Skiing in Flaine

Flaine is central to the Grand Massif ski area that also includes Les Carroz d’Araches, Morillon, Samoens and Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval, and has 265km of runs in total. The central Flaine bowl has runs for every standard whilst Les Carroz has mostly gentle tree-lined runs.

Flaine Ski Area Overview

Flaine forms the largest sector of the Grand Massif ski area. Flaine just by itself has five black runs, 22 red runs, 30 blue runs, seven green runs and some specialist areas for beginners so there are runs for every standard in the main bowl

Flaine is also linked with nearby resorts of Les Carroz d’Araches, Samoens, Morillon and Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval, which are known as the Massif sector and boast 145km of runs. With Flaine, the whole area is known as Le Grand Massif and has 265km of runs in total.

The Grand Massif has 14 black runs, 47 red runs, 67 blue runs and 16 green runs. Throughout the ski area, the pistes have numbered markers down each slope to give you a reference to how far you have progressed down the piste at any given time.

Flaine itself is nestled in a huge natural bowl, which provides the majority of the resort’s runs. The bowl sits primarily west facing with aspects looking north and south.

The Grandes Platieres gondola whisks skiers up almost 1,000 metres to the summit of Les Grandes Platieres, from where there are sumptuous 360-degree views of Mont Blanc and the Aravis, Belledonne and Jura mountain ranges. On a good day, you can see Lac Leman and Geneva.

From the top of the Grandes Platieres gondola, there is a whole host of runs that you can take to ski back down to the resort.

Between Les Grandes Platieres and the summit of Tete Des Lindars to the south, numerous red runs come off both peaks. Although these pistes meet up with blues further down, beginners and early intermediates are better served utilising the Serpentine blue off Les Grandes Platieres in the opposite direction. It provides access to several blue runs which feed into the Axinite blue run, the main artery back down into Flaine resort.

If you want to remain high, however, there are four lifts across the bowl, which start from halfway up.

The link with the Grand Massif from Flaine at the resort level is through the Grand Vans chairlift. From the summit of Grand Vans, which stands at 2,204m, there is also a 360 degree view of the area. Grand Vans provides direct ski access to Les Carroz, Morillon 1100, Morillon Village and Samoens 1600.

To access Samoens Village you need to use the Grand Massif Express gondola from Samoens 1600.

To access Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval from Flaine you must take the Grands Platieres gondola and ski the extraordinary 14km Les Cascades blue.

Most of the runs above Les Carroz are in woods so it’s a good place to head to when there is poor visibility. Generally, the slopes here are not as steep as the main Flaine bowl or the area above Samoens 1600 but there are exceptions and the one black run and various reds deserve their grading. 

Beginner Skiing in Flaine

Due to its price structure and proximity to Geneva, Flaine is an excellent resort for beginners. Families and adults alike can learn to ski or snowboard in Flaine with little stress and the teaching and piste options, are perfect.

Flaine is an excellent place to learn to ski and is one of the main reasons why the resort is populated heavily with children and adult skiers who gingerly are trying out the sport on the cheap.

The resort has some excellent offers with ski passes, also. Children under five years old receive a free ski pass, and three ski lifts are free for those who want to try out the sport before they commit to buying a ski pass.

Parents hoping to put children into ski school should note that the sun shines on the beginners’ area in Flaine Foret virtually all day but not on the beginners’ area in Flaine Forum; a small but crucial ingredient to the success of your week.

There is a large network of green runs in Flaine that service the needs of beginners. When you have found your ski legs Christophe Boujon, the head of the Ecole de Ski de France in Flaine recommends the Toumaline blue that descends from the top of Grands Vans into the resort as the first blue to attempt. Alain Baudoin, of the Ecole des Ski Internationale recommends the Mephisto blue in much the same way. We found it wide and not too steep.

Other blue runs to look out for are the Marmottes and Portet that feed into Les Molliets, both of which are long and good for building up confidence, although Portet is flat between the marked number poles 22 to 13.  The Sarbotte blue to Les Carroz is good fun and has an easy incline. There is a pretty view as you draw around the corner towards Les Carroz.

