No skiing nation does apartments like France: here you’ll find tiny, no-frills flats, exceedingly comfortable 5* studios – and everything in between. The cheapest places might be wanting a lick of paint, but if you’re happy to bunk up with mates who can handle a sofa bed, they’re as good a place as any to crash after a day on the hill. At the higher end of the scale, modern lodgings with roomy terraces and access to spa facilities and pools are just as much a part of the French landscape.
Whatever you pick, an apartment makes for a flexible week away without the rigid meal plans you find in chalets and hotels, and with your own private pad to relax in at the end of the day.
The first thing that springs to mind when you think of ski apartments in France might be those of the tiny, rabbit hutch variety… But that’s not to say this country can’t do luxury. Our favourite five star apartments come with pools, saunas, hot tubs and all manner of beauty treatments for their patrons of the week. They combine modern convenience with rustic Savoyard charm, providing a home from home whether right in the centre of the town or up on the mountainside. Pick one in a high end resort like Val d'Isere or Courchevel, book tables in local Michelin-starred restaurants – even arrange massages, hampers or private chefs – and you’re in for a truly first class week in France. You can see all of our luxury ski apartments in France here.
Self-catering in the land of croissants and chocolat chaud couldn’t be easier. Bigger resorts like Meribel and Morzine host markets where you can pick up local cheeses, meats and other goodies. What’s more, most of the French resorts will have a patisserie or delicatessen serving fresh foods and regional produce at a snip of the price of a sit-down meal. Sometimes it’s possible to have fresh pastries and baguettes delivered to your door in the morning, for the makings of a brilliant breakfast or slopeside sarnie.
Sherpa supermarkets crop up in a lot of French resorts, and last time we checked you could order food and drink online and have it delivered when you arrive. Often, apartments come with a fondue set, and if not, many local food shops will hire them out with the ingredients – a terrific way to enjoy Savoie specialties without paying restaurant rates. A lot of resorts have picnic areas if you’re knocking up your own lunches – many of them up on the mountain with incredible views of the surroundings. In the Meribel-Mottaret area, there’s also an indoor Piknic’n Relax room with warm sofas, WiFi and phone charging points.
The French resorts are some of the easiest to drive to, and filling your boot with frozen homemade fare can make life a whole lot easier once you get to resort. Whether you’re driving from home or hiring a car from the airport, it’s worth stopping off at one of the big hypermarkets before you hit the mountains. Bourg St Maurice, for example, has a Super U, Lidl and Intermarché, where prices will be a lot lower than you’ll find in resort (there’ll be more choice of products, too).
Apartments may be a cheaper way to ski than chalets and hotels, but that’s not to say you have to compromise on amazing locations. France’s purpose-built resorts have scores of self-catered apartments and most are just a couple of minutes’ walk from the lifts, if not actually ski-in/ski-out. La Plagne, Avoriaz and Flaine are three first-rate resorts in this department. Having doorstep skiing can be really handy if you want to keep costs down by making your own lunches – ski back to your apartment in the middle of the day for a home-cooked meal, pack in a power nap, then get straight out for more slope time in the afternoon.
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