Cross Country Skiing in France

Where to find nordic nirvana in the French Alps.

La Plagne

Paradiski ski area, Ski in, ski out, High altitude sk...

Great for:

  • Beginners
  • Glacier skiing
  • Off piste

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Serre Chevalier

Excellent snow, Large ski area, Scenery & character

Great for:

  • Families
  • Groups
  • Couples

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Montgenevre

Quiet family resort, Part of Italian Milky Way, Tradi...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Beginner and intermediate
  • Great value

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Val d'Isere

½ of Espace Killy, Fantastic après, Traditional cho...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Groups
  • Non skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Meribel

3 Valleys ski area , Excellent ski schools , Lively a...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Groups
  • Non skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Courchevel

5 star luxury resort, Vast 3 Valleys, Traditional cho...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Groups
  • Luxury skiing

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Avoriaz

Recent €200 million improvement, Top snowboarding d...

Great for:

  • Freestyling
  • Families
  • non-skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Chamonix

Traditional mountain resort, varied, high altitude t...

Great for:

  • Groups
  • Off-piste
  • après ski

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Flaine

All round resort , 265km well-groomed pistes, Ski in/...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Intermediates
  • Snow-sure

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Morzine

Family ski destination, Traditional Savoyard charm, 6...

Great for:

  • Beginners
  • Families
  • non skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Top 10 Most Popular

Whether you’re skating or striding, France’s cross country terrain really takes you away from the hubbub and brings you up close and personal with Mother Nature.

From trails that visit deep forests and dinky alpine villages, to ones that really do cross countries, we're rather fond of ski de fond in France, and these are our favourite resorts.

France: Top 10 for Cross Country Skiing

There’s a whacking great 153km of XC tracks in the Paradiski, and La Plagne’s are split between 4 interlinked areas, each spread across every level and style. Montalbert and Plagne Soleil see novices in safe hands, with little and lengthy routes that gently slope downhill (we especially love Montalbert, where the learner-only circuits are short and simple for building confidence). V’s mastered, the world is your oyster: Criss-crossing their way over the valley, mile after mile of trails wind their way past the Bellecôte glacier and through abandoned old villages. At 7.8km, the Laisonnay circuit in the Champagny area is one of the most difficult, and the Duy trail above Les Coches, tucked deep in the forest, is worth every effort. There’s plenty more within easy driving distance - hop in a car for the brief journey to Peisey-Nancroix’s ‘Nordic Area’ in the gorgeous Vallee de Bellecôte – one of the finest beauty spots in the Tarentaise.

Serre Chevalier has 45km of trails (10km for skating) setting off from Les Guibertes, Montier Les Bains and Villeneuve. These form 8 glorious loops, and there’s a Biathlon stadium to boot. The ‘Nordic centre’ at Les Guibertes has a picnic spot and help station, as well as an 11km red, 5km blue and 1km green - linking into socking great circuits if you want to clock up the miles through the Guisane Valley. We love red La Chalp over in Montier Les Bains; this 13km trail follows a gentle route through the larch forest and doubles up as a sightseeing tour, passing the Pont des Granges, an ancient aqueduct amongst other surprises. A leg-testing 27km black starts from the far end of the area at Villeneuve, passing tiny hamlets as it approaches Pont des Chirouzas, then looping back via the Biathlon stadium. But that’s just the local area - expand your search to a 5 mile radius and a whopping 282km opens up – enough to discover new trails every time you visit.

Montgenèvre has the history, the culture, the views and the trails – and we can’t get enough of it. This place flew into the spotlight as a training ground for the cross-country teams in the 2006 Olympics, and these days the French national team ship in something like 300 sets of skis for their practice sessions in Les Alberts. 60km of easy-going trails follow the Clarée River through the gorgeous Vallée de la Clarée, in the direction you’d head for the legendary ‘Haute Trace des Escartons’ route. A stamina-tester if ever there was one, it trails into Italy and stretches along 100km into Névache… But you don’t have to ski the whole 4-day marathon for a taste of Italian snow: Less lengthy jaunts begin in the village, cross the border and split off towards Sestrière or Clavière. Our favourite’s the all-ability Les Lacs route into Clavière, where you can stop for one of those hearty mountain lunches Italians do best, before heading back via the Tremplin bridge network.

Unlike Val’s wild and wonderful après ski, the XC trails are blissfully serene. There’s 21km of the good stuff here, with local instructors at schools like ESF and Oxygene to guide beginners through the basics. Start short and sweet on the 1.5km green just outside La Daille, before heading for higher things: The multi-coloured Manchet route packs in spectacular views of the Espace Killy, with oodles of opportunities to stop for drinks and snacks along the way. It starts with a mellow green from Solaise to Clochetons, before a 3km blue carries you off through Manchet’s peaceful old hamlet and onto a 6.5km red. We love heading up to the Ouilette Lake (2560m), where a circuit of the frosted water feels worlds away from home. Another must-ski is the 5km blue from Le Fornet – tickling the outskirts of the Vanoise national park; it’s easily the crowning glory of the area.

