It is hard to find a more aesthetically pleasing area of the French Alpes than the Massif des Aravis. The domain is made up of four resorts which are La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Manigod and Saint-Jean-de-Sixt. It is only an hour away from Geneva and also very close to Annecy and its beautiful lake, making this a very attractive destination in the summer as well as the winter.
La Clusaz and its neighbour Manigod offer 125km of pistes, whilst a 10 minute shuttle bus ride to neighbouring Grand Bornand adds a further 84km. St-Jean-de-Sixt has a smaller ski area with five runs. Regular shuttle buses make the link between the resorts, allowing you to choose where you ski from day to day.
The main resort in the area, La Clusaz, is a picturesque village built around a central church spire and typically Savoyard streets. It is a genuine mountain village which has a wonderful rustic charm and a bustling atmosphere 12 months of the year. It has everything you needs including lovely bars and restaurants where you can have a taste of the generous savoyard cuisine.
The ski area of La Clusaz-Manigod is scattered over five areas. Beauregard and Manigod are more suited for beginners and intermediates, perfect for families. There are nice, gentle blue, green and red runs weaving down in the middle of the trees. The sectors of “l’Etale”, “l’Aiguille” and “Balme” have more challenging pistes and some serious off-piste thanks to their high vertical drops. Experts and freeriders will love it! La Balme has actually gained mass popularity thanks to professional skier Candide Thovex’s hair-raising backcountry adventures.
Freestylers are not forgotten and have access to a boarder cross and 2 snowparks, one being more children and beginner orientated.
LE GRAND BORNAND
Le Grand Bornand is a traditional mountain village, also absolutely adapted for tourism. It is divided into two parts located at different altitudes. At 1000m is Le Grand-Bornand-Village, very charming, it has preserved its mountain spirit with traditional architecture and its beautiful church. Six kilometres up the road to “Col de la Colombière” is Le Grand Bornand-Chinaillon at 1300m. This is where you will find the most lifts to access the slopes.
There are two lifts in the lower part of the resort to join the ski area; “La Joyère” and “Le Rosay” and several more on the upper section. Beginners will generally find easier runs on the lower part of the ski area and there is also a nice range of blue slopes towards the sector of “Maroly”. More challenging slopes are found higher up. The sector of Chinaillon is quite diverse and suits everyone as it has slopes for all levels.
The domain has a boardercross as well as a snowpark with a beginner area and off-piste opportunities from “Mont Lachat” and the sector of “Maroly”.
DON’T REALLY FANCY SKIING?
There are lots of other things to do besides skiing or snowboarding in winter. Here in Massif des Aravis there is a long list of varied activities. If you are into sports, paragliding, ice skating, ice climbing, snowshoe hiking, cross-country skiing are on offer. More relaxed activities include hot air balloon rides, cinema, pool, spa or a bit of culture with guided tours of the surroundings.
Tip: Why not try nocturnal skiing or sledging? Some slopes sometimes stay open until 9pm to prolong the fun!
SUMMER IN THE ARAVIS
Summers in the Massif des Aravis are spectacular. Cyclists flock to La Clusaz to test themselves on the Col des Aravis route whilst families can enjoy both the mountain lifestyle as well as nearby Lake Annecy. Among the many other activities available, there is climbing, horse riding, golfing, hiking and summer sledging as well as white water sports. Everything is there to spend a perfect summer in the great outdoors.
Lots of events are organised throughout the year. Concerts, shows, sports competitions, weekly markets and welcome parties for tourists during the season…
Here’s a sample of what happens in the area:
Grand Bornand is the host of “Glisse en Coeur” in March. This is a charity event lasting for 24 hours. On the program there will be concerts, skiing, a gala and lots of fun for a good cause.
In late March in La Clusaz is the Radiomeuh Circus. Once again you will able to attend a series of concerts and ski to music as DJs are mixing on-piste. The event lasts five days so there is plenty of time to enjoy the festive atmosphere! Still in La Clusaz in June, all mountain bike lovers are welcomed for the weekend to try the “Roc des Alpes” 19 trials suited for every level, fun activities for kids and adults and music is all on offer.
Getting to Massif des Aravis is pretty easy. You have a few options.
If you fly there you will probably either land in Geneva which is an hour away from the Massif des Aravis or Lyon which is just slightly further.
By car, it will take about 8 hours from Calais if you take the motorway. During winter please make sure your car is equipped to drive in the snow.
If you choose to travel by train, the nearest train station is Annecy, from there it’s a quick 30 minutes bus or taxi ride that will take you to your resort.