The Espace Diamant was created in 2005 by linking the ski areas of Espace Cristal and Espace Val d’Arly. To do so, 4 lifts were built in the resort of les Saisies along with 16 slopes in order to create the link with the resort of Notre Dame de Bellecombe.
Espace Diamant is made up of 6 village resorts: Les Saisies and Hauteluce in the Beaufortain area along with Crest-Voland/Cohennoz, Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe, Flumet and Praz sur Arly in the Arly Valley.
Although relatively unexplored by the British, these traditional French villages are beginning to gain much more attention, particularly with many infrastructure improvements having been confirmed in 2016. The skiing in the Espace Diamant favours families, with long blue and green runs in abundance. That doesn’t mean those who prefer an adrenaline boost will be bored though – there are some technical pistes on offer, with a number of difficult descents over 1000m.
The resort of Les Saisies was founded in 1934 by Austrian ski instructor and visionary, Erwin Eckl. During a trip to the area which, at this time only had a few mountain-side chalets, he was taken in by the landscape which reminded him of his native Tyrol. He settled in Les Saisies and from there his grand ski resort project took shape, starting with the first chalet-hotel of the resort in 1936. Many now refer to the resort as the ‘French Tyrol’ in memory of Eckl.
Now, the resort which is nestled at the foot of the famous Mont Blanc is a popular winter sports destination thanks to its impressive ski options and its easy accessibility from Geneva.
The resort of Les Saisies on its own offers 77 km of pistes and is mostly ski-in ski-out. With a large majority of blue and red runs, beginners and intermediates will certainly have the best time running down the slopes surrounded by trees. As for those looking for challenging runs there are a few black slopes worth the ride such as “La Kamikaze” or “La Perdrix”. The resort is connected to the village of Hauteluce thanks to two lifts as well as the Espace Diamant which offers many more options with 192 km of pistes.
L'ESPACE VAL D'ARLY
The other part of Espace Diamant ski area is made up of the other four resorts. L’Espace Val D’Arly is indeed composed of the resort of Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe, Flumet, Crest-Voland/Cohennoz and Praz sur Arly. The scenery from here is amazing! From your typical mountain village you will have a view on the famous Mont-Blanc as well as other beautiful mountains such as the Massif des Aravis. This area is perfect for families as it has a wide range of slopes to suit beginners and intermediates as well as 3 areas dedicated to children. You can have access to the ski area from each village thanks to lifts and you can also purchase a ski pass that will allow you to enjoy the full Espace Diamant ski area.
DON’T REALLY FANCY SKIING?
Lots of other activities are on offer in the resorts of Espace Diamant. The domain offers 120km of cross-country skiing slopes. Cross-country skiing is particularly reputed in Les Saisies since it hosted the trials for Nordic Skiing for the 1992 Winter Olympic Games of Albertville. Apart from this, there is paragliding, dogsled, snowshoe hiking, ice climbing, snowmobile, piste basher initiation, bowling, pool or spa and many other activities.
You can also go sightseeing and visit the various villages. A rather unconventional way of discovering the domain is from the air; why not try a flight aboard a hot air balloon?
SUMMER IN ESPACE DIAMANT
There are many activities for those of all ages to enjoy during the summer time, from mountain biking, hiking, fishing and horse riding. You won’t get bored during your stay.
EVENTS IN ESPACE DIAMANT
Multiple events are hosted in Espace Diamant. You can attend the “Contest Tribute to the Air“ which is a freestyle contest lasting for two days in March. On the first day you’ll be able to attend several workshops and enjoy an artistic show and on the second day the competition begins at the snow park between freestyle snowboarders and skiers, then there is the awards ceremony and to properly end the event there will be a concert. Also in March is the Festival de la Bande Dessinée. This event will feature several workshops, signing from the authors, and of course loads and loads of comic books. In Praz sur Arly in early January is the Mongolfiades Internationales, an event revolving around hot air balloons. First flights, free static flights, biathlon initiation and workshops on astronomy are on the program for this week-end event. This is just a sample of the many events, concerts, shows and sports competitions that take place in the resorts of Espace Diamant throughout the year.
If you choose to get there by car it will take you about 8 hours if you take the highway. However, in the winter, make sure your car is equipped to drive in the snow once approaching the resorts.
The nearest train stations are Sallanches and Albertville from there you can easily get to your resorts by bus or taxi in about an hour.
Lastly if you decide to fly there, then you will probably land in Geneva or Chambéry which are the closest airports. You will be in your resort one or two hours’ drive later.