France Montagnes was proud to launch its forthcoming winter season on 13 September 2022, alongside 19 partners. The event introduced over 30 skiing, travel and lifestyle journalists to the latest news from the French ski industry and France Montagnes’ new international tourism brand, ‘The Mountains of France’, launched in collaboration with Atout France.
Mirroring the style of the brand’s French version, ‘La montagne, ça vous gagne!’ (The mountains are good for you!) launching this autumn on the domestic market, the campaign is deliberately ‘feel-good’ and aims to highlight the sheer diversity of France’s mountain environments, across several regions and seven massifs.
Exciting new resort developments
A number of impressive additions are waiting to entice this season’s skiers. Have a blast on the newly designed fun runs in Valloire, Morzine (Pingouin boardercross), Villard-de-Lans, St-François-Longchamp (Opoualand) and on Val Thorens’ space-themed run. In Le Grand-Bornand, the all-new Môm’Park features child-sized freestyle modules, alongside the Défi Môm’ with its cow and farming theme. In Le Collet d’Allevard’s new Tétras Délire Park, you can ski and learn about the environment at the same time. There have been changes to multi-ability snowparks: Les Sybelles’ snowpark has been entirely redesigned, while Belle Plagne’s has been relocated to Montchavin-Les-Coches, with a new spectators’ area. Les Orres and Arc 2000 are both home to new beginners’ areas, the latter with dedicated zones for first time on the snow, first turns and first descents. Le Dévoluy has launched a new beginners’ ski pass, offering access to easy zones and lifts.
New activities for non-skiers
With almost 50 different activities now available in the mountains of France, you’re almost certain to find something brand new to try without donning skis.
- Times are changing for Nordic skiing, as the Jura Mountains Nordic ski area has developed an innovative mapping tool for this winter, known as Geotrek. For the first time in France, the cross-country ski trails, snowshoe trails and other Nordic itineraries in the Jura will be promoted and listed on the dedicated ‘Espace Nordique Jurassien’ website and app.
- For snowshoeing enthusiasts, there are three new activities: themed hikes in Vaujany with an app recounting local stories and history along the way; mountain hikes with headtorches in Alpe d’Huez followed by dinner in an igloo; or ‘apéro Mazot’ outings in the Val d’Arly, combining a guided walk with cheese tasting.
- Moonbiking is the latest fast-paced craze – and the first electric snow scooter will be available to try out on a dedicated track in Courchevel this winter, or in La Giettaz in the Val d’Arly, where you can explore a nature trail.
- In Peisey Vallandry, AvélO is combining e-biking with ski touring to maximise the fun. The result is the Sk’e-bike – a totally new activity. Thanks to the electric assistance, you can start your climb at the foot of the slopes, switching to touring skis later to head up to the snowy summits.
- Several new night-time activities are on offer, including visits to the ice falls in the Pays des Ecrins and moonlit snowshoeing-meditation in Les Saisies. For an icy thrill by day, head to the new ice cave at 3,400m in Les 2 Alpes.
The focus is on children this year in Les Ménuires and La Bresse, where they can step into the boots of a ski patroller. The ‘Ski Patrol Experience’ involves a mini snowmobile, mini snow groomer, emergency rescue sled and searching for avalanche victims – a fun way to learn about this mountain profession and how to stay safe.
When it comes to adrenaline, the whole family is in for a treat with the new three-day ESF survival courses in Pralognan-La-Vanoise. Reconnect with nature and learn survival techniques, while also improving your skiing. Finally, from this winter, children under eight ski for free in Val d’Isère and Tignes.
A pioneer ski area in terms of renewable energy, Serre-Chevalier installed two hydro-electric turbines in 2022. The aim for 2023 is to generate 30% of its energy needs from solar, wind and hydroelectric renewable sources.
Travelling by train, or not using your car during your stay, is possible in all the mountains of France. There are discounted ski passes available when you carshare, and partnerships set up with Tictactrip, a leader in intermodal passenger transport.
As many as 12 French resorts have now been awarded the Flocon Vert eco label, guaranteeing their sustainability commitment. Increasing numbers of tourist residences now also bear the Green Key label (53 in 2020), such as the five-star Pierre & Vacances Amara residence in Avoriaz, an original, eco-designed resort.
- The former chairlift in Les 2 Alpes’ Vallée Blanche area will be replaced by a telemix – taking passengers up to 2,100m – and the Super Venosc gondola lift, which opened in 2022. The famous Jandri Express gondola will open in stages from 2024.
- The new Huez Express gondola will provide a fast link between Huez village and Vieil Alpe, from the Paganon lift station. La Norma’s new fully electric gondola is soon to open, featuring discreet stations and pylons that blend in with the surroundings.
- In the Pyrenees, the resort of St-Lary has invested €23m updating the main Espiaube sector, with the addition of a new gondola and chairlift. In the resort of Vars in Hautes-Alpes, visitors can spend less time on transport and more on the slopes with two new six-seater chairlifts opening this winter. There’s also a new look for the Aiguille Percée chairlift in Tignes, an update to the Transarc in Les Arcs, a new chairlift in Valberg (Le Garisson) and the first section of the new Côte du Bois gondola in La Toussuire.
Top hotel, chalet and restaurant openings
- Look out for stylish new mountain accommodation in the form of Les Ménuires four-star Hotel Higalik, St-Martin-de-Belleville’s five-star M Lodge, eco-conscious La Voie Lactée in Le Grand Tourmalet and Club Med’s new Val Claret resort in Tignes.
- The former Cassiopée residence in Belle-Plagne has been given an impressive facelift and the result is the W2050, a new high-end apartment complex.
- The new owners of three-star Chalet Alpage, set in a quiet area of La Clusaz, have renovated the rooms and communal areas, showcasing the hotel’s family atmosphere and Savoyard decor. Their restaurant is open to all.
- Perhaps the most spectacular renovation is Doriane and Damien Borel’s transformation of Chalet HappyView in Le Grand Bornand, which has breathed new life into a humble former village postman’s house. This isolated, forest-edge farmhouse is now a five-star dream chalet with unparalleled views.
- A number of new or recently-opened French mountain restaurants are waiting to refuel weary skiers this winter: Paradis in La Rosière, Là-Haut in Le Mont Dore, La Terrasse Food & Chill in Saint-François Longchamp, Shed Café in Le Grand Bornand (with local ice creams), Au Toré in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville and l’Adress in Vallandry.
Sporting events calendar
The sporting highlight for 2023 is the Alpine World Ski Championships (6-19 February) hosted by Courchevel and Méribel, an exceptional event for skiing and the mountains of France. These World Championships are a biannual international ski celebration, bringing together the world’s elite alpine skiers as they battle it out to take home the ultimate title. With several zones on the side of the two competition runs where fans can get right up close to the races, as well as stands and VIP areas, spectators can choose from a range of ticket options.
Among other noteworthy sporting events are
- the Snowboard Cross World Cup in Les 2 Alpes (26-29 October),
- the Ski Mountaineering World Cup in Val Thorens (25-27 November),
- the Télémark World Cup in Les Contamines-Montjoie (6-9 January 2023),
- the Kandahar Alpine Skiing World Cup in Les Houches (3-4 February 2023) the Glisse en Cœur charity event in Le Grand Bornand (24-26 March 2023).