×

A new ski area is born

A number of small ski areas in the French Alps have joined forces to become The Lake Annecy Ski Resorts. If you are looking for a new ski area, are tempted to try something different and want a ski holiday at a relaxing pace of life then read on.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

You have probably heard of La Clusaz, you might know about Le Grand Bornand, perhaps even Saint Jean de Sixt but probably not Manigod. They are the four resorts that have linked together to form a single area.

It has been a trend throughout The Alps in recent years as resorts link themselves physically with new lifts and then join up as combined marketing areas and joint tourist offices. 

In Switzerland Verbier is now Verbier-St Bernard and includes the whole valley, Davos and Klosters have joined up to become a single ski area while over in Andorra Soldeu and Pas de La Casa were turned into Grand Valira a few years ago. 

Some areas, like The Aosta Valley in Italy, have been doing it for a while as it encompasses  a number of individual ski resorts all branded under the umbrella name of The Aosta Valley.

So let us welcome onto the scene, The Lake Annecy Ski Resorts.

Many of us will have driven through the historic French town of Annecy and round the lake on the way to the mega French resorts in the Tarantaise; Val d’Isere, Tignes, Meribel, Les Arcs, Val Thorens and others.

If you have then you will know it is under an hour from Geneva airport so that is perhaps one of the areas first attractions. No long coach journey to reach it. 

If you have seen the lake and the surrounding mountains you will now that it is one of the most beautiful parts of The Alps with stunning views.

Unlike many of the above mentioned resorts the ski areas in Lake Annecy are not the purpose built ski factories of the Tarantaise but rather charming and delightful hamlets where time goes slightly slower and the modern world is a distance away.

The slopes though are surprisingly large and varied with 220km of runs and 85 lifts.

There are extensive snow cannons, snowparks and the ski area itself goes up to a respectable 2,600m.

Here at PlanetSKI we hope to be visiting the area this winter and if so will bring you a full report.

La Clusaz is the main resort and it is joined directly to the tiny hamlet of Manigod that is an ideal place to escape the crowds.  Le Grand Bornard is a short bus ride away and it served by a regular service and in between is St Jean de Sixt.  Some people might be put off by the thought of a bus ride but our advise is don’t be; just consider it another ski lift to take you to a different area.

So what are the different areas like?

LA CLUSAZ

La Clusaz

La Clusaz

 

 

 

 

 

 

It caters for all levels and has five different mountains with a vertical descent of 1,600m.  There are a couple of challenging blacks and often some moguls on the Col de Balme that goes up to 2,600m. There is a qualifying leg for the Freeride World Tour so there is also some good powder skiing to be had when conditions are right.

For the intermediate skiers and snowboarders there are wide open reds and blues and the nursery slopes make ideal learning territory. 

If you are after a wild nightlife then perhaps look elsewhere but there are plenty of bars and discos and at weekends it gets busy as many people come up from down in the valleys for a couple of days in the snow.

New for the season of 2011/12 are 5 star hotel, Au Coeur du Village and  the 4 star tourist residence, Les Grandes Alpes.

LE GRAND BORNAND

Le Grand Bornand

 

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]

 

 

 

 

 

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]Le Grand bornard

 

It may be small but it offers the full range of snowsports; Alpine, Nordic and freestyle.

It has one of the ten most beautiful snowparks in France, the longest night skiing run in the Haute-Savoie and and a brand new biathlon stadium which in December will host the first World Cup to be held in France.

It also has a surprising number of snowsports champions who come from the village or use it as their training base: Tessa Worley (alpine skiing and  a double medalist at the World Championshipsin 2011), Steve Missillier and Thomas Mermillod (Alpine skiing), Roddy Darragon (the first French medal in cross country skiing at the Turin Olympics in 2006), Christophe Perrillat (cross country skiing), Nelly Moenne-Loccoz and Claire Chapotot (snowboard cross), Alexandre Mabboux (ski jumping), Bastien Midol (skicross), Pierre Mazouat (snowboard parallel) and Anthony White (freestyle).

Above all it is though a beautiful and unspoilt mountain hamlet with 400 traditional chalets and the oldest was built in 1664.

MANIGOD

Manigod

Manigod


 

 

 

 

 

 

The village is a beautiful old hamlet and the alpine areas of La Croix Fry and Merdassier plus the nordic ski areas of Beauregard are connected to the slopes of La Clusaz that we have detailed above.

It is perhaps one of the best areas in The Alps to be in a remote mountain location but also have access to some modern snowsports facilities.

