Lodged between Lake Annecy and the Mont Blanc range, the area has year-round appeal, quick and easy access and a strong family focus. There is good skiing on offer from four ski resorts (La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Manigod and St Jean de Sixt), with good runs at all levels. An increasing number of foreign buyers are starting to realise the attractions of life in the Aravis massif. Through increased publicity in the UK, the resorts are beginning to become a viable alternative to other, more established, areas. A traditional atmosphere and a green and undulating landscape means the towns and villages of the area represent a distinctly different, yet attractive, alternative to some of their more altitudinous neighbours. There is a sense that the area is made of working communities, rather than ones solely dependent on tourism. Farming has a strong presence and is particularly noticeable in the summer when customs and traditions come to the fore during local festivals. The Aravis resorts offer an increasingly varied range of tourist attractions and arguably hold 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 routes. The area is particularly strong on activities for children, with a multitude of leisure facilities.
Annecy is the Haute-Savoie's largest city and, located just 30 minutes from Geneva airport, it offers a splendid gateway to the rest of the Alps. La Clusaz is just 20 minutes away and many other good ski resorts are close by. This, combined with the best commercial facilities in the Alps, has led to an increasing number of ski-related companies locating their operations in Annecy. The city is attracting more and more international buyers. As well as offering a feasible ski base during the winter, it also provides a delightful summer season when visitors pour in from all over France to take in its pretty streets, leisure activities and stunning lake. Annecy itself contains a quite stunning 12th century Old Town section, criss-crossed by picturesque canals flowing from the lake.
La Clusaz is a genuine Savoyard village with 15th-century origins. At just 20km from Annecy and its lake, it has long been a favourite weekend and holiday retreat of skiers from Annecy and Geneva. Not as well-known among British skiers as some of its neighbours, it is however currently enjoying a much-deserved surge of attention. La Clusaz is a fairly large resort spread over five mountains, and offers a total of 132km of slopes with a highest altitude of 2600m. The Beauregard area is particularly suited to beginners and young children but there is also plenty for the dedicated skier at La Balme. The fact that you can ski directly back into the village lends the town a very quaint feel.
A pleasant little resort set in a rambling valley, Le Grand Bornand has two centres; the old town of Le Grand-Bornand and Chinaillon. The village itself remains rooted in Savoie tradition. A farmer's market is still held every Wednesday morning in the town centre. There are some lovely old and traditional chalets and alpages, many with stunning views over the mountains. With access to some good skiing as well (particularly for intermediates), such properties are quickly bought on the few occasions when they come onto the market. Chinaillon is more a modern collection of hotels and restaurants than a traditional village. It has the best access to the downhill slopes and slightly better nightlife than the village below.
Picturesque Manigod offers some good, local skiing with attractive tree-lined runs. The more extensive domain of La Clusaz is close by. The property market is dominated by nice, old chalets which mean that property prices are higher than other villages with more variety of accommodation.
St-Jean-de-Sixt is little more than a collection of traditional chalets and pleasant hotels clustered around a road junction mid-way between La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornard. On a nearby hill there are two drag lifts serving short green, blue and red runs. Those seeking more challenging skiing take the easy drive to Le Grand-Bornand or La Clusaz which are only 3 km away.