The Grand Massif's reputation amongst the French is as a reliable, extensive, high altitude ski area. The area comprises a myriad of traditional villages, with Samoëns arguably one of the prettiest and most authentic in the whole region. The other five linked resorts (Flaine, Les Carroz d'Araches, Morillon and Sixt Fer à Cheval) form a wide-ranging ski domain. 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. Investment in snow-making and lifts means that the Grand Massif provides some great skiing opportunities. Marked runs are predominantly intermediate in level, but more advanced skiers are often surprised at the numerous possibilities they find off-piste. Often overlooked by buyers, the benefits of year-round living can also be enjoyed in this area. Samoëns, Morillon and Les Carroz in particular provide plenty of summer activities including some delightful walks, hot air ballooning in Les Carroz or paragliding in Samoëns and Morillon. Perhaps more enjoyable than any of these is simply enjoying a drink in a small bar with the local people away from the larger 'tourist traps' found elsewhere.
Flaine is an all-or-nothing proposition: either you enjoy this purpose-built, concrete and steel resort, or you look elsewhere in the Alps for quaint chalets and more traditional charm. Whether or not you like Flaine's unique appearance, you can't help but enjoy the snow-sure setting. The other real advantage enjoyed by Flaine is its practicality. As a car-free resort it is great for families, accommodation and services are clustered to provide maximum convenience. Flaine is connected by a system of lifts to the more traditional lower-altitude towns of Les Carroz, Morillon and Samoëns. Le Hameau de Flaine, a cluster of Scandinavian-style chalets, is only a kilometre from the main area and is served by a regular, free shuttle-bus.
In stark contrast to neighbouring Flaine, Samoëns is a traditional Savoyard resort. A delightful small town, it has consciously maintained its Alpine charm, despite a recent flurry of expansion in which new chalets and lifts have added to its appeal. At just 720m, resort snow can fluctuate, but the Red Devil gondola helps link the village and the ski area, which has nice skiing for most abilities of skier. Away from the slopes, nightlife is limited but you will find plenty of restaurants serving excellent local dishes. The family focus, varied skiing and mountain allure are starting to attract an ever-increasing number of foreign buyers to this beautiful small town. Samoëns is also a popular summer destination.
Recent investment has meant that the once traditional hamlet of Les Carroz is rapidly growing into a ski resort in its own right. Usually in the shadow of its big brother, Flaine, Les Carroz has expanded to cover a large area on the road up to Flaine. Its location has meant that it benefits from shorter transfer times from Geneva and it is popular with many Genevois who pop up for a weekend ski. Les Carroz is an excellent place for beginners, with gentle nursery slopes down into the town. There is also some fantastic off-piste that can be accessed at Flaine. It does offers an entertaining summer season and is particularly noted for its hot air ballooning.
Nestled at the top of the Giffre Valley, surrounded by the Natural Reserve of the Cirque du Fer à Cheval, Sixt as it is commonly known, is a beautifully quaint little village with some stunning farmhouses and traditional architecture. Containing 24 hamlets, Sixt dates back to the 9th century and is centred around the delightful 12th century abbey. Sixt is well deserving of its 'Grand Site de France' label, meaning a place of great natural interest. Although Sixt has its own ski area, it is also linked to Flaine by the 14 km long Cascades trail. There are also snowshoe walks, dogsledding and Nordic skiing on offer in this traditional area.