|(ne)One of the less well know areas of the Haute Savoie, the Grand Massif's reputation has perhaps suffered because of its lower altitude compared to its neighbours. However, in not having to rely on a strong winter season, the pretty, small villages have managed to maintain a pleasant and traditional air about them. Combined with its good access from Geneva airport and some of the lowest ski property prices in the region, the Grand Massif is an up and coming Alpine area with plenty to offer for those who choose to live here.|
Whilst it may not be able to offer extreme skiing on a par with Chamonix, or the variety associated with the Portes du Soleil, heavy recent investment in snow making and lifts have meant that the Grand Massif does provide some good skiing opportunities. In winter, skiers and snowboarders have 270 km of ski trails at their disposal in the five linked resorts of Flaine, Les Carroz d'Araches, Morillon, Samoëns and Sixt fer a Cheval. Together they form a wide-ranging ski domain of 78 lifts and more than a hundred marked trails. Marked runs are predominantly intermediate and upper intermediate, but more advanced skiers are often surprised at the numerous possibilities they find off-piste. Flaine in particular provides more challenging skiing, and its advantageous natural setting means it has a long season to boot.
Often overlooked by many buyers, the benefits of year round living can also be enjoyed in this until now unheralded area. Samoens, Morillon and Les Carroz in particular provide plenty of summer activities, although Flaine very much remains a winter resort. The summer activities include some delightful walks around the Grand Massif's more green and varied scenery, hot air ballooning at Les Carroz or paragliding at Samoens or Morillon. However, perhaps more enjoyable than any of these is simply enjoying a drink in a small bar with the local people, safe in the knowledge that you're not falling pray to a tourist trap. There are also some traditional Savoie cuisine to be enjoyed in the charming restaurants that are dotted in and amongst the small villages.
Such quaint pleasures may not last forever, and the Grand Massif is starting to become recognised as a ski area on the up. It might be as renowned as some of its neighbours, but the traditional charm, year round living and quick and convenient access mean the cheaper prices that the area currently enjoys won't be around forever. Rather than the snootily turned up noses it once received, the Grand Massif is increasingly attracting a curious interest. It is surely only a matter of time before this turns into admiring glances.
- Cheaper prices than most other ski areas in the Haute Savoie
- Some lovely traditional towns and villages that are free from herds of tourists
- A good place for pleasant, year round living
- Less fashionable than other world renowned resorts such as Chamonix