As mentioned in the intermediate section, the 14km Les Cascades blue is an excellent piste for the variety of scenery it offers as well as the back-country feel it gives skiers. Les Cascades is well within the compass of improving beginners. It can get icy towards the bottom but your confidence will be so high by the time you get there it should not matter. See the intermediate section for more details.

Brave children can ski along the Dolomie, Silice and Perce-Neige blues to the Marvel green that descends into Morillon 1100. The Marvel is not flat at all and has enough to interest intermediate skiers. It is great for young children as along the route signposts give information about mountain animals, flora and fauna.

In bad weather, it is best to head for Les Carroz. There is a large swathe of fir trees through which pistes snake down to the resort level. The Lou Darbes, Forestiere and Combes blues are perfect for family skiing.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Flaine

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Intermediate Skiing in Flaine

The emphasis in Flaine is very much biased towards the intermediate skier and the Flaine bowl is perfect for boosting your confidence. Once ready to exit the bowl, the 14km Cascades blue run is one of the great itineraries.

The classic intermediate itinerary in Flaine is to get the Grandes Platieres gondola up to the summit of Les Grandes Platieres. From there you take in the sumptuous view along the Mephisto Superieure red down to the base of the Lindars Nord chair. At the top, you can take the Fred and Lapiaz reds back down to resort level, enjoying just shy of 1,000 metres of vertical.

The Aup de Veran gondola at the bottom provides access to the reds of Diablotin, Lutin and Belial but these are short runs.

For those skiers who like long runs, the reds of Faust, Almandine and Lucifer all offer decent vertical for the resort. Be careful when skiing Lucifer as it is not always groomed. In the Grands Massif region, the Marmotte red run, accessed from the top of Tete des Saix also offers decent vertical and takes you all the way down through the trees to the parking at Vercland.

For intermediates who prefer blue runs, the 14km Les Cascades is one of the great runs of the French Alps. Sure, you will need your poles for large sections of the trip but if you want changing scenery throughout your journey, the strong possibility of seeing wildlife and a desire to get away from it all Cascades provides a wonderful journey alongside the frozen river Giffre.

The flat sections along Cascades occur thus: at the start, when you turn off the Serpentine blue right until the piste is joined by the La Peuf blue. Other flat sections occur between posts No 36 to 29 and 20 to 15. You have been warned. It also is worth bearing in mind that the last bus from Six Fer A Cheval to Samoens that can get you back to Flaine in time is 3.40 pm. The little bar at the bottom of the piste in Sixt, the Bar des Cascades, does not take credit or debit cards, also – don’t be the only skier without a vin chaud at the bottom!

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Flaine

Flaine’s black runs deserve their grading, and they are easy to reach so perfect for time-pressed parents who only have an hour or two between childcare duties. And even skiers who don’t normally ski off-piste will be tempted by the Gers bowl.

The obvious, though steep place to start is the Diamant Noir black run. Just take the Grandes Platieres bubble up from the resort and follow the black piste signs. Expect moguls, and if you go at a busy time, lots of other people too, which adds to the challenge because its narrow in places. When you’re half way down the mountain you can take the Diamant Noir chair back up and repeat, or if you’re enjoying yourself and have found your rhythm, you can keep going on the less steep red run all the way to the base station. On the top bit, you can also spot obvious off-piste routes down the mountain as well and these are covered in our specialist Flaine Off-Piste section below. 

 The Gers bowl is completely ungroomed but is avalanche-controlled. There is officially one black run that goes down the middle of the bowl, the Onyx, but in reality, the bowl is fair game to all with multiple entry points, so keep an eye out for any off-piste to the side that might tempt you, and come back and do it, but choose carefully because some of it is seriously steep. On the piste map the black run and the whole of the Gers bowl appear quite short and small, but don’t be fooled: it has an 800-metre vertical. Snowboarders and improving intermediates should be warned that the Gers draglift, which returns you to the top, is one of the most difficult you will encounter in the French Alps. And if you’re short of time, or just want to win the race for powder in the morning, remember it can be much quicker to get to the Gers bowl from the resort by taking the Tete des Verdes chairlift, skiing the Emeraude blue and ascending the Desert Blanc chair than it is taking the Grandes Platieres gondola wihich has queues at peak times.

