FranceLuxuryNature

Ski chalets in France | six of the most welcoming wooden retreats

By , 14th September 2018

Whether your apres-ski ritual consists of a steaming cup of hot chocolate beside a fire or a night sipping beer in the local bars, there’s nothing quite like returning to a traditional ski chalet in France after a day out on the slopes. Choose from accommodation featuring authentic fireplaces, gourmet food and drink and outdoor hot tubs, all with rooms that contrast hyper-modern amenities with the rustic aura of wood.

The French Alps are renowned for their variety of slopes – from the woods-lined runs of Les Carroz to the steep Grande Motte glacier in Tignes where international teams train. Once you’ve chosen the French chalet to stay at, all you need to do is ask yourself that all-important question: skiing or snowboarding?


A homely ski chalet in France close to the Swiss border

Sitting beneath the Les Carroz d’Arâches pistes near majestic Mont Blanc and not far from the Swiss border, Les Servages d’Armelle has a privileged location. This hotel consists of eight luxurious rooms – each one featuring fireplaces forged from reclaimed wood – and a private chalet spanning 160 metres square. Some feature wood-burning stoves (a cosy delight once you’re in out of the cold) and whirlpool baths. Opt for a Prestige Suite to enhance the luxury feel – it offers exclusive use of a spa and steam room to unwind in – ideal for romantic nights with your partner.

It also has amenities to cater for adventurous days out. Following a day in the fresh powder – or after a dog-sledding, snowmobile-riding or snowshoe experience organised by the hotel’s on-site concierge – head for a soothing physiotherapy massage. Just make sure to book in advance.

Now you’re feeling limber, Les Servages d’Armelle’s gourmet restaurant beckons. This award-winning eatery, set within authentic stone walls and beneath beamed ceilings, serves as an ambient backdrop for classic French dishes with a contemporary twist. This country-cottage feel belies its reputation for producing high-end cuisine. Choose from meals featuring fresh seafood such as John Dory fillets and plancha-grilled squid – ideal for an energy boost ahead of the next day’s escapades.

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A ski chalet in France with a retro feel and a superb spa

Pull up at this hotel, and before even thinking about the slopes, head straight to the sumptuously designed spa. This 500-metre-square space features abundant amenities, including a swimming pool and steam room. There’s also a water wall, an ice cave and a Jacuzzi overlooking the towering Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. The entire area is designed to promote serenity, with a scheme balancing natural materials such as stone with modern mirrors to enhance light. The treatment portfolio is extensive, ranging from revitalising body wraps to intensive chromotherapy sessions.

The on-site Akashon restaurant, whose name means ‘by surprise’ in the local dialect, specialises in alpine cuisine served in a minimalist setting with an open kitchen and subtle lighting. Hearty dishes such as veal and trout are on the menu. For a light bite during the daytime, try ’50s-style diner The Epicerie du Midi. Sit on the glossy red stools and sip on fresh coffee as you refuel with light snacks such as home-made cookies.

Rooms adhere to a retro-chic aesthetic, with vintage lighting, soft checked linen and mid-century-modern furniture reminiscent of the early ’60s. Oak parquet lines the floor, and a mix of stone and wood décor nods to the natural beauty of the surrounding alpine town. Duplex Apartments offer upscale whirlpool baths and extensively equipped kitchens if you’re travelling in a group.

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A luxurious ski chalet in France with an outdoor hot tub

Low ceilings, warm woods and animal skins create a welcoming atmosphere in Flocons de Sel. As well as being the epitome of cosy luxury, this chic chalet in the charming resort of Megève, is ultra modern, too. Sleek bathrooms with gleaming metal fixtures feature designer sinks, while carefully selected artwork adorns the walls. Choose a suite and admire the view of the undulating valleys below from your private balcony – if the mercury drops, return indoors to warm up beside a contemporary glass-fronted fire or your wood-burning stove.

After a day on the peaceful, well-groomed slopes of Megève, head to the marble-lined spa, where you can swim in the heated indoor pool, release toxins in the sauna and steam room, and then take a dip in the 38-degree hot tub on the terrace. Alternatively, opt for a hot-stone massage to ease tension after a session in the snow. Many of the treatments at the spa are applied with formulas created from ingredients similar to those used in the hotel’s gourmet kitchen.

