Sports & Outdoors

Driving to ski resorts in France

Driving to the slopes is the ultimate relaxing way to start your holiday at your own pace and explore some of the fantastic sights and flavours of France.

The final destination of any skiing holiday is the piste, but why not enjoy the journey as well? Let Eurotunnel Le Shuttle whisk you across the Channel in just 35 minutes and then follow our informative guide to make sure you make the most of your holiday and enjoy all that France has to offer along the way.

Drive to world-class ski resorts and slopes

This guide will show you some of France’s most popular snowy slopes, plus one of the lesser-known ski resorts in France. Find details on parking and driving distances to make your trip as smooth as possible below.

If you are planning to take a more scenic route Bison Futé, available in French, English, and Spanish, is a useful site that allows you to search your intended route and amend your journey for a well-planned drive.

silver car driving up a snowy road with mountains in the distance

Driving to ski resorts in the French Alps

Running along France's south-eastern border, The Alps offer longer and more complex runs than the Pyrenees which gives an experienced skier plenty of challenges and allows the less confident to build up their skillset.

Some of the most beautiful mountain roads such as Col d’Iseran and Petit St Bernard will take you into The Alps. The drive from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais terminal is best broken into two parts to allow you to see more of the scenery.

The toll roads in France are some of the best roads to drive on as they are direct, well connected and well maintained. The toll prices can vary depending on which road you take, so it's best to check when planning your journey. If you have more time to explore then avoiding the toll roads can take you through some of the most scenic roads in the country, but this will add to your journey time.

The nearest resort to Calais is the aptly-named Grand-Massif, which not only features more than 250km of runs, but also a plethora of activities for the outdoor adventurer, from hiking to paragliding.

The historical town of Troyes on the A26 is perfectly situated for a scenic stop over, where you can view some of France's oldest surviving buildings, dating back to the 16th Century.

Chamonix

A group of skiers start the descent of Vallée Blanche, Mont Blanc Massif, Chamonix, France

Perhaps one of the most famous ski resorts in France is Chamonix. Ideally located at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, Chamonix sits at the borders of three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland. Even if you don’t ski, Chamonix is an incredible place to visit for the sweeping views of the surrounding glacier fields and to enjoy a breath-taking cable car ride, such as the one available at Aiguille du Midi.

While more seasoned skiers can enjoy the challenging off-piste slopes that Chamonix is famous for, beginners can also explore the surrounding ski areas, such as Les Houches, which can be found in the same valley.

The drive from Calais takes around 7h 30m via the A26. You can find information about parking in Chamonix here.

Tignes

Red letters spelling Tignes in the snow outside ski centre with mountains in background

Tignes sits 2,100m above sea level and it has a good balance of blue, red, and black runs, meaning there is something for all abilities. As well as skiing and snowboarding, Tignes offers lots of other activities, including dog sledding, ice climbing and snowtubing. If you prefer a more relaxed stay, the Lagon spa has saunas, steam rooms, and jacuzzis for you to relax in.

Tignes is known for its excellent après-ski life. The partying often goes on late into the night at the local bars and some restaurants. Grab a warming drink and relax after a day on the slopes.

It’s approximately a 9-and-a-half hour drive from Calais and you can find five large designated parking areas dotted around the resort which have free shuttle buses running to and from the slopes. For parking information, see the car parks and charges here.

Conditions and the landscape in Tignes are especially good for snowboarders, see our guide to snowboarding in Europe here.

Val Thorens

The resort at Val Thorens

Found 2,300 metres above sea level, Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe. Its dizzying heights mean that it’s gifted with brilliant snow for up to half of the year, and many come here from as early as mid-November right through to early May. As a purpose-built resort, you won’t find many trees in Val Thorens, so the environment is incredible to see.

The snow conditions on many of the north-facing slopes are brilliant and attract serious skiers from across the world, however if you want to enjoy basking in the sun after a long day on the snow, the main resort is south-facing, so is perfectly situated for enjoying the views. If you’ve got time, explore the wider Trois Vallées region.

