A quaint old Savoyarde village, which has to be one of the prettiest ski resorts in France. Resort Height: 1100m (3,608ft) Skiing Range: 1100m (4,101ft) – 2600m (8,530ft).
La Clusaz is probably one of the most picturesque ski resorts in the French Alps, sitting in the Aravis valley, just an hour away from Geneva airport. Even at the peak of the season, La Clusaz remains much quieter than some of the well known French resorts such as Meribel or Val d’Isere. It is a small resort which has a distinct traditional French village charm, along with a strong sense of community.
Long before it began life as a ski destination, La Clusaz was primarily a farming village and this is evident from the lack of large modern purpose built ski lodgings within the resort. Instead, you will find traditional village homes, a charming church and village square, along with a great selection of small shops, bars and restaurants. It is one of the few places where it is still possible to buy excellent local produce, such as eggs and cheese, directly from the farmers who still live and work around the village.
La Clusaz caters well for skiers of all ages and abilities with a total of 132km of pistes of various lengths and sizes to choose from. These are spread over 5 peaks (Beauregard, l’Aiguille, Balme, l’Etale and Crioux-Fry / Merdassier) which are all inter-connected together by a network of lift systems.
La Clusaz is superb location for beginners learning to ski. There are a few nursery slopes to begin with around the village, but you will also find some gentle slopes at Cret du Merle which are perfect for novice skiers. As confidence grows, you can head for the new Beauregard gondola which takes you to a lovely sunny plateau and some of the best nursery slopes in the area. From here you can put your new found skills to the test and ski back down to the village on the long and scenic blue run.
The more practiced skier will love the Beauregard area for great blue runs. But for those looking for something more challenging, try the challenging red run ‘Regine Cavagnoud’ at the top of the L’Etale cable car.
Most expert skiers head for the La Balme area which has some of the most challenging ski terrain within La Clusaz – including a great off piste area. For a seriously steep piste, test your nerve on the black piste run, ‘Vraille’. Alternatively, head to the top of the Col du Balme chair lift for views across Mont Blanc, which are absolutely breathtaking on a clear day.
Next door is the L’Aiguille peak which is also well worth a visit for its black runs and great mogul skiing. If you want to venture further afield, then opt for the ‘Aravis’ lift pass which gives you access to a further 88km of skiing at the neighbouring resort of Le Grand Bornand.
Snowboarders of every level will find a part of La Clusaz that will suit their level. Beginners should take the new Beauregard gondola and head for the wide, sunny slopes. Intermediates will prefer La Balme which offers well groomed trails for boarding. But, if you’ve mastered the slopes, test your skills to the max in the terrain park, halfway up L’Aguille. Here you will find all the fun of a half-pipe and a couple of tabletops to perfect those jumps.
Lively bars such as ‘Le Caves du Paccaly’ are great for music and are open late. If it is serious dancing you’re after, then you have to try ‘L’Ecluse’ discotheque which proves popular with all age ranges. You can’t help but be fascinated by the glass dance floor which sits on top of the La Clusaz River! For a more relaxed evening, chill out at the ‘Grenier’ which is a popular hide out for the locals with a big cosy open fireplace.
You will find a great selection of restaurants in La Clusaz, many of which serve traditional French and Savoyard cuisine. You may also like to venture out a little to Les Confins, or take a visit to Le Chalet du Lac which is the oldest farm in the area. This is well worth a trip if you are looking for a rustic setting serving great home cooked food from the region.
If you are lucky enough to be staying in La Clusaz at the time of a full moon, then you cannot miss the ‘Moonlight Ski’ which is a big event in the village – starting at 9pm. There is a heated outdoor/indoor swimming pool in La Clusaz if you fancy a swim and there is also an ice rink which is open daily. For those in need of some retail therapy, there is a market every Monday morning in the Place de l’Eglise.
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