With three Michelin stars, the on-site restaurant is unmissable. Dine with mountain vistas accompanying gastronomic delights that Chef Emmanuel Renaut expertly pairs with French wines. You can try everything from smoked wild mushrooms to mint soufflé. Cooking classes are also available if you’d like to hone your culinary skills on a rest day.

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A ski chalet in France with traditional alpine rooms

Beauregard is built in the classic wooden chalet style typical of its native Savoyard setting. It consists of 95 rooms, each with a private balcony offering views of the Aravis mountain range in the French Alps. Whether you’re hiking in the summer or skiing in the winter, the nearest lift is a mere 100 metre walk from the hotel.

In keeping with authentic alpine design, the rooms are lined with pine on the ceilings and walls, and feature classic checked curtains. Amenities such as heated towel rails and cosy bathrobes are pleasant touches. Curl up under a sumptuously soft wolfskin-style blanket with a page-turner after your day’s adventures, or sit next to the stone fireplace in the spacious lounge –preferably with a well-mixed sidecar (cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice) from the bar.

Further opportunities for relaxation abound in the hotel’s indoor heated swimming pool, housed in a sizable room with bay windows that allow plenty of natural light to stream in. Alternate between here and the hot tub or Turkish bath to feel fully at peace after the slopes. When your mind turns towards dinner, make your way to the hotel’s restaurant. Head Chef Sylvain Boullé crafts his menu based on what’s fresh at the market that day. He whips up French dishes such as braised beef chuck or sesame whitefish fillet on a range cooker or the outdoor barbecue during the summer months.

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A ski chalet in France with an outdoor heated Nordic swimming pool

One of Village Montana’s highlights is Les Chanterelles restaurant, where traditional French fare is given a global update. View different menus here while sitting within cosy, stone-clad alcove walls at chunky wooden tables – through your attention may wander as you gaze upon the tempting cheese and dessert buffets.

If you’re keen to get hit the snow before thinking about food, Village Montana is ideal. Its ski-in, ski-out policy means you can strap up immediately upon leaving the hotel. It’s also in close proximity to a beginners’ area. Tignes itself is renowned as a world-class centre for alpine sports, and is equally known for its natural beauty, so a stint in the hotel’s 30-degree swimming pool – with mountain views – is a splendid way to round off an afternoon tramping in the snow. There’s also a sauna, hammam and Jacuzzi to relax in at the Les Bains du Montana spa, which are all included in your stay.

Once darkness falls, retire to your room and pull on your complimentary fluffy dressing gown. The wood-walled space is decorated in warm colours, with an eclectic mix of furniture. Travelling with children? Certain rooms feature Savoyard-style bunk beds in keeping with the authentic design scheme. For added luxury, request upscale Thalgo toiletries in your ultra-contemporary bathroom, or choose a Tradition Suite for a hydromassage bath.

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A ski chalet in France with private wine cellars and steam rooms

French chic permeates Les Grandes Alpes, a simple but stylish chalet hotel featuring self-catering apartments in La Clusaz. You’ll find studios furnished with classic wooden furniture and homely touches such as floral curtains and sheepskin rugs. Make the most of your well-equipped kitchen, which features an induction hob, microwave, fridge, oven and dishwasher to whip up an easy chunky soup or pasta bake, and dine with views of the towering mountains or quaint village.

Meet other guests while cosying up next to the fire in the spacious lounge on sleek velvet sofas, or challenge travel partners to pool and table football tournaments. Family games such as Scrabble are also available to borrow for something more sedate. Alternatively, try out the Grandes Alpes Wellness Suite, which stays open into the evening. Relax in the indoor pool – which is heated to approximately 29 degrees – under rustic, exposed timber ceilings.

Scenic vistas of the bright-white alpine landscape and local bell tower form the backdrop to your swim, which you can follow up with the Jacuzzi and sauna. Or why not plan how you’ll be honing your skills on the slopes the next day? The surrounding area offers five mountain slopes with 125km of piste that vary between wide, open glades and tree-lined hills. There’s also an ice skating rink and dog-sledding tours for outdoor activities with the family.

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