Without a doubt, France is one of the best places to ski. In particular, the region of Alpe d'Huez which is acclaimed due to its numerous features including easy access to all the Grandes Rousses has to offer; the longest black piste in Europe, the Sarenne Run, the Ski Everest Challenge, and resorts like Vaujany and La Villette.

With 10,000 hectares of open mountains to explore, there's no wonder that hundreds of thousands of skiers flock to the area every year. If you are one of those being called to hit the French Alpine slopes, here are some of the things you need to consider before jetting off.

Booking Your Flight

The first thing to consider is, of course, the flight itself. And, as you might already know, flying with skis isn't always a walk in the park! The skis must be secured in a travel bag, which can often also hold your boots so long as it doesn't exceed 50 lbs. That said, the rules and regulations for traveling with skis can vary between different airlines - you can check this out by looking for their sports equipment policies. Sounds stressful, right? And you haven't even booked the flight yet!

Luckily, there are brands on the market which cater to your needs. With additional tools such as an accompanying app, hand luggage scanners, and flight alerts, many brands can make your life a lot easier when traveling with bulky luggage like ski equipment. You can check in your baggage without needing to queue at baggage drop and mitigate the risk of dragging your skis all the way to the airport to find the flight is delayed or cancelled.

With this in mind, it can pay to do your research to find the easiest and cheapest way to fly with your skis. There are many reputable brands on the market, such as eDreams USA, that use an AI powered search engine to find suitable flights and more comprehensive packages to suit different budgets, destinations, travel dates, and time constraints.

Best Place and Time to Fly

The closest airport to Alpe d'Huez is Grenoble Alpes Isère Airport (GNB), which is followed by Chambéry-Savoie Airport (CMF) and Lyon–Saint Exupéry Airport (LYS). Thanks to its extensive international flights, when flying to and from the USA, it can be a good idea to aim for Lyon, before taking the 2-2.5 hour drive up into the Alps. Return flights from New York to Lyon, for example, can be found for as little as $780, with flight times varying between 10 and 15 hours.

Being flexible on the date of departure can also save a bit of money - and, here, you have plenty of options. As a general rule of thumb, the best time to go skiing in the area is in January and February, during the early season, as the consistency of the cool temperatures makes for optimum snow conditions and the best runs.

That said, you can still get good skiing conditions during March or April when you plan correctly, and the weather is just right. Though many of the slopes are south-facing, there are some slopes that face more toward the north, which means the snow stays firmer for longer into the season.

Key Terms and Phrases to Know in French

When headed to the slopes, you'll need to know some essential skiing terms in French. Starting nice and easy, to ski is skier, a ski lift is le téléski, and a lift pass is un forfait. The things you use to ski are equipement de ski, including batons de ski (poles), chassures de ski (boots), lunettes de ski (goggles), le casque (helmet), une veste (jacket), and gants (gloves). If you need to rent these items, the term you need is louer.

To choose the right slope, plan des pistes is the piste map, whilst hors-piste means off-piste. Watch out for signs like attention au mauvais temps, risque d'avalanche, or fermé. These phrases translate to a bad weather warning, risk of avalanche, or closed, respectively. In an emergency, help is au secours, watch out is attention, and, to express the state of emergency, c'est une urgence.

French Food on Offer

Of course, you'll also want to know the best food to look out for, so we'll teach you these terms too! The food in the Alps is like no other, thanks to the eclectic mix of cultures that the mountain range borders. From France to Switzerland, Italy to Austria, the traditions of each country's history are reflected in this multicultural Alpine cuisine. Not to mention, the food really takes advantage of fresh and locally sourced ingredients, celebrating the area through the food it produces - particularly at the mountainside restaurants like La Fruitiere (Folie Douce), and Chantebise 2100 (DMC), and Les Airelles, to name a few.

Some of our favorite French Alpine dishes include Tartiflette, Diots, and basically anything involving Raclette! Tartiflette is a mix of potato, reblochon cheese, bacon lardons, and sweated onions, which are then baked together until the top is golden brown.

Diots are sausages that are flavored with local wine and herbs that grow in the area, capturing the flavor of the mountains perfectly. Last, but by no means least, Raclette is a creamy semi-hard cheese that melts superbly and can be spread on anything from charcuterie meats to crispy potatoes. To wash it all down, vin chaud is mulled wine - or, you can order a beer by saying une bière s’il vous plait.

Get Out There!

As you can see, choosing France for your skiing getaway comes with a fair few considerations - and the above is by no means an exhaustive list. However, it doesn't have to be a stressful affair - with these considerations in mind, you can pre-plan and prepare for the trip in advance, making the vacation as streamlined and stress-free as possible.

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