Is it Cheaper to Go Skiing in France or the U.S.?

Cable car in the Alps in Chamonix

You’ve probably noticed the buzz on social media, especially TikTok and Instagram, claiming that skiing in Europe is generally more affordable than in the USA. Alpine winter getaways have traditionally been (and still are) seen as a costly pursuit, catering to athletes or affluent travelers. With influencers drawing attention to the apparent cost variations between skiing in France and the USA, we decided to delve into the matter with our own research.

According to the National Ski Areas Association, 37 U.S. states have operating ski areas, with a total of 480 nationwide. France boasts 364 ski resorts spread across its five mountain ranges, featuring a diverse range from charming villages-turned-resorts to expansive high-altitude destinations. Both countries, with their abundant mountain landscapes like the Alps in France and the renowned Rockies in the USA, offer ample opportunities for winter vacationing and skiing.

With the ski and snowboard industry reaching an estimated worth of $4.3 billion in the U.S. alone in 2022, skiing has evolved from a niche hobby for the wealthy to a mainstream pastime embraced by individuals of all ages and incomes, albeit a costly one. Despite this surge in popularity, the cost of a ski holiday remains a pertinent consideration. This prompts the question— how much does a ski holiday truly cost? 

Val Thorens, France

In this piece, we’ve examined the expenses associated with ski travel during the high season, particularly the second week of February, in France and the U.S. We’ve delved into various aspects, including travel costs, lift tickets, rentals, hotels, lessons, food & beverage, and other miscellaneous costs for your upcoming ski adventure. Care to venture a guess? Where do you think you’ll find more affordable skiing: France or the USA?

Travel Cost: France vs. U.S.

Plane, car, or train, chances are that you don’t live next to a mountain, and you need to get there! We’ll take NYC as our launch point. The closest flights to the mountains in France are to Geneva, but we’ll consider flying to Paris as well. We’ll fly to Salt Lake City and Denver in the U.S., due to their proximity to some of the best American ski resorts.

Round-trip flight cost

Dates: Feb 10 – 18, Saturday – Sunday 

NYC – Paris: $571 (roundtrip, direct) 

NYC – Geneva: $512 (roundtrip, layover); $919 (roundtrip, direct) 

NYC – Salt Lake City: $293 or $343 (roundtrip, direct) 

NYC – Denver: $217 or $257 (roundtrip, direct) 

As the ski trip approaches in less than a month, the prices for both sets of flights remain quite reasonable and budget-friendly. Google Flights considers these prices to be typical, even a bit high. Booking 10 days ago would have seen them cost $100 less. In this comparison, flights within the U.S. emerge as the more cost-effective option, providing better value for your money due to proximity.

Winner: U.S., by at least $300

Train cost

For those flying into Paris, a train transfer would be necessary to the French Alps.

Paris – Chamonix train: $153 (1 change) 

Paris – Bourg-Saint-Maurice: $141.50 (direct) 

We’ve selected Chamonix and Bourg-Saint-Maurice, both of which are located close to some of the best ski resorts in France

Winner: U.S., by at least $150

Car rental cost

According to Kayak, you can secure a car rental for an entire week in Salt Lake City for as low as $262-300, providing the flexibility to drive to various ski stations such as Alta, Park City, Snowbird, Deer Valley, and a few more. If your credit card offers insurance, you’re in luck. (For those planning a skiing trip to the Adirondacks Stations like Whiteface or Vermont from NYC, you can obtain a car rental for approximately $200.)

In Chamonix, average car rentals for the week come in at $400. Renting from Geneva is priced at $400-500, inclusive of your transfer. 

Winner: U.S., by about $100-200

Best Skiing Peaks: France vs. U.S.

Aspen skier, Colorado

Some of the premier French ski stations to ski in, including Chamonix, Courchevel, Tignes, Le Plagne, Val d’Isère, Les 3 Vallées, Val Thorens, and Les Deux Alpes, are located in the southern and northern parts of the French Alps. The top ski resorts to ski in the U.S. are clustered around Salt Lake City, Aspen, Vail, and the broader Rockies region, with Colorado being recognized as the overall best state for skiing. However, Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho has earned the title of the top ski area in North America for 2024.

France outshines the U.S. in terms of the size of ski resorts and elevation differences, with most top French resorts boasting elevations well above 1000m. Additionally, some of the French ski valleys tend to be larger in overall ski area size. 

The choice to ski in France vs. the U.S. for the best skiing peaks ultimately hinges on individual preferences, like whether one craves the classic elegance of the French Alps or the diverse offerings of the U.S. Rockies and Sierra Nevada. Both destinations promise a winter wonderland for avid skiers and snowboarders.

Ski Passes: France vs. U.S

In the French Alps, day lift ticket tickets come at an average of $50, and a 7-day pass at Chamonix is merely 379,00 €, equivalent to $414. Tignes offers a similar pass for 396 € or $430, while La Plagne’s six-day pass costs around 330 € or $359.

On the other hand, ski passes in the USA span from $50 to $250 per day of skiing. For instance, a 7-day pass at the Aspen Snowmass resort during our February dates amounts to $1,218. Vail is priced at $1,442, equating to $206 per day, and Park City stands at $1,673, or $239 per day. In comparison, Whiteface on the East Coast offers a slightly more accessible ticket option at $124 per day, or $620 for 5 days.

