Spend a magical family Christmas in the snowy French mountains

Arrow Discover more

The video perfectly captures the sheer magic of a family Christmas in the French mountains. Which is no mean feat, considering how enchanting this part of Europe is in the winter. It’s probably not spoiling anything to say that the film features a lot of snow, cute mountain villages, plenty of skiing, and a heart-warming tale, with a very happy ending.

Naturally, immense mountains and forests are also in the frame, and you can expect a scattering of raclette, hot tubs, and cosy chalets too. Sit back and enjoy the movie. It’s a hint of how magical Christmas is for kids in the French mountains. But, if that doesn’t convince you completely, there are a few more enticements below from the enchantment experts at France Montagnes.

Santa Claus is coming to town

The ultimate man of mystery pretty much has carte-blanche when it comes to making an entrance in the French mountains this year. There are only two rules: be fabulous, bring gifts. 

He’s flying into Les Arcs by paraglider. Which might sound like a break with tradition, but admit it; if you were Santa, would you turn down the chance to swoop across the snow-drenched Tarentaise Valley, and float into town over hundreds of adoring, upturned little faces?

When nothing but a personal meet ‘n’ greet with the old man himself will satisfy, think about spending Christmas with Pierre & Vacances.

This year Santa’s primed to hand-deliver presents to kids at every single one of their family residences from Haute-Savoie to the Hautes-Pyrenees.

Another Haute-Savoie traditionalist, Châtel, has Santa handing out sweets in his very own log cabin, with plenty of room to contain any amount of childlike astonishment.

Reindeers are helping work the wonder at Vaujany in Val d’Isère. And if kids really want to get hands-on with making Christmas happen, it has to be the Hautes-Alpes, and Elf Workshops in the pretty resort of Vars.

Jingle bells, are you listening?

Granted, the French mountains do have a bit of an advantage round about Christmas time. Snow isn’t just sure, it’s deep and crisp and even. Resorts come nestled in valleys, halfway up mountains, tucked beside forests, and almost always scattered with twinkling lights on winter evenings.

But nowhere simply sits back and lets nature do all the work in this part of the world.

If you hear musical tinkling in Les Gets or Chamrousse this Christmas, don’t be surprised. Bell trimmed bridles are a must-have winter accessory for local horses drawing cheerfully old-fashioned sleighs through fairy tale forests.

Wrap up warm, go for a ride, and completely forget it’s 2017, for a while at least.

Morzine is boosting the effortless loveliness of its historic town centre with gospel choirs and glittering evening ballets.

Jugglers, dancers, musicians, and magicians are taking over the village streets in La Clusaz for Christmas. And Saint-Lary in the Hautes-Pyrenees invites you to come celebrate its 60th birthday this year with an extravagance of delicious, glittery excitement and festive fabulousness.

All around snow is glistening

Snow-sure slopes and vast interconnected ski areas, are just a couple of the reasons why the French mountains appeal to skiing families, and always have. Direct flights from the UK to most regional airports, add to the attraction, and it doesn’t hurt to have some of the most thrilling activities on and off the slopes either.

Try Snoocs for the first time in Le Grand Bornand; a ski and toboggan combo that’s perfect for beginners. Sled Dog Snow Skates are new for Christmas at Les Gets; another easy intro to skiing for first timers and fantastically good at skill-honing for serious skiers. And Tignes is bouncing back again for 2017 with Bun J Ride; think trampolining, bungee jumping, and ziplining, then add skis, high speeds, exhilarating plunges, and you’re on the right track.

Courchevel claims to have the highest-altitude indoor wave in France at their XXL Aqua Centre. At 1500m, between the height of the resort, and the size of the surf, it’s tricky to argue with them. 

Up on the mountains, all’s looking good for a white Christmas. But just in case nature doesn’t provide, Les Meuniers in Trois Vallées have recently invested £2.5 million to upgrade their snowmaking; and Les Deux Alpes is now the first resort in the world to have snowmakers on a moving glacier.

And nobody has forgotten the seasonal spirit of generosity, so look out for free kids’ lift passes, family ski-holiday packages, extremes of largesse on accommodation, and free festivities all over the French mountains this Christmas.

Inside it’s so delightful

From luxe residences to ridiculously chic mountain hostels, there isn’t a style of family ski holiday, or budget, the French mountains don’t have covered. Gorgeous views are a given almost everywhere.

You can choose from historic villages, smart purpose-built resorts, a mix of both, or even some splendid isolation at some of the highest altitudes in Europe.

Seven new hotels are opening their doors for Christmas, including a first venture into snowy territory from Hyatt at La Rosière; boutique K2 Djola in Courchevel; and Les Menuires’ beautifully original, but great value, HO36 Hostel – a good choice for design conscious teens.

Chalets haven’t been idling away the summer months in the French mountains either.

Chalet JJ is a luxurious winter newcomer in Morzine, ideal for multi-gen holidays, it sleeps up to 10.

And edgy, art-loving families will love any one of the three new Guerlain Chicherit chalets in Les Tignes: take your pick from street art at Chalet Banksy; Balinese traditions from Chalet Ubud; or design led technology at Chalet Babylon.

If the idea of sliding into snowshoes and winding your way through a wintery fantasy land sounds appealing, Refuge du Lac du Lou in the Belleville Valley is perfect. Just bear in mind this is a French mountain refuge, so expect luxe wilderness once you kick the snowshoes off.

A Winter Fairytale

Christmas enchantment is an immersive experience in the French mountains. Here’s how France Montagnes sees the fairy tale unfolding for families all through the festive season this year.

Tempted? Of course you are. Find out everything you need to know about magical family Christmases in the French mountains, from France Montagnes.

Get travel news and competitions sent to your inbox