There are a plenty of catered ski chalets in France, many of which are run by English companies. In fact, you can find them dotted all over the French Alps near many popular ski resorts.
So what is a catered ski chalet, where can you find them, and what should you expect from a ski chalet holiday?
We’ve put this guide together to let you know exactly what you can expect from catered ski chalets in France.
What is a chalet?
‘Chalet’ was the original name used for an alpine building in the mountains across Europe, and it literally meant ‘lodge’.
These houses had sloping roofs so the snow would fall off them easily. They were originally used to house herders of dairy cattle, which grazed on the high pastures during the summer months. Chalets were usually deserted in the winter once livestock were taken down to the valley floor.
Demand for these chalets to be opened up as winter retreats burgeoned after the war, when adventurers offered money to stay in them and the herders happily rented them out.
The ski chalet business was born and it soon became a booming industry.
France is one of the world’s most popular skiing destinations, catering for the wealthy as well as for families and students. Many of the resorts are connected by ski lifts, which means skiers don’t have to drive or take public transport between them.
Since around the 1970s, France really has had the upper hand when it comes to designing resorts.
What are catered ski chalets?
A ski chalet is usually a large building built high on the side of a mountain to give swift access to the ski slopes during the winter months. That doesn’t mean you’ll be in the middle of nowhere, as chalets are usually built into villages these days.
A catered ski chalet will have a host to look after the guests, serving a continental breakfast in the morning and an evening meal after you’ve enjoyed a long day on the slopes or the surrounding area. The ski chalets are cleaned and the beds are changed after each group leaves. Groups can usually book for a week or more, depending on their requirements.
There are plenty of catered ski chalets in France, ranging from luxury modern ski chalets to the more traditional-style chalets. Catered ski chalets are run by specialist companies like Whitebeam Chalets, which employ a host and a cook to cater for and look after guests.
Chalets now cater for everyone; not just the hardcore skiers and snowboarders. Outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, such as hikers, bikers and cycling groups, flock to the French Alps for catered chalet holidays each year. Fortunately, they have hot water these days (not to mention the other mod cons!), unlike the simple herders’ chalets back in the day.
What to expect from a catered ski chalet holiday
Every company is different, so it’ll depend which one you choose.
It might be that you’re looking for a private ski chalet for your family or friends, or perhaps you’d like to be matched up with other groups.
Here’s what to look out for when you’re planning your ski holiday in France:
- Chalet accommodation.
Somewhere to rest your weary head after a full-on day of activity. This could be a twin, double or family room. Some chalets have en suites, like our ‘Chalet Cairn’. Others will offer shared bathrooms, so do check before you book. If your group rents out the whole chalet you’ll likely know exactly who you’re sharing with.
- Chalet food.
Catered ski chalets will offer some food and drinks, but the quality and quantity of meals and snacks will vary from place to place. Whitebeam provides two meals a day plus afternoon tea. Ski chalet hosts and cooks have one night off each week, so that means you’ll get to visit at least one of the fantastic local restaurants.
- Children’s chalet meals.
Whitebeam offers children’s suppers earlier in the evening if requested, but check before you book as some chalet companies will do only one sitting. We also do our best to find out what our young guests like to eat and try to give them meals we think they’ll really enjoy.
- Welcome drinks.
Not many chalet companies offer drinks on arrival . At Whitebeam we do because we want to get your holiday off to a great start!
- Alcohol inclusion on chalet holidays.
Some catered ski chalets offer wine and beer along with evening meals, but you may need to bring your own if your chalet doesn’t serve alcohol or has strict limits. There is usually a resort shop.
- Ski chalet facilities and entertainment.
Facilities may include games consoles, flat-screen TVs, DVD players, boot rooms, saunas and outdoor hot tubs, so check out what’s on offer before you book. Most chalets offer wireless broadband, but if you’re heading somewhere very remote the connection may be slow or non existent!
- Chalet hosts.
Catered ski chalet companies usually have one or two staff members to cook and serve up an evening meal. Sometimes a cake or biscuits will be left for guests in the afternoon (or delicious afternoon tea if you stay with us!). The Whitebeam chalet hosts are awesome. We train them well every year to make sure they work to a really high standard and can cater to your needs.
- Linen, towels and toiletries.
Some catered ski chalet companies offer bed linen, towels and toiletries, but it’s a good idea to check before you fly, especially if you’re only planning to bring hand luggage.
- Transport to the pistes.
