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French Alps vs. Swiss Alps: Where should you visit?

The French Alps vs Swiss Alps – you may be wondering: what’s the difference? Ultimately, there are probably more similarities than there are differences between the two regions. However, there are a few things you may want to consider before deciding which to visit such as:

  • Choice and variety of skiing
  • Cost
  • Transport

Read on to find out more about how these factors may differ between the French and Swiss Alps...


French Alps vs Swiss Alps Skiing

When booking a ski holiday, most people’s top priority is ultimately going to be skiing. What kind of slopes can you expect to find and how much variety there is can greatly impact your choice.

French Alps

The French Alps are famed worldwide for top-class skiing. Not only are they home to 200+ ski resorts, but skiers can also enjoy 10,158 kilometres of pistes, with varying difficulty. Whether you’re a family of beginners or a group of experienced enthusiasts, the French Alps offer endless skiing options to all abilities.

France tends to have bigger resorts than the Swiss Alps, so if you’re a more advanced skier, who’s keen to wake up for first lifts and ski until the last – France may be a better option.

Swiss Alps

The Swiss Alps also boasts over 200 ski resorts, but compared to France there is slightly less domain to explore with 7,132 kilometres of skiable pistes.

Magicpass

A huge advantage of skiing in Switzerland is the Magicpass scheme. If you opt in to the scheme, you can access over 40 resorts, including 1100 km of slopes from the beginning of the summer season to the end of the following winter season for CHF 899.00 (prices may vary).

Discover both countries in one trip…

If you want to discover the best of both the French and Swiss Alps on your ski holiday, then the Portes du Soleil is the place for you. With 600km of pistes spread over two countries to enjoy, you’re truly spoilt for choice! Here are the resorts you can visit with a Portes du Soleil ski pass, broken down by country…

Portes du Soleil resorts by country…

France

  • Abondance
  • Avoriaz 1800
  • Châtel
  • La Chapelle d’Abondance
  • Les Gets
  • Montriond
  • Morzine
  • St Jean d’Aulps

Switzerland

  • Chempéry
  • Morgins
  • Torgon
  • Val-d’Illiez Les Crosets Champoussin
The family-friendly resort of Avoriaz is set in the heart of the Portes du Soleil region on the French side, but those wanting to explore further can head over to Switzerland with a full ski pass!

Book a property in the Portes du Soleil

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Cost

Cost of lift passes

As with most things, it can be difficult to give a general indication of prices for all ski resorts in both countries. You can check this website for a rough idea of lift pass prices in top resorts in France and here for the same in Switzerland.

Costs will vary depending on which resort you visit and when. Lift passes significantly increase in price during peak times such as Christmas / New Year, half term and other school holidays.

Of course, the cost of your lift pass also depends on how much you want to ski. If you’re keen to make the most of every minute of your holiday, then opt for a lift pass to cover all full days of your trip. If you’re new to the sport and want to give it a go before committing, paying as you go might be a better way to spend.

Finally, another factor will be amount of resorts you want to ski in. Some ski resorts will allow you to opt-in or out of certain areas within the ski domain. So if you don’t see yourself being able to ski the entire region, there’s sometimes the option to stick to a smaller section for a lower price.

Cost of accommodation

Again, there is no general rule of thumb with costing of accommodation. Some resorts are much more expensive than others within both France and Switzerland. Factors which will impact the cost of accommodation include: capacity, proximity to the piste and town, facilities, etc. You can get a good idea of chalet prices in the French Alps by browsing some of our partner properties here.

Cost of going out

It depends where you eat, but overall, the cost of eating out in Switzerland is very high. This is where you may see a significant difference in holiday spending money compared with France. Eating out on the mountain can be expensive in any resort, but Switzerland does have a reputation for being a costly place to dine out, so you’ll want to consider this especially if you’re travelling with children.

Want to find out more about the best après-ski spots in the French Alps? Start by clicking here to read our blog post about our top picks.

Popular après-ski bars like the Folie Douce shown above, attract thousands of fun-seeking skiers every season!

Transport

French Alps

The French Alps are very well connected and tend to have very good in-resort shuttle bus systems that can get you from your door to the foot of the pistes. Resorts are often well connected to each other as well, meaning you can often ski a larger domain.

To find out how to get to some of the top French Ski resorts from the UK, click here.

Swiss Alps

A great advantage of the Swiss Alps is the Swiss Postal Bus. For off-piste excursions, you can plan to ski a post bus route to link you from a remote location back to the lift station.

Airports

Many visitors to both the French and Swiss Alps will choose to fly into Geneva airport. It has regular direct flights from many international locations and efficient transfers to many ski resorts in France and Switzerland. However, depending on where you’re staying within each country will influence where you fly into. Here are some of the top ski regions within the French and Swiss Alps and the closest airport:

French Alps

  • Portes du Soleil – Geneva Airport
  • Tarentaise Valley – Chambery Airport
  • Evasion Mont Blanc & Chamonix – Geneva Airport
  • Aravis – Geneva Airport
  • Espace Diamant – Chambery Airport
  • Grand Massif – Geneva Airport
  • Southern Alps – Grenoble Airport

Swiss Alps

  • Valais Ski region (includes 4 Valleys) – Geneva Airport
  • Zermatt – Zurich Airport
  • St Moritz – Milan Airport
  • Davos-Klosters and Parsenn – Zurich Airport
  • Grindelwald, Wengen, and the Jungfrau – Zurich

So there’s our introductory comparison between the French Alps vs Swiss Alps. We hope it has been a useful guide in helping you decide between these two fantastic destinations. Head over to the destination section of our blog to learn more about the resorts we operate in!

Want to discover the French Alps?

We work with over 200 properties in the French Alps perfect for your next skiing holiday…

About Author

Hi I’m Amy and I run the OVO Network Blog. I have spent winters in the Alps since 2016 and I am now based in the beautiful town of Annecy. I love making the most of being surrounded by the lake and mountains with my dog!