Five resorts linked by 265km of skiing with 133 downhill slopes served by 78 lifts. The resorts of Samoens, Flaine, Morillon, Les Carroz and Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval range in altitude between 800m - 2500m and have been described as one of the five largest ski areas in France.
The region was visited January by "Skiing-the-Alps" reporter,Paul Smith, who was extremely impressed by the extent of the runs, the well groomed pistes and the provision of good uphill transport which meant no queuing. Of the 133 downhill pistes, 15 are black; 48 red; 56 blue and there are 14 green runs for beginners.
Paul took a flight from Luton to Geneva (one hour, 15) and there was a transfer of just 45 minutes to the base station of Samoens and his hotel. You can also fly into Lyon airport which has a two-hour transfer time. A new Grand Massif Express cable car system whisks 2800 persons an hour in new 8-seat gondolas so the following morning Paul was on the slopes bright and early and enjoying the "circus" which links the other resorts of Morillon, Les Carroz d'Araches, Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval and Flaine.
A staggering 26 per cent of all visitors to the Grand Massif come from the UK so quite a few skiers have already discovered this "jewel within an arm's reach of the UK!" The scenery is breathtaking as it is within sight of the towering and majestic Mont Blanc Mountain. The company responsible for the development of the Grand Massif group of resorts have invested 47 million euros in providing modern transport, snow-making and piste-grooming equipment.
Probably the best known of the resorts within the group is Flaine (opened in l961). Located at an altitude of 1600m and situated in a natural bowl which gets it's fair share of both snow and sunshine, Flaine offers tremendous opportunities for beginners and experts alike. It is a "ski-in, ski-out" resort and no cars are allowed in the resort centre - only pedestrians. The slopes are wide and open and have been described as an "ocean" with the Desert de Plate summit. There is the famous La Piste des Cascades (2500m - 800m) and offers a downhill run of no less than 14km in length to the foot of the Sixt Fer a Cheval waterfall at 1700m.
The resort of Flaine is a mixture of old and new. Scandinavian-style chalets overlooking the resort to large apartment constructions within the centre of the village.
The village of Samoens is the only resort classified "Pays d'Art et d'Histoire" and has managed to preserve itself and avoid large tourist projects. It does enjoy the new 8-seat gondola link "Grand Massif Express" to take skiers up to 1600m.
On the other hand the village of Morillon located on the Plateau des Esserts(1100m) combines traditional houses and new chalet-type residences close to the lifts. It isd a good location for families as it has a day nursery (Children's Village)as well as gentle slopes for beginnerts and links to the more extensive and challenging slopes which link across to les Carroz and upwards to Flaine.
The the region's lifts, there is 1 cable car and 5 gondolas; 28 chair lifts; 38 drag lifts and 6 other lifts of varying types, mainly for beginners. There is usually no shortage of the real "white stuff" but to ensure a top-up is always available, there are 171 snow cannons
Throughout the Grand Massif area there are excellent mountain restaurants, shops and plenty of apres ski activities such as snow-shoe walking, cross country skiing and husky dog trekking. The choice of accommodation is also excellent. From three and four star hotels (some with indoor swimming pools) to chalet and apartment accommodation. There are a number of UK tour operators offering the Grand Massif region in their brochures and for those who would rather drive than fly, the journey from Calais on the French autoroute network is no more than nine hours. There is also the TGV train which can be taken from Paris via the Eurostar service from London and Ashford (Kent).
We have teamed up with PV Holidays, leading supplier of French Skiing accommodation to offer a Christmas offer of one night free with every booking.