Best French Ski Resorts For Snowboarding
Since its appearance in French ski resorts in the 90s, snowboarding has been an impressive boom, going from the acceptance of the first snowboarders on the ski lifts and ski slopes to a fad, then to full acceptance of free ride practices and freestyle, until finally its presence at the Olympic Games. Some of these French ski resorts were pioneers in terms of infrastructure and most of them subsequently invested in snow parks and other areas of expression devoted to snowboarding. Let’s take stock of the strengths displayed by these French ski resorts with regard to snowboarders and take stock of those that are best equipped in this area.
Equipment and services dedicated to snowboarders
Before the practice of freestyle skiing became more mainstream, we only saw snowboarders in snowparks. And for a good reason: the snowpark, an area dedicated to the practice of freestyle and composed of modules (kickers, tables, big air, set of rails, boxes, step-up, half-pipe, superpipe airbag …) was created specifically for them. Snowboarders now share snow parks with freestyle ski enthusiasts in most French ski resorts. However, some ski resorts are equipped with more snowboard-oriented snow-parks, often shaped by snowboarders, such as the Sunset Park in Chamrousse.
In addition to snow parks, some ski areas have developed real ski areas dedicated to snowboarding, allowing simultaneous practice by free riders and freestylers. The originality and diversity of the modules offered, their integration into a fun area and often adapting to the natural lines of the site, make all the difference in attracting more snowboarders.
The perfect example of this type of facility is the Stash in Avoriaz, an area cut out in the heart of the Lindarets forest, mixing free rides between fir trees and freestyle on special pistes. The site was voted the best snowboarding spot in the world in 2015 by the CNN TV channel. The original modules, which can be found along with the three courses on offer, were cut from wood recovered on-site (ride line made up of a series of trunks, wooden footbridge, wooden quarter and wall, boardercross). Freeriders, on the other hand, operate in a secure, ungroomed area and appreciate the banked turns and the hidden wooden elements all along the course and which we discover at random “secret passages”. Before embarking on crazy loops, you obviously have to start somewhere, hence the importance of finding snowparks that are reserved for children. They are exclusively used by beginners, offer modules adapted to playful aspects of snowboarding for beginners. Training and development areas for beginners such as the Saint-Lary snowpark (boarding mats at the chairlifts, easy, well-shaped kickers and a suitable landing area).
On the freeride side, beyond the natural assets of the ski resorts (number and variety of dedicated slopes, hilly for backcountry freestyle or more traditional and laid back), the added value of the ski resorts are measured by the secure areas designed for the delight of powder aficionados. Indeed, what could be more pleasant than to set off on a whole mountainside, in the hollows of ungroomed valleys and secured by the piste service (preventive triggering of avalanches)! And for those who feel like the adventure of a freeride session in unsecured sectors: head to the Arva Parks to test your skis before leaving and to train in emergency procedures in case of burial under an avalanche of one of your free rider friends.
The best French ski resorts for snowboarding
Among the multitude of ski resorts in France, some have a stronger history than others with snowboarding. They have forged close links with this practice by contributing in particular to its development, but also by welcoming snowboarders; by their mentalities, their infrastructures or their ski areas …
To name a few: – Les 2 Alpes (check our properties there), which was the first resort to allow snowboarders to take the ski lifts without a scooter, like everyone else! It is also the first to have hosted the World Snowboard in 1989… This is undoubtedly why it has the highest percentage of general public snowboarders (25% against 10% for other resorts on average). In the 1990s, Avoriaz and Les 2 Alpes were the first resorts to offer a snow park.
On the other hand, Les Arcs, whose history is closely linked to that of Régis Rolland (freeride snowboard pioneer), is not too far behind either!
To introduce the best French resorts for snowboarding, nothing better than the following list:
LES 2 ALPES The match Alpe d’Huez Vs Les Deux Alpes
As far back as can be remembered, there has always been plenty to do snowboarding and in particular freestyle in Les 2 Alpes. This is one of the reasons why one gets into snowboarding quite quickly rather than continuing with traditional skis. The snowpark team knows its subject well, over the years they have known how to renew themselves and rethink the infrastructures to always be as much fun as possible. There is something for all levels, from beginners curious about new things to experienced practitioners. The big plus of Les 2 Alpes park is that it is open most of the year, from December to April; but also summer and part of autumn.
This resort can boast of having a very long history with snowboarding. It is even a pioneer ski resort thanks to Régis Rolland, one of the snowboarding pioneers in France! Obviously, it happened in Les Arcs at the beginning of the 1980s. Subsequently, the ski resort has always offered large-scale events (eg the Quiksilver Cup) and campaigned in favour of snowboarding, whether it is freestyle or freeride. All the French snowboarding legends (and even some international ones) have ridden in Les Arcs and have loved this ski resort like Axel Pauporté, David Vincent, Stéphane Routin, Franck Screm, Démir Julia… Nothing is more normal when you see the immensity and configuration of the off-piste area. It is particularly suitable for freeride and backcountry freestyle because it is very hilly, with interesting terrain for jumping everywhere and steep corridors. In addition, the ski area is located very high in altitude and benefits from all the exposure, ideal for finding the right snow at any time of the day. At the same time, Les Arcs snowpark is very well structured so that snowboarders of all levels can have fun.
