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Needing advice for French alps, Haute Savoie / Savoy

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Greetings all,

 

I will be spending January in the Haute Savoie in France, based in Grand Bornand http://www.legrandbornand.com/.  It's a "family resort", so I'm not expecting great excitement in the skiing stakes, but that's OK.  I'm happy to cruise for a month on snow that's almost certainly better than I get here in New Zealand (http://www.mtruapehu.com/).

 

I'm trying to decide whether I should buy a season pass, and it's not easy.  I need to know two things:

(1) how many days I'm likely to be able to ski (i.e. what percentage of closed days is typical)

(2) whether I'm likely to want to do La Clusaz http://www.aravis.com/hiver-winter/winter/massif-and-stations/la-clusaz/1209.html, the other major skifield in the area, which is linked to Grand Bornand by a shuttle

 

Does anyone here have any advice they can share on these two questions?  I'd be really grateful for any info!

 

post #2 of 10

1) no closed days (most likely)

2) yes

 

I spent a week in La Clusaz a few years ago. Yeah, it's more of a family area, but there are some good spots. It's a nice town, too. The cross country skiing is also excellent, if you're in to that.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Many thanks ami.  Wow, no closed days!  (At Ruapehu (http://www.mtruapehu.com/) we count on one-third closed)

 

Quote:

I spent a week in La Clusaz a few years ago. Yeah, it's more of a family area, but there are some good spots. It's a nice town, too. The cross country skiing is also excellent, if you're in to that.

 

Can I just clarify: La Clusaz is a family area, or Le Grand Bornand?  I had heard that La Clusaz had some moderately challenging stuff.

post #4 of 10

I spend a year, not too far away in Les Arcs.  I snowboarded a day down by Queenstown and while I love it down there, the size of the Alps resorts really blows NZ away...you should have a great time!

 

I don't recall any days that the mountain was completely closed (but I didn't ski every day).  HOWEVER, there were certainly some days where the top was closed and/or above tree line visibility was so bad that you wanted to stay low in the trees (or go home if the low stuff had bad snow).

 

Not sure how the math works out on their pass but season passes in the Terrantaise (~hour down the road) have offered a few days at neighboring resorts, but sometimes it is hard to find this info out and can vary depending on the pass type.  If you can get a couple days in 3 Vallees, Paradiski or Espace Killy, I would recommend it just to get a taste of the size of some of these places.  I did about 55 days at Les Arcs alone (La Plagne connector was closed) and never got bored.   

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:

I don't recall any days that the mountain was completely closed (but I didn't ski every day).  HOWEVER, there were certainly some days where the top was closed and/or above tree line visibility was so bad that you wanted to stay low in the trees (or go home if the low stuff had bad snow).

 

 

Thanks MEfree30, do you have a feeling for the percentage of days like that?  I'm not looking for exact figures, but any idea would be better than what I have (i.e. none) smile.gif

 

Quote:

Not sure how the math works out on their pass but season passes in the Terrantaise (~hour down the road) have offered a few days at neighboring resorts, but sometimes it is hard to find this info out and can vary depending on the pass type.  If you can get a couple days in 3 Vallees, Paradiski or Espace Killy, I would recommend it just to get a taste of the size of some of these places.  I did about 55 days at Les Arcs alone (La Plagne connector was closed) and never got bored.   

 

Thanks for the advice, I will definitely try doing that!  I will have a car so it's feasible.

 

post #6 of 10

One reason I did 90% of my days at Les Arcs and didn't make it to 3 Vallee for my 2 free days there was that I didn't have a car (and thought I was going to go with a friend who knew the area well until his wife got pregnant and he backed out just a bit before the free days expired).  In any case, if I you have a car, I'd try to get a pass that allows for some free/discounted days elsewhere.

 

Guessing, but I would say 5-10% of the days have severe enough weather with marginal enough conditions that you don't want to be out at all with double that where above tree line is tough to see.  In some ways, want/need some days like this or else it means no new snow (unless you got lucky overnight). As you stated, this varies a lot depending on storm pattern.  For the Jan I was there, there were a couple days like this the first half of the month, then no significant new snow the next 6 weeks.  Overall, conditions were much better in Dec, Jan, March and April and deteriorated in Feb because of the lack of storms.

 

Where you are concentrating may have more of the mountain below tree line and that can make a difference (good and bad depending on conditions).    

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks MEfree30, this is all great info, much appreciated.  Now I can begin to make some decisions smile.gif

post #8 of 10

Very few days where mountain is closed. May get the odd day where some higher lifts are shut due to wind. La Clusaz is lovely but low and suffers with snow cover. If you can hire a car, definitely explore a few other resorts as lots within an hours drive. Not sure about the area you are looking at, but here in Courchevel, Three Valleys, if you buy a season pass you get a couple of days free skiing in nearby resorts. Mind you season pass is over a grand, but its a huge ski area. 

post #9 of 10

I was in Chambery last year as a student and was able to hit up the majority of the big resorts for a fairly low price due to my school's discount (Val d'Isere for 20 euros, Les Arcs for 25, etc.).  Honestly, there aren't many days when the slopes are closed.  One thing that I found about French skiing versus American skiing is that where Americans are cautious due to legality reasons the French are the exact opposite.  One day that sticks out was a day in March where there was ZERO visibility and yet the slopes were open.  Would NEVER happen back in the States.  As far as which resorts you should visit, I've done a lot of the smaller ones because they were close, but my favorite days were at the big resorts.  I would say you should do what some of the others have said and get a pass to one of the bigger resorts (Les Arcs, La Plagne, Meribel, Tignes stick out).  Again, do what others have said and pick a resort with connections to another resort as you'll get more out of it if (ever) you get bored with one resort.  The beauty of the places I've already named, however, is that its very hard to get bored with them.  I skied La Plagne for a week straight (charged hard the entire week ie: open to close) and was STILL not bored of the mountain.  If you have any specific questions let me know!  Enjoy!  I'm jealous I'm back on the East Coast...

post #10 of 10

Hi,

I do agree with MeFree. Les Arcs is huge and you'll find out there all slopes levels. We skied 5 days at Les Arcs(means just Les Arc not  Pradiski)  and  not bored. To be honest, for almost  mountain was impossible run the same piste twice. 

 

Agree either with Dennyn "One day that sticks out was a day in March where there was ZERO visibility and yet the slopes were open."

But, my thoughts is it's due how  fast weather patterns could change. It's quite normal to starts a day with a clear blue sky, couldn't see the the front of your skies about 1pm and be able to enjoy a wonderful sunset. I can remember one day my son and myself just get into a big cloud at the top of Col de la Chal, where we couldn't see nothing around, a little scare situation. But, one hour later the sky came open again.

 

Eduardo

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