The Grand Massif is a large ski area just one hour from Geneva which comprises the villages of les Carroz, Morillon, Samoens, Sixt Fer a Cheval and Flaine and boasts over 265 km of pistes, with a great snow record, due to it’s proximity to Mont Blanc, which keeps the whole area cool. Flaine is famous for its severe Bauhaus architecture and multi storey blocks, which are not to everyone’s taste, however the resort has long been “on the map” for British skiers as a self-catered apartment ski destination with great skiing.
Les Carroz, on the way up to Flaine, is a complete contrast as it is a traditional small Savoyard village with chocolate box picture chalets built in rustic pine. I spent a few days there in February and found it a delightful base to explore the tremendous variation in ski terrain offered by the Grand Massif. Nearly all of Les Carroz’s pistes are cut through tightly packed pine forests, which is beautiful and picturesque in itself, but also gives a welcome alternative to the wide open bowls of further-up Flaine if the weather or visibility is poor. On my first day it was snowing heavily which would have given a “jour Blanche” or white-day higher up, but the trees give definition so that you can ski more confidently when you can see where you are going!
When the snow stopped and the sun came out on the second day I was lucky enough to be shown around the whole area by some local Brits who have made the move and now live in Les Carroz year round. They were keen to demonstrate the diversity and variety of skiing to be had here and to play in the fresh powder snow and sunshine, and were true resort ambassadors. We stopped for lunch in the Auberge de Vernant which was described by my guides as “ how mountain restaurants used to be!” It has a large sun terrace and a smaller cosy inside restaurant with Savoyard specialities and table service.
Zig Zag is a specialist ski shop in Les Carroz which hires and sells a range of skis outside the norm for intermediate skiers and above who are looking for specific qualities in their equipment. Jack and Adrian are passionate in their commitment to supply you with skis that will complement your skiing or even take you to the next level. They supply Volkl, Line and the complete range of Scott skis in men’s and ladies models. I had a pair of Scott Punisher All Mountain skis, which although they are wide and long, the rocker in the tips and tails made them turn easily and they performed as well on piste, with impressive edge grip, as in the powder!
Of special note in Les Carroz is the newly constructed beginner’s area which even has a “baby snow park” and is fenced off to prevent the more advanced and faster skiers from entering. There is a fantastic six kilometre green run down to Morillon called the Marvel, which truly was marvellous, and there is floodlit, night-time skiing twice a week on the Timalets piste from 7-10 p.m. The new lift base station also has lockers to leave all your equipment at the end of the skiing day, while in the village there are restaurants and bars, an outdoor ice rink and a new Aquatic centre with an outdoor heated pool and indoor “Zen” pool.
Blue Islands flies four times a week to Geneva, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and JerseySki.com offers short break and seven nights stays on an any-day arrival basis to the Chalet Cyclamen and the Chalet Bry. The catered chalet concept is a quite a unique way of providing holidays for mixed groups in a communal chalet atmosphere and passing on the joint savings of splitting the cost of a large chalet between several different parties. The chalets have bedrooms that are sold on an individual basis, the guests in the chalet then share the communal facilities including lounge and shared areas. Everyone eats together at breakfast time and dinner time from a set menu with wine provided at dinner and it offers a great opportunity for people to get to know each other and form often lasting friendships based on a common love for snow sports.
The Chalet Cyclamen is quite central, is near to the aquatic centre and has its own sauna and Jacuzzi, while the Chalet Bry sits on a sunny knoll looking across to the slopes. Both chalets are very welcoming and are a firm favourite with Jersey and Guernsey skiers. I left Jersey for Geneva on Sunday, skied all day Monday and Tuesday and I even managed to get in a final couple of hours on the slopes on Wednesday with the owners of Les Carroz Chalets, Ian and Gill, before my transfer came at 11.15. Thanks Guys!
Les Carroz will be open until 22nd April, so there’s still plenty of time to go Massif…Which is actually the name of the lovely transfer company we use !
To find out more about ski and snowboard adventures from Jersey or Guernsey and even tailor made options, contact Geoff Spencer-Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. 07797 738 180