What will the snow be like at Christmas?

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That is usually how the question is phrased. Otherwise, we could pick from the following

  • Will there be snow if I go skiing at Christmas?
  • Will there definitely be lifts open at Christmas?

To stop the question appearing silly, you have to look at the context. The person asking it is thinking about committing a lot of money, time and emotional capital to booking a holiday. So when you consider the context the question does not appear quite so nuts.

The answer is “Who knows?”, it’s like asking if a property will increase in value. The only thing we can do is look at history and make an educated guess.

So will there be snow at Christmas?

I don’t know….but….generally yes. More or less, it can be hit and miss but…in the 23 Christmases I have been in the French Alps, I’d say that there has always been some skiing available on some days over the Christmas week. Usually skiing is available on every day of the week, and sometimes the skiing is excellent.

Does it matter?

For some people it does. And I’d say that if it is the most important part of your “ski” holiday then booking for later in January or February is a better bet. If that is not possible consider one of the high altitude ski areas like Avoriaz, Flaine, Val d’Isere etc. But beware, booking one of these resorts will only maximise your chances. It won’t guarantee anything!

For others it won’t matter. It’s a holiday whatever happens. There will always be winter walks, sledging, too much to eat and if it is lashing down with rain outside, board games and books. Many of the people who visit every year are content with one or two days skiing.

When do the ski areas open?

Most ski areas fix a date, often a Saturday in mid-December, so that might be one or two weekends before Christmas. And if there is sufficient snow they will open for weekends earlier on. Tignes will try and open earlier in November and it rarely fails. This year (2022) has been the warmest on record and Tignes have had to delay the opening by one week. Avoriaz is opening “early” on the weekend (3-Dec).

I have pictures from each of the last 10 years.

The following image from December 2022 ↓

2-Dec-2022 – Skiing up towards the Mossettes

This image ↓ is from mid December 2021. An excellent year to ski at Christmas.

12-Dec-2021, Val d’Abondance

December 2020 ↓

1-Dec-2020 – Skiing on the Pleney above Morzine

December 2019 ↓

10-Dec-2019 – Les Lindarets a few days before the lifts open

Mid December 2018 ↓ and then the 30th December ↓↓ 2 weeks made quite a difference. There was skiing at Christmas but it was quite hard and icy.

11-Dec-2018 At the summit of Mt Chery in Les Gets
30-Dec-2018 – St Jean d’Aulps, winter walks were better than the skiing.

Early December 2017 ↓

2-Dec-2017 – Cross Country skiing at Praz des Lys / Sommand

18th December 2016 ↓ There was skiing at Christmas, but it was for the committed.

18-Dec-2016 – World Cup Cross Country Skiing at La Clusaz

19th December 2015 ↓ There was skiing at Christmas, but it was like 2016.

19-Dec-2015 – 1440m on the Plateau des Glières near Annecy

26th December 2014 ↓ This is looking down on Les Gets, there was skiing above Chavannes, but for anything more you’d need to drive for 30 min to one of the access points for Avoriaz.

26-Dec-2014 – Les Gets, skiing at Chavannes and above.

29th December 2013 ↓ Plenty of snow. This picture is taken not far from Morzine – technically in Samoëns.

29-Dec-2013 – Chardonnière – Samoëns

6th December 2012 ↓ and ↓↓ Plenty of snow this year.

6-Dec-2012 – Driving to Chavannes from Les Gets

A day to avoid the roads !

5-Dec-2012 – Chasse-neige on the Les Gets road

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