Skiing in France
After Innsbruck in December, we decided that we needed another ski trip soon if Becca was ever going to actually learn how to ski. Easter is a four-day weekend in the UK, so it was the perfect opportunity for some late season skiing without missing too many days of work. We chose the French Alps because there are affordable ski resorts that stay open through April. It turned out to be a great choice and a really fun trip!
Friday 14 April
We took an early morning flight from London to Geneva, and when we landed there was a huge line at the car rental pickup. We finally got to the front and were told that our reservation was for noon, but it was only 11am and our car wasn’t ready yet. We were beyond frustrated, and got back in line to wait thirty more minutes until they were willing to give us a car. Finally we were on our way and started our drive south towards our hotel.
Le 9 Pizza
18 Place Georges Clemenceau, 73100 Aix-les-Bains, France
We stopped part-way through the drive to get lunch in a town that we thought would be cuter than it actually was. We grabbed take away pizza from a shop that had foosball and pinball to play while we waited. The weather was warm and sunny, so we sat outside to enjoy our lunch and got back on the road. The scenery was beautiful as we drove alongside lakes and mountains.
Quartier les Bruyeres, Les Menuires, 73440 Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, France
We checked into our hotel and were pleasantly surprised at how nice and big our suite was. The hotel’s website advertised it as a resort and spa, but we were disappointed with the spa part, which was always packed with noisy children jumping in the pool (we had thought it would be a jacuzzi). Otherwise the hotel was nice, and they lit a bonfire in the lobby every night, which made for a cozy feel.
Our room had a balcony facing the mountain that got great afternoon sun, and it was warm enough to sit outside in a t-shirt and enjoy the weather. We picked up our ski rentals at one of the Intersport locations in town and also tried to buy our ski passes, but the office was closed by the time we arrived.
Our part of town didn’t have too many restaurants, so we followed the dirt trail connecting us to the main part of Les Menuires. We walked around the small town and made a dinner reservation for the next night. There were more restaurants in that part of town, and we regrettably chose a Tex-Mex restaurant for dinner that night.
Saturday 15 April
We chose this particular ski resort because it was open for late season skiing and was more affordable than some of the other areas. Since we weren’t able to buy our ski passes in advance, we got up early to beat the line. The resort has ski-in-ski-out access, but because it was late in the season, the snow around our hotel had melted which made for an annoying walk up hill to the ticket office and lifts (on the last day we found out there was a free shuttle). Our resort was connected to Val Thorens, another mountain higher up that still had plenty of snow.
We got lucky and were able to buy our passes really cheaply off of two boys who had bought week-long passes but were leaving early. The first day of skiing was up and down (a lot of down for Becca – we navigated much steeper terrain than she wanted), but the weather was beautiful and sunny, so being on the mountain was really enjoyable.
After a full day of skiing, we got a late lunch at one of the few restaurants in the Bruyeres section of Les Menuires. We then enjoyed some more apres ski time at the hotel and spa before heading out to a late dinner.
La Fromagerie Des Belleville
Galerie des Adrets,, 73440 Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, France
This restaurant was top rated on Trip Advisor, and we’d been wanting to try raclette for a while. The restaurant really focuses on fondue and raclette and has few other options. The food was delicious and the portions were enormous. The picture is from when we had finished eating, and more than half the cheese was still left. We were grateful to have a 20 minute walk back to our hotel to walk off part of the meal.
Sunday 16 April
Our second day of skiing didn't start off great because there was low visibility due to fog. Fortunately things cleared up and it turned into a beautiful day and Becca finally got her ski legs. It was such a great day that we decided to extend our rentals for one more day of skiing on Monday.
Ninkasi Les Menuires
Vanoise National Park, D117, 73440 Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, France
We’re really not into French food, so we tried to avoid it as much as possible. This burger place brewed its own beer and did decent burgers and excellent fries.
Monday 17 April
We had blue sunny skies for the last day of skiing, which made for a great day on the mountain. After skiing, we enjoyed a celebratory crepe and ice cream and started planning our next ski trip.
Le Restaurant L’atelier
On our last night, we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant, since most of the restaurants in town seemed the same as one another. We were surprised at how good the food was and enjoyed a fish and pasta dinner.
Tuesday 18 April
In the morning, we checked out of the hotel and started the drive back to Geneva. Our friends had recommended a stop in Annecy, and we’re so glad they did!
La Brioche Chaude
33 Rue Carnot, 74000 Annecy, France
We were hungry when we arrived, so we grabbed a snack at a bakery. They have these delicious brioche buns topped with sugar that are lighter and sweeter than any brioche we’ve ever had. The pain au chocolat was pretty good as well.
2 Place aux Bois, 74000 Annecy, France
After our snack, we walked over to Lake Annecy for an hour long boat trip around the lake, which was a perfect way to enjoy the stunning scenery of the lake. It was pretty breezy on the boat, but the view was worth staying up top and enduring the winds.
12 Fbg Sainte-Claire, 74000 Annecy, France
From the boat, we wandered down to Rue Sainte-Claire where a street market was packing up. We browsed some of the stalls and shops and scoped out the gelato options. We then went for an amazing pizza lunch at La Sapaudia. After lunch we explored the town a bit more and walked around the lake until we were ready for ice cream.
16 Rue Perrière, Vieille Ville, 74000 Annecy, France
Annecy has plenty of gelato shops to choose from, but we chose this one because it was highly rated on Trip Advisor and had good looking cones. We were not disappointed and thoroughly enjoyed our ice cream, sitting in the sun by the river.
From Annecy, it was less than an hour drive to the Geneva airport where we dropped the car and flew home.
On every trip we share our rose (highlight), thorn (lowlight), and bud (what we're looking forward to).
Rose- finally actually learning how to ski (Becca), skiing with Becca (Josh)
Thorn- feeling terrified on the mountain the first day (Becca), car rental fiasco (Josh)
Bud- beach! (both)
If you go, things to know…
How long? How long obviously depends on how many days you want to ski for. One day is plenty for the town of Annecy itself, but apparently it’s a great base for hiking, boating and other outdoor activities.
What else is there to do? Les Menuires also has hiking trails, several spas and fitness centers, so if you’re not into skiing there’s plenty of activities.
When to go? Ski season in Les 3 Vallees starts in mid-October and lasts until mid-April (we were there on the final weekend of the season). Some of the resorts are open year-round for summer sports, but our hotel was about to close for the season.
Are there lessons? Yes, each of the mountains in Les 3 Vallees offers ski lessons. Becca was going to take one, but the logistics didn’t work out because our mountain didn’t have snow. Many of the lessons are advertised as week-long lessons, but there are options to do single day lessons.
Is skiing in France expensive? No! It was €80 for three days of rentals for the two of us together. A one day lift ticket was €50 (in Vail a one day lift ticket can be $150!).