Christmas is a magical time. Until you hit about 14 and suffer for a few years at family get togethers before finally rediscovering the joys in your late twenties. Fortunately, resorts do a grand job when it comes to Christmas, so you can shake off the family this year and head out for a trip of presents, mulled wine, pretty lights, and great runs. Here are our favourite French resorts for Christmas and New Years this season.
Our Favourite Christmassy Resort Is Val d’Isère
At the top of the list for the best French resorts for Christmas and New Years is Val d’Isère. If you’ve ever fancied skiing with Santa, head here this season! As well as dishing out waves and hugs to excited kiddies, Father Christmas dons his planks and joins them for a cheeky descent. It’s quite the scene.
The festivities centre around the old town, with a street parade full of costumed characters. Join in the party by heading to the tourist office for some face paint and glitter application. There is carol singing, live music, mulled wine, hot chocolate, and plenty of very jovial holidaymakers revelling in the Christmas atmosphere. Father Crimbo comes down through the town on his sleigh and kiddies run to him for hugs, handshakes, and high fives.
For New Years, the Airstar Night Light event is a rather spectacular one, not to be missed. There are fireworks and live music shows that draw plenty of ‘oooohhs’ and ‘aaaahhhs’ from the crowd.
For New Years, Val d’Isère scores big. All bars and clubs are in on the action, throwing themed parties and hosting big name music talent. Just prior to midnight, the bars empty as everyone floods the town for a countdown. Champagne showers follow and everyone gets on their merry way.
Christmas in Tignes
Kicking things off in December, Tignes is a leader at Christmas festivities. Tignes Le Lac has a beautiful Christmas market offering everything from food to cute knick-knacks. We particularly love the vin chaud and the handmade christmas tree decorations.
Tignes Val Claret puts on a hilarious freestyle competition, which is perhaps the only chance you’ll ever see Santa and his elves popping out a cheeky backflip on a snowboard. The ski schools also get involved, creating light displays on the pistes.
Santa does his rounds on Christmas Eve, and people are generally quite merry as they wander around the resort. He then reappears on Christmas Day to spread some more merriment. The vibe of the resort is genuinely quite sweet and jovial.
New Years Eve is an absolute blast in Tignes. Appearances by David Guetta are not unheard of. Cirque Eloize have also graced Espace Killy and wowed the crowd. At midnight, the fireworks kick off and the display is spectacular. Continue the party at one of the many awesome bars in Tignes. Head to Loop Bar if you’re not sure where’s best to go. Expect epic snow for all the Christmas and New Year holiday. What better way to celebrate?
Discover the Glitz in Courchevel
In Courchevel, all the villages get involved in bringing out the Christmas magic. They are decorated beautifully, with little lights twinkling in the trees. Christmas is a glamorous affair in this resort. Most of the action takes place at Courchevel 1850 and the street entertainment is really cracking. Fanfrallette the Christmas Fairy makes a flying tour through all the villages, as does Jean Sérien the storyteller.
Santa Claus and his band of elves pass through all the resorts on Christmas Eve. He finishes his journey in Courchevel 1850, and the crowd are then treated to one of the most epic fireworks displays that the Alps has to offer.
The Christmas Village in Place du Tremplin sells a handful of seasonal crafts, foods, and sweet knick-knacks. Courchevel Moriond hosts the Katchalene show on Christmas Day. Expect incredible performers, excellent music, magic, illusions, and a great atmosphere.
Make sure you find out where the Chamallow Party is being held if you go. It will either be outdoors at Place du Bachal in Courchevel Moriond or Place du Forum in Courchevel 1850. If you can get there, go for it; you’ll be greeted by a fabulous smell of the burning of hundreds of marshmallows. Sticky faces and fingures are unavoidable, so get stuck in at one of the fire pits.
New Years in Courchevel also doesn’t fail to disappoint. The usual merriment is amplified by a fabulous firework display and party. The event has a wonderfully glamorous air to it, and makes for a wonderful beginning to the new year.
It’s All About the Tree in Megève
Boasting one of the best Christmas trees that you’ll ever find in any resort, Megève is a popular destination for a Joyeux Noel. The quaint and picturesque village is lit by its own Christmas tree, which is decorated in a new theme every year. We’re not talking a bit of tinsel here and a plastic icicle there. Previous themes have seen the tree glowing in Swarovski crystals and dressed in hand-painted baubles. The town is illuminated in fairy lights and covered in ice figurines.
Papa Noel does his rounds with his elves on Christmas Eve. Children receive hot chocolate whilst adults are gifted a hot cup of mulled wine. Head to the midnight mass which is held in a 13th-century church for an enchanting experience.
For New Years, everyone gathers around-you guessed it-the beautiful tree. Celebrations start out at La Folie Douce and continue late into the night across the resort.
Chocaholics will love this resort. They have a chocolate workshop that makes those not even that keen on the sweet stuff start to drool. It is a super family-friendly resort and so unsurprisingly it puts on wonderful Christmas mini events for kids. Father Christmas takes up residence in the two weeks leading up to Christmas Day. After that, he can still be spotted meandering around the village or zooming down a ski slope. Look out for him if you want a Santa selfie.
Les Gets kicks off New Years with live music and a big party. The fireworks display is always a delight to watch, and the mulled wine continues to go down a treat.
Les Deux Alpes
The Christmas Forest is our absolute favourite. It opens up on the main square on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Kiddies drop their letters to Santa in the post box, and there are opportunities for them to have a go at Christmassy arts and crafts. All very adorable.
Additionally, there is a lovely Christmas market, where you can get roasted chestnuts and toasted marshmallows. Fireworks and various displays entertain the crowd, and on New Years Eve, the festivities culminate in a massive party. Make sure you pre-book as restaurants fill up quickly. Bars remain open late into the night.
Home to the best Christmas ‘animations’, Alpe d’Huez puts on brilliant shows through the December month. They range from quite sweet to simply mesmerising; this resort doesn’t do anything by half measure. Previously, there has been an opera singer hoisted via a crane to perform to stunned onlookers. Jaws dropped even lower when she began performing acrobatics to a slightly more upbeat tempo of classical music.
Like Tignes, the ski schools put on a beautiful torchlit descent culminating in a firework display. Pick up a free glass of vin chaud from the tourist office, and once a week don’t miss the local market where you can peruse and sample local cuisine.
For New Years, there’s an annual show at the leisure centre, complete with performers, light shows, and all round great entertainment. Across the resort, the après-ski cranks up a notch. Expect bars like O’Sharkeys and Old School to be rammed. Smithy’s Tavern has its usual fancy dress party that runs until around 4am. Les Caves de l’Alpe and L’Igloo are clubs that push through until around 6am, whilst the Underground Bar is the reigning champ, not closing its doors until the sun is well and truly up the next day.
In the run final week running up to Christmas, Val Thorens unveils a week of fabulous events. Previously, they’ve hosted an elf fanfare, ice carving, firework displays, and christmas decoration workshops. Children can join in with the usual torchlit descent after having a quick visit with Santa in his grotto.
The après-ski in Val Thorens is never anything short of spectacular. Unsurprisingly, they always perform very well with New Years festivities too. There’s a torchlit descent, followed by a firework display, and a free concert for all on New Years Day.
Celebrate Christmas and New Years on the Slopes
You may think it’s going to be a super expensive trip to head out over the festive season, but actually there are some cracking deals that let you sample Santa’s hot choc for free. We use special tech to search all the flights, accommodation options, transfers, and ski pass prices to find great seasonal breaks. Discover more on the WeSki website now.
Read more about events held in French resorts, like music festivals, and what to expect on the après-ski scene.