Skiing Annecy Mountains

1st February 2018, by Dave Watts

Editor Gill plucks up courage to tackle the rock hard snow

Editor Gill plucks up courage to tackle the rock hard snow

On Tuesday and Wednesday Chris and Dave set out on the first leg of a tour of French resorts to research the forthcoming new book on Where to Ski in France, due out in autumn 2018. Their first stop was La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand, neighbouring resorts with separate ski areas now marketed together under the new brand ‘Annecy Mountains’.

La Clusaz (pictured) and Le Grand Bornand are pretty and unspoiled mountain villages

They are among the nearest resorts from Geneva airport (less than 90 minutes and only 40 minutes from the beautiful lakeside town of Annecy). And both resorts have a rural French feel to them and are unspoilt and charming compared with most of the bigger name resorts.

Their main drawbacks are relatively low altitude, with very little skiing above 2000m, and very few fast chairlifts.

But we still had an enjoyable two days exploring both areas comprehensively. There was plenty of snow but obviously, high temperatures and rain after the snow has affected conditions.

Rain and warm weather had resulted in amazing rivulets in the snow off-piste

Most pistes were hard, with very little loose snow to be found. There was lots of avalanche debris to be seen – some of which had obviously gone across pistes. And rivulets of rain were clearly visible in the off-piste snow.

The piste patrol had done a great job of keeping the pistes safe from avalanches

But the piste patrol and grooming gang had done a great job of making the pistes safe and the skiing enjoyable.

Each resort has a good range of terrain for beginners and intermediates. In particular, the beginner area at the top of Beauregard in La Clusaz is excellent with easy cruising runs to move on to. And there were plenty of easy blue runs and genuinely tough reds.

The pisteurs also did a great job of keeping the terrain parks and jumps in tip-top condition.

The Grand Bornand terrain park is huge and very well kept. Sadly we missed the photo of Editor Gill doing a back flip 360

Our favourite skiing of the two days was in the Balme area of La Clusaz. This has the highest slopes (almost 2500m) and is mainly north facing. So the snow here, though still hard, had a lovely sprinkling of loose powder on top.

Our skiing on the hard pistes was helped by the excellent Dynastar and Salomon piste skis we rented from the local Intersport shop – well tuned and with good edges.

On Thursday we woke to fresh snow and the prospect of deep powder in the next stop on our tour, Notre Dame de Bellecombe in Val d’Arly. Watch this space for a report on that.

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