Year after year, the French mountains attract more and more winter tourists. A ski holiday requires a certain amount of organization, especially when it comes to budgeting. The average mountain vacation costs just over €1,000 per person for a week. This budget for a ski vacation in France is broken down into several items, some of which are compulsory and more expensive than the rest, such as accommodation, ski passes and food. What’s more, it can vary depending on the resort, the period, the number of people, the length of stay, etc. To help you out, we’ve broken down the various budget items involved in a ski holiday in Fance.
The average budget for a one-week ski holiday in France
To make the most of your favorite activity, the scenery and all the good things that make this type of holiday unforgettable, plan the right budget to indulge yourself and avoid unpleasant surprises. Don’t forget that an all-inclusive ski holiday is much more comfortable! In fact, planning ahead allows you to make the most of your winter mountain getaway… as a family, alone or as a couple.
Whether you’re a fan of winter vacations in France’s top ski resorts, or prefer to find a lesser-known nugget to indulge in the thrill of the slopes, each type of holiday has its advantages and disadvantages. Take a look at your budget for a week on the slopes, and make sure you haven’t forgotten any important items for your family or couple’s vacation.
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Transport: what budget for a ski vacation in France?
Transport is one of the major expenses on a mountain vacation. And while it’s impossible to do without it, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t… to save money! Depending on whether you’re a large family, a couple or a group of friends, the cost of transport will vary. Likewise, the means of transport you can use will be more or less limited.
The car tops the list of means of transport used to get to the slopes. Convenient and economical, it gives you a great deal of freedom once you’re there, and saves you money on other budget items. The journey can be long and tiring, especially in high season. A second driver often makes organization easier and less of a hassle.
The main costs of a car journey are tolls and petrol. For example, a trip from Paris to Tignes costs around 250 euros, so 500 for the round trip. This budget is bound to vary according to the distance covered. Choosing a ski resort close to home is therefore a good way to save money.
Then there are a few incidental costs, such as the purchase of chains or snow socks, or an anti-icing squeegee to cope with the snow safely. Prices for chains range from 50 to 560 euros. They are often sold in pairs, so you’ll need two. Socks are cheaper and easier to put on, but they wear out faster. Expect to pay between €45 and €150 per pair.
More expensive than the car, the train is the fastest and most comfortable way to get to resorts like Chamonix (3h40 from Lyon) or l’Alpe d’Huez (4h from Paris). For smaller, family-friendly resorts, access can be more complex or even impossible. To reach the Alps, the price of a round-trip TGV train can range from 170 to 260 euros per person. However, discount cards can bring the price down, especially for children and students.
Over the past few years, SNCF has introduced a number of interesting, low-cost, but little-known offers. OUIGO, for example, offers “Montagne & Ski” deals from stations in the Ile-de-France region to the Alps. The price is 5 euros per child up to 11 years of age for all trips, and 10 euros per adult. For the full budget, you’ll need to add the cost of the shuttle or cab to your resort. Unless you opt for a “train + shuttle” package like the Train des Neiges, which departs from Marseille, Aix-en-Provence or Manosque and serves all 25 resorts in the Southern Alps. But you’ll need to reach these destinations to take advantage of these offers.
Defining an average budget for air travel is always complicated, as it depends on the flight time, the airline, the time of year, and so on. Nevertheless, we can establish an approximate price ranging from 35 to 120 euros per person. To this can be added the cost of checked baggage and, depending on its weight, additional kilos. Obviously, the earlier you book, the cheaper the ticket. That’s why you need to plan your vacation well in advance and budget accordingly.
Flying is convenient and direct, but getting from the airport to the resort is the most complicated. Cabs are the quickest way, but can quickly become expensive. The shuttle is a good alternative, provided it serves your ski resort. And if not, there’s always the bus, which is cheaper but slower; just check the timetable.
Carpooling is one of the most economical and environmentally-friendly options, even if it is more restrictive, especially when it comes to space. A carpool trip costs around 23 euros per 100 kilometers, which is shared between the passengers. For example, Paris-Chamonix for two people costs around 140 euros.
Another economical means of transport is the bus: although it takes longer than carpooling, it’s less expensive. What’s more, during the ski season, competitive fares are offered by operators such as Blablabus or Flexibus. This makes carpooling even more attractive. For example, trips from Paris to Val d’Isère start at 20 euros with Flexibus. For the Southern Alps, ZOU buses are a good option.
🔗 Read Also: The Essential Ski Vacation Packing Checklist
Accommodation: what budget for a ski vacation in France?
This is the biggest item of expenditure, accounting for almost 29% of the average mountain vacation budget. Booking your accommodation in advance is the best way to save money and have choice. What’s more, the more people you have together, the more you can share the cost, and thus reduce everyone’s expenses.
