Long transfers to ski resorts are one of the biggest downers on a ski holiday, so if you’re flying into, or staying in Geneva, what is there in the way of choice for resorts close by? Canada is the dream destination for outdoor-lovers, especially skiers and snowboarders so I decided to get a ski Canada deals with the entire family coming in for vacation.
I’ve compiled a list of the 21 resorts within an hour’s drive from Geneva, and given a quick summary of what each of them is like.
A small-ish resort with 22 pistes, not much to offer experts, but a great place for beginners, with 10 lifts to take in and an absence of anything too steep or scary.
Les Habères -40mins
Only 7 lifts, but an impressive 640m of vertical makes for some long runs in this protected area. Linked to Bellevaux-Hirmentaz.
Mont Saxonnex -40mins
Easily accesible, with 500m vertical, mont saxonnex sits above the Vallee de l’Arve and offers great views of the mountains stretching off. Good ski de fond here too.
In the middle of la Dole & the Jura Park, in Switzerland, Saint Cergue is an old town with a vareid ski area. 20kms of slopes and a vertical of 450m. You can get a free shuttle bus from La Cure train station.
Les Carroz -45mins
Part of the huge grand Massif ski area, with a nice village centre, Les Carroz has a bit of life to its apres ski, but is a fairly relaxed place, great for families.
Praz de Lys & Sommand -45mins
Very pretty, very traditional, and with an area of 60kms of pistes, and 22 lifts, thiere is also a decent amount of tougher terrain here, and a snow park.
Les Brasses -46mins
A large vertical of 700m, and 50kms of pistes, plus views of Mont Blanc, a snow park and a dedicated beginners slope. Les Brasses is a good all round choice, with snow cannons for snow coverage.
Saint Jean de Sixt -48 mins
A tiny little ski area in a tiny little village, you have 2 lifts, and 60m of vertical. A good place for your first few days on snow, but not much more.
A snowpark, 25kms of pistes, a beginners area and a real family feel. Plus cross country trails, 15 lifts, linked to Les Haberes
Le Grand Bornand -50mins
Near the beautiful old town of Annecy, you have 90kms of pistes, part of Les Aravis sk area. Most suited to beginners, and with 36 miles of cross country trails.
Les Houches -52mins
At the end of the Chamonix Valley, and on the Chamonix ski pass, but a full resort in its own right, Les Houches is a mainly tree-lined area with a good park and the famous Kandahar World cup run. Can get busy in holidays, but a large area and some nice restaurants.
Part of the huge Avasion Mont Blanc, but not linked by pistes to St Gervais or Megeve, Combloux is fantastic for beginners, with good chair lifts and well looked after slopes, plus some stunning views and south facing sunny slopes.
La Clusaz -53mins
Part of the Aravis ski area, 130kms of slopes and a good snow record, plus some serious off piste off the many cols of the range. Rustic charm and unspoilt, but prices are a bit high because of the traffic from nearby Annecy.
St Gervais -53mins
A very french mountain village with a huge ski area, 450kms of pistes on the ski pass, and very limited lift queues, a great resort for improving beginners and intermediate skiers, with enough exoert terrain if you know where to look.
Les Rousses -55mins
Part of the Jura Massif, over the French and Swiss border, Les Rousses is a good cheap option. A low altitude is counter-balanced by the north facing aspect, so snow stays good for longer.
In the Jura mountains, at 1000m, Giron is idyllic and has a surprisingly large area, with 80kms of pistes.
The home of extreme skiing, CHamonix is not for beginners, but with the aguille de midi at 3842m, it has the largest vertical you’ll find, and endless off-piste opportunities, but you need to know what you’re doing to get the most out of it.
Links with Les Carroz, Samoens is part of the huge Grand Massif, and suited to beginners and intermediates primary, though Flaine – on the same pass, has some high octane terrain.
50kms of pistes, panoramic Mont Blanc views, with an authentic feel and a good choice for families.
Les Gets -1hr
Pretty, with plenty of choice for accommodation, and linked to the vast Portes du Soleil, Les Gets can suffer from lack of snow with its low altitude and Southern aspect.
Not much interest for experts, but a good 26 pistes, 17 lifts, and 20kms of cross country trails. Part of the Aravis ski area.
Chic and expensive, Megeve is part of the Evasion Mont Blanc, and caters for the old-money rich. The Village is beautiful, and the cobbled pedestrianised village centre is suited to the very french style of wandering around, but not so great in ski boots.
So which suits you? That depends on what you’re after. Here are my choices for 7 different categories.
Closest to Geneva:
=2. Les Habères
=2. Mont Saxonnex
Biggest ski area:
1. Les Gets
2. St Gervais/ Megeve
2. La Clusaz
Best snow record:
2. La Clusaz
Best for beginners:
Best for intermediates:
1. St Gervais
2. Les Carroz/Samoens
Best for experts:
2. Praz de Lys & Sommand
There you go, the 21 resorts within a hours drive from Geneva. I hope I’ve managed to help you find the best resort for you.
Jamie Forrest is a private transfer driver, specialising in routes from Geneva to Megeve [http://genevatomegeve.com], and also offering services to surrounding resorts. Transfers are the cheapest in the Chamonix Valley, and Jamie is insured and licensed in both France and Switzerland. Visit [http://genevatomegeve.com] for more information.
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