The black run from the Tete de Lindars also deserves its grading. Again there is off-piste to the side.

From the Tete de Saix down to Samoens 1600 is another steep area, so the black run here is also challenging. The slope flattens out as you near Samoens 1600, so take the midmountain lift back up if you want to focus on the steep stuff.

Les Carroz also has a Freeski zone accessed by the Gentianes chairlift or the Corbalanche chairlift from Flaine. The Corbalanche black goes straight through a freeride zone and is normally ungroomed.

Boarding & Freestyle in Flaine

Much in keeping with everything else, Flaine is an excellent resort for learning both snowboarding and freeriding – there are few resorts with a whole ungroomed bowl for freeriders and there is a dedicated ski school for those wishing to take up freestyle.

The Ecole de Ski Internationale is the place to head if you want to take up freestyle. They have dedicated instructors and mini-park in which they teach and you can practise.

If you are already proficient, an above average snowpark, run by H05, can be accessed on the Calcedoine run over the Aujon ski area. The snowpark has rails and kickers as well as a table and a hip. There is also a boardercross.

For freeriding the Gers bowl is perfect for grizzled veterans and for those taking their first schuss off-piste, but snowboarders should be wary that the Gers draglift is one of the most difficult you will encounter. Flaine has far too many draglifts for any snowboarder and incredibly the Aujon draglift to access the terrain park is pretty tricky also.

Snowboarders are well served by the terrain in the Grand Massif outside the Flaine bowl, where there are plenty of woods and natural walls, pipes and jumps. Inside the bowl, there is a natural half-pipe alongside the Serpentine blue.

For all things to do with snowboarding, Blackside ( is a specialist shop in Flaine Forum that was set up in 1988 and can pretty much serve all of your needs.

Off-Piste & Freeriding in Flaine

Off-piste skiers are well-catered for in Flaine and the Grand Massif as a whole. The Gers Bowl is the highlight and the Corbalanche area provides an excellent arena to learn the craft before going under the ropes for real.

Hiring a guide is always recommended for off-piste skiing. As well as guiding you to the best routes and keeping you safe, they can tell you about the mountains, provide you with the right equipment and show you how to use it correctly. Flaine is not a very dangerous resort for off-piste skiing and freeriding but there are hidden crevasses and cliffs, and skiers and boarders have been trapped in avalanches. You can also stick to the official runs – the Grand Massif has some good steep pistes for advanced skiers – but we think the off-piste is even better,

The Gers Bowl and the Corbalanche Freeski area are ungroomed. They are an excellent training ground for off-piste skiing and the aid of a lift in each area is a real bonus.

There are over 40 different routes to access the Gers Bowl but the most famous of them all is the old black run that used to come off the Zeolite blue at post marker No. 4.

The route favoured by Alan Baudoin, an instructor with the Ecole de Ski Internationale, is to ascend the Veret draglift and when at the top, follow the ridge along to the right. From there you choose your line and take the plunge into the Gers Bowl.

Along a similar vein, there are opportunities underneath the Corbalanche chairlift in the right conditions although as it is east it is best avoided in warm conditions. One of the best routes is to bisect the Gentianes and L’Airon chairlifts.

In the Flaine itself, several other areas are good to learn off-piste skiing.

There is a large off-piste area between the Grandes Platieres gondola and the Lindars Nord chairlift. It is always very difficult to be dogmatic about off-piste, but this is one of the safest places to learn to ski off-piste away from the runs. The terrain beneath the Lapiaz chairlift also provides a decent arena for practising off-piste.

The Vernant chairlift and the Grand Vans gondola border an area rich with opportunities. You can ski straight down parallel with the Vernant chairlift from a ridge underneath the Grand Vans but you must be careful of the marked lake as you near the end of your run.

If you ascend the Vernant chairlift you can choose your lines, and be mindful of a couloir that provides an exit point off the ridge from under the Grand Vans. The off-piste becomes more challenging the further you ski away from the Vernant chairlift towards the oncoming Grand Vans gondola. The other side of the Vernant chairlift also provides good skiing off-piste.

