The Grand Massif is an expansive, high altitude ski area made up of five linked villages – Flaine, Samoëns, Les Carroz, Morillon and Sixt. Located just an hour from Geneva, this ski domain is easily accessible and, once you are there, there is an abundance of snow-sure skiing to be had.
The area boasts 265km of pistes offering a variety of terrain for all levels, reliable snow cover and very few queues. Most of the skiing is to be had above Flaine in a large snow bowl that starts at 1600m and goes all the way up to 2560m.
Each village within the Grand Massif has its own defining features, from Flaine with its love-it-or-hate-it Bauhaus architecture to Morillon with its traditional Alpine charm. You are guaranteed to find something to love in this large, high altitude destination.
Flaine is a ski-in ski-out, car free resort built in the 1960s. The resort can be divided in 5 smaller areas located at different levels. The lowest part is Flaine-Front de Neige at 1500m and then there is Flaine-Forum at an altitude of 1600m. This is where you will find most of the buildings designed by Marcel Breuer which have quite an unusual architecture for a ski resort; no typical wood chalets but modern, contemporary, concrete buildings. A bit further up you will come across Flaine-Forêt at 1700m and just after this is Montsoleil. Some of you will be happy to know that as you move up the resort the wood returns to the facade of the buildings. Finally you have Le Hameau de Flaine at 1800m of altitudes where there are lovely chalets giving the place a true mountainous charm.
The ski area of Flaine offers slopes for everyone. Confident skiers will enjoy the large range of red slopes and the even more challenging black runs. For the adventurous there are some good off-piste opportunities towards “Combe de Gers” although make sure you are well equipped to ski off-piste and also ask for a guide. Beginners and intermediates will also have their fair share of fun with some areas dedicated to beginners accessible by four free lifts and quite a lot of gentle blue runs to cruise down. One is particularly enjoyable as it is 14km long, going from the top of “Les Grands Platières” all the way down to the resort of Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval, “Les Cascades” passing through in the heart of a nature reserve offering beautiful sights.
If you wish to see more of Grand Massif, you can access the four other ski areas without taking off your skis as there are all linked by slopes and lifts and enjoy the 265km of runs.
Les Carroz is a lovely traditional mountain village located at an altitude of 1140m. The creation of a ski town in 1936 marks the beginning of Les Carroz as a ski resort. It is a popular part of Grand Massif and is said to be its quickest point of entrance. The easiest and most direct way to access Grand Massif is from Les Carroz 1500 and there are also lifts departing from the lower part of Carroz.
Ski wise you have three options; you can either purchase a Les Carroz ski pass or the Massif ski pass which gives you access to a bigger ski area including the resorts of Morillon, Samoëns and Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval with about 145km of runs. The Grand Massif area ski pass adds the domain of Flaine.
If you choose the first option you should know that Les Carroz ski area is more suited to beginners and intermediates as there is mostly blue and red runs. For those looking for more of a challenge you be best served opting for the third option.
The other three resorts; Samoëns, Morillon and Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval are all three small typical mountain villages offering access either to the ski area or the bigger Grand Massif ski area.
DON’T REALLY FANCY SKIING?
The Grand Massif and its surroundings offer varied activities besides skiing and snowboarding. For the thrill seekers, kite-snow, paragliding, helicopter and ice driving lessons are on offer. More down-to-earth activities include snowshoeing, ice skating, sledging, dog sledging, cross-country skiing or sightseeing. After an intense day of winter sports you can relax at the cinema, bowling alley or at the various spa and swimming pool facilities.
SUMMER IN GRAND MASSIF
Typical mountain summer activities include climbing, Adventure Park, hiking, cycling, mountain biking, white water sports, fishing on the lake and many others. There is always something fantastic to do during The Grand Massif Summer.
Events in the area are varied, from welcoming drinks to concerts, shows, sports competitions; everything is done to keep you entertained during your stay. For example, the famous “Grande Odyssée” was hosted in Les Carroz. Some famous French comedians also performed in Grand Massif for “Les One Man-Woman Show” in Flaine.
Getting to Grand Massif is fairly easy as it is only an hour from Geneva international airport and Lyon airport is just 2 hours away.
If you take your car then the journey will be between 7.5 and 8 hours from Calais if you take the motorway. In winter, please make sure that your car is equipped to drive in the snow.
By train the nearest station is Cluses, and then it is a 30 minutes bus ride to the resort. Other stations in the area are Geneva, Chamonix and Annecy.