Winter in Samoëns
The Grand Massif is one of France's biggest ski areas and has 265km of pistes, offering a variety of terrain for all levels, reliable snow cover and lack of queues. The ski season runs from mid-December until the end of April. Samoëns was formerly linked to the circuit a few miles from the village so a ski bus trip was needed to reach the slopes, but now a gondola, the Grand Massif Express, lifts skiers from the village centre up to a key plateau on the circuit, at 1600m, in just eight minutes.
Besides the huge ski area, the Grand Massif has many additional attractions such as wonderful children's snow gardens, a variety of slopes for beginners and experts alike, jamparks and superb panoramic views at Tete des Saix, Les Grands Vans, Les Grandes Platieres, Les Dents Blanche, Les Aravis, the Jura Range and of course the magnificent Mont Blanc.
The advantage of having five different ski resorts joined together is that there is something for everyone. Flaine is a modern, purpose built resort whereas Samoëns, Morillon and Sixt Fer a Cheval are more traditional towns which offer a variety of off-piste activities.
Samoëns/Grand Massif Ski Facts
- 265km Downhill Piste
- 73 Ski Lifts
- 144 Pistes
- 2500m Highest Lift
- 700m Lowest Piste
- 1800m vertical drop
- 14km Longest Piste
- 14 Black Pistes
- 53 Red Pistes
- 60 Blue Pistes
- 17 Green Pistes
- 218 Snow Cannons
- 3 "Jamparks"
- 5 Linked Resorts
- 4th largest linked area in France
- Open mid-Dec to end April
- 4.85m average snowfall per season
- Great off piste opportunities
Grand Massif Ski Pass
Due to the fact that Samoëns is part of a linked network, there are several options available when purchasing your ski pass.
The most expensive pass covers the whole Grand Massif area whereas the cheaper Massif pass covers all the resorts excluding Flaine. If you are a beginner or early intermediate, then it may save some money to buy a pass covering the smaller area.
It is also possible to buy a rechargeable card and then purchace your daily pass online as needed. This is a good option if you do not intend to visit the slopes every day and can be easily done using the PC in the apartment. Simply visit www.grand-massif.com
The prices for the season are available on the Grand Massif website, here
Insurance is also available as part of the lift tickets and is highly recommended and is not very expensive.
When to Ski?
The first snowfalls are usually in late October and the snow line gradually makes it's way down from the highest peaks. The Grand Massif resorts always open around 1 week before Christmas but may be partially open before this date.
As you might expect, Christmas is a popular time when all ski resorts are busy. Having a good snow record means that the Grand Massif rarely suffers from lack of snow in December but as anywhere, this cannot be guaranteed. In December the days are short and temperatures low but everyone is on the holiday spirit so it's a fun time to be in the Alps.
After the New Year, most ski resorts experience the quietest time of the whole season. Snow conditions are generally very good, lift queues are rare and a when the snow falls it is light and fluffy.
By the middle of February the days are getting longer and the sun a bit stronger. It's also the start of the European school holidays. This is the time when most families tend to visit.
The school holidays end around the middle of March by which time the temperatures are starting to rise on the sunny days. One day can be a blizzard and the next you can be picnicking in the snow and basking in the warm sun.
Easter time is always a popular time for families again because of the school holidays. Often it's warm enough at this time of year to enjoy other non-snow related activities. By the end of April, most of the tourists have finished their ski holidays. The Grand Massif closes near the end of April although Flaine is always open for a week longer. There is nearly always good snow cover at the end of April.
The lifts of the Grand Massif have all closed but there is still plenty of snow around. Why not take a trip to Argentierre, near Chamonix. There, the lifts stay open during the beginning of May and the steep, high altitude slopes are a paradise for expert skiers and boarders.