There are also traditional pastimes on offer such as  snowshoe and walking trails, dog sledding and skijoering.

The resort has a 4* hotel, the Chalet Hotel La Croix-Fry, with the chef Marc Veyrat providing the cuisine.

SAINT- JEAN DE SIXT

St-Jean de Sixt

St-Jean de Sixt

 


 

 

 

 

 

It lies in between La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand and the bus, just another ski lift, comes every half hour and connects to the ski area in the region.

There are a couple of lifts for beginners in the village itself and 7 km of free Cross-country ski trails, walking and snowshoeing trails.

It also has a Bun J Ride as the adventurous go off a 28 metre ramp either on skis, a sledge, a bike or just running. They are held by two elastic cords attached to a harness.

Easy Access

Easy Access

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Access

35 minutes and 32 km from Annecy The town has an airport, Annecy-Meythet and railway station.  (TGV Annecy-Paris direct 3 hrs 30 mins). There is a bus  station located in the train station.

By road it is  50 minutes and 50 km from Geneva, 1 hour and 80 km from Mont-Blanc and 1 hour 30 minutes and 150 km from Lyon.

Winter wonderland

Winter wonderland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIARY OF WINTER EVENTS:

World Cup Biathlon, 12th – 18th December

The emotion of the first stage of World Cup Biathlon ever held in France. The 220 top athletes gather for a competition in the heart of the village, the new international «Sylvie Becaert» stadium in Le Grand Bornand.

The 14th Father Christmas Festival, 22th – 31st  December

A festival week of free events to discover the magic of Christmas – with shows, concerts, and entertainment for the whole family in the village square in La Clusaz.

The 2nd La Clusaz Radikal Mountain, 14th – 15th January

Season opening freeride international qualification stage of the Freeride World Tour, La Clusaz Radikal Mountain invites 120 of the best freeriders on the world circuit, on behalf of Seb Michaud, sponsor of the event.

The Full Moon, 20th January

A celebration under moonlight: night skiing, walks, concerts, festive dinners in the mountain restaurants and resort bars,  an evening lit perspective of La Clusaz.

Weekend SnowparKGB, 28th & 29th January

The Maroly snow park in Grand Bornand explodes with a two-day event dedicated to pro and amateur freestyle. Saturday night, a superb atmosphere is ensured by the KGB Night Session, the popular freestyle show.

Huskies: Final Challenge, Rhone-Alpes, 28th & 29th January

A race weekend in Manigod: 60 teams of 4, 6 and 8 dogs competing for a dramatic finish. Demonstration of competitive ski joëring, with cross-country skiers towed by a dog.

La Bornandine Cross-country ski race, 5th February

400 participants compete in the freestyle skate, half marathon or marathon at the foot of the Aravis. A legendary meeting of the elite top-level cross-country skiers in the friendly atmosphere of Grand Bornand.

TSF Millet,ski mountaineering race; 11th & 12th February

The second largest French event after the Pierra Menta Tivoly. 350 of the best Italian, Swiss and French runners face La Tournette (Saturday) and Le Charvin

Trail of the White Eagle, 10th March

12 km and a 520 metre ascent: an unusual running race on a snow dam. A unique and magical opportunity to experience running combined with the night time discovery of the mountains of Manigod.

The 31st Snow Masters, 11th March

Snowshoe hike open to all, Europe Cup Final. A magnificent course on the Plateau de Beauregard with views of Mont Blanc, a fantastic atmosphere for more than 800 participants amidst the beauty of Manigod.

Glisse en Coeur, 24 hours of non-stop skiing, 24th & 25th March

Athletes, artists, journalists, companies, associations and individuals compete in teams for 24 hours of skiing and boarding for the charity «Vaincre les Maladies Lysosomales.» Challenges, concerts, and sports stars all in Grand Bornand!

Saint-Jean de Sixt goes green, 1st – 7th April

A week of education surrounding sustainable development and ecotourism: specialist producers, meetings, conferences and exhibitions. The end of winter celebrated with an organic approach.

French Snowboard Championships, 5th – 8th April

The best junior and senior French snowboarders compete in La Clusaz in the four disciplines: Boardercross, Slopestyle, parallel giant slalom and halfpipe. Competitors Including La Clusaz own Mirabelle Thovex and Nicolas Palladio.

The 25th Foly Challenge, 28th & 29th April

Unidentified Sliding Objects of La Clusaz; an incredible test as 150 intrepid competitors throw themselves down a snowy slope in an attempt to cross Lake Confins on anything that slides but does not float !

For the spirit of the mountains

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •