Skiing in France or Switzerland: Which Location is Best?

France and Switzerland are two of the most popular skiing and snowboarding locations in Europe, but which is the best? In this article I’ll be comparing all the main things you need to consider when planning a ski trip so you can decide if you should head to France or Switzerland.

Skiing in France vs Switzerland

Both France and Switzerland are great places to ski for beginners, intermediates and experts. There are more ski resorts in Switzerland but they tend to be smaller compared to the French resorts. Skiing in Switzerland is usually more expensive and most resorts are further away from an International airport.

Resorts and Slopes

In France there are 416 ski resorts and in Switzerland there are 354 resorts.

Both countries have good options for all ability levels. Different resorts will have a mix of easy and expert slopes so there really is something for everyone no matter whether you go to the French or the Swiss alps.

Most Popular Ski Resorts in France:

  • Val d’Isere
  • Val Thorens
  • Courchevel
  • Morzine
  • Chamonix
  • Meribel

Most Popular Ski Resorts in Switzerland:

  • Zermatt
  • St. Moritz
  • Verbier
  • Grindelwald
  • Davos Klosters
  • Crans-Montana

Here’s a breakdown of the slope stats for the most popular ski resorts in France and Switzerland. In France, beginner slopes are classified as green whereas in Switzerland there are no green runs so less experienced skiers will need to start on the blue runs.

Check out this article to learn more about the slope grading systems in different countries.

LocationSkiable AreaSki LiftsGreen RunsBlue RunsRed RunsBlack Runs
Grindelwald, Switzerland102 km30N/A162415
Morzine, France120 km49329289
Crans-Montana, Switzerland140 km19N/A17294
Courchevel, France150 km581935348
Val Thorens, France150 km301129308
Meribel, France150 km45825247
St. Moritz, Switzerland155 km24N/A18169
Chamonix, France170 km176303110
Verbier, Switzerland202 km22N/A353914
Davos-Klosters, Switzerland270 km55N/A203720
Val d’Isere, France300 km4320674026
Zermatt, Switzerland360 km53N/A7522063

Weather and Snow Quality

The ski season in both Switzerland and France typically lasts for 5 months. Usually the ski season in Switzerland starts slightly earlier and runs from mid-November to mid-April whereas in France it typically runs from late-November/ early-December to late April.

You will get great quality snow in both the Swiss and French alps, there are variations are between resorts though. Resorts at a higher altitude and with more slopes facing away from the sun are likely to have longer ski seasons and better quality snow (particularly at the end of the season) compared to other resorts.

Here’s a guide to the weather at some of the major ski locations in Switzerland and France.

Average TemperatureVal d’Irere,
Val Thorens, FranceZermatt, SwitzerlandSt. Moritz, Switzerland
Nov-6°C (21°F)-4°C (24.5°F)-8°C (18°F)-5.5°C (22°F)
Dec-10°C (14°F)-8°C (17.5°F)-12.5°C (9.5°F)-11°C (12°F)
Jan-11°C (12°F)-9°C (15.5°F)-13.5°C (7°F)-12°C (10°F)
Feb-10.5°C (13°F)-8°C (17°F)-13°C (9°F)-11°C (12°F)
Mar-7°C (19°F)-4.5°C (24°F)-9°C (15.5°F)-6.5°C (20°F)
Apr-3.5°C (26°F)-1°C (30°F)-5.3°C (22.5°F)-2.5°C (27°F)

Food and Dining Experience

The types of food on offer in Switzerland and France aren’t worlds apart and you’ll often find cheese, potatoes, bread and pastries are staples on most menus. Here are some common dishes you’ll find in each country:

  • France: tartiflette, crepes, bourguignon, raclette
  • Switzerland: cheese fondue, rosti, pastries, Älplermagronen (Alpine Macaroni)

Although the food is similar, it is significantly more expensive in Switzerland compared to France.

Food/ DrinkAverage Cost FranceAverage Cost Switzerland
3 Course Meal for One30 €50 €
McDonald’s Meal9 €15 €
Coca Cola/ Pepsi2.60 €4.20 €
Bottle of Water1.75 €3.90 €
Coffee2.90 €4.80 €


The accommodation options vary from resort to resort but there are plenty of options in France and Switzerland. The main difference is that accommodation tends to be a bit more expensive in Switzerland when comparing equivalents which means you might have to choose a more budget-friendly option to keep the cost the same.

Nightlife (Après-ski)

France probably comes out on top in terms of the nightlife with most resorts having plenty of night clubs, bars and restaurants available. Val d’Isere, Tignes and Val Thorens are all very well known for their après-ski scenes.

There aren’t quite as many resorts with an exceptional reputation for après-ski, however you’ll still have plenty of options available in Switzerland. If nightlife is a priority then I’d suggest going to Verbier, Zermatt, St. Moritz, Klosters or Davos.

Travelling and Location

Most French ski resorts are nearest to Geneva international airport. The best way to travel between the airport and the resorts is via a shuttle bus as there are no direct trains available to most resorts.

The closest airports to most Swiss resorts are either Geneva, Zurich or Milan. Shuttle buses are available for most resorts but typically take quite a long time. Another option is to travel by train as most Swiss resorts are pretty well connected.

Ski ResortNearest Major AirportDrive TimeTrain Time
Portes du Soleil, FranceGeneva1 hour 30 minutesNo direct train
Val Thorens, FranceGeneva2 hours 30 minutesNo direct train
Val d’Isere, FranceGeneva3 hoursNo direct train
St. Moritz, SwitzerlandZurich/ Milan3 hours 30 minutes/ 4 hours4 hours from Zurich
Zermatt, SwitzerlandGeneva/ Milan2 hours 45 minutes/ 3 hours4 hours/ 3 hours 45 minutes

Ticket Price

As you’d probably expect considering the cost of food and accommodation in Switzerland is more than France, so are the ticket prices. On average you can expect to pay around 20€ more for an adult day lift ticket in Switzerland compared to France.

The table below provides the most recent (at the time of writing) ski season day lift ticket prices in popular French and Swiss 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.

ResortDay Lift Ticket Price (Adult)
Morzine, France44€
Meribel, France56€
Val Thorens, France59€
Portes du Soleil, France59€
Val d’Isere and Tignes, France63€
Grindelwald, Switzerland64€
Courchevel, France66€
Saas-Fee, Switzerland$67
Klosters, Switzerland71€
Verbier, Switzerland74€
St. Moritz, Switzerland77€
Zermatt, Switzerland84€

Still not sure which European country to go skiing in next? Check out these other articles:
Austria vs Switzerland for Skiing
France vs Austria for Skiing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *