Off Piste in France

First Class Freeriding in the French Alps.

Chamonix

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

Great for:

  • Groups
  • Off-piste
  • après ski

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

Les 2 Alpes

Glacier Skiing, Awesome après, Loads to do

Great for:

  • Nightlife
  • Off Piste
  • Groups

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Courchevel

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

Great for:

  • Families
  • Groups
  • Luxury holiday

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Tignes

Espace Killy ski area, Fantastic après ski, High alt...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Glacier skiing
  • Non-skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Val Thorens

Highest resort in Europe, Top of the world's biggest...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Snow Sure
  • Non skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Alpe d'Huez

Glacier Skiing, Awesome Après Ski, 300 days of sunshine

Great for:

  • Nightlife
  • Off Piste
  • Terrain Parks

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Les Arcs

Paradiski Ski Area, Famille Plus Montagne label, High...

Great for:

  • Snowboarding
  • Off-piste
  • Families

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Avoriaz

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

Great for:

  • Freestyling
  • Families
  • non-skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

La Plagne

Paradiski Ski Area, Bobsledding, High Altitude Skiing

Great for:

  • Beginners
  • Glacier Skiing
  • Off Piste

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Top 10 Most Popular

France is home to some phenomenal powder terrain. Making first forays off-piste a breeze, lift-accessed powder routes are a French specialty that let you ride high on the freedom of fresh tracks, without a draining climb to reach them.

Then you've got miles of hike-worthy wildernesses to tuck into, or guided heli-drops taking you higher than legs or lifts ever could. To experience the crème de la crème of powder terrain, these ten are the best French resorts for freeriding.

France: Top 10 Ski Resorts for Backcountry

The terrain here alone has earnt the resort a central spot on the world stage. Start as you mean to go on by tackling the infamous Poubelle couloir, which charmingly translates to ‘dustbin’ (for shape, definitely not quality) – it’s hidden by fencing and starts with a 30 metre abseil. Short turns are a must for the opening descent, but the finale’s a wide open bowl that really racks up the MPH. Swapping speed for altitude, the Aiguille du Midi’s legendary Vallée Blanche tops the scale at 3842m, where the 20km Voie Normal run’s a daring trail that crams rocky climbs, narrow cliffs and phenomenal sights into a 2700m vertical. There are a wealth of routes on Les Grands Montets - like the Pas de Chevre via Mer de Glace – but if you’d rather have the snow to yourself, the Brevent and Flegere areas are your best bet. The Brevent ridge leads to a series of steep and deeps with drop dead gorgeous views, and the powder fields of the south-facing Flégère front bowl feature some awesome natural jumps and drops.

With a reputation for formidable lift-served off-piste as well as hike-worthy wonders, Val tests the mettle of the most seasoned powder hounds. Much of the finest is easy to reach, like Bellevarde’s Banane from the start of the black Face piste, where a series of drops and rollers lead back to town. The Spatule’s another classic you definitely need to conquer: spanning from Rocher de Bellevarde to La Daille and rolling out a marvellous mix of trees, rocks, bumps and varying gradients. Find out why the locals flock to Le Fornet by skiing Le Grand Vallon - a winner when it comes to enormous, sprawling bowls or the trees section for low-vis days. After that the going gets tougher (but it’s so very worth it). We love the route from the Rocher Du Charvet peak - a 45 minute hike, it’ll require a guide and nerves of steel, but handsomely rewards you with sweeping turns and sheer plummets.

This resort’s known for its peculiar setup of tough pistes at low altitudes and more forgiving trails up on the glacier – but those in the know will tell you that the best terrain doesn’t have any piste markers at all. Accessed only by hike or SnowCat, La Grave is the stuff of legend – a trio of unmarked, untamed routes down the backside of L2A. From the top of the Bellecombe chair, cut across the slope to a ridge that leads you into an open bowl and, eventually, the Grand Couloir Chutes. You’ll find the narrowest and most demanding on the far right – turning’s barely an option, so set your skis straight and don’t let up until you reach the bottom. For more space to carve your own route on, Clot Du Chance is a big bowl linking to a blue run down to La Fée. La Dome Glacier - a lengthy descent to the Signal chairlift - will test the stamina in preparation for the week-crowning Pic Du Diable, a big hike, leading to a sharp drop then a gentler bowl.

Leave the Bolly in the piano bars, and get a guide to show you Courchevel’s champagne powder instead. Do rounds of the steep couloirs from the summit of the Saulire, where the short, sharp Panoramique and scary Emile Allais are usually avalanche controlled. Dou des Lanches is a shining star here, but the snow’s first come, first served so set your alarm early for a taste of glade skiing gold. If it gets tracked out, head over to the Chapelets route or leave the pistes far behind and make for the famous Col du Fruit and Vallée des Avals routes. The first’s a bowl of powder with small snow-covered bumps at the top, accessed from Creux Noirs via a hike along the ridge de Saulire. It opens out to a perfect, wide open perfect powder field and soars down towards Glacier De Gebroulaz territory. The second’s even longer; a 30 minute hike up to the peak of Roc Merlet takes you to an incredibly steep top section riddled with jumps out onto another pristine field. You'll be bubbling with excititement of the very best kind - no magnums necessary.