In Les Carroz it is possible to ski through the woods by the Plein Soleil chairlift, while in Samoens the area between the Chariande Express gondola and Lanche chairlift is perfect.

Flaine Mountain Restaurants

Flaine is a resort that attracts the budget conscious. Despite the reputation of frugality, however, there are a few mountain restaurants that cater to those looking for something heartier, and tastier, than a self-service bowl of pasta.

Flaine’s mountain restaurants are fairly standard, and our selection of Flaine’s best mountain restaurants is included below, but if you really have had enough of Flaine’s dreary architecture and simply want a blow-out lunch then Samoens or Les Carroz is the place to head for. Favourites include the trendy Milk Hotel (, +33 6 17 77 70 23), which uses simple, fresh ingredients in an elegant way. There is also the 4* Les Servages d’Armelle (, +33 4 50 90 01 62), where you’ll be eating the likes of blue lobster in tarragon butter. Both have sublime sun terraces.

Gite du Lac de Gers, Flaine

At the intersection of the Les Cascades and La Pepiniere blues there is a telephone attached to a banner board. Ring it and if you have booked a skidoo one will come and tow up to eight skiers to the delightful Gite du Lac de Gers overlooking the frozen Lac de Gers. Tel: +33 4 50 89 55 14

L’Ancolie, Flaine

L’Ancolie is based in Hameau de Flaine and fits into its surroundings. It is fair classier than most of the restaurants in resort but you pay for it, too. L’Ancolie has a roaring log fire in the middle of the stripped wood restaurant but is also very child friendly. The food is unashamedly Savoyard and the cheese board is to die for. Tel: +33 4 50 90 87 94

Le Desert Blanc, Flaine

Le Desert Blanc is a fair self-service restaurant with the best sun terrace in resort that faces Mont Blanc. It is located at the top of the Grand Plattieres gondola. The restaurant’s position gives the staff the opportunity to be slack, which they are not and the food is solid if not world-beating. It’s also a great place for a beer in the sun. Tel: +33 4 50 90 82 09

Le Bissac, Flaine

Le Bissac is one of the better self-service restaurants in Flaine. It is located basically in Flaine Foret, near the bottom of the Petit Balacha lift. If you reserve a table you can get waiter service in the restaurant that serves hot dishes such as Faux-Filet or roast lamb with gratin dauphinois and vegetables of the day.  Tel: +33 4 50 90 81 32

Les Chalets du Michet, Flaine

L’Eloge is attached to Les Chalets du Michet at Flaine Forum and is the fast-food brother to Les Chalets du Michet,  an old shepherd’s hut which specialises in Savoyard food. L’Eloge is cheap and relatively cheerful with croque monsieur, lasagnes and soups, while Les Chalets du Michet has all the usual Savoyard suspects such as pierre chaud, raclette, fondue and Tariflette. As the restaurant is open a night, they offer a special discount if you eat there twice in one day. Tel: +33 4 50 90 80 08

La Casade, Flaine

La Cascade is scarcely a mountain restaurant as it lies on the Azurite red almost in Flaine itself. Although it is a restaurant, it is also a hotel. To be fair, the evening menu far outstrips that at lunch but there is a decent sun terrace and it is convenient to get to being just 300m from town. Tel: +33 4 50 90 87 66

Restaurant Chalets Les Molliets, Le Carroz

Chalets Les Molliets is not strictly in Flaine, but next door in Les Carroz and is well worth the trip. A rustic wooden hut, it takes big groups well and although it can get a little crowed inside that creates a great atmosphere if you like meeting new people. Staff turnover is low, with the staff having been employed for many years and the steaks and excellent deserts keep skiers coming back to the sweeping sun terrace for years. Ask for the Fera, a fish that is caught in Lac Leman. Tel: +33 50 90 05 09

L’Igloo, Morillon

L’Igloo is located in the brilliant Marvel green above Morillon, which means it is perfect for the whole family to eat together at lunch. It is perfect for those cold days, as it is a very welcoming mountain restaurant. Dishes are simpler than in most places in Flaine, but dishes such as Reblochon quiche and homemade vegetable soup are wholesome, filling, cheap and delicious. Tel: +33 50 90 14 31


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