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Europe has some of the best skiing in the world. In fact, it’s so good that it can be hard to choose where to go. Italy and France are both fantastic options, but which is better for a ski holiday?
France and Italy are both great choices for skiing. Both countries offer the biggest ski areas in the world, meaning there is something for everyone. There is more variety in France, but Italy offers a unique experience.
France vs. Italy
There are so many factors that make these countries stand above a lot of other picks. Factors like these offer a great way to compare the countries and choose which is better for a skiing holiday.
1. The Skiing
Of course, our top priority is skiing. Both countries offer the truest form of alpine skiing that is sought after by skiers all over the world. There are some small differences worth considering between France and Italy, but this might be the toughest comparison.
The biggest difference between the two countries is a matter of size. The skiing terrain in Italy is considerably bigger than its French neighbor.
The largest ski area in not only Italy, but the whole world is the Dolomiti Superski, which clocks in at a whopping 1,220 km. This is almost double the size of France’s contender, the Portes du Soleil, which comes in at about 650 km.
That being said, Le 3 Vallées in France is the largest combined ski area in the world, coming in at about 600 km of interlinked runs.
Having such massive alpine playgrounds means skiers will be spoiled for choice in both countries. Both countries also have similar altitude skiing, which is standard for The Alps. This helps achieve year-round skiing for both Italy and France.
What sets the countries apart is just how much France loves skiing. The quality of the resorts tends to be a bit higher than those in Italy because of how many people visit them, although the Italian resorts are still great.
For the freestyle riders, both countries have excellent terrain parks on offer depending on which resort you go to. France does possibly have the edge on this one. All that being said, the skiing is incredibly similar – not surprising considering the ski resorts in the Alps are on two sides of the same mountain range.
You can also ski in the Pyrenees in Southern France and the Dolomites in North Eastern Italy.
Round Winner: France
2. Ski Resorts
Another important part of your holiday is where you stay. There are some big differences between the types of resorts you’ll find in the two countries.
France boasts some of the best resorts in the world. It’s clear from looking at the resorts that there is a huge emphasis on quality. Everything from the lift infrastructure to the accommodation is excellent and makes any ski trip an absolute treat.
The French resorts usually have a cosmopolitan feel to them because of how large they are. While Italy’s resorts are generally more quaint than the ones found in France, they are still great in their own regard. Italian ski resorts have more of a focus on heritage and tradition.
The lift infrastructure in Italy is somewhat less efficient and modern than in France, so anyone that sees this as an absolute must would prefer the French ski resorts. Conversely, the feeling of coming to a cozy ski resort is one area in which Italy takes the lead.
That’s not to say you won’t find this in France, but the most popular resorts have had to make some serious upgrades to keep up with their immense popularity. While this helps with efficiency, it has taken a little bit away from these resorts in terms of tradition.
Some resorts like Meribel have a more traditional look with sloping chalets, while other resorts like Les Arcs have a more utilitarian style of architecture to pack more people in.
Round Winner: France
3. Things to Do
For simplicity’s sake, we’ll keep this related to what you can do at most of the ski resorts in both countries.
France is debatably the king of apres-ski. No surprise here – they invented the word for it. Many ski resorts in France feature everything from casual dining to full-blown slopeside ragers compliments of places like La Folie Douce.
In both countries, there is a good amount of off-slope activities like spas, shopping, wine tasting, and eating out. While some of the Italian resorts can be more reserved, there is still something for everyone. They also hold their own when it comes to parties that continue into the early hours.
4. Eating Out
You might be wondering why this is a category all of its own, but realistically we’re comparing France and Italy. These are two of the most renowned culinary destinations in the world, if not the world leaders.
Both countries find themselves very high on the priority list of foodies before even considering them for a skiing holiday. Of course, a huge part of choosing between the two countries comes down to personal preference.
While France boasts excellent fine dining, this isn’t exactly for everyone. Children, in particular, might have some trouble getting used to the decadent food on offer. Another factor is the cost – which can be quite high at French resorts (but still considerably cheaper than in Switzerland!)
In terms of drinks, you can’t think of France without thinking of its excellent wine. If wine isn’t really your thing, Italy is the clear winner as they have several other offerings.
Italy on the other hand has pretty much something for everyone. There aren’t too many people that don’t love a great pizza or pasta dish. What’s more, Italy is famous for having excellent pricing when it comes to eating out.
When it comes to drinks, Italy also has amazing coffee and great wine. They also have the iconic Limoncello and Bombardinos.
Round Winner: Italy
Cost is a huge consideration when it comes to choosing a holiday destination. When it comes to skiing holidays, this becomes even more of a factor as things like gear rental and lift passes are added on top of accommodation, food, and transport.
While France is not as expensive as some of its European counterparts, you’ll generally have a tough time trying to find one of those costs where it beats Italy. Italy truly excels for anyone wanting to experience true Alpine skiing without the high altitude costs.
Eating out, lift passes, and accommodation is all considerably cheaper in Italy than anywhere else in Europe. This really makes a huge difference for anyone wanting to take a family ski trip in Europe. In fact, Italy actually has some of the most affordable skiing in the world.
Round Winner: Italy
Our Verdict: France (But only just)
There is definitely an argument for Italy being the better option. France can be more expensive, but it is well worth the money. The skiing and apres-ski are where France excels, but Italy is not far behind.
France has possibly the best skiing in the world, which can’t be overlooked. The infrastructure at the resorts also makes a big difference. Accommodation and food are also phenomenal.
In the case of Italy, excellent food and great pricing aren’t things that should be overlooked by skiers looking to plan a trip to Europe.
Which European Country has the Best Skiing?
It was difficult for us to compare Italy and France alone. Bringing all the great European skiing countries into the mix makes a choice near impossible.
Austria, France, Italy, and Switzerland are often considered the best of the best, not only in Europe but the whole world. There are of course cultural differences between these three, but the skiing is all somewhat similar.
This is in no small part due to the fact that all of these countries share the famous Alps mountain range.
What Country is the Best at Skiing?
There are two important distinctions that need to be made before answering a question like this – casual skiers and professional skiers.
The French are some of, if not, the best skiers in the world when it comes to casual skiers. Skiing has been completely ingrained into the culture of the French towns near the Alps, meaning almost everyone is very highly skilled on the slopes.
On the other hand, the lines get blurred when it comes to choosing the best country for professional skiers. The biggest skiing countries in Europe all have excellent skiers that have dominated Winter Olympics and other prestigious skiing events.
Austria has some of the most decorated skiers, so it’s fair to say they probably hold this title.
While France is often considered one of the greatest skiing destinations in the world, Italy can sometimes be unfairly dismissed. Both countries are exceptional choices for a ski holiday and you can’t really go wrong with either.
The best way to decide between the two is to use your own preferences to decide. Our winner is France, but only just. The skiing is slightly better than in Italy, and so are many of the resorts and their infrastructure.
These are just brief comparisons to help guide your search, you can’t go wrong with either country – but you can pick a resort that is more suited to you.
Check out our comparisons of France Vs Switzerland.