If you want to give your children a nice gift for the rest of their lives, you let them take ski lessons at an early age. This is, of course, possible anywhere. In the flat area of The Netherlands old rubbish dumps are covered with plastic ski mats to make a kind of skislope. Or you can go to a covered ski hall where a descent never takes longer than the tow lift. Yet you can also enjoy skiing in the South of France. The Alpes Maritimes region offers everyone a combination of the sea and the mountains, and everything can be reached within 1.5 hours.
The nicest ski areas on the Côte d’Azur
Those looking for space on the slopes and the tranquillity of the valleys are welcome in the French Alps, also known as Mercantour. With the most famous ski villages Valberg, Auron and Isola and the lesser-known Gréoulieres, you can ski up to 2,400 meters, with a view of the Mediterranean sea. After a day of intensive skiing including a delicious lunch in the sun, the French don’t hang around a bar. Instead, they take a shower, change clothes and then enjoy a cheese raclette and heavy red wine. The French are, as with so many things, seriously engaged in skiing and the phenomenon of après-ski with dancing and knock-out drinking is unknown on the Cote d’Azur.
Skiing for children
Everyone can ski well from an early age and is on the slopes from early morning until dark. At primary school, children usually go to a ski holiday camp for a week; this is regulated by the primary school and paid for by the government. Where can you still find that? The next morning, children are often dropped off at the ESF, the Ecole Ski Française. With 250 branches on the slopes, this is the largest and the best ski school in France. You can recognize ESF teachers by their red/white overalls and for 30 euros per day, your child is already in a ski class with an average of 8 children. From the age of three, they learn in a playful way to ski at the PiouPiou club and after that, they can just ride the grown-ups. The ESF recommends starting ski lessons from the age of 3 because you can’t start skiing early enough! More information at http://www.esf.net/
The nicest ski areas on the Côte d’Azur: Top 3
No. 1 – Isola 2000
Isola 2000 offers fresh air in a truly unique environment between the Mercantour National Park (France) and the Alpi Naturale Maritime Park (Italy). the ski area is only 90 km from Nice. From the top of the resort, you can enjoy an incredible panorama from the Ecrins massif to the Mediterranean, to the high peak of Monte Viso and the Argentera massif. In Isola 2000 you will find the ESF (French Ski School – www.esf-isola2000.com and the ESI (international ski school – http://www.esi-isola2000.com/fr/. Both offer a wide range of lessons, led by their team of specialized instructors.
Isola 2000 offers skiers 45 alpine ski runs, including 3 black, 13 red, 22 blue, 7 green, between 1800m and 2610m. Total length ski area 120 kilometers.
In Isola, snowboarders can fully enjoy themselves at 2300 meters in the Marmottes area. There are hills, boards and railings to practice the best free style stunts. Read more info here.
Snowshoeing in Isola 2000
Richard offers a gentle approach to snowshoeing. Easy, safe half-day walks, at your own pace, with stops for chamois and wildlife viewing. Discover the unique environment of our mountains in winter: Accessible to everyone (from 4 years). Or take a day hike to the lakes of the Terre Rouge for an even more exciting adventure! Reservations +33 (0) 6 12 77 93 98
Rent a snowmobile
Drive a snowmobile solo or as a duo in beautiful surroundings. Grand tour of the resort 100 € / snowmobile. Available 7 days a week. Contact: +33 (0) 4 93 23 91 32
Car racing on ice
Follow the tracks of the greatest auto ice rally champions on the Isola 2000 ice track! Open every day.
Special driving lesson (30 min): 100 €
Private driving course (1h15): 300 €
No 2 – Valberg
Valberg is a charming, authentic, friendly and cozy resort village, located 86 km from Nice, at the gates of the Mercantour National Park. Located at an altitude of 1,700 meters, Valberg welcomes winter sports fans, and especially families, who come to enjoy the mountains and the relaxing natural environment. The resort has been awarded the Family + label and has many activities for children with equipped slopes and adapted structures (Big airbag, video zone, Family Park, Snow Park.
There are also many non-ski activities such as snowshoeing, a heated pool, the ice rink in the center of the village, snowmobiling, quad or horseback riding. After the slopes are closed, don’t skip a walk through the village. You can fully enjoy the winter activities and of course a visit to bars, pubs and restaurants.
