Raclette, Tartiflette, Gâteau de Savoie, Le Genepi — all traditional alpine dishes and drinks found in the French Alps are usually served besides a crackling fire, surrounded by amazing mountain scenery. Skiing in France has unbeatable highlights, which include the food, of course, the après-ski scene, picturesque villages, moderately priced lift passes that often link with other resorts, plus a variety of lodging opportunities — from convenient hotels to charming chalets.
Since North Americans visiting the French Alps can now reserve hassle-free equipment rentals by booking online through the Ski Butlers website, there’s no reason to lug bulky ski and snowboard gear to Europe. Ski Butlers’ service includes hotel (or chalet) delivery and pick up, personalized fittings by a trained technician as well as equipment support within an hour of the request.
Ski Butlers now serves resorts in the Rhône-Alpes and Savoy regions including Les Arcs and La Plagne (which are linked and can be accessed through the Paradiski Ski Pass), Les Menuires in Les 3 Vallées, as well as Tignes, Val d’Isère and La Rosière, which are accessible as day trips from each other. Here are some travel tips to help the savvy skier in France:
Best Time to Go: The slopes in France are often uncrowded in December and April, but conditions may be variable. Peak times (and prices) are Christmas through New Year’s and the month of February for the mid-term vacation typical of European schools.
Lodging: Many Europeans book weeklong stays at hotels or chalets, though often you can book for a long weekend. Price range varies, and often meals are included in the price. Visit the ski area’s website for links to accommodations.
Getting There: There are four airports near this region. Geneva, Switzerland, may be the furthest away (3.5 hour drive to Val d’Isère if renting a car), but flights are regular and less interrupted by bad weather conditions. Check out britishairways.com and easyjet.com for a variety of flights. Buses leave regularly from Geneva. For example, the bus to Val d’Isère leaves 8 times a day. Check out alpski-bus.com.
Chambery, France, is the closest airport to many French resorts (2.5 hours from Val d’Isère), but the airport is often closed due to inclement weather. Grenoble, France, has a small, easy-to-access airport, but flights are also often delayed due to winter weather. Lastly, Lyon, France, has a regular daily flights (3 hours from Val d’Isère) and regular buses.
Trains often do not go all the way to all the resorts in France, but the TGV or Train à Grande Vitesse (high speed train) connects every major city in France and synchronizes with many local and regional trains. Check out snef.com for more information. When traveling to Val d’Isère, for example, it’s possible to take the train to Bourg St. Maurice station (about 40 minutes away) and arrange for a private transfer to the resort.