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Reader question: Is it worth booking a ski holiday in France?

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Reader question: Is it worth booking a ski holiday in France?
A snow cannon operates before the opening of a slope, at the Mourtis ski resort in the Pyrenees mountains, southwestern France. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

As snow dwindles across French mountain ranges, more and more resorts can no longer guarantee that pistes will be open, even in the height of winter. So is it worth booking a holiday at all? And which resorts offer the best chance of snow?


The French ski industry is facing a crisis directly linked to the climate crisis - warming temperatures mean less snow in winter which means that an increasing number of French ski resorts can no longer guarantee that there will be snow on their slopes.

The February holidays - traditionally the peak of the French ski season - have seen several resorts forced to close their slopes while others have been able to provide only limited ski opportunities.

Latest: Snow cover in 2024 and the future of the French ski industry


Scientists and climate experts predict that this trend will overall get worse, not better, so is it even worth booking a ski holiday in France any more? Well, it depends - from the elevation of the resort to the mountain range and general weather patterns, there are a few things to consider before booking a ski trip in France.

Mountain ranges

The long-term outlook for skiing in France is grim. Climate experts estimate that France will lose between 10 to 40 percent of its snow cover by 2050.

However, the situation varies based on the mountain range. The northern Alps have consistently had the largest snowpack, followed by the southern Alps.

The situation has declined significantly in the Pyrenees in recent years, including at elevation, where the rain-snow limit has continued to rise - meaning that you have to go higher to be assured of snow, rather than rain.

However, prospects for winter sports are worst for France's smaller mountain ranges, like the Jura, the Vosges and the Massif Central.

For example, in mid-February 2024, the Massif Central and the Vosges had virtually no natural snow, with a maximum of 10cm in the Massif Central at 1,500m. This dropped down to just 2cm at 1,200m for the Vosges.

Carlo Carmagnola, a researcher at Météo France and coordinator of the snow study scheme, Climsnow, told Capital FR that there will be much less snow during the second half of of the 21st century.


"These pessimistic projections predict that Alpine skiing in France as a whole will be finished by 2100.

"Regardless, there will be no more skiing in the Pyrenees, the Vosges, the Massif Central, the Jura and Corsica. This will probably also be the case in the Alps, with the exception of resorts above 2,500 metres," he said.

So in short, you have the best chance of snow in the Alps. 

Which resorts have the most snow?

When choosing a resort, the altitude is now key.

Low and middle altitude resorts increasingly cannot guarantee snow. That doesn't mean no snow - weather conditions vary from month to month and year to year and there will doubtless be good, snowy months in lower altitude resorts. However, it's getting harder for those resorts to be able to guarantee snow six months in advance, which is when you might be booking your holiday.  

In 2024, a few resorts stuck out in terms of snow levels - all of them high-altitude resorts.

In a ranking by Le Point, Alpe d’Huez took first place for the largest snow pack. The ski area ranges 1,800m to 3,300m, with average snow cover at 90cm and running up to 450cm at high altitude.

After Alpe d’Huez, Tignes followed as the second snowiest. The ski area had an average of 120cm, with up to 400cm at high altitude and Tignes itself starts at 1,550 metres above sea level, going up to 3,450 metres on the glacier

Val d’Isère (altitude of 1,800m to 3,000m) came in third place, and Les Arcs - with a ski area that runs from 1,200 to 3,228 metres above sea level - was ranked fourth.


In bad news, the high-altitude resorts are the more expensive ones, with the northern Alps being the most pricey.

According to Ski Planet, a one-week stay in an apartment in Tignes for a family of three adults and two children would be around €4,425 when booking an inclusive (accommodation, ski passes, ski equipment and lessons) package.

Meanwhile the site estimates that a one week trip for four people to Serre Chevalier - in the southern Alps with a maximum altitude of 2,800m - would cost about €1,344 (or €336 a person) for just accommodation and ski passes.

When it comes to ski passes alone, Alpe d'Huez currently charges €62 per day for adults. Tignes charges €61 for just the Tignes area, and €66 to include the entire Tignes-Val d'Isère domain. This compares to an average of between €30 and €40 per day for lower altitude resorts.

READ MORE: What can I do if I’ve booked a French skiing holiday and there’s no snow?

Planning tips

If possible, wait to reserve certain items like equipment rentals and ski passes until absolutely necessary. When doing so, be sure to read cancellation and reimbursement policies. 

As far as reimbursements are concerned, some travel agencies offer snow insurance, such as Travelski - however it should be noted that most do not allow for cancellation of the entire holiday.

In the majority of cases, only ski passes or the cost of hiring ski equipment would be reimbursed, while some policies offer a travel stipend to cover the cost of travelling to a different resort for a day's skiing.

Reimbursement policies also depend on the resort. Some ski areas will allow total reimbursements of ski passes if there is a full closure, while others may offer you a credit to use at a later date.


If you have a trip booked, you can check in advance the snow level at your resort's website or by looking it up on Météo France Montagne.

Ski resorts routinely update their websites with the latest snow reports - and many include webcams that show current weather conditions.


While a ski holiday with no snow is undoubtedly disappointing, spare a thought for the thousands employed in France's ski industry who face losing their livelihood.

Mountain resorts are doing their best to diversify with extra non-snow based activities on offer, while summer mountain tourism is a growing market. Summer trips to the Alps can include lots of outdoor activities including hiking, cycle and extreme sports as well as many luxurious spas.

And then maybe spare a thought for the planet - the ever-falling snow levels are just one symptom of the climate crisis that will ultimately affect us all. Once you've got over the disappointment of not being able to ski, maybe take a moment to consider what changes you could make to your own lifestyle, or how you could get involved in pressuring your political representatives to take action. 


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