Austria and France are both incredibly popular places to ski in Europe, but which is the best place to go? I’ll be directly comparing these two places head to head so you can decide if you should go to either France or Austria for your next ski season.
Austria vs France for Skiing
France and Austria both have plenty of resorts for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers/ snowboarders. French ski resorts are generally larger but have a shorter ski season compared to the resorts in Austria. Austrian ski villages are usually more picturesque and day lift tickers are slightly cheaper.
In Austria and France there are over 400 ski resorts to choose from. Both France and Austria have resorts which cater for all ability levels. Here is a list of some of the most popular resorts in both countries.
Popular Ski Resorts in Austria:
- St. Anton
Popular Ski Resorts in France:
- Val d’Isere
- Val Thorens
Here’s a table with the slope stats for some of the most popular ski resorts in France and Austria. In France, beginner slopes are classified as green whereas in Austria there are no green runs so less experienced skiers will start on the blue runs.
Check out this article to learn more about the slope grading systems in different countries.
|Location||Slopes||Ski Lifts||Green Runs||Blue Runs||Red Runs||Black Runs|
|Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, Austria||110 km||25||N/A||21||11||7|
|Morzine, France||120 km||49||3||29||28||9|
|Mayrhofen, Austria||142 km||44||N/A||24||33||8|
|Courchevel, France||150 km||58||19||35||34||8|
|Val Thorens, France||150 km||30||11||29||30||8|
|Meribel, France||150 km||45||8||25||24||7|
|Chamonix, France||170 km||17||6||30||31||10|
|Kitzbühel, Austria||188 km||57||N/A||29||27||12|
|Soll, Austria||279 km||91||N/A||76||83||9|
|Val d’Isere, France||300 km||43||20||67||40||26|
|St. Anton, Austria||302 km||88||N/A||34||70||30|
Weather, Ski Season Length and Snow Quality
The ski season in France typically runs from December through to April whereas the season in Austria usually runs from November through to April. Both countries offer great snow conditions for the majority of the season, however Austria tends to offer better snow later in the season compared to France.
There is some variation between resorts in the same country though. Resorts with mountains which are at higher altitudes and more slopes facing away from the sun tend to have longer ski seasons.
|Ski Resort||Ski Season Length (2021/22)||Ski Season Start Date 2021/22||Ski Season Start Date 2021/22|
|Morzine, France||114 days||18th Dec||10th Apr|
|Chamonix, France||122 days||18th Dec||18th Apr|
|Mayrhofen, Austria||136 days||4th Dec||18th Apr|
|Courchevel, France||140 days||4th Dec||22nd Apr|
|Meribel, France||140 days||4th Dec||22nd Apr|
|St. Anton, Austria||149 days||27th Nov||24th Apr|
|Val Thorens, France||154 days||20th Nov||22nd Apr|
|Val d’Isere, France||156 days||27th Nov||1st May|
|Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, Austria||158 days||17th Nov||23rd Apr|
|Ischgl, Austria||158 days||25th Nov||1st May|
|Solden, Austria||163 days||20th Nov||1st May|
|Tignes, France||165 days||27th Nov||8th May|
|Kitzbühel, Austria||177 days||30th Oct||24th Apr|
|Average Temperature||St.Anton, Austria||Kitzbühel, Austria||Val d’Irere,|
|Val Thorens, France|
|Nov||-4.5°C (24°F)||-0.5°C (31°F)||-6°C (21°F)||-4°C (24.5°F)|
|Dec||-9.5°C (14.5°F)||-5°C (23°F)||-10°C (14°F)||-8°C (17.5°F)|
|Jan||-10.5°C (13°F)||-6.5°C (20.5°F)||-11°C (12°F)||-9°C (15.5°F)|
|Feb||-9°C (16°F)||-5°C (23°F)||-10.5°C (13°F)||-8°C (17°F)|
|Mar||4.5°C (23.5°F)||-1°C (30°F)||-7°C (19°F)||-4.5°C (24°F)|
|Apr||-1°C (30°F)||2.5°C (37°F)||-3.5°C (26°F)||-1°C (30°F)|
Food and Dining
The food in Austrian and French ski resorts is usually high quality and there’s plenty of choice on offer. Here are some popular dishes you’ll find in Austrian and French ski resorts:
- Austria: brettljause, goulash, apfelstrüdel and wiener schnitzel
- France: tartiflette, crepes, bourguignon, raclette
The price of food and drink is slightly higher in Austria compared to France for most items except some fast food venues and beer tend to be slightly cheaper. Restaurant prices are usually pretty similar.
|Food/ Drink||Average Cost Austria||Average Cost France|
|3 Course Meal for One||30€||30€|
|Coca Cola/ Pepsi||2.65€||2.60€|
|Bottle of Water||2.20€||1.75€|
In French ski resorts you’ll find plenty of self-catering apartments and some hotels but in Austria most of the accommodation on offer is in a hotel.
One of the complaints of French ski resorts is that they don’t tend to look as pretty as Austrian ski resorts as there are a lot of high-rise apartments. Austrian resorts have a reputation for being cosy and authentic and feel a bit nicer to spend time in, in my opinion.
Après Ski and Villages
As I mentioned in the section above, Austrian resort villages tend to be more picturesque in comparison to French resort villages. French ski resorts are usually larger but not quite as charming and rustic compared to Austrian resorts.
Both countries have great resorts for nightlife with plenty of bars and restaurants available, although Austria is usually a bit cheaper for drinks.
The best resorts for nightlife in France are Val d’Isere, Tignes and Val Thorens whilst St. Anton, Ischgl, and Mayrhofen stand out in Austria.
Location and Travelling
Austrian ski resorts are usually a bit more accessible compared to French ski resorts so the airport transfer time is generally shorter.
The majority of French resorts are located most closely to Geneva International Airport and have a transfer time between 1.5 and 3 hours. In Austria, Innsbruck and Salzburg are the closest international airports to most ski resorts and transfer times are usually between 1 and 1.5 hours.
|Ski Resort||Nearest Major Airport||Drive Time|
|Portes du Soleil, France||Geneva||1 hour 30 minutes|
|Val Thorens, France||Geneva||2 hours 30 minutes|
|Val d’Isere, France||Geneva||3 hours|
|St. Anton, Austria||Innsbruck||1 hour|
|Kitzbühel, Austria||Salzburg||1 hour 20 minutes|
|Mayrhofen, Austria||Innsbruck||1 hour|
The price of ski lift tickets in Austria is slightly cheaper on average compared to France but it does vary between resorts. On average, adult day lift passes are approximately 60€ in France and in Austria they are 55€.
Check out the table below for the most recent (at the time of writing) ski season day lift ticket prices in popular French and Austrian resorts. Keep in mind that these prices are subject to change. Please check the resorts individually to confirm current prices. The rates below are for online bookings, prices are much higher if tickets are purchased at the desk.
|Resort||Peak Season Day Lift Ticket Price (Adult)|
|St. Anton, Austria||53€|
|Val Thorens, France||59€|
|Portes du Soleil, France||59€|
|Val d’Isere and Tignes, France||63€|
Which is the Best Country for Skiing?
Austria and France are both great countries to ski in, and this question often causes a lot of debate as there isn’t really a “best place to ski”, it just depends who you ask.
Personally, I prefer Austria as it is more picturesque , the villages feel more authentic and rustic and the transfer times are usually shorter compared to most French resorts.
However, France does still offer an amazing skiing experience and the resorts are usually bigger and great for those who want to spend more time on the slopes.