Of course, the “accommodation” item weighs heavily in your budget, and is adaptable to your desires, possibilities and constraints. The time you choose to take your vacations will also make a difference. For example, renting a chalet or studio at the end of the season will have less impact on your wallet than staying in a hotel in a well-known resort at the height of the season. The budget for a standard ski week for a 4-person studio easily approaches 500 euros per week. This amount is often far exceeded by families who save up to treat themselves to this moment of escape during the winter vacations: up to 3 times more expensive at this time of year.
Ski equipment: what budget for a ski vacation in France?
You can rent or buy your own equipment. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on how often you go skiing in the year, your budget and your ability to transport it. The price will vary according to the quality of the equipment rented, the skier’s level, the size of the store, the time of year and the resort.
You can hire quality equipment such as poles, skis, boots and possibly goggles and a helmet for just under 200 euros per adult per week. For families, ask around, but many resorts offer discounts. The price of children’s equipment is much lower, around 50 euros.
The best way to save money and reduce this budget item is to plan ahead. By planning ahead and renting online in advance, you can get discounts of up to 50%.
If you’re looking to make savings, check out our partner Skiset’s offers, which can save you up to 55% on your equipment.
Clothing and other essentials
Not only do you need technical equipment to be able to ski, you also need the right clothing. You can get them second-hand or buy them new, bearing in mind that some of them can be used outside skiing. This budget has to be weighed against the fact that the clothes can be used for several years.
Decathlon’s “Wedze” brand offers good quality at affordable prices. In particular, we recommend
- One or more warm technical undergarments: from 5 to 20 euros
- Ski pants: from 25 to 50 euros
- Ski jacket: from 70 to 100 euros
- A pair of ski gloves: 20 to 30 euros
- Ski mask: 20 to 30 euros
- Protective helmet: 35 to 100 euros
This represents a budget ranging from 175 to 330 euros.
Budgeting for Ski Passes: How Much Do They Cost on a Ski Vacation in France?
The French ski pass is one of the cheapest in Europe: 17% less expensive than the Swiss one. And yet it still represents 16% of the total budget for an average mountain vacation. In 2021, the average daily price was 30.10 euros for an adult in high season. Prices vary according to resort, period and type of package. For a week’s lift pass, expect to pay at least 300 euros for an adult.
Remember to buy your ski pass in advance to benefit from substantial discounts. Here are the 7 major ski areas in the Alps:
- The 3 Valleys
- Les Portes du Soleil
- Evasion Mont-Blanc
- Les Sybelles
- Tignes / Val d’Isère
- Les Aravis
Don’t forget that you can opt for day or half-day passes, that family discounts are also available and that online top-ups are subject to attractive discounts.
Ski lessons, a must
If you’re a beginner, ski lessons are a must if you want to get the most out of powder. Generally speaking, for a few hours of daily group lessons during your ski week, you should expect to spend between 150 and 200 euros per person. Of course, prices vary according to the ski resort, vacation period and number of hours of lessons per week.
Budgeting for Food on Your Ski Vacation in France: What to Expect
Food represents the third largest part of a ski vacation budget. It accounts for around 15% of the total budget, including shopping and restaurants. The advantage of renting is that you can bring your own food and cook for yourself. In this way, you can save a lot of money. In fact, in the resort, you can expect prices 10% to 30% higher in minimarkets. Don’t hesitate to take some food with you, or choose a store a little way from the resort.
As for restaurants, prices are about the same as in a big city like Paris. The restaurants on the slopes are even more expensive, so it’s best to pack a picnic with general sandwiches, water, cereal bars…
Non-skiing activities: what budget for a ski vacation in France?
Winter vacations include activities other than skiing, which can represent a certain cost. Not everyone comes to the mountains in winter to hit the slopes. Ski resorts are well aware of this, and offer many other activities, such as ice skating.
Whether covered or open-air, natural or artificial ice, ice rinks can be found in almost every family ski resort in the Alps. In La Clusaz, for example, the price is less than 10 euros per person.
A dog-sledding excursion promises to delight young and old alike! In the company of 4 to 8 huskies, you’ll enjoy mountain scenery and the great outdoors. The excursion includes an introduction to sled driving (from age 12). The price for an adult is 85 euros, and between 35 and 55 euros for a child. You can find this activity in Chamonix and other resorts in the Alps.
Whether it’s a question of organization or budgeting, the key word is anticipation. If you start early, you’ll be able to make the most of your ski vacation when the time comes. Between accommodation, shopping, transport, equipment hire and ski passes, there are many budget items to consider.