Avoriaz is the cradle of snowboarding in France with an increase in structures over the past twenty years. It is one of the first ski resorts in France to have offered a snow park. The legendary Arare snow park from the 90s evolved quickly, so much so that today there are no less than eight snow parks in Avoriaz. Without Jean-Noël Calvet, the story would not have been the same. With his team, they were able to face the criticisms of the ski traditionalists which is still very present. The strengths of Avoriaz today is the Stash set up by Burton (snow park with natural modules in the forest) and the playful variations of snow parks for children. But also its halfpipe, still among the best in France!
Located in the heart of the 3 valleys, in Tarentaise, Méribel has become, over the past ten years, a major ski resort for Freestyle and Freeride snowboarders. Thanks to its domain and its wide and varied terrain, one can find, in Méribel and Méribel Mottaret, all kinds of Freeride options.
On the Mottaret side, there is a good range of different lanes with also more open but quite steep runs. On the Méribel side, you can find longer runs with slopes of 1,000 m in height that take us almost to the bottom of the resort towards Méribel Les Allues. When the snow conditions are there, It is very good. Regarding Freestyle, Méribel provides two snowparks. The “Moon Park” is located in Méribel with its lanes for expert, experienced and beginner riders, as well as a boardercross. A real multipurpose park! In Méribel Mottaret, DC Shoes has for a few years taken over the reins of the snowpark stamped “DC Area 43”. Thanks to these efficient structures such as the sequence of three beautiful tables, a great competition pipe, as well as a multitude of rails and other very fun kickers; the brand offers a real Disneyland for freestyles! See our properties in Meribel
Chamrousse is located about 25 minutes from Grenoble, which is ideal for accessibility! It is a small ski resort endowed with real charm with its slopes between the pines and its magnificent view overlooking the valley. An ideal setting for snowboarding… You can live incredible sunsets while having a barbecue with your friends in “Sunset Park”, hence the name, while riding on modules of exquisite and complete originality. adapted since shapers are snowboarders! One of Chamrousse’s main qualities for snowboarding is that you can quickly escape to spots offering fresh powder, lost among the pines. Beginners and experts alike can find what they are looking for there because there really are all types of terrain “.
In Tignes, it’s simple, there is everything for snowboarding! A snowpark and a half-pipe for freestyle enthusiasts. Next door, a mini boardercross and a boardercross over 1,400 m. Tignes is renowned for its exceptional off-piste with a good diversity in the configuration of the terrain. One of the best is riding “Les Tufs”, the corridors that overlook the lake. For those who do not yet know how to handle their safety equipment, there is an ARVA training zone to practice looking for avalanche victims. Note that the Tignes-Val d’Isère ski area has a total of 300 km of slopes, it’s impossible to get bored!.
Val d’Isère is a really beautiful resort, perfect for snowboarding enthusiasts! There is something for all profiles. Beginners come for the hundreds of kilometres of slopes, the freestyle pros for the Val d’Isère snowpark, others for the love of powder and off-piste, etc … What has undoubtedly forged its notoriety with the snowboard is his snowpark. Val d’Isère was not very well known for freestyle, but year after year the snowpark has evolved massively so that it is now famous with the French freestyle scene. The ski resort also supports the practice of snowboarding by organising events that attract a large audience. The small authentic village of Val d’Isère is located at an altitude of 1,800 m, so the resort is one with the most snow in France, but also one of the longest winter seasons, from November 30th till May. See our properties in Val d’Isère.
LES 7 LAUX
The Isére ski resort has been asserting itself for years as the preferred destination for snowboarding. For a long time, Les 7 Laux was the HO5 headquarters and offered one of the best snowparks in France (company specialising in the development of snowparks with snowboarders mostly at the head of the company), so well that the best local snowboarders rode here. Today, the ski resort is a bit more geared towards nature and freeriding. But, it is still ideal for snowboarding. One of the best points is the fact that it is not a tourist resort and that its ski area is very diverse for riding on slopes, in the forest … We have a little penchant for the very hilly Oursière sector, with small bumps to enjoy. There is really everything and the ski resort is quickly accessible from Grenoble. Importantly for snowboarding, all slopes are well connected with the lifts.
There was a time when infrastructures for freestyle were almost non-existent in the Southern Alps. But, in recent years and thanks to Vars, this has changed enormously. The resort has even become a mecca of freestyle, so colossal is the Vars Park, with endless sequences and lines, notably at the Eyssina Park, worthy of the Olympic Games. We owe it to Arnaud de Bluze which made things happen and changed the mentality of the decision-makers in the ski resort. This park is not just for the elite, on the contrary. There is something for all levels and all styles.