The drive from Calais will take around 8h 40m on a long but relatively straight access road from Moûtiers in the Tarentaise Valley. It is one of the earliest turn-offs on the N90 from Albertville.

Find information on parking in Val Thorens here.

Skiing in the Pyrenees

At the South Western end of France, the Pyrenees provide numerous skiing opportunities for all ranges and ages. The largest resort, St Lary Soulan, has 100km of piste, ranging from beginners’ grade (green) all the way up to black runs, with plenty to explore. Smaller resorts, such as Val de Louron, are perfect for beginners or those looking to get away from the crowds.

The drive from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais terminal to the mountain range on the French/Spanish border is best broken into sections to allow you to experience more of the possible stops along the way. A great place to take a break is the scenic Loire Valley, home to many of Frances most spectacular historic châteaux. As well as opening many of these fairytale castles up to the public, some of them have been converted into hotels, allowing you and your family to live like royalty for one night.

Barèges

panorama of Pyrennees mountains with ski slopes and ski lift in foreground

The traditional mountain village of Barèges sits 1,250m above sea level, halfway up the Col du Tourmalet. Barèges’ stunning location in the Pays Toy and National Park of the Pyrenees makes it an outdoor activity heaven, as well as it being part of the Pyrenees’ largest and second oldest in the Pyrenees ski resort, the Grand Tourmalet.

The foot of the slopes are only 3.5km away from the centre of the village and you can take your car or the free skibus. The Grand Tourmalet has over 100km of tracks and 31 lifts to access a variation of slopes that range from green to black, with something for every type of ski enthusiast. Experts will be pleased to know that this area is also well-known for its off-piste options.

After a hard day’s work on the slopes Bareges also boasts a spa, home to Les Thermes des Barèges where hot healing springs have been helping people unwind for years. In fact, Napoleon himself sent his troops to the waters to help heal their war wounds.

This resort is a more relaxed and family friendly one than some of the others. A popular après ski destination however is La Laquette where you can relax on a deck chair with a glass of wine and some traditional tartiflette.

The drive to Barèges from Calais runs on the A28 and A10. If you choose to split the journey into two or three parts, consider a stop off in Rouen or Bordeaux along the way to see some of the sights or sample some of the local delicacies.

Superbagnères

Superbagnères is a ski resort above the town of Bagnères-de-Luchon in the Midi-Pyrénées region. Here you will find ski slopes and cross-country skiing trails from 1440 to 2260m, with green to black runs to suit all abilities.

When the resort was first opened it was connected to the town by a railway, but today it is connected by a gondola lift.

Auvergne: France’s best-kept skiing secret

Auvergne is known for its mountain ranges and dormant volcanoes. It’s often overlooked as a ski destination, but this small but perfectly formed area has so much to offer, from frozen glacier lakes to cross country skiing and Siberian husky sledging.

To get here by car, the drive from Calais takes about seven hours, with potential stops in Amiens, Paris or Bourges off the A16/A71 route.

Snowy and icy landscape atop a mountain

Clermont-Ferrand

Clermont-Ferrand is a popular ski resort in the volcanic Auvergne region. This part of France is a down-to-earth skier’s paradise. The Auvergne region in general is a winter wonderland with stunning views of the national park, which features dozens of glacial lakes and craters. Use Clermont-Ferrand as a base to explore this area. Le Mont-Dore is one of France’s oldest ski resorts, and in the summer serves as a beautiful spa town. In its heyday, it was a high-end getaway and expensive resort, and today it still retains this chic ambience, but with lower prices and a relaxed feel.

For some fantastic cross-country skiing, check out the Plomb du Cantal volcano. It’s home to a few cosy B&Bs, but otherwise feels completely wild. Even during high season, you won’t find the same busy crowds here as with other, more popular, resorts, so it’s a go-to for the perfect ski escape.

The drive from Calais will take on average 6h 40m, and you can find information on local parking in Clermont-Ferrand here.

Explore France’s best ski resorts by car and have the freedom to travel with ease. With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you can get from Folkestone to Calais in just 35-minutes.

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With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you can get from Folkestone to Calais in just 35-minutes

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Make the most of your skiing holiday