A guide to the Massif des Aravis
The Massif des Aravis in Haute-Savoie is a ski area close to Annecy which includes the villages of La Clusaz, Le Grand-Bornand, Manigod, and Saint-Jean-de-Sixt with a combined 133 slopes and 211km of pistes. Each has its own ski area, and they are connected where necessary by shuttle bus, notably between Le Grand-Bornand and La Clusaz. The Aravis ski pass allows access to the entire domain. This is a stunning region, with green mountain pastures and traditional chalets dominated by the Chaine des Aravis, and superbly convenient for visitors from Annecy, or an easy journey from Geneva. Picturesque La Clusaz has all the charm and heritage you would expect from a traditional mountain village. Le Grand-Bornand is smaller, and equally charming. Saint-Jean-de-Sixt is an authentic alpine village with roots in the middle ages. The valley is well known for its Reblochon production, indeed Le Grand-Bornand was the first production area for this famous cheese, and La Clusez has even re-named the popular 2.5km long Envers blue slope as the Reblochon Run. The entire ski area is truly family friendly and known as a great place for beginners to start and an ideal resort for confidence building beginners and families.
Property for sale in the Massif des Aravis
Property for sale in the villages of La Clusaz, Le Grand-Bornand, and Saint-Jean-de-Sixt is varied, with a wide choice for all budgets. 1 bedroom apartments start at around €100,000, large chalets can exceed €2m. Older farmhouses to restore or already renovated are also available, however they may not be so close to the slopes. Proximity to the pistes, as always, adds value. The easy access from Annecy and Geneva has made the area popular for second home buyers. New developments in Le Grand-Bornand and Saint-Jean-de-Sixt are launching for sale off-plan, in good locations and with options for VAT rebates if rented out.
Massif des Aravis ski area
The 211km of pistes up to 2600m altitude are connected by a shuttle bus service between La Clusaz and Grand-Bornand, with a stop at Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, running every 30 minutes. The Massif des Aravis ski area has a total of 77 lifts and 133 slopes and most skiers here will find what they are looking for with 12 black runs, 46 are red, 43 blue, and 33 are green. Each village has its own beginner area as well. A few black runs have access to extensive off-piste areas. The popular Dénivel’Maxx run above Grand-Bornand is a 3km descent from the summit of Mont Lachat. The snowpark here is ranked among the top 10 in France, with a boardercross, and 4 jump lines. La Clusaz itself has 125 km of slopes and has hosted the Telemark World Championships and the Freestyle World Championships. The LCZ Family Run is the ideal facility for some family fun and future Freestylers to learn. Highly recommended is the Passerelle de Balme, a glass viewing platform at the top of the Col de Balme lift suspended over a several hundred metre drop and with views right over to Mont-Blanc. The area is known for its own micro-climate with the weather systems often caught by the Aravis mountain chain, this means good snow conditions backed-up by extensive snow cannon coverage.
The Massif des Aravis also offers extensive Cross-Country skiing with early 173 km of slopes and 48 trails spread over 5 sectors of the Aravis Massif resorts
Finally, it is worth mentioning ski joëring, which is available here - a rare opportunity to be pulled along on your skis by a horse!
Eating out and après-ski in Massif des Aravis
Apres-ski in most family-friendly resorts tends to be quieter and here is no exception. Nevertheless there are some 36 bars in the area. In Grand Bornand Les Deux Guides has a typical pub atmosphere, and Le Thovet has a good selection of wines. La Floria Cafe Givre is a snack-bar-pub which hosts torchlight descents and karaoke in the evening. Globe in the main village shows sports events on a big-screen TV. The Green Monkey is the inevitable Irish Pub up at Chinaillon. La Clusaz is surprisingly lively - the Relais de l’Aiguille up on the mountain is popular. In the village the rustic ‘Caves du Paccaly’ has a nice terrace and the Pressoir bar stocks around 100 different beers. Later on, L’Ecluse, is a nightclub famed for having a glass dancefloor above one of the mountain streams.
The Massif des Aravis area has a large variety of great authentic restaurants to enjoy both in the village and on the mountains. Top rated restaurants in La Clusaz include La Ferme, recognised as the most authentic; Le Chalet du Lac is a well-kept secret, La Scierie is the place to be seen and Le Chalet des Rhodos the most elegant in the village.
Other apres-ski options, or for non-skiers, include night sledging, bowling, a cinema, dog sledding, snowshoe walking, and ice skating in the large indoor rink. The La Clusaz Aqua park is an ideal place to relax or stay fit with a 25m outdoor pool, an interior pool, a waterfall, jacuzzi as well as a sauna, steam room and fitness suite. If you can’t stay away from the slopes, La Clusaz is renowned for its Full Moon ski events, where the slopes stay open till 1am once a week.
Summer in Massif des Aravis
When the snow has melted and the sun comes out, a huge range of summer pleasures await visitors to the Massif des Aravis. There are 3 water-park complexes in the region with outdoor pools and countless activities for all the family, or you can swim in the Lac des Confins. Hikers are well rewarded, the whole of the Aravis massif boasts an impressive range of hiking trails, from short family-friendly strolls to more advanced treks over several days to stay in the numerous refuges in the region.
Several of the lifts are open, so Mountain bikers can access the extensive signposted trails here, 16 circuits and 178 km of marked trails with different routes available for all levels up to 2000m altitude, with a mix of cross-country, downhill, and trail. Maps and guidebooks are available at the Tourist Office, bikes and equipment can be hired and in local shops in the villages.
Climbing and Via Ferrata are activities the Aravis mountain range is well known for. One of the most well-known is the "Rocher des Aravis" located on the road to the Col des Aravis. There 130 routes for all levels. The “Yves Pollet Villard” Via Ferrata stretches over 700m along spectacular cliffs between 1500m and 1800m altitude.
Both Le Grand-Bornand and La Clusaz have golf courses, of 9 and 12 holes respectively
Or a trip to Annecy, just 30km distant, is worth the journey. Known as the Venice of the Alps, it is full of history and culture, the lake is fabulous for a swim.
Other Destinations in the French Alps:
Alpe d'Huez, Chamonix, Courchevel, Courchevel La Tania, Courchevel Le Praz, Courchevel Moriond, Courchevel Village, La Toussuire Les Deux Alpes, Les Gets, Les Menuires, Megève, Méribel, Méribel Les Allues, Méribel Village, Méribel-Mottaret, Morzine, Paradiski, Pays du Mont Blanc, Pralognan-la-Vanoise, Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise, St. Martin de Belleville, Tignes, Val d'Isère Val Thorens