Learning to ski or snowboard can be pretty daunting, but we all gotta start somewhere. Some of us were fortunate enough to have our parents push us down a mountain before we could walk. For everyone else, learning to ski or snowboard, at any age, can be a right challenge. We’ve rounded up some of the best French ski resorts for beginners.
Different resorts offer different atmospheres for learning. Some have a huge expanse of slopes, perfect for more adventurous learners. Elsewhere, you’ll find resorts that allow you to quietly get on with your lessons, which is ideal for more nervous first-timers.
Skiing is relatively quick to learn, whereas snowboarding may take a smidge more time. However, in the right resort, the entire process can be fun and (mostly) pain-free.
Which Are The Best Ski Resorts For Beginners In France?
For a good first-time or novice experience, you’ll want a resort that has a lot of beginner runs. Beginner runs are graded green (the ultimate nursery slopes) or blue (easier, longer, and good for boosting confidence).
Our top five:
More great ski resorts for beginners:
La Plagne: Best French Ski Resort for Adventurers
This resort is a great place if you’ve taken a few lessons at home and don’t want to spend you week confined to the nursery. The blues outnumber the greens 7 to 1, so expect to move on from the nursery slopes pretty quickly. Anyone who knows any good blues in La Plagne will direct you to the Amica, accessible via the Colorado lift. Try out the Mont Blanc to Monchavin route, plus you’ve also got the Gentil slope, which leads you to Plagne Montalbert.
Les Deux Alpes: Perfect for View-Seekers
This resort if fab if you’re on it for mountain views from the get go. Les 2 Alpes offers some of its easiest runs right at the summit of the resort. Beginners can spend their early days on the slopes lapping up the scenery of snowy peaks and winding runs. The slopes are also relatively snow-sure, meaning a nicer landing for the inevitable tumbles.
Ski pass options are pretty decent too; you can get free access to a couple of button lifts, so your instructor may advise on skipping out the larger, more expensive, ski pass.
Les Deux Alpes has also done a fab job of communicating to different piste users that there are beginners in the area. ‘Slow Zone’ signs signal areas where beginners will be focusing on their snowplough, and create safe spaces where chances of collisions can be minimised.
Once you’re feeling confident, we suggest you had to the 8km Jandri run. If the queues are hellish, dodge the Jandri Express and grab the Bellecombes chairlift for views of Mont Blanc and access to Access La Toura piste. The Jandri Express 2 will take you up to the glacier and you’ll find it at the La Toura mid-station. Then there’s nothing left to do but ski and snow plough your way down.
Méribel: Great for Peaceful Practice
If you’re the type of beginner who just wants to practice in peace and gets a bit flustered with all the pros (and remarkably skilled kids) whizzing past, Méribel is a good choice for you. There are three great little runs that are only for beginners and access is free. Take the Chatelet chair to get to Le Rossignol or take the Platieres gondola to get to the Sittellie run. Le Doron in Mottaret is your third option, and all offer great quality pistes for practice.
The Elements Park (previously called the Moon Park) is open to freestylers of all skill levels, so head over there if you fancy trying out a few different bits. No pressure though; you can always come back another time.
Courchevel: Very Beginner Friendly
A super-friendly beginner resort, Courchevel has four ‘Zones for Evolution of Novices’, or ZEN areas where you can practice your snowplough. The ZEN zones are easy to find and there’s always a free lift nearby. Once you’re a little more comfortable, pick your next route from 85km of blue runs, which account for 35% of the pistes in the resort.
Courchevel 1850 has five free ski lifts, and a couple of good greens and blues that will lead you back into the resort centre. Have a crack at the Pralong Zen area, starting out with the Ferme drag lift, before trying out the Altiport drag lift for a marginally longer run. If you fancy switching up locations, head to the family snowpark.
Alpe d’Huez: Better Chance of Powder-Runs
If you’re up for some diversity and enjoy changing things up a bit, head to l’Alpe d’Huez. The resort itself is massive, and you’ll find 42 greens and 37 blues, plus there are 39 pistes that are considered ‘easy runs’. Les Bergers is a nice speed restricted green where you can focus on your sport without fear of someone clipping or colliding into you.
