Loveskiing’s Flaine Review
Located high in the Haute Savoie alpine region of France, Flaine is the main resort of the Grand Massif ski area. Flaine opened in 1968 and was the brainchild of Eric Boissonnas and Marcel Breuer. The latter was a leading exponent of the Bauhaus school of design and the resort reflects heavily on this modern art theme (definitely not to everyones taste). The resort is divided into two centres connected by free lifts: Flaine Forum is the busier and lower at 1600m whilst the higher Flaine Foret is located at just above 1700m. During the 1980s a Scandanavian style village, Hameau de Flaine, consisting of 70 traditional chalets, was added 2km from the centre at 1800m. Today, the 1960s/70s concept of mass market value ski resorts in France has somewhat faded in favour of a more traditional approach and so Flaine has a somewhat love/hate following (that’s right, FLAINE IS SKIING MARMITE). Some see the concrete blocks as monstrosities, some as modern art. Read on to find out what we think about the resort and ski area…
The Grand Massif ski domain links Flaine to the villages of Sixt, Samoëns, Morillon and Les Carroz to create a pretty vast region totaling over 265km of pistes. Flaine is a huge ‘snow sure’ bowl encompassing 140km of slopes with there being: 7 green, 19 blue, 22 red and 4 black pistes. What distinguishes Flaine from other resorts is its unrivalled view of Mont Blanc which is accessible by a cable car allowing all to marvel. Check out the picture below to see for yourself. After admiring the second-to-none view from up here, we found there was a delightful array of reds to wind your way down, all with the names of various devils. Our favourite was over on the far right (imagine looking down towards Flaine from the top station), a beautiful, rolling red that undulates its way down the snowbowl, incorporating a natural halfpipe to add to the fun. We recommend jumping off the side of the run as the run starts to flatten out and making the most of this safe off-piste, while spinning your way down the halfpipe.
View of Mont Blanc from the top of Les Grandes Platieres © James Cox Productions
1) The proximity of Mont Blanc, turns Flaine into a snow filled Winter wonderland.
2) The sheer size of Flaine’s ski area – its 265km of pistes nearly matching that of Espace Killy.
3) Plenty of off-piste opportunities – great natural snowbowl for those who haven’t tried off-piste before.
4) Short transfer from Geneva – just over an hour
5) The town is located in the middle of the piste offering excellent ski-in ski-out opportunities.
6) A lot of recent investment into high speed lifts.
1) Après-ski scene is lacking
2) The architecture is like marmite, concrete theme a far cry from the picturesque mountain village.
3) Not brilliant for advanced skiers – on-piste runs aren’t overly tricky
Loveskiing’s special Flaine report – coming early 2013
To keep this clear and concise we’re going to answer a couple of simple questions:
Was it as we expected? We went to Flaine expecting two things: not to like the architecture but, equally, not to care about that one ounce thanks to the sumptious snow bowl and expansive area. This turned out to be exactly the case. Flaine is a fantastic place to go to ski, with some wonderful, long reds as well as access to a large ski area with a bit for everyone.
Who does it suit?
1) Families – a safe environment for the kids to do all their haring and tearing around on fun off-piste while the parents meander down the piste.
2) Those on a tight budget – we find you can ski here for a decent price all included. Search around and you’ll find a good deal.
3) Ice drivers – Flaine has a legendary ice-driving school. Even for those who’ve never done it, it’s well worth a go. Insane amounts of fun and not something you get to do everyday.
Therefore not ideal for:
1) Party goers - if you’re looking for top-notch après-ski, we’re afraid you won’t find it here.
2) Those who like traditional, picturesque mountain villages – if you want that, go to Samoëns. Enough said.
3) Freestylers – no big parks on offer. Once again, enough said.
1) Families – see above
2) Intermediates – it’s a big ski area with endless delicious reds…intermediate heaven, in fact.
How does it compare to the rest of the Alps?
Hasn’t got the height of a lot of the resort in the Alps, BUT if snow conditions are good and freezing levels are low, then you’ll be hard pushed to find a more enjoyable day’s skiing. Once again though, we come back to the archticture and après-ski, both of which are lacking here, which makes us prefer the likes of St Anton or Val Thorens.
Were there queues?
Although the lift system is, on the whole, very efficient and recently upgraded. There is one problem: the single lift linking Flaine to Samoëns can get very busy at times. Therefore if you’ve taken a trip over to the other half of the Grand Massif for a day, make sure you leave enough time in case there’s a queue…
Click on the piste map to open a high resolution image
Have a look at the Flaine live webcam to check out current conditions!