Anyone who has been to the big French Alpine ski destinations will be familiar with the annoyingly jacked-up food and drinks prices, the high-end shops you would never venture into and the Disneyesque hollowness of the resorts.
However, there are lesser known places where you can enjoy the same stunning views, awesome slopes, and delicious local fare without the pretension. One of them is the Savoyard region, specifically the Grand Massif ski area (Flaine, Samoens, Les Carroz, Morillon and Sixt Fer à Cheval – www.winter.grand-massif.com)
Conveniently located about an hour from Geneva airport, villages such as Samoen and Morillon are places where people actually live. Go to neighbouring Morzine or Les Gets in the spring and it’s a ghost town of hotels and firmly closed restaurants. Samoen (awarded a ‘Coq d’Or’ for being one of the prettiest villages in France ) has a lively Wednesday morning market, a wonderfully picturesque square, gorgeous botanical gardens and plenty of spots to enjoy a steaming espresso or local speciality lunch amongst the 15th century homes, churches and public buildings. It feels friendly and authentic. A trip here won’t just be about the skiing but also a refreshingly cultural experience.
If you are a hard core skier then you may find some limitations beyond the Three Valley’s reach. However, there are beautiful, winding tree lined pistes and an extensive area across the Grand Massif from Sixt Fer à Cheval to Flaine which most skiers will find more than enough. There’s the usual mix of hotels and private chalets at more budget friendly prices than some of the better known resorts, and visit later in the season to enjoy the lakes, waterfalls and hikes hidden throughout the region.
If you are looking for a luxury Chalet in the Samoens region (only 6 minutes to the nearest ski lift) then have a look at The Secret Chalet.
Blog by Chris & Hannah