Weather in the Alps by month

Weather in the Alps by month

Ski Holiday Guides

Weather in the Alps by month

Each year is very different, many people ask us which season we enjoy the most, winter or summer? and that is difficult to answer as each season is beautiful and the weather systems facilitate an active lifestyle for everyone. We have experienced a whole year where the snow has fallen in every month of the year and have also seen freak snowstorms in June, a meter deep and some winters, we have also been outside in t-shirts basking in the sunshine in December waiting for the snow!

Some strange things happen at altitude, it’s very dry, barometers in the chalets show that humidity is up to 200% lower than at home in the UK and it is necessary to drink up to 3lts of water each day to prevent dehydration.

Another interesting fact is that the UV rays from our sun increase in strength by 25% for every 1500m above sea-level, so it is important to take extra care to protect your exposed skin and mouth to prevent long lasting and sometimes, serious damage.

So here's my outlook on Alpine weather, it’s based on the law of averages along with memories and our associations with each month being involved in a winter sports career.

For us, our year starts in October!


October is a beautiful month, the trees are changing colour and it is much warmer than the UK, even at altitude. Lots of blue sky days fill the month and the beginning of the winter is in the air. Snow begins to fall at high altitude and the evenings start to get a little chilly.  Rain falls lower in the valley. The evenings are getting chilly.  October for us, is a month to begin preparing the chalets for the winter, checking inventories and securing staff accommodation. We normally have our team recruited by now and online training begins.


We are starting to get excited about skiing now, there are fewer sunny days, snowfalls are becoming frequent and the mountain passes are closing for the winter. We can see the snowline creeping down the mountain as each week passes but when it’s not snowing, we still have lots of blue sky days. Evening temperatures are dropping below zero. We check the water and heating in the chalets and put on tick-over to prevent water systems freezing. Failing to do so can be a costly exercise, underfloor heating systems are often water driven and if these suffer freezing damage, repairs are very costly and can often not be made until unfrozen….the next summer. We are preparing for staff training, busy working on our menu, training plans and the logistics of staff arrivals.


Normally the snow has begun to creep down the mountain and settle in resort. When it’s not snowing, we have big blue sky days. The mountains are beautiful and the slopes are normally covered with blankets of fresh white untracked snow. The piste maintenance teams have been out grooming the pistes and preparing them for the long winter ahead. We call this the snow-base. By the end of December, it would be normal to have a base of two meters or more snow, all packed down on the pistes. Nights can be cold and the onset of winter is right upon us. As the month passes by, snowstorms are lasting longer and temperatures rarely get above freezing during the day.  The days are shorter and darkness arrives by 5pm. Our staff have arrived and are undertaking a robust training programme followed by an even more robust chalet cleaning programme. Our first guests are arriving in Tignes from early December and the team is getting excited about a day off from training to hit the slopes. Blue skies are less frequent now and snow clearing is a daily chore but helps us build up our stamina for the challenges that lay ahead. Before we know it, Christmas Day is here, the chalets are full, everyone is out skiing and a white Christmas is guaranteed. The nights are cold and the roads are snow-packed. Winter is here and the ski season is well under way.


Winter has arrived well and truly and snowstorms are frequent. In between, we have the most beautiful days. Blue cloudless skies, ice crystals in the air. Temperatures plunging below -20 at night time and not much warmer during the day. Snowstorms can be heavy now and last three or four days at a time. It’s freezing at night and we tuck ourselves up in our cosy chalets by the fireside. The weather can be severe sometimes, gale-force winds can prevent chairlifts from operating, visibility can be bad but it can also be said the uncrowded pistes and so much fresh snow can make the most perfect conditions for a ski trip. Our staff are now familiar with routines, they know their menus and duties as second nature and everyone is settled and happy.  This is mountain life….and in January it can be tough. Sometimes the snow is so deep, we have to recruit specialists to climb on the roof to clear snow to prevent roof slides and reduce risks to our guests. It’s kind of fun climbing on the roof and jumping off into the deep snow. Not for the faint-hearted.


