The small, scenic village of La Clusaz (1100m) offers access to a surprisingly large ski area straddling five mountains. Its 132km of primarily intermediate slopes are set both above and below the treeline (1000-2600m), making it both interesting and varied.
The 132km of ski slopes are particularly well suited to intermediates, but the resort is also fast becoming one of the big names on the freeriding scene.
There’s something to occupy all abilities, from nursery slopes to awesome freeriding (which makes up for the lack of advanced/expert slopes). In fact, La Clusaz is fast becoming one of the big names on the European freeriding scene. Its five interlinked sectors make for wide-ranging skiing with engaging off-piste sections set against the dramatic backdrops of the Massif de Balme and Massif de L’Aiguille.
The ski resort has one of the biggest vertical drops: from the summit of Balme to the village there is more than 1500m of altitude to ski. A shuttle bus service also links La Clusaz to Le Grand Bornand and with a Massif des Aravis ski pass, you can access an impressive 220km of slopes. While La Clusaz still has a few slow, old chairs and drags it is however home to the world’s first Telemix lift, combining chairs and gondolas.
The ski scene has grown up around this traditional mountain village complete with a pretty square and Savoyard church. An outdoor market sells local produce every Monday in La Place de l’Eglise. Busy streets fan out from the square, each lined with tasteful shops, bars and hotels.
Geneva Airport is an hour’s drive, offering a good alternative to Chamonix. The TGV rail station at Annecy is 20 miles.
La Clusaz is often reached by car on the Col de Aravis road which offers amazing scenery but is also prone to rock falls. Don’t leave La Clusaz without tasting the traditional Reblochon cheese. Non-skiing opportunities include winter walks, sledging, an ice-skating rink and an aqua centre with indoor and outdoor heated pools.
La Clusaz doesn’t have a boisterous apres-ski scene, but it does offer good-value rustic restaurants and bars to suit all occasions. For apres-ski drinks head to Le Salto; for live music try Les Caves du Paccaly and Le Grenier; or for a later night hit the L’Ecluse nightlife with glass dance floor over the river.
Most of the accommodation falls into the mid-range bracket, except for the striking five-star Au Coeur du Village hotel next to the Beauregard and Patinoire telecabines. Here you’ll find refined rooms, suites with whirpool baths and balconies, a gastronomic restaurant and a luxurious spa.