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How to ski Geneva: Are day trips possible?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Am either lucky or extremely cursed as I'll be commuting between NYC and Geneva during the winter.  2 weeks in Geneva and 2 weeks in NYC.  So while I'm living and working in GEN I obviously want to take advantage of the location and enjoy the Alps on the weekend.  My concern is this: I'm an east coast skier in the US and am used to doing day trips or quick overnights.   Is this possible in the Alps?  Can I drive to an "local" area, change in a lodge, ski and then depart for home at the end of the day?  Or do I have to stay overnight?  Obviously I'll learn much more from colleagues when I arrive but after some research it's obvious that the structure of the European resorts is vastly different from the resorts located on the east coast as the European resorts are focused around the village.  I also want to ski and not spend the entire day riding a tram network.  Any advice/thoughts about how to day trip from Geneva is welcome, I'll have access to a car, Audi A6 wagon is part of the package, and any "local" area recommendations is welcome. 

post #2 of 19

I spent 4 years at CERN in the mid-to-late nineties. My skiing while I was there was almost exclusively day trips. You can get to Chamonix valley from Geneva in around 75 minutes - I think it was autoroute A40 you need to take, but double check this.

 

My favorite area in the Chamonix Valley is Les Grands Montets, near the town of Argentiere. You need to drive past several areas to get there but it is well worth it in my opinion.


Edited by wgo2 - 9/29/15 at 8:15am
post #3 of 19

Should also mention - Les Grands Montets is well suited to the day-trip model - relatively small (but with more than enough to keep you coming back), small base area where you can change, no extensive tram network.

post #4 of 19

In addition to the Chamonix ski areas, you're also about an hour from Morillon and Samoens, which are part of the Grand Massif area.

 

You could also take a train from Geneva to Les Diablerets, which takes about 2 hours. If you can get to Geneva's central train station easily, then you could do that trip without even having to change clothes (though you might want to wear a backpack so you can bring comfy shoes). You could hop on the 6:03 train, arrive at 8:07, stop in town to buy your lift tickets and grab some coffee, then hop on the first chair.

 

Although to be fair, you might as well book a hotel and ski Saturday and Sunday if you're going to take the train.

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 


Thanks for the insights and for the advice about area selection.  I'm just looking for a ski area where I can park my car, change, and begin to acclimate myself with the Swiss skiing experience and your thoughts are certainly a help.   

 

I know that there have to be ski areas that are good for those living in the surrounding cities but after looking at the geography and expansiveness of the trail maps I was beginning to wonder how these trips would be accomplished. 

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 


Thanks for the cool idea.  That actually sounds like a unique experience and one worth trying. 

post #7 of 19

Verbier is about 2 hours away.

 

Coumayeur, Italy is another great area that is an easy drive for a day trip.  Just head to Chamonix and take the tunnel that cuts through Mont Blanc.  When you get to the other side you are in Italy and the ski area is just a few minutes down the road.

 

Geneva is an expensive city - hope you are on an expense account.

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by wallyk View Post
 

 

 

I know that there have to be ski areas that are good for those living in the surrounding cities but after looking at the geography and expansiveness of the trail maps I was beginning to wonder how these trips would be accomplished. 

 

I think the problem might be that you're viewing the trail maps with the mindset of skiing the entire thing in one day. That's just not possible with any of the big ski areas, because they have too much terrain. Some trail maps might not seem too impressive if you're only looking at the number of trails. But if you check the altitude listings and work out the vertical, you'll realize they're covering 3000' or more, so they're going to keep you occupied for a while.

 

If you're making a plan for a particular area, it helps if you break up the trail map in pieces and resign yourself to the fact that you won't be able to ski the entire thing in a couple of days. For example, if you decide to drive to Morillon or Samoens and ski the Grand Massif area (http://www.skiclub.co.uk/assets/maps/images/largemaps/2368.pdf), you basically have to accept that you probably won't be able to get over to Flaine. There's too much terrain in Samoens, Morillon, and Les Carroz to keep you entertained.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wallyk View Post
 


Thanks for the cool idea.  That actually sounds like a unique experience and one worth trying. 

 

I did a short TR for Les Diablerets (http://www.epicski.com/t/117577/les-diablerets). Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera accessible on the train, but it's a nice journey.

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post
 

Verbier is about 2 hours away.

 

Coumayeur, Italy is another great area that is an easy drive for a day trip.  Just head to Chamonix and take the tunnel that cuts through Mont Blanc.  When you get to the other side you are in Italy and the ski area is just a few minutes down the road.

 

Geneva is an expensive city - hope you are on an expense account.

 

Thanks for the reply and for the advice.  But what makes Coumayeur good for day trips?  Is parking easy (totally an east coast skier) and are there base lodges to change? 

 

Yes, employer has an arrangement to make life "pleasant".  While that's certainly nice, I'm very interested in exploring the area and trying to lean what skiing in the region all about while respecting the local customs and languages.  IMO there is no better way to do this cultural immersion than through skiing??!!

post #10 of 19

Morzine is 70k from Geneva [ allow 75 mins This would be high on my list. I might get shot down on this but I think it is the nearest real ski area to Geneva. I have driven this route MANY years ago and from memory you are on motorway for about half the drive and the rest is a good road. You will drive through the ski village of Les Gets just before Morzine and you can access the Portes du Soleil there too. I have only skied to Les gets so can not say anything about parking there. 

