This winter, more than ever, offers skiers the perfect opportunity to try a new ski resort, one you might not have heard of or considered before.
Though often overlooked in favour of their more loud and lively neighbours, these French resorts offer an opportunity for a more relaxing holiday, perfect for those looking to escape the stresses that 2020 has brought us all.
With quaint cobbled streets, delicious local restaurants and friendly locals, these resorts will bring you back to a more authentic type of ski holiday.
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that a smaller resort = a smaller ski area. No, no, no! Some of these resorts are connected to the largest ski areas in Europe, so you definitely don’t need to worry about getting those miles in.
Lift passes are always included with Sunweb holidays, but you will always have the option to upgrade to an extended area pass if this applies to your area.
Why a French Hidden Gem Might be a Better Choice This Winter
Crowded slopes and lengthy lift queues are never fun, but this year more than ever many of us will be wanting to stay away from busy ski areas. Not only will you feel like you have the entire mountain to yourself, but you’ll also be able to forget any worries of social distancing. If we’re going to be distanced anywhere, we’d much rather it were on a quiet ski slope surrounded by magnificent views!
There’s also less of a chance of lift queues in these resorts, meaning that you’ll be able to spend more time on your skis.
Some beautiful small resorts also have access to vast ski areas, giving you an opportunity to explore a new area you might not have considered before. Alternatively, you can explore a familiar ski area from a different perspective.
You’ll be able to experience the same spectacular skiing, the same variety of slopes, the same impressive off piste terrain, but you can do it all knowing that you are going back to a base that’s calm, quiet and relaxing, offering perhaps a different type of holiday than what you’re used to…
Have you ever returned home from a ski holiday exhausted, feeling like you already need another break just to recover? Well, this year is the perfect time to use a ski holiday to recharge, rather than drain your batteries!
This will be a holiday that’s focused on quality time together, enjoying the peace of the mountains, the unique Alpine cuisines, the beautiful views and the entertaining activities you might sometimes miss out on while dancing in your ski boots at après-ski! It will be a holiday that gives you the opportunity to connect with nature and with yourself, to enjoy epic days in the most incredible landscapes and spend evenings relaxing with local food and drinks.
In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if you found yourself deciding that smaller ski resorts are the way forward not just this year, but every year!
The Best Hidden Gem Resorts to Choose in France
Ski Area: Les Orres (100km)
One of the most southern-most ski areas of the Alps, Les Orres is known for its sunny disposition. This sunny location, coupled with a good snow record and impressive snow-making facilities make for some of the most fantastic ski conditions you’ll get in the Alps. The ski area offers 100km of piste and great off-piste opportunities in the gorgeous surrounding forest. The small, charming village has a great family-friendly character and feels like a real Alpine paradise.
The Best Hidden Gem Accommodation in Les Orres?
One of the most incredible accommodations you’ll get in the mountains, in the unique igloos of Alpin d’Hôme you’ll be sleeping under the stars and waking up with the most incredible views just 100 metres from the slopes. All igloos are fully furnished with multiple bedrooms and a modern bathroom, as well as ski storage and boot warmers! With breakfast is delivered to your door each morning, you’ll truly feel like you’re living in the lap of luxury!
Ski Area: Val Cenis (125km)
Located on the border of France and Italy, Val Cenis enjoys a sizeable ski area, with 125 km of great skiing for those of all abilities. Gentle tree-lined runs around the resort prove the perfect training ground for new skiers, while the upper slopes (up to an altitude of 2,800 metres) provide more than enough entertainment for those more experienced on the snow.
What’s more, the majority of the lifts here are open-air, so if you are worried about being in a confined space with other skiers, a resort such as this is a great option.
The Best Hidden Gem Accommodation in Val Cenis?
Right on the slopes, this luxurious residence provides the perfect base for a holiday in Val Cenis. Modern facilities and well equipped kitchens mean you have the flexibility of self-catering and you are able to easily order bread and pastries for morning delivery each day. The crowning jewel is the spa, with indoor swimming pool, children’s pool, jacuzzi’s, hammams, saunas and multiple treatment options.
Ski Area: Les Portes du Soleil (650km)
The ultimate ‘hidden gem’ resort for those that still want a large ski area at their fingertips, Châtel is a unique resort tucked away in the huge Portes du Soleil ski area. Skiers will have the option of sticking to the 80km of piste local to Châtel, or extending their lift pass to access one of the world’s largest ski areas, Les Portes du Soleil, with 650km of pistes. Châtel is a classic, sophisticated ski resort, with chocolate-box style snow covered chalets and a luxurious feel. You can expect the highest standard of service here, whether you’re hitting the slopes, sampling the spa or tasting the delicious local cuisines.
The Best Hidden Gem Accommodation in Chatel?
Beautiful, modern apartments in the centre of Châtel, with a heated indoor pool, a Turkish bath and a jacuzzi to rejuvinate those aching muscles after a day on the slopes.
Ski Area: Le Grand Massif
Morillon is a hugely convenient ski resort that offers exceptional skiing as part of the vast Les Grand Massif ski area. With over 265km of slopes, you will be able to enjoy highly varied skiing, with great ski schools and development slopes for younger learners. The ski area is criminally underrated, but this is a blessing in disguise, as it tends to mean that you often get these incredible slopes to yourselves! Morillon itself is a great destination for families, with a vibrant car-free village centre and friendly atmosphere. A large range of accommodation is available, with options for all tastes and budgets.
Champagny en Vanoise
Ski Area: Paradiski
Experience true Savoyard hospitality with a ski holiday in Champagny en Vanoise, a beautiful Alpine village from which skiers can access the huge Paradiski area. A quick gondola whisks you up to the slopes above Champagny, where you can enjoy the local area’s varied slopes, or head over to the neighbouring areas of La Plagne or Les Arcs. The village itself has retained a traditional rustic feel, with quaint cafes, bars and restaurants perfect for post-ski drinking and dining.
The Best Hidden Gem Accommodation in Champagny?
A brand new accommodation in the centre of Champagny, here you are well placed to enjoy all the town has to offer, with spectacular views over the resort. The interiors are very modern, designed to be bright and airy while retaining a traditional charm. With apartments for groups of all shapes and sizes, it’s definitely one of our top choices in Champagny this winter.
Ski Area: Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine
If you want to experience the world-class Alpe d’Huez Grand Domaine ski area without the crowds of the bigger resorts this winter, Vaujany is your only choice. It’s a base that provides quick and easy access to the 250km of slopes that this high-altitude area has to offer, but without the busy, raucous reputation of its more famous neighbour, Alpe d’Huez. Instead, Vaujany offers a handful of excellent restaurants and bars, with an après-ski scene that’s more chilled out but no less entertaining.
The cable car in Vaujany takes just eight minutes to whisk you up to 2800m, and with a capacity of up to 160 people, it’s sure not to feel cramped! The skiing is highly varied and with altitudes of up to 3,330m, good snow is pretty much guaranteed. However don’t be fooled into thinking this means a higher chance of white out conditions – in fact, the Alpe d’Huez area is renowned as one of the sunniest ski destinations in the Alps, so you can enjoy that perfect combination of snow and sun!
The Best Hidden Gem Accommodation in Vaujany?
Enjoy a true Alpine home away from home with this gorgeous chalet, set against a spectacular mountain backdrop. Just a stone’s throw from the resort’s main lifts, this chalet has a cosy rustic interior that contains all the modern appliances and facilities you might need. This chalet holds a total of four apartments, with space for 6, 8 or 10 people.