WEEKEND SKI BREAK: DAY 1
16th March 2018 | James Cove, St Jean de Sixt
Last modified on September 10th, 2021
They are growing in popularity as some people don’t have time for a full week or want to squeeze a bonus trip in. PlanetSKI is with Skiweekender. UPDATED
FRIDAY 16TH MARCH,
You may have heard of La Clusaz in France near Annecy, but you’re probably not familiar with the village of St Jean de Sixt or the ski resort of Le Grand Bornand.
St Jean de Sixt is the base for Skiweekender that offers Thursday to Monday and Monday to Thursday breaks.
I rolled in late last night (Thursday) and will be skiing Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz, Manigod and then nipping round to nearby St Gervais and Megeve for good measure.
On the plan is night skiing, sampling the off piste of La Clusaz (snow is forecast for the weekend), some chilling out and just whatever takes my fancy.
It may be a relaxing affair and I’ll come back relaxed and re-charged or a weekend of high action and adrenelin with my eyes barely able to stay open on Monday evening.
The area sits above Annecy and is under an hour from Geneva airport.
It’s very much a traditional French ski area and not heavily populated by masses of British skiers.
I will be updating this blog as I go along today, so do check back to see if a short-break in this part of the Alps might be for you…..
I started in Le Grand Bornand.
It’s an area I haven’t skied in for a few years and one where time goes at a slower pace.
The outfits are, er, retro.
And the prices refreshingly old-fashioned too.
€1.90 for a coffee.
It has some challenging off piste skiing under Mont Lachat, 2,100m:
But also boasts the longest covered magic carpet in the Alps.
Later today I shall be skiing the former, but will proably give the latter a miss.
Well, well, well…what a morning.
Le Grand Bornand may have the longest covered magic carpet in the Alps, but it also has some superb and challenging skiing.
And a huge variety of terrain.
First the skiing.
The freeride area off Mont Lachat mentioned earlier: TICK.
Next up La Noire du Lachat: TICK.
This is the view from the bottom.
And here it is at the top – steep enough:
The descent was fabulous – sadly not light dry powder as it is warm today, but powder nonetheless after an overnight snowfall.
For a ski resort that starts at 1,000m and goes up to 2,100m Le Grand Bornand punches above its weight.
And then there is the variety of terrain.
“Something for everyone,” is a rather over-used phrase, but in this instance it is an accurate description of the resort.
Any standard of skier or snowboarder will find what they want and that is a requirement for a short-break weekend resort.
“People tend to come here to Le Grand Bornand on their first day as it is an easy resort to find your ski legs and get around. Mixed groups can ski different runs in the same area and not get bored,” said Paul Turnbull from Skiweekender.
“Beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers can all find the terrain they want.”
We will be hearing more from Paul later – about the resort, the ski areas and the whole concept and development of Skiweekender.
As I look at the resort’s slopes from the lunch terrace I could only agree with him about Le Grand Bornand.
Do check back to what happens this afternoon…
And in case you are wondering about the snow in the resort this winter… there’s been a bit:
And so the afternoon:
I couldn’t resists another run down the freeride terrain after lunch.
And then it was into the area off the back, to the Tete des Annes.
I might as well have gone to a different resort.
An old chairlift glided through the trees and time seemed to slip away.
The views at the top were simply stunning.
The runs back were the gentlest of blues – so just a cruise.
A perfect area for the afternoon after hitting the steeps earlier in the day.
Now I am always asked what my favourite resort is (it’s Zermatt in Switzerland by the way), but a more interesting question is “What is your favourite type of resort?”
And my answer is simple.
“One that has a limited amount of terrain but unlimited variety.”
I am not a fan of the mega-resorts with 500+ km of slopes – one spends the whole time skiing to somewhere else and not enjoying the moment or working to get the most out of the slopes available.
Here’s what I like in a resort:
Cruisy blues, long reds and challenging blacks.
I want steep sections and undulating slopes you can play with.
Mogul fields and freeride terrain.
Cliffs and couloirs, plus some trees.
A decent mountain restaurant.
A long run down to the village at the end of the day to goof off and look back on the day.
I am too old to be a park rat, but it’s good to see peope in them having a blast.
As I stood at the very summit of Le Grand Bornand for my final run and looked around I decided that all boxes have been ticked.
Get here quickly is my advice.
It’s a stunner.
Oh, and the views aren’t bad too.
And a resort with the longest covered magic carpet in the world should surley not be sniffed at…
And I thought my skiing for the day ended earlier.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Le Grand Bornand – Key Facts:
· 90 km of excellent, varied skiing & snowboarding (220km on Aravis lift pass)
· Just 1 hour airport transfer from Geneva
· Ski area covering 1000 – 2100m altitude
· Laid back, traditional atmosphere
• Great value mountain restaurants
See here for further details about Skiweekender.
4 day Weekends run from Thursday to Monday evening and 3 day Midweeks from Monday to Thursday evening.
Prices start from £459pp for 4-day weekends and £299pp for 3-day midweeks.
And, new for this year, the company is also offering two short breaks rolled into one.
We wrote about it earlier on PlanetSKI:
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.
For the Spirit of the Mountains – PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news