GRAND MASSIF : OVERVIEW
One of the less well known areas of the Haute Savoie, the Grand Massif's reputation amongst the French is as a reliable, extensive, high altitude ski area. The area comprises of a myriad of traditional villages. Samoëns is arguably one of the prettiest and most authentic villages in the whole region, the summer season here is as strong as its winter season. 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, the area offers the level of variety associated with the Portes du Soleil. Heavy recent investment in snow making and lifts have meant that the Grand Massif provides some great 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 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 now 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. Here's a quote from Peter Hardy of The Telegraph, " I consider the Grand Massif to be the most underrated ski area in the Alps. The 265km of piste are more exciting and varied than the motorways of Paradiski or the Trois Vallées".
- Reliable high altitude ski area
- 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
- The stark architecture of Flaine.
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