Some chalet companies offer a private transport service to the piste, as we do at Whitebeam. If your chalet company doesn’t, check that the chalet is either right by the piste or near a bus stop, as taxis can be irregular in the mountains. We offer a minibus service to the lifts in both the morning and afternoon.
Where are the catered ski chalets France?
Some areas in France have more traditional chalets than others. Chalets can be custom-built, while others are quaint converted barns or farmhouses. The chalet you choose will largely depend on the needs of your group.
Whitebeam Chalets are based in the beautiful area of Peisey-Vallandry in the Paradiski region.
Peisey-Nancroix is a small ski resort with an abundance of charm. It’s relatively quiet, but has a bar and a few restaurants for those who are looking for a bit of life in the evenings.
There is easy access to the slopes. You will even see working farms in the summertime.
In the Northern Alps, you’ll find the resorts of Portes de Soleil, Chamonix, and those nestled in the Tarentaise valley – Paradiski, The Three Valleys and Espace Killy, among others – where the best skiing is to be found. In the Southern Alps, Les Deux Alpes, Alpe d’Huez, La Grave, Serre Chevalier and Montgenèvre also accommodate those looking for catered ski chalets in France.
Some of the higher ski resorts are built to house large groups of people, so the buildings tend to be less traditional. Check out the photos before you book to avoid disappointment if you have your heart set on a picturesque alpine chalet.
What to look for in a catered chalet holiday
Depending on how you like to relax, you can opt for warm, cosy nights beside a traditional fire, or for a wide, open space to wile away the evenings. Are you after a balcony area to sit in during the warm spring ski evenings?
Most catered chalets in France have all the mod cons that you would expect these days; however, some will be more up-to-date than others.
Your chalet host and chalet cook will play an important part in your holiday. Are they well-trained and experienced? Can the cook provide a meal up to standard?
Access to the piste (private/bus).
Find out how you can get to the piste on a snowy morning with all your gear and kids in tow.
Proximity to the village.
Do you want to be able to meander into the village for an aperitif, or to wobble back après-ski? Find out how far away your chalet is if you’re planning on spending a bit of time in the nearest town.
Is your group ready to party with the seasonaires?
Can your chalet company recommend a good restaurant when staff have their night off? Make sure you know how to get there and back. Check the bus timetables.
Catered ski chalet menu
Six nights out of seven a three-course evening meal is freshly prepared by the Whitebeam Chalet chef, starting with canapés.
An example evening menu at Whitebeam Chalets would be as follows:
Oueff en cocotte (or coddled eggs).
A traditional French dish, consisting of eggs baked in butter in individual ‘cocottes’ or ramekins.
Le filet mignon de porc, en croute.
Pork tenderloin, one of the most tender cuts, in a pastry crust.
White chocolate mousse with ginger jelly and shortbread crumb.
We’ve lovingly put together a cookbook which contains recipes for the meals that you would experience on a stay with Whitebeam Chalets.
That way you can cook them for yourselves all year round, and try to create them as well as our chef does!
Private ski chalets to rent
Our catered ski chalets can be rented out to shared groups or private rental.
Small groups or families who would join in on shared weeks can meet new people who also love the mountains and snow.
Private ski chalet rental means that your group would have total exclusivity – you’ll have full use of the chalet for just your group. That way, you know exactly who will be in your chalet during your ski holiday.
During private rental Whitebeam are happy for guests to come and go, for any number of nights during the rental period, but the rental price is the same however many people stay, and we have a maximum number per night.
We welcome groups of friends and families to rent our catered ski chalets in Peisey-Vallandry.
Just let us know how many people will be there for breakfast and dinner so we can accommodate everyone’s needs.
Self-catered ski chalets in France
Most ski chalets in France will be catered in winter as there is high demand for this service, but here at Whitebeam we offer self-catered ski chalets during quieter weeks; usually at the end of winter, in the summer or during the inter-season.
We’re very happy to chat with you about self-catered ski chalet dates, so contact owners, Matt and Sarah, for more information.
During a self-catered ski holiday, we would expect you to buy your own food and drinks and cook for yourselves.
If that sounds a bit much, we know of a great company called Chloe’s Cuisine who are in Peisey-Vallandry. Chloe will do your shopping for you and even provide freshly prepared meals, delivered to your door.
Visit Chloe’s Cuisine for more details on self-catered ski chalet holidays in France.
How to book catered ski chalets in France
If you’d like to book a ski chalet holiday in France, just hop on over to our online booking form!