France will bid to stage the 2018 Winter Olympics, the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) said on Wednesday.

‘Our Olympic ambition led us to bid for the 2018 Games,’ CNOSF president Henri Serandour told a news conference.

Three towns - Annecy, Nice and Grenoble, which hosted the Games in 1968 - had already said they were interested in a candidacy, he added.

France's official candidate should be named in March 2009.

One rival will be Munich, which declared itself a candidate last December.

France has staged three Winter Olympics, in Grenoble in 1968, in Albertville in 1992, and in Chamonix in 1924.

Paris was the host of the Summer Olympics in 1900 and 1924 but was beaten in its bid for the 1992, 2008 and 2012 Games by Barcelona, Beijing and London.

The 2010 Winter Games will be held in Vancouver, while Russian city Sochi will host the 2014 event.