The Essential Guide to the French Alps
Collected by Jennifer Ladonne , AFAR Local Expert
The glorious peaks enveloped in pristine snow are just one reason skiers and hikers flock to the French Alps. Another is the scene—here, it’s about as glitzy as it gets, with everything from luxury hotels and Michelin-starred dining to world-class shopping and a lively après-ski nightlife that draws visitors from all over the world.
74400 Chamonix, France
While Aiguilles Rouges offers sublime skiing in winter, its true glory is revealed once the snow melts. Named after the granite spires that glow red at sunrise, the nature reserve, which was established in 1974, boasts walking trails at...
Mer de Glace, 74400 Chamonix, France
Snaking, cracking, shimmering a brilliant blue in places and covered by mystical frost in others, the Mer de Glace displays nature in all its powerful glory. France’s longest glacier stretches for 4.3 miles and is over 650 feet deep....
23 Route du Golf, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France
Located next to Les Praz’s par 72 golf course, La Cabane des Praz offers a charming, out-of-town dining experience, along with views of Mont Blanc and other majestic peaks. Golfers and couples alike come here to enjoy modern French cuisine...
62 Allée du Majestic, 74400 Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France
Located on a quiet corner in the center of town, this iconic five-star hotel has been hosting nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts since 1849, long before the well-heeled began flocking to Chamonix to ski. In 2010, it was purchased by one of the...
73700 Bourg-Saint-Maurice, France
One of the world’s most famous places for white-water rafting, the Isère River offers fun for the whole family. Tackle the Aime rapids and challenging Villette Canyon with help from Eaux Vives Rafting, which offers half-day and...
Place du Rond Point des Pistes, 73150 Val-d'Isère, France
There are wild times to be had at Val d’Isère’s most happening slope-side bar, where skiers can take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free beers at happy hour, or swing by at 6 p.m. when the live music and DJs really get the party...
Bellevarde-Loyes Express, 73150 Val-d'Isère, France
One of Val d’Isère’s most popular on-slope restaurants, La Peau de Vache is beloved for its warm atmosphere and hearty menu of delicious, well-priced comfort food. Here, skiers can refuel with everything from French onion soup...
Avenue du Prariond, 73150 Val-d'Isère, France
Already a favorite, this boutique hotel recently received a total makeover, reopening for the 2018–19 season with a sleek new spa and a rooftop hot tub sporting stellar views of the Face de Bellevarde. In the rooms, plush carpets and wood...
Chemin des Carats Montée de Bellevarde, 73150 Val-d'Isère, France
Families and romantics alike adore this sophisticated, five-star hotel, where you’ll find everything you could dream of for a weekend of total pampering. Besides legendary service and a stellar location at the foot of the Le Face ski run,...
1297 Route des Eaux Vives, 73120 Courchevel Village, France
Courchevel’s only spa and fitness complex outside of a hotel, Aquamotion is also Europe’s largest indoor water park. The immense glass-and-steel building houses four distinct areas: Aquafun, with a plunge pool, three-lane waterslide,...
73120 Saint-Bon-Tarentaise, France
Named for its altitude, Courchevel 1850 is the most prestigious of the eight ski resorts in the Trois Vallées (the largest ski area in the world). It’s also the fanciest—nowhere else will you find a chair lift designed by Karl...
2 Rue du Rocher, 75008 Saint-Bon-Tarentaise, France
If skiing the vertiginous slopes of the Trois Vallées doesn’t do it for you, try paragliding over the mountains instead. With his eponymous company, Craig Jenkins offers tandem flights over Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, and...
73550 Les Allues, France
For the liveliest après-ski scene in the area, head to La Folie Douce, set mid-slope between Méribel and Courchevel. Here, live music and big-name DJs are just part of the fun. The bar also hosts dancers and acrobats as well as an...
Rue de la Chapelle, 73120 Courchevel, France
The haute dining experience is nothing new in Courchevel, but Bistrot du Praz brings authenticity and good value to the area’s dining scene. The restaurant’s irresistibly romantic setting in a wooden chalet sets the tone for an evening...
Rue du Jardin Alpin, 73120 Saint-Bon-Tarentaise, France
LVMH’s contribution to the Courchevel high life, Cheval Blanc riffs on the Alpine theme with plenty of wood, leather, tweed, faux fur, cuckoo clocks, and even some woolly sheep in the oversize rooms and suites. Many of the guest rooms also...
5 Rue Emile Allais, 73120 Courchevel, France
If understatement is the measure of true luxury, then L’Apogée is the epitome of extravagance. No expense was spared when building and decorating this handsome Oetker Collection hotel, which opened in 2013 and hosts guests only four...
Rue de Bellecôte, 73120 Saint-Bon-Tarentaise, France
If views are what you’re after, this intimate five-star hotel will not disappoint. Each of the 25 rooms and suites features either a balcony or terrace with breathtaking panoramas of the Courchevel valley. In the common spaces, a mix of...
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