Winner: France, by at least $1000

Ski Rentals: France vs. U.S

julie arzano ski de rando

Choosing ski or snowboard rentals can be a bit tricky, given the numerous rental options in each ski town. On average, ski rentals in the USA hover around $80 per day. The official Aspen Snowmass ski rental shop charges $532 for skis for a 7-day period. In Chamonix, ski rentals are priced at 115.50 € or $125 for 6 days, with the added perk of a free 7th day. 

If you’re bringing your own skis, factor in an additional $30-50 for the airport check-in fee when flying to cover your boot and ski bag.

Winner: France, by $400

Ski Guide & Lessons: France vs. U.S.

If you’re planning a ski vacation and looking to enhance your skills with lessons, group lessons generally cost between €400 and €600 for 5 days in France, while private lessons can cost between €400 and €600 per day. In the United States, a one-day private ski lesson in Aspen, for example, costs around $1,000, and group lessons typically cost more than $300 per day. But prices vary greatly depending on the station, or even depending on the instructor.

Winner: France, by $100 for group classes

Ski Resort Accommodations: France vs. U.S.

Chalet in France, skiing

Accommodations at ski resorts vary based on group size and preferred style. Comparing Chamonix and Aspen Snowmass, Chamonix hotels average around $300 per night, totaling about $2,400 for the week, depending on factors like breakfast inclusion. Private property rentals in Chamonix can exceed $10,000 for the week. In Aspen, hotels during the same week average at least $1,000 per night, or around $10,000 for the week. Private lodge rentals in Aspen go way above $3,000 per night, totaling over $20,000 for the week (as a minimum). However, more affordable options, around $250-$300 per night, are available in Park City, Utah, comparable to high-quality French resorts.

Winner: France, by $8,000 for hotels and over $10,000 for private property rentals

Ski Resort Food: France vs. U.S.

Tignes apres ski

Food costs at ski resorts vary depending on the dining venue and type of cuisine. French ski resorts typically offer excellent restaurant-cooked food, while some American resorts may have processed fast food-like options at on-site restaurants. Dining expenses can be at least $85 per day, totaling around $680 for eight days in the USA. Additional expenses for drinks or festivities may increase the total to look like at least $800. Food at French ski resorts is also relatively expensive, averaging around $53 (€48) per day or $424 during the week. Engaging in events like the famous Folie Douce après-ski parties can contribute to higher costs. Ultimately, the cost of ski-related food and beverage experiences depends on individual choices and preferences.

Winner: France, by about $200


Include an extra $200 in your budget for miscellaneous expenses during your ski vacation. This can cover items such as hand warmers, occasional hot beverages or pints, hats, masks, and even souvenirs to bring home. Skiing often involves unexpected expenses, like losing a glove or wanting a pair of fun ear warmers. Having this additional amount allows you to comfortably manage unforeseen costs and fully enjoy your skiing experience without any budgetary constraints.

Total Ski Costs: France vs. U.S.

France: around $4,718 ($5,000 is a fair estimate) 

USA: around $13,350

Skiing in France proves to be notably more affordable, even at high-end resorts, compared to similar options in the United States. Although both destinations feature elevated prices, budget-friendly alternatives exist, making them accessible for a resourceful traveler. UCPA, for instance, offers excellent skiing options in France for under $1000 per week, covering nearly everything except travel expenses. 

Our calculated costs encompass car rentals, accommodation, and food for a single person, which can be further reduced when shared among a group. Additionally, individuals may own their skis or opt not to ski on every available day. Choosing accommodations outside the ski resorts is another strategy to lower overall expenses.

Our estimated costs are based off of prices for the current season. Costs for airfare and accommodations would likely be cheaper if booked farther in advance. Since travel costs are higher for travel to France, the most likely outcome of this differential would be to make a French trip even more affordable. As lift passes and ski classes are more of a stagnant cost, U.S. ski trips have less potential cost variance. Overall, skiing in France provides a more cost-effective option, offering various ways for budget-conscious travelers to enjoy a remarkable skiing experience.

Overall winner: France by about $9,000 for a week of ski vacation

Frequently Asked Questions:

How can you ski in France for less, even at the most expensive resorts?

For a budget-friendly ski experience in France, even at upscale resorts, consider strategic approaches. Opt for off-peak or mid-week travel for lower prices, and explore group discounts or package deals bundling accommodations and lift tickets. Choose self-catering accommodations and look for budget-friendly options outside the immediate resort areas. Take advantage of all of the possible early booking discounts and discounted lift tickets available online. Consider lesser-known resorts or emerging destinations for a more cost-effective experience.

Where can you find cheap flights to the mountains this ski season?

To find affordable flights for your ski getaway this season, explore various online platforms and compare prices from different airlines. Utilize flexible date search options to identify the most budget-friendly travel days. Keep an eye on seasonal promotions and sales offered by airlines, especially during off-peak travel times. Consider booking well in advance to secure lower fares and explore alternative airports near your destination. Subscribe to newsletters or alerts from travel websites to receive notifications about discounted flights. Additionally, consider bundling your flight with accommodation or rental car bookings for potential package deals. Overall, thorough research and flexibility with travel dates can help you snag the best deals on flights to your favorite mountain destinations.

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