Ski France: is Samoëns the country’s best resort?

We rented a self-catering chalet we found on the internet. Sleeping 16, it had
a hot tub, a sauna and even a private cinema and at £2,960 was a quarter of
the price it would have been in one of the better-known French resorts.

Samoëns works well as a resort, though the one-way system tends to clog up at
rush hour. The morning ski bus stops at 9.15am, so for the late starters it
was a 20-minute walk to the telecabin, though we discovered we could leave
our skis and boots in lockers at the top of the cable car. Peak-season
queues looked worse than they were, and the longest we waited was 20 minutes
at the Grand Massif Express telecabin.For those with cars a short cut can be
taken by parking up at Samoëns 1600, with swifter access to the mountain.

The only drawback to the village is that you can’t ski directly back to it
(you take the telecabin down), though you can ski to the next village,
Morillon, and catch the ski bus back to Samoëns, which takes 10 minutes.

The longest run is the 14km Les Cascades (blue) from Grandes Platières
(2,480m) to Sixt via the lovely Lac de Gers refuge. For the beginner and
intermediate the skiing is ideal, and there’s more than enough to satisfy
the expert, including the Gers bowl, with an 800m-drop of untracked skiing.
The fickle weather kept us on our toes: sun, blizzard and rain, but despite
the last, the piste held up well. Lunch was not only very welcome, in biting
sleet, but a revelation: it was such good value that we sometimes struggled
to spend more than €10 a head.

Samoëns enchanted us. At last, I think I’ve found my pet resort.

GETTING THERE

Easyjet (08712 882236; easyjet.com) has
flights to Geneva from £27 one way; British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com)
from £47; and Swiss (0845 601 0956; swiss.com)
from £49. Holiday Autos (0871 472 5229; holidayautos.co.uk) offers seven
days’ car hire from £190. Various companies offer shared or private
transfers, including Powder Cab (powdercab.com) from around £45 return and
Mountain Drop-Offs (mountain dropoffs.com) from around £48 return.

PACKAGES

Erna low (0845 863 0525;
ernalow.co.uk
) offers seven nights’ self-catering at the four-star La
Reine des Près apartments from £167 per person, based on eight sharing, and
at the three-star Les Fermes de Samoëns from £89, based on eight sharing,
including Eurotunnel. J2ski (0033 141 129797; J2ski.com)
offers a week’s half board at the three-star Hôtel Les Glaciers from £825,
including flights.

RESORT COSTS

A six-day Grand Massif ski pass costs €210 (£174). A week’s ski/boot hire is
from €72 (£59) per person at Skiset (skiset.com).
There are three ski schools: Zig Zag Ski (0033 631 204410; zigzagski.com)
offers private lessons from €46 (£38) for one hour; and from €330 (£274) for
a day off-piste.

THE BEST PLACES TO STAY

Chalet Résidence La Renardière £

Thirty-five stylish apartments for two to six people, offering a breakfast
service, a spa and laundry (0033 450 344562; renardiere.com;
seven nights from €510/£423, based on two sharing).

Hôtel Les Gai Soleil £

A centrally situated, modest three-star family-run hotel with a small spa.
Packed lunches on request (450 344074; augaisoleil-hotel-restaurant.com;
seven nights’ half board from €483/ £401 per person).

Hôtel Le Morillon ££

Well situated, close to the cable car, and comfortable, with spa and an indoor
pool (450 344072; hotellemorillon.com;
seven nights’ half board from €665/ £552 per person).

Chalet des Collines £££

Built two years ago and sleeps 16. Five minutes by car to the lift or 15
minutes in the ski bus. Chalet manager delivers bread and croissants every
day (included in the price). If you don’t want to self-cater, Mountain
Kitchen (647 320881; mountain-kitchen.com)
will deliver ready-cooked meals (chaletdescollines.com;
from £2,960 per week).

THE BEST RESTAURANTS

Le Monde à l’Envers, Samoëns ££

Close to the main square, this popular restaurant produces creative Savoyard
food. Book, especially at weekends, as tables are much in demand (450
341936).

L’Beu, Morillon £

Just above the bottom of Sairon chairlift; a tiny, rustic restaurant with a
handful of tables. Crêpes are a speciality, along with fondue and local
génépi (450 901789).

L’Igloo, Morillon £

At the top of Bergin chairlift; no reservations. Big sunny terrace, cosy log
fire and good-value food.

Gîte du Lac de Gers, Samoëns £

Halfway down the Cascades piste and only open when snow conditions are good.
Essential to book: phone from the piste to be towed up. Overnight stays
possible (450 895514).

Le Michet, Flaine ££

Next to the Grandes Platières telecabin in Flaine. A smart restaurant with
excellent food; it gets busy so it’s essential to book (450 908008).

WHAT TO AVOID

Getting stuck in Morillon. Ski buses are erratic outside peak times. It’s only
five minutes by taxi (€10/£8), but finding one can be tricky.

If you’re determined to get the bus, avoid getting the wrong one. Routes are
colour-coded and yellow and orange can be easily confused.

Some restaurants don’t take reservations so if you are a large party choose a
restaurant where you can book.

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