5 Best Escapes for Car Hire: Ski France
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: Skiing is not a cheap holiday option. Factor in lift passes, ski hire, lessons, flights, accommodation, food, and drink, and you’ve got a virtual avalanche of expenses, but there are ways to keep the cost down. One of these is to choose the right resort – somewhere you can enjoy a top-class skiing experience without paying top rates. (Another way to reduce your expenses is to rent a car through Nova Car Hire.)
Here are some of our favourite Alpine ski resorts that combine quality skiing with affordable prices:
You normally associate high prices with high-altitude French skiing, which is what makes Les Deux-Alpes so remarkable. You’ll spend your days skiing on generally excellent snow at heights of between 2,300m and 3,400m without paying the rates you would expect for such quality. The town of Les Deux-Alpes sprawls across the base of the slopes, offering a vibrant atmosphere in the evenings and affordable accommodation in hotels, apartments, and catered chalets. The abundance of accommodation does mean that lift queues and congested pistes can be an issue in high season. Rent a car at Grenoble Airport, 104km away.
Serre Chevalier in southern France is only a short distance from Les Deux-Alpes, via the lofty Col du Lautaret. A series of traditional, Provencal-style villages (accompanied by some ill-planned modern development), Serre Chevalier incorporates the town of Briancon, with its beautiful fortified old quarter. The slopes are distinctive, extending across a long mountain range above the villages and consisting of a high tree line and an excellent array of elevated, open bowls (reaching 2,735m) and sheltered woodland runs. The antiquated lift system is undergoing improvements. Rent a car at either Turin Caselle (133km) or Grenoble (156km) airports.
France’s famous Three Valleys region has a reputation for being expensive, but you can ski there on a moderate budget. What you need to do is rent one of the many affordable self-catering apartments in Les Menuires, about 143km from Geneva Airport. It’s in the same valley as Val Thorens but in a completely different price bracket. You’ll have a vast choice of places to stay within easy reach of 600km of slopes, and most are convenient to the long blue and red runs that spread out above Val Thorens. Les Menuires is suitable for everybody from novices to experts, with nursery slopes in the village, as well as an abundance of advanced and off-piste terrain.
As you’ve probably gathered by now, skiing in France can be a relatively reasonable option if you keep away from the top-flight resorts. Austria is generally cheaper, but if you simply must ski in France, there are economical options. Consider Avoriaz, for example. Close to the Swiss border, it is central to the sprawling Portes du Soleil with its 650km of pistes. You can pick up a rental car at Geneva Airport and drive just over 100km to Avoriaz, a small, traffic-free resort poised on a cluster of jagged cliffs.