Those looking for the best type of snow; fresh powder, can get a nice mouthful of the stuff here. Alpe d’Huez has a great snow bowl that lets you enjoy super sweet pistes that are covered with the fluffy stuff on a good day. Climb onto the Marmottes chairlift for some fun blue runs if you fancy a step up from the flat greens.
More Brilliant Ski Resorts for Beginners
Morzine: Great for Relaxed Learners
If you’re style of learning involves a lot of breaks for hot chocolate (or wine), then Morzine is a good choice for you. Easy-to-ride blue pistes are flanked by cute trees and adorable little huts selling refreshments. You can enjoy a picture perfect winter wonderland, only occasionally disturbed by someone taking a flying tumble in the background.
Take the Pieney cable car to find the nursery slopes and then choose from pistes B, C, or D of the TS du Belvedere once you’re ready to up the ante.
Les Arcs: Full of Beautiful Easy Blue Runs
Sure, Les Arcs only has three green runs, but the 64 blue pistes offer up more than enough beginner routes for you to try. Not convinced? Trust us, the blues are soft, friendly, and a breeze to get down. If you’ve bagged yourself some gorgeous slope-side accommodation you’ll likely find a blue that leads you right to your door.
Beginners are given a cheeky sticker, which alerts resort staff that you’re a newbie. Expect staff to happily give great advice as you go, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions.
Ski Tranquille zones set out quiet and safe spaces with designated slower skiing speed limits. Jump aboard the Villards or the Carreley chairs to branch out on some beautiful and easy blues. The more your skills and confidence grow, the more options Les Arcs will offer up.
Les Gets: Best French Ski Resorts for Quiet Family Holidays
For families looking to have a quiet holiday in a more intimate setting, Les Gets has a cute village and a handful of great ski schools eager to get you going.
There are four beginner slopes in the Mappys area, found by the Chavannes lifts. The area is totally pedestrianised, so parents, partners, and friends can come along to cheer you on for a morning lesson. Kiddies can have a crack at the Indian trail offering softly varied terrain through a magical forest setting. There are 35 green runs and 106 blues, so plenty of options to get your practice on, once you feel comfortable enough to leave the nursery slopes.
La Rosière: Good for Nervous Beginners
Another quiet resort is La Rosière. With eight greens and 25 blues, this is a super small and intimate resort that offers a fabulous beginners experience. Ski schools are considered absolutely brilliant in these parts, and if you lose your nerve along the way, the pistes are kitted out with various button lifts to help you along.
South-facing slopes mean you’ll be topping up your Vitamin D even if you stay in the nursery area during your trip. This is probably the best resort for very nervous or very new skiers, because the focus is building confidence, with no pressure to travel far. The location is pretty adorable and the resort itself is designed in a way to make things accessible, so you won’t need to drag your kit about too much.
Avoriaz: Great for Kids
Last but not least, we love Avoriaz for its traffic-free resort, and easy-access nursery slope. The Proclou run will zoom you into Super-Morzine and its a joyous ride for those new to the sport. Perhaps out favourite is the Lil Stash snowpark, designed especially for young beginners. We’ve already raved about this place as its perfect for kiddie snowboarders.
Once you’ve mastered some basic skills on the nursery slopes, there are 37 greens and over one hundred blues to have a crack at. This place is brilliant for the laid-back adventurous beginner looking to do and see as much as possible on their first week of snow.
Skiing or Snowboarding Is For Everyone (Well, That’s What We Think)
Ready to give it a bash? We literally have customers of all ages ski with us every year, some seasoned, some greener than grass. We wholeheartedly believe that skiing or snowboarding is for everyone. Well, at least for everyone to try for a week. Skiing and snowboarding can be as much about the sport, the style, and the speed, as it can be about the mountain, the resort gastronomy, and the snow.
We’ve picked out our favourite places that we think are the best French ski resorts for beginners. From excellent ski schools with super friendly staff, to cracking greens and blues for you to find your confidence, plus brilliant weather, there’s definitely a resort out there for you.
If you’re thinking of booking a ski trip for the first time, either ever, or in a long time, you’re welcome to talk to us about it. We love advising our customers on our favourite places to start out, plus we have our fair share of embarrassing beginner stories that we’re happy to share.
In France, the winter season usually starts around November and December, depending on the resort, and runs through until spring. Booking for the 2019/2020 season has already kicked off. Visit our website to learn more about what you need to plan for your next trip or chat to one of our team.