People cross borders every day – by plane, train, car, on bikes or even by foot. So why not cross national borders on skis or a snowboard? France, as a winter destination, has a lot to offer and also will not disappoint you either this time. Skiing in France does not only mean skiing in France, but it also enables you to ski between France and Italy, Switzerland, or Spain – whatever you prefer!
The homeland of the baguette offers a lot when it comes to winter sports – numerous ski resorts located throughout the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Vosges and many more. France is also home to the world’s biggest ski areas, such as “Les 3 Vallées” or “Portes du Soleil”. It has exclusive spots to end a day of private ski lessons. It inhabits magnificent off-piste descents in incredible altitudes near Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain peak.
But all this is not today’s topic. Now, I will tell you more about skiing between France and Italy, Switzerland, or Italy in border ski areas throughout the country. I chose 4 destinations, which, in my opinion, are the most interesting ones, as they are all diverse and border on different countries:
1. Skiing between France and Switzerland: Portes du Soleil
“Portes du Soleil” is French for “Doors of the Sun” and ranks among the two largest ski areas in the world, the other one being “Les 3 Vallées”. The ski area is located between the famous Mont Blanc in France and the Lake Geneva in Switzerland – you just need to make a few turns to arrive at the Swiss side of the Alps.
Composed of 12 different resorts, such as famous Avoriaz 1800, Châtel, Les Gets, Morgins, or Morzine-Avoriaz, on around 580 kilometres of slopes over 14 valleys. The Portes du Soleil area welcomes beginners on around 310 km of shallow slopes, as well as experts on challenging downhill descents. The resort Châtel on the French side is closest to Switzerland and, therefore, suits best for a short get-away, and maybe for a Swiss Fondue.
Skiing through the entire Portes du Soleil in one day is impossible. You will need several days or even weeks to discover all resorts. If you still want to experience skiing in France to the greatest extent, you can easily take the free ski shuttle bus that connects the different resorts. That way, you will be able to master the legendary black mogul slope “Chavanette”, go up to the highest point accessible on skies at 2.254 metres, “Pointe de Mossettes”, and have lunch in Switzerland.
Learn to ski between France and Switzerland: Portes du Soleil
As the area is that big, it offers a great variety of easy green and blue slopes that are perfectly suitable for first-timers and re-starters. Check out our partner ESI Pro Skiing Châtel. I am sure you will find the perfect fitting lessons for your needs. Maybe your instructor will accompany you to Switzerland during the lessons.
2. Skiing between France and Italy: La Rosière
Located at the Mont Belvedere, the slopes of French La Rosière in the department Savoie and those of Italian La Thuile of the Aosta Valley cross each other ways. Here, the Association “Espace San Bernardo” offer around 160 kilometres of slopes and 80 descents that provide stunning views to the snow-covered and rough peak of Mont Blanc.
This region doesn’t require deciding whether skiing in Italy or skiing in France is better – you can combine the best of both worlds. Beginners rather ski on the French side, as the slopes here are more shallow, and fortify oneself with a delicious croissant and a café au lait for breakfast. Advanced skiers often prefer the Italian part of the mountain, with plenty of red and black slopes. Here, you even find the famous and challenging slope “Tre Franco Berthod” that regularly inhabits world cup races. Afterwards, you can reward yourself with a delicious Italian dish. Maybe a Margherita or a Caprese?
Learn to ski between France and Italy: La Rosière
Take advantage of some private lessons that enable you to maximize your potential in the skies. Whether beginner or already expert, you have plenty of options to improve. Afterwards, you can decide for yourself – Do you prefer skiing in France or in Italy?
3. Skiing between France and Italy: Vallée de la Maurienne
Located in the department of Savoie in southeastern France, Maurienne valley is about 130 kilometres long and consists of 20 ski resorts. 2 of them, Val Cenis and Aussois, are located at the end of the valley directly at the Italian border. Via the Orelle gondola, it is also linked and accessible to “Les 3 Vallées”.
Skiing between France and Italy: Val Cenis
The alpine ski resort, Val Cenis, bordering on Italy, is equipped with around 125 kilometres of slopes. They are waiting for you to be discovered. The largest resort of the Maurienne valley makes skiing in France an unforgettable experience that provides you with amazing views over the peak of Mont-Cenis and makes you push out your boundaries at the top of La Met.
Learn to ski between France and Italy: Val Cenis
Our partner ski school ESF Val Cenis offers a lot of different skis and snowboarding lessons, of which everybody will find the perfect fit. Check it out!
Skiing between France and Italy: Aussois
Skiing in the French Aussois is perfect for families. It is directly located at the Italian border and completely south-facing which is why it is also called the “sunshine resort”. On 55 kilometres of slopes up to 2,750 metres above sea level, you can discover 21 descents of varying difficulty levels. The resort is perfect for getting a glimpse of Italy!
Learn to ski between France and Italy: Aussois
Take advantage of some ski lessons and make the best out of your stay at the French border ski resort. Maybe after some days, you will be able to ski down the famous black “Balmes” slope. Check out our partner, ESF Aussois.
4. Skiing between France and Spain in Font Romeu Pyrénées 2000
A surprisingly small resort for skiing in France, Font Romeu Pyrénées 2000, bordering on Spain and Andorra, is a perfect spot for beginners. Its approximately 43 kilometres of slopes are mostly easy ones. Additionally, it is ranked among the top 5 resorts for beginners in Europe.
On the peaks of the eastern Pyrénées, concretely Col Rouge and Carlit Peak, you will experience exceptional views of the whole Cerdagne, of which the northern half is a French territory and the southern half remaining in Spain. This combination of French and Spanish vibe make the resort “France’s sunniest ski resort” – so perfect for winter sports enthusiasts who still miss summer!
A friendly atmosphere, good snow, and nice après-ski possibilities make your skiing in France perfect. After an exhausting day, you can relax in one of the two hot springs nearby to get fit for the next skiing day.
Learn to ski between France and Spain: Font Romeu Pyrénées 2000
As first-timers and beginners, you are well-advised to take some ski lessons with our partner, ESI Font Romeu. They successfully introduced more than 120 people into skiing. Maybe you are the next!
Are you also looking forward to crossing borders a little differently? Which one of the winter destinations do you prefer? Let me know in the comments! Personally, I would go for Font Romeu.
If you are interested in France as a winter destination, check out our other articles!