February is often the best month to ski and it is no coincidence that the chalets and hotels are full with holiday makers. An empty bed is rare in February. Winter storms are subsiding and less frequent. Spring is in the air. Blue skies are more frequent and mountain temperatures are a little warmer. The snow base is pretty much guaranteed and all lifts and pistes are open and it can get busy. Particularly in mid-February when most of Europe are on school holidays.  We still expect to get a couple of big snowstorms in February but in  between we have “bluebird” days…every day.


March is a fabulous month to ski, school holidays are over, snow cover is still great and blue skies are the order of the day. Temperatures are much warmer, winter is subsiding and it’s not unusual to see our guests enjoying the sun and dancing outdoors to music on the bar terraces. 10 degrees can feel like 20 degrees on the mountain under cloudless skies when the wind has dropped. Uncrowded pistes and bags of sunshine are normal in March, my favourite time to ski. The odd snowfall still comes and keeps our slopes topped up. March is adult time, the slopes are at their best, temperatures are perfect and the skiing doesn’t get any better.


If there is a month that can be unpredictable, it’s April.  The season is drawing to an end but there is still some great skiing to be had. April is sure to offer a bit of everything, scorching temperatures, infrequent and short, heavy snowfalls at high altitude and almost Riviera temperatures in the valley. The fauna and flora is changing, marmottes can be seen playing in the snow, mountain flowers can be seen in the valley and sadly, a few green patches are appearing on the lower slopes. April is a month for earlybird skiing, hitting the first lifts and skiing hard all morning. Long lunches on the mountain terraces are the order of the day and heady après ski parties take precedence in the early afternoons as the slopes get slushy. Of course Easter is here, families are enjoying the mountains and all their glory. Late April brings an end to skiable pistes as green patches are more common on the lower slopes. Our guests are starting to consider their summer holidays and the end of the winter sports season is upon us. Only the really high altitude resorts remain open into May and good conditions and late snowfalls can still happen above 2000m


May is a beautiful time in the Alps, the snow remains only over 2000m and it is time for everyone and everything to recover from the winter season. Chairlifts are mothballed, the pistes are no longer groomed, visitors are scarce and the chalets and hotels are put into hibernation. Blue skies are now normal and temperatures are warm, it is still not easy to find the hiking trails as snow cover is still covering everything. The trees are in blossom in the valley and lower slopes and the mountain cattle are on the lower meadows. Our staff are now elsewhere in the world. We work every day from 1st October until mid-May. People often ask me when we sleep….the answer is MAY!


It’s hot!.....the odd shower intersperses relentless hot sunny days. Temperatures are well into the 80s in the valley and even on the mountains at altitude, they are up in the 70s. Long balmy summer days continue day after day throughout June and July. Everyone is basking in warm sunshine     and the scenery is dramatic in its vastness. River sports take over from skiing, white water rafting and kayaking are fabulous ways to see the valleys and stay cool. The mountains offer expansive peaceful hiking trails, picnic opportunities and mountain biking for the brave-hearted. Al-fresco dining is normal routine and the ski resorts become beautiful mountain villages with a variety of festivals and events which make fun days out. The Alps are pleasantly busy in the summer but it is easy to find space and tranquillity. There are a multitude of waterfalls, lakes and fast flowing rivers, summer is truly beautiful.


Hot sunny days continue throughout September but the odd shower turns to a handful of rainy days. Evenings start to get cooler and with the kids back to school, peace descends on the Alps. Winds arrive and the trees shed their leaves, snow showers return at high altitude as the rain falls lower down. September sees the end of the summer season and the resorts close for another rest. Business owners take a breather before the onslaught of winter arrives again.

Before we know it, a year has gone by. It often feels like there are only two seasons in the Alps, Winter and Summer. Guests often ask us which season we enjoy the most and hand on heart, It is a difficult question to answer.  The summers are warm, the scenery is stunningly beautiful. Winter brings the snow and allows me to fulfil our passion for skiing. So I guess the answer is…..that we love both seasons equally for very different reasons. The Alps are a special place and we have been privileged to live and work here so much that it is beyond my ability to describe how amazing the experience has been.  The French Alps are truly beautiful…phenomenal!

They say in the Alps…..”There is no bad weather, only bad clothing”.

Check out our blog on “Everything you need to know about what to wear on the slopes”.

Apr 2022
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