Some of the most in-demand ski resorts can be found in Europe, especially in France and Switzerland. Aside from reliable snowfall, which means days out skiing and taking part in other mountain sports whenever you choose, Europe’s top ski resorts also boast varying terrain, a fantastic après-ski scene and family-friendly events and activities. If you’re looking for a wintertime excursion, consider these seven luxury ski resorts in Europe.
Chamonix makes its home at the foot of Mont Blanc, one of the Alps’ most beautiful mountains. This is an area popular with skiers and snowboarders, and Chamonix is also considered to be at the forefront of mountaineering. If you’re more interested in nightlife than adrenaline-pumping sports, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a strong après-ski scene here.
Even though Chamonix is well-loved by professional skiers (it hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924), it also has four areas with gentle slopes that are perfect for beginners. With the unlimited Mont Blanc pass, you can also explore ski resorts in Italy and Switzerland.
Courchevel 1850, France
Known for its wealthy residents, Courchevel 1850 once attracted Russia’s elite, which is partly why it’s such an esteemed ski resort today. The shopping is superb, as Courchevel 1850 is home to several flagship stores for major fashion, jewelry and sporting brands. Don’t be surprised if you run into a familiar face here – the area is frequented by celebrities and athletes.
When it comes to actually hitting the slopes (instead of just gazing at them as you dine on caviar), the pistes are well-maintained and the lifts are reliable and efficient. It’s easy to find a multilingual ski instructor to help you out if you’re a beginner, too.
Mègeve was born when the Rothschilds grew tired of another French ski resort, St. Moritz. Choosing to create their own, Mègeve became the first purpose-built ski resort in the Alps. In 1921, a ritzy hotel was built, attracting members of the French aristocracy, bringing even more wealth to the area. Today, the ski resort is still one of the most glamorous destinations in the world, with Michelin-starred restaurants and idyllic spas.
The pistes here are picturesquely lined with trees, and getting an unlimited Mont Blanc lift pass means you can travel to nearby ski resorts as well – this is useful, as Mègeve’s altitude is a bit low, so you will sometimes need to venture out to find fresh snow.
Morzine is an authentic French ski resort that offers a range of modern winter sports. This is the place to be for adventure skiing, with sports like heli-skiing, speed riding and night skiing available. Additional winter sports include snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating, paragliding and ice climbing. Off-slope pastimes include clubs, pubs and a lively après-ski scene. There are also an assortment of kid-friendly establishments, activities and entertainment, making it an excellent destination for the whole family.
The original village of Val-d’Isère goes back to the 13th century, but today it’s home to bars, clubs and restaurants, along with other off-slope activities and contemporary conveniences. The resort’s altitude is great if you want to spend your days skiing or snowboarding, and the slopes here tend to close later than at other resorts. If you want to test your skills, there’s a snow park with a fantastic sound system, a BBQ area and a rest zone, plus tons of jumps and obstacles to get your adrenaline going.
While skiing is accessible in all of these resort areas, Verbier takes the sport even more seriously. As one of the largest ski areas in the Swiss Alps, it’s considered to be one of the world’s top off-piste resorts. Several pro skiers have made Verbier their home because the area’s rich in steep slopes, changing conditions, and exciting ski resort culture. The village is small and easy to explore on foot, with a cozy atmosphere that remains appealing even during the summer months.
Switzerland’s Zermatt sits in the shadow of the legendary Matterhorn. It is known for being car-free, which is good news due to the narrow streets. A charming, ancient village, Zermatt has horse-drawn sleighs that transport visitors along cobblestone streets. Once the sun goes down, spend the evening at a bustling bar or a romantic, candlelit restaurant. There’s a vast selection of gourmet dining in the village as well as on the mountain.
Europe’s top ski resorts have attracted the world’s elite, including aristocrats, royals and celebrities, for much of the 20th century. Though skiing now attracts people from all walks of life, it’s still highly popular with the luxury travel crowd.