Valberg offers 90 km of skiing fun with 56 slopes (12 green, 10 blue, 28 red, 6 black)
Visit the website Valberg for more information.
No 3 – Auron
Just like Valberg, Auron is an authentic resort where family and friends like to go to enjoy the friendly atmosphere.
There are many activities for young and old (snow parks, horse riding or snowmobiling, etc.). The resort is also known for organizing a gastronomic festival from 16 to 18 January each year where the greatest chefs of the Côte d’Azur.
Auron offers 135 km of runs spread over 42 runs (3 green, 16 blue, 15 red, 9 black)
Buy ski passes with extra discount!
Once you have bought a ski pass, you can top it up online with a flat rate for the next day. There are regular promotions online with about 50% discount on the normal rates. Look here for offers for ski passes Côte d’Azur. Check here for daily promotions.
Crédits photo : CRT Côte d’Azur
Unknown ski areas in the South of France
Where else can you ski on the French Riviera? For those who want to avoid the most popular ski areas, these are the other smaller ski areas. Charming and unknown, that’s inviting!
La Colmiane is an hour’s drive from Nice (65km). Enjoy alpine skiing on more than 30 km of slopes in a beautiful and charming setting. Here you can also make beautiful walks, skiing with a horse (ski yoering), paragliding and freestyle in the snow park (big air, snow line, etc …)
Looking for thrills? Fly through the ski valley at 120 km per hour with the largest zip line in France! You fly 300 meters above the ground over 2.6 kilometers in length. That lasts endlessly. A great experience! Price: 35 € / person. Read more information about the Tyrolienne in Colmiane.
L’Audibergue – Les Monts d’Azur
This resort is located 1 hour from Grasse and Draguignan in a pleasant and relaxing natural environment. There are about 20 slopes for alpine skiing and about 15 for cross-country skiing. Fancy a Nordic walk? Discover the snowy landscapes and experience the sensations in dog sledding in the company of the Mushers dogs for a unique experience.
For more information, visit the website of the L’Audibergue – Les Monts d’Azur ski area
Beuil Les Launes
A village that you can easily pass by when you just sneeze. The main attraction of Beuil Les Launes is the village itself: very authentic and charming with its old stone houses in the heart of lush nature. Beuil Les Launes has about fifty slopes for alpine skiing, 3 courses of different levels for cross-country skiing and many hiking, snowshoeing and skiing routes. Discover Beuil.
Roubion Les Buisses
The Roubion les Buisses ski area is located in the Nice district (France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Alpes-Maritimes). There is 30 km of slopes for skiing and snowboarding. There are 7 elevators to transport guests. The winter sports area lies between heights of 1,420 and 1,920 m. More info ski area Roubion Les Buisses.
Gréolières Les Neiges
If it has snowed a lot, this is a must. From Vence, you are in this ski area in 45 minutes. It is the closest resort on the coast, located in the hinterland of Grasse. When the reliefs of Gréolières are covered with snow, you can enjoy 30 km of downhill pistes and the 30 km of cross-country trails.
Do not miss a walk in the old village of Gréolière and also go to the top of Chiron, from where you can admire an exceptional panoramic view of the Riviera coast, from the Italian coast to the Esterel massif. More information about Gréolières Les Neiges
Saint Martin de Vésubie – Le Boréon
Small but great for beautiful walks. Four cross-country trails, ice climbing, 3 snowshoe trails and guided mountain trips to meet wolves (from a distance). More information about Saint Martin de Vésubie – Le Boréon.
Saint Dalmas Le Selvage
Here you can ski 3 km cross-country in the mountains. There is 50 km of slopes for snowshoeing. You can also organize an adventurous group outing by climbing ice waterfalls. More info about Saint Dalmas Le Selvage
Perhaps the smallest ski resort on the Côte d’Azur. With 1 green slope with ski lift, and further cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on 11 km of trails in beautiful natural surroundings. More info about Estenc Entraunes.
Welcome to the gates of the famous Vallée des Merveilles, a location very popular with hikers in summer, as well as on the many snow-covered trails in winter. You can dog sledge through the forest and take advantage of the many snowshoeing routes to discover beautiful landscapes. More information about winter sports in Casterino.
Luceram Peira Cava
A pleasant environment, very suitable for cross-country ski tours and snowshoeing. More information about the village of Luceram Peira Cava.