted the ski industry – and resorts found lower in Alpine valleys are being affected the most by warmer winter seasons, which is why Consensio have a robust sustainability ethos, and only operates in high-altitude resorts. Courchevel, Méribel and Val d’Isère all sit higher up, and though it may take a little longer to reach them from the airport, the added transfer time means added peace of mind. Val d’Isère is the highest of the three – with the village sitting at 1850 metres – and also boasts glacier skiing, but all three guarantee great skiing all year round.
As mentioned – these resorts are based high in the Alps, so transfers, especially by car, can take a little while. If you were to fly into Geneva Airport, it would take you two hours to reach Courchevel and Méribel in a car – with transfers from Chambery being a little quicker. Val d’Isère will take guests slightly longer; to make it up to 1850m, it will take roughly three hours from Geneva. Of course, if you have the means to travel from the airport via helicopter, you’ll be able to shave off a couple of hours – and if you’re interested in arriving in style, Courchevel’s Altiport gives guests the option to fly directly into the resort via plane.
Ultimately, it’d be disingenuous to try to put a hair between these resorts in terms of quality. They’re all classic destinations with wide appeal, designed to offer incredible experiences to skiers of all abilities. As far as accommodation is concerned, Consensio is proud to offer enclaves of pure luxury in each of these magnificent resorts. Discover our portfolio of Luxury Catered Ski Chalets and Serviced Apartments and our world-class service before you secure your dream winter holiday with us next season.