This long-time British favourite joins arms with Courchevel and La Tania to form a marvellous 90km web of parallel classic and skate trails. These span the western side of the 3 Valleys, and last time we were here, they didn’t cost a penny to ski. A hefty 33km is concentrated around the village, split almost evenly between Lac de Tuéda in Mottaret and the Altiport area. Climbing 110km in altitude, a 5km sprint from the town centre eases smoothly into a 10km intermediate endurance test – the 230km upward elevation’s worth every strained breath when you see those views of Saulire… Having a motor here is super handy, and parking up in the Plan Ravet opens up a world of gentle, rolling tracks. The 3km green and 5km blue here really cut the mustard – featuring pine trees, wildlife and a foray in the Tueda natural reserve. To explore neighbouring resorts (and gawp over more Vanoise peaks), head towards La Tania via the 16km red off La Blanchot, or continue onto Courchevel 1850 down the 17km tramline route.

When it comes to Courchevel’s 67km of tramlines, it’s all about short circuits and invigorating downhill glides. The 2.5km blue Col de la Loze loop (by the Chenus gondola) is ideal for wobbly left-feeters, while the 5km Bouc Blanc takes you on a smooth dance through snow-capped forest. Also escaping into the trees is the 5km Les Brigues red, popular with skaters for its wide-groomed pathway. We like to head over to the Granges draglift, where the Boucle Bleue du Belvedere winds past remote farmhouses at Pralin and stretches across dreamy pastures. Up the ante on the 3 circuits in Le Praz (where the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics took place): The 2km green, 7km red and 8.5km black here are primped, pristine, and worthy of some muscle action.

Connecting Avoriaz to the wider Portes du Soleil is a wad of delightful trails: 45km in Avoriaz alone and 100km between the two. We could spend all week in the Manche Valley, which manages to effortlessly combine high altitude, wilderness and 25km of ambitious circuits. Even though the snow cats creep out of the trees come nightfall, this area feels far, far away from civilisation; not a ski lift (barely another skier) in sight. On the other hand, take the cable car to Le Pleney and your skinny skis will be one of many sets in the vicinity: this is where the much loved 6km Nordic track sets off from, carrying you all the way to the Belvedere 360° viewpoint for awesome sights of Mont Blanc.

It doesn’t get much better than ski de fond in the shadow of the Mont Blanc: 76km of trails and tracks make up the local offerings, and they’re divided between Chamonix, Les Houches, Argentière and Vallorcine which really lets you explore the landscape. Foyer du Fond is your starting point in Cham itself, where a 3km green loops through the trees of Bois du Bouchet, with the chance to link onto lengthier, more challenging trails if you fancy it. In Les Houches, our favourite is the 2.6km green that circles the Lac du Chavants before dipping into the forest. A leg-tester comes in the form of the Moraine trail in Argentière, a red that goes on for 9.5km. Vallorcine has some beauties too - 8km in all - that snake through villages, larch forests and along the banks of the River Eau Noire.

While it isn’t on the same scale as Meribel or La Plagne, the 5km of high altitude terrain in and around Flaine is ideal for anyone XC curious, or those who just want to slip a morning on the tracks into their holiday. Without straying too far, beginners can pop over to La Combe d’Enverse (1747m), where from the car park, a 2.5km set of blue tramlines make up L’Arbaron (and after a circuit or two, a red option throws up the same distance with a little more of a challenge). If cross country has you hooked, drive for half an hour and two huge areas on the Agy suddenly open up: 30km of trails are perched on a 1300m ridge here, giving 3 different experiences of the Giffre and Arve valleys. Climbing ever higher, the Col de Pierre Carrée reaches 1844m, making it the highest, most snowy XC area in the Alps.

Morzine has FIVE different areas for cross country skiing, and every trail stands out, graded green through black, with splendid sights of French and Swiss peaks (including the mighty Mont Blanc) every way you turn. The Super Morzine area alone has 45km to ski, with high altitudes and a good mix of gradients. We love the forested tracks in the Parc Naturel des Crêtes de Zorre, and there’s nothing better than a leisurely glide on the shores of the Montriond Lake. The Manche Valley has 20km of tracks where it feels like you’re skiing a world away from the hubbub of the resort. A SNO tip is to head to the Chavannes area early on a clear day: The sights of the Mont Blanc massif are incredible from the Belvedere viewpoint.

These are our favourite ten resorts for cross country skiing in France, famed for their well-kept trails, variety and good learning opportunity. A few include floodlit facilities, while some host world cups and competitions.

But there’s a lot more out there, and if you want to expand your search you can read our guides of the best resorts in Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Or browse our favourite resorts worldwide.

France cross country ski resorts

Resort Length of Nordic ski trails Best cross country trail Holidays from (price per person)
Montgenevre 80km Haute Trace des Escartons (100km) £379
Val d'Isere 21km Le Fornet blue trail (5km) £234
Meribel 90km La Blanchot red towards La Tania (16km) £202
La Plagne 153km La Duy (2.3km) £153
Courchevel 67km Bouc Blanc (5km) £299
Avoriaz 100km Le Pleney – Belvedere (6km) £205
Chamonix 76km Lac du Chavants (2.6km) £194
Serre Chevalier 282km La Chalp (13km) £375
Flaine 5km (local) + 30km (nearby) L’Arbaron (2.5km) £201
Morzine 100km Montriond lake (6.5km) £309

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