There are many catered ski chalets in France; English speakers run many of them, which you may find comforting if your French isn’t up to scratch.
You can find catered ski chalets dotted all over the French Alps near many famous ski resorts.
So what is a catered ski chalet, where exactly can you find them, and what should you expect from a ski chalet holiday?
Wherever you’re off to this season, we’ve put this guide together to tell you precisely 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 meant ‘lodge’.
These houses had sloping roofs so that the snow would fall off them easily.
They housed herds of dairy cattle, which grazed on the high mountain pastures during the summer. During the winter months, herders took the livestock down to the valley floor, where temperatures are warmer. The chalets became deserted.
Demand for these chalets to open up as winter retreats rose dramatically after the war when adventurers offered money to stay in them. The herders happily rented them out.
The Alpine ski chalet business was born, and it soon became a booming industry.
France is one of the world’s most popular skiing destinations. Some resorts cater for the wealthy; others cater for families and are even affordable for students.
You’ll find resorts close by often connect by ski lifts, which means skiers don’t have to drive or take public transport between them.
Since around the 1970s, France has had the upper hand in designing and maintaining ski resorts. They have a magical feel to them.
We are in awe watching ADS (the Les Arcs/Pesiey-Vallandry ski lift company) building new lifts, testing old ones and preserving snow.
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 – usually, chalets get built within resort-type villages with close amenities such as shops, spas and restaurants.
Infrequently, you’d find a chalet in the middle of nowhere, but these are known as Alpages or Refuges these days.
More often than not, a ski chalet will have a super modern interior. There’s definite competition for the most stylish chalet in the French Alps. They are beautiful to look around.
Fortunately, they have hot water these days (not to mention the other mod cons!), unlike the simple herders’ chalets back in the day.
There are plenty of catered ski chalets in France, ranging from modern, luxury ski chalets to more traditional ones.
Specialist companies like us here at ‘Whitebeam Chalets’ run ski chalets. During the ski season, we work in one of our chalets, serving and cooking for guests.
If we aren’t in the chalet ourselves, we employ a host and a chef that we have personally checked out.
Service in a catered ski chalet
A catered ski chalet will have a host to look after the guests and usually a chef to cook for guests.
Different chalets serve different styles and standards of food. Most catered chalets in France serve breakfast.
Breakfast would often be continental, but you’ll sometimes find a full Scottish or English, especially when a British company runs the chalet. We advise you to check before you get a craving for sausages.
Catered chalets will serve an evening meal up to 6 nights a week, so you can enjoy indulging after a long, enjoyable day on the ski slopes.
After each group leaves, the ski chalets get cleaned, and the beds are changed. Groups can usually book for a week or more, depending on their requirements.
What to expect from a catered ski chalet holiday
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.
Every company is different, so the type of holiday you dream of depends on which chalet company 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 to make friends and be sociable.
Here’s what to look out for when you’re planning your ski holiday in France:
A ski chalet is more than somewhere to rest your weary head after a full-on day of activity.
Rooms can consist of twins, doubles or family rooms – some are full of bunk beds. Midnight feast!
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 the person who’s sharing the bathroom with you.
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 Chalets provides two meals per day, six days a week. 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 catered chalet meals
Whitebeam Chalets offer 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 give them meals we think they’ll enjoy.
If you have a very young child coming with you, make sure you arrange a high chair with your hosts.
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, but a good tip is to grab some from the supermarket before you arrive at the resort. The supermarkets on the valley floor are cheaper.
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. Our chalet, Chalet Cairn has all of the above.
Most chalets offer wireless broadband, but if you’re heading somewhere very remote, the connection may be slow or non-existent. We advise you to check the internet if you need to stay connected.
Catered ski chalet companies usually have one or two staff members to cook and serve an evening meal.
The Whitebeam Chalets staff are always fantastic. We retrain them every year to ensure they work to a high standard and cater to your needs.
Linen, towels and toiletries
It is common to be charged extra for washing towels and linen, so make sure you know where you stand before you book.
Catered ski chalet companies almost always offer bed linen, towels and toiletries. Still, 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 Chalets. We offer a minibus service to the lifts in both the morning and afternoon.
If your chalet company doesn’t, check that the chalet is either suitably close to the piste or near a bus stop – taxis can be irregular in the mountains.
Where are the catered ski chalets in 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 situated 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 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 famous resorts of Portes de Soleil, Chamonix, and others nestled in the Tarentaise valley. The best skiing is found in the ski regions of Paradiski, The Three Valleys and Espace Killy, among others.
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 higher ski resorts are built to house large groups of people, so the buildings tend to be less traditional.
Always check out the chalet photos before you book to avoid disappointment. If they haven’t got photos on the website ask for them to be emailed over.
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 a vast, open space to while away the evenings.
You may even require 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. Check before you book.
Your chalet host and chalet cook will play an essential part in your holiday. Are they well-trained and experienced? Can the cook provide a meal up to your standard?
Access to the piste (private/bus)
Find out how you can get to the piste on a snowy morning. You need the journey to be as easy as possible with the children in tow and all their gear! You’ll want to arrive calm and relaxed for your ski lessons.
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.
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.
Here are our recommended restaurants in Peisey-Vallandry >
Catered ski chalet menu
Six nights out of seven, the Whitebeam Chalet chef freshly prepares a three-course evening meal, starting with canapés.
An example evening menu at Whitebeam Chalets would be as follows:
Oeuf 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 chalet cookbook that contains recipes for some of the meals you would experience during 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
Private parties can rent out our catered ski chalets during the winter and summer months. In spring and autumn, we still privately rent, but the chalet is self-catered.
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 who will be in your chalet during your ski holiday.
During the private rental, Whitebeam Chalets are happy for guests to come and go for any number of nights during the rental period. Still, the rental price is the same, no matter how 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 to accommodate everyone’s needs.
Self-catered ski chalets in France
Most ski chalets in France will be catered to in winter as there is high demand for this service. Still, here at Whitebeam Chalets, 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 delighted 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 expect you to buy food and drink and cook for yourselves.
If that sounds a bit much, we know of a great company called Chloe’s Cuisine in Peisey-Vallandry. Chloe will do your shopping for you and even provide freshly prepared meals that get 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!