|(ne)Lodged between the Lake of Annecy to the West and the Mont Blanc range to the East, an increasing number of foreign buyers are starting to realise the attractions afforded to life in the Aravis Massif. Year round appeal, quick and easy access and a strong family focus are all in addition to some good skiing on offer from the four ski resorts nestled amongst the Aravis range's high valleys, plateaus and mountain summits. Combined with a traditional atmosphere and a more green and undulating landscape, the towns and villages of the area represent a distinctly different, yet attractive, alternative to some of the its more altitudinous neighbours.|
Many visitors to the villages and resorts of Aravis, including the ski resorts of La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Manigod and St Jean de Sixte, comment on a difference in feel to other ski areas in the Haute Savoie. The fact that the mountain landscape is less severe than in those areas to the East certainly helps, and many people actually find the softer, green countryside more picturesque. However, perhaps contributing more than anything is the sense that the area is made up of working mountain communities, rather than ones solely dependent on tourism. In particular, one cannot fail to notice the strong agricultural influence on the area - dairy-farming linked to the production of reblochon cheese has kept the Alpine countryside rich and green, and has preserved the traditional life and activities of the villages. Farming has a strong presence throughout the region, and is particularly noticeable in the summer when customs and traditions come to the fore during the traditional summer festivals.
Despite maintaining their working routes, the Aravis resorts also offer an increasingly varied range of tourist attractions. In terms of skiing, there are good runs at all levels even if the area doesn't enjoy the variety of the Portes du Soleil or the might of the Chamonix Valley. The four resorts have made more of an effort in recent times to promote themselves in the UK and are beginning to become a viable alternative to other, more established areas. In a similar fashion to the Portes du Soleil, the Aravis pass allows skiing in several resorts - La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand and St Jean de Sixt.
It's not just skiing on offer though, and Aravis arguably carries more year round appeal than many other Alpine areas. A thriving summer season offers plenty of paragliding and cycling, as well as some delightful walking and hiking opportunities in the distinctive Aravis setting. There is an abundance of mountain trails and rock-climbing possibilities in the range. Some of the 90 ski lifts in the region are open in summer to provide quick access, with parasailors favoring the highest lift with its beautiful decent to La Clusaz. The area is particularly strong on activities for children, with a multitude of leisure facilities ranging from summer sledging and crazy gold to swimming pools and trampolining.
When combined with quick and easy access from Geneva airport and slightly cheaper prices than some neighbouring ski areas, more and more buyers are starting to sit up and take notice of the charms on offer from the Aravis Massif. It certainly doesn't have the glamorous allure of the Megeve or Chamonix valleys, but a distinctive traditional character and wealth of opportunities for children and families give it a certain pull all of its own.
- A very pleasant area with a distinctly traditional atmosphere
- Lots of non-ski activities means it is a good place to live all year round
- A fantastically family orientated area means it is a great place to go with children
- Less English spoken than more international resorts (although for many this is a distinct advantage!)
- On the lower slopes there is extensive snow-making, but the low altitude and crowds over weekends and holidays can lead to worn patches