 

Parking in ski season in Morzine can be an issue but there is a large free car park just outside town and there is a free bus to the lifts.

 

Morzine is part of the Portes du Soleil 12 villages/linked ski areas on one pass. You can also stock up with French goodies at French prices before heading back to Switzerland. 

 

I have skied the area many times and loved the variety of routes available so you were never yoyoing on a couple runs all day. Usually stayed in Avoriaz and have happy memories of skiing over to Champery for lunch and return via Les Crosets. [Take your passport.] You are skiing from France to Switzerland and back. 


Edited by TQA - 9/29/15 at 9:50am
post #11 of 19

We took a bus from Chamonix to Courmayer and yes there is parking and places to boot up.  I don't think that will be too much of a problem anywhere you go - Europeans also drive to ski.

post #12 of 19

We have a place in St Nicolas (near St Gervais, attached via lift to the Megeve ski area), and while it's closer to 2 hours than 1 hour from Geneva, my memories are going from Ferney-Voltaire which is are on the far side of Geneva.  There's parking in the village, and from the top of the lift you can ski down the other side of Mt Joly to the larger Megeve area, without taking lifts all over the place first.  I think it's a bit long for a day trip, but certainly very reasonable for a weekend with a Saturday night stay.

 

There are a lot of ski areas within 2 hours of Geneva, if you'll be there for a substantial part of the winter try out a few before settling on one in particular.  I would imagine you'll have work colleagues who may have some preferences.

 

Personally, now that my Mountain Collective pass includes Chamonix I'm trying to figure out an excuse for a trip over, even though the cost of the lift ticket pales beside the transportation cost from San Francisco. :-)

 

Sounds like a fun way to spend the winter, half-time in NYC and half in Geneva, enjoy it.

 

Bob

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post
 

We took a bus from Chamonix to Courmayer and yes there is parking and places to boot up.  I don't think that will be too much of a problem anywhere you go - Europeans also drive to ski.

 

 

"Europeans also drive to ski"  ....great comment.  Clearly I totally forgot about that aspect!!!  Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions. 

post #14 of 19
France you've easy access to Grand Bornand, Grand Massif, Porte's de Soleil, Chamonix and Megeve- St Gervais. CH Leysin, Diablerets and round the corner Verbier, Crans Montana, Val Anniviers etc. You have so much your main problem will be delaying your trips to NYC.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by rpratt View Post
 

We have a place in St Nicolas (near St Gervais, attached via lift to the Megeve ski area), and while it's closer to 2 hours than 1 hour from Geneva, my memories are going from Ferney-Voltaire which is are on the far side of Geneva.  There's parking in the village, and from the top of the lift you can ski down the other side of Mt Joly to the larger Megeve area, without taking lifts all over the place first.  I think it's a bit long for a day trip, but certainly very reasonable for a weekend with a Saturday night stay.

 

There are a lot of ski areas within 2 hours of Geneva, if you'll be there for a substantial part of the winter try out a few before settling on one in particular.  I would imagine you'll have work colleagues who may have some preferences.

 

Personally, now that my Mountain Collective pass includes Chamonix I'm trying to figure out an excuse for a trip over, even though the cost of the lift ticket pales beside the transportation cost from San Francisco. :-)

 

Sounds like a fun way to spend the winter, half-time in NYC and half in Geneva, enjoy it.

 

Bob


Wow,

 

Did not expect to ever see a reference to Ferney-Voltaire. I lived in Gex and would go to Ferney-Voltaire for the famer's market. Ski days would start at a patisserie in St. Genis before hitting the road.

 

Anyway, as others have noted there are many, many areas within 2 hours of Geneva. After the season I would love to get the OP's perspective on which he liked the best.

post #16 of 19

Les Grandes Montets! I spent 5 years in Geneva. After trying different places on the highway between Geneva and Chamonix every weekend for the first year, I went to Les Grandes Montets one weekend and almost went nowhere else for day trips after that. It only has a few lifts, but they open up a huge open mountain with 1.3 mile vertical during peak season. Caution, though. It is mostly advanced runs. It is steep and North facing so keeps its snow longer than anywhere else in the Savoie region. I was still discovering new ways down that mountain in my 5th year. Go off the few marked trails and be adventurous to get the most out of this place. If you want an area where you constantly here other skiers whooping, this is it.

 

In any case, no need to drive to Switzerland. The French areas on the way to Chamonix are closer, cheaper and the skiing is as good, and in the case of Les Grandes Montets, better.

 

Wherever you go, bon ski!

post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wgo2 View Post
 


Wow,

 

Did not expect to ever see a reference to Ferney-Voltaire. I lived in Gex and would go to Ferney-Voltaire for the famer's market. Ski days would start at a patisserie in St. Genis before hitting the road.

 

Anyway, as others have noted there are many, many areas within 2 hours of Geneva. After the season I would love to get the OP's perspective on which he liked the best.

 

I'm open to leaving the forum open and offering some notes/observations of the day trip experience around GEN at the end of the season.  Again thanks for some of the thoughts and suggestions and please keep them coming!!!

post #18 of 19

I'll be very interested to see the TR's too.  I think you have an embarrassment of riches within 2 hour radius of Geneva.  Portes du Soleil, Chamonix and Verbier alone could keep you entertained for multiple seasons.  Portes du Soleil is somewhat low altitude but it has the highest snowfall in France to more than compensate.

post #19 of 19

Bump. Any trips out the Geneva area this season?

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