High, snow-sure, with sensational sights to boot: Tignes has some tremendous terrain. For a warm up, try La Langue du Glacier, a steep but wide descent from the base of the Grand Motte that’s fairly forgiving on intermediates and a gentle break-in for pros. From the lifts at the top of Tovière it’s possible to freeride the famous Mickey’s Ears, a run that mixes things up with gladed skiing, a 45 degree gradient and the occasional rock jump (look out for the double satellite dishes at the top which gave the run its name). If its knee-deep stuff you’re hunting, a 10 minute walk from the glacier base throws up 3 couloir fingers creatively named One, Two and Three, any of which lead to a sumptuous powder basin. But the boss of all off-piste skiing here has to be that between the Aiguille Percée chairlift and Les Brevières, where the couloirs ranging from tame to full-on terrifying will keep you on your toes (and grinning like the Cheshire cat).

Snow all but comes with a warranty in sky high VT, thanks to a whopping 99% of the skiable terrain being above 2000m. The area’s ringed by 6 glaciers, offering up endless stretches of feathery white (and dazzling sights over Les Menuires' valley). The area’s crowning glory is Le Geffriand, a short walk from the north-facing La Gratte, where there are steep descents in their plenty, against an eerie backdrop of abandoned alpine huts. Further on, glide down to St. Martin de Belleville, and try the trail from Jerusalem to Pramint for a tremendous buzz to match any you’ll find at the bottom of a mug of vin chaud... Another must-ski is the Glacier de Gébroulaz for spectacular panoramas of the Vanoise glaciers and unblemished whiteness without a rock or tree in sight. For short and sweet, the Pierre Lory is fairly easy, close to the groomers and completely unmissable if there’s been a recent dumping.

The fabulous lift system here gives easy access to terrain that would otherwise be nigh-on unreachable, like the stuff under Pic Blanc and Dome des Petites Rousses. Pic Blanc leads you to infamous ‘Le Tunnel’, an enclosed 60m stretch of snow-covered rock and terror, with blood-curdling steeps at either end. The Dome, on the other hand, allows you a bit of breathing space, with open powder fields covering Le Grand Sablat face and the Perrins bowl. Bringing out the big guns are the 50 degree couloirs of Cheminées de Mascle: these two white ‘chimneys’ are a short fence-climb from the Marmottes 3 cable car - the right’s the evil twin and the only way down is to grit your teeth and plummet, whilst the whole village watches from below…

They do say good things come in threes, and high above Les Arcs tower the mighty trio of Aiguilles: Rouge, Grive and Rousse spells good times for serious off-pisters. The French for ‘needles’, you can be sure of some sharp descents around these parts - the classic route is the front face of Aiguille Rouge, but many forget about the untouched back side which is just as extreme, and often has the freshest pow. Drop down from the top of Plagnettes and you’re into the massive expanse of the Grive and Rousse backcountry - a wondrous land of fluffy snow and sharp gradients where you can carve your own pathways. If you’re after something a little tamer than cliff drops and dodging rocks, glide down the forest runs under Mont Blanc chair to Arc 1600, or Villaroger. To pick up the pace again, get the Grand Col chair and you’ve got your pick of perilous couloirs and dreamy powder slides.

Home to some of the most easy-to-reach terrain in the region, Avoriaz lets you taste the wilderness without having to venture too far, with grisly drops, gentle ones and everything in between. La Chavenette is an ‘orange route’ (too insane for normal classifications...) and it’s commonly found topping the lists of the world’s craziest trails. Nicknamed ‘the Swiss Wall’, a formidable 50 degree pitch makes for a daunting opening challenge, but take a leap of faith and you’ll be treated to whopping-great moguls from top to bottom. The big open face above the Vallée de Manche is quite the contrast, with gentle, rolling terrain that’s buried in powder for a smooth ride into Morzine.

La Plagne has no shortage of introductory off-piste, or terrain for the most intrepid skier for that matter – as once again it shoots for, and scores, the best all-rounder award. Firstly there’s the bowl under Le Tougne, an area that opens its arms to novices with knee-deep silk stuff in all its glory. This is followed by the Dos Rond and St. Jacques bowls, where the final pitch is an easy glide through the trees. On the other end of the spectrum is the ‘giant fridge’: Glacier col du Nant - 3km of unpisted path and 1750m of vertical complete this route to Champagny-le-haut (don’t forget to look back and check out your legwork, the view‘s killer). Our favourite route of all time here is the one from Bellecôte to Vallençant, an eye-watering but epic ski with a 50 degree pitch, where you can let the rush wash over you for nearly two kilometres of vertical.

If you want to ski or snowboard the very best off piste resorts France, choose from our list of the top French off-piste ski resorts.

All of these ski and snowboard mountains have at some stage held titles like "best Off piste resorts France" or "best back country snowboarding resorts France", or been included in the winners lists of "top french back country ski resorts"... they are the best Off piste resorts France.

Enjoy the definitive list of top 10 best off-piste French ski resorts


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