La Clusaz Ski Resort

The picturesque, traditional village of La Clusaz is one of Haute Savoie’s best-kept secrets. It has lost none of its deeply rooted French charm despite being only about an hour away from Geneva, and its underrated ski area is large enough and high enough for most skiers for most of the season.

La Clusaz lies in a valley beneath the jagged peaks of the Aravis mountain range. 132km of groomed trails stretch out over five inter-connected ski areas which La Clusaz shares with the even smaller resort of Manigod. Keen skiers, however, should buy an Aravis skipass which also includes Le Grand-Bornand (and the tiny resort of St Jean-de-Sixt) which boosts the amounts of runs to 220km, which is not huge but is not small either, and should satisfy most visitors for a week. There is no lift linking Le Grand Bornand to La Clusaz but they are only 6kms apart, and frequent shuttle buses make it an easy journey.

La Clusaz itself is attractive and has the look and feel of an authentic French mountain village, complete with its own weekly market. The centre is traffic-free, and whilst not all the buildings are as old as the church, most have been built in a sympathetic style. Accommodation in la Clusaz is reasonably priced. At weekends and peak holiday times the village gets quite lively (and the slopes can get a little crowded too) but midweek it's quiet and friendly, and there's a good choice of bars and restaurants to suit most budgets and tastes.  

The skiing includes tree-lined runs and open bowls. It's mostly aimed at intermediates and beginners but there are some challenges for experts and interesting off-piste and freeriding terrain, much of which can be reached with very little climbing. The resort is situated at 1100m (Le Grand Bornand and St Jean de Sixte are even lower) and a lot of the skiing is below 2000m, so La Clusaz is not 100% snowsure. But its snow record is better than many of its neighbours. Most of its slopes face North or North West and lie on top of grassy meadows which require less snowcover than rockier terrain. And the top lifts at La Balme reach 2470m which is comparable to the highest lifts in nearby modern, purpose-built resorts like Flaine and Avoriaz, which have none of the charm of La Clusaz.

Ski hire in La Clusaz and Les Aravis

There is a good choice of ski and board rental shops in La Clusaz but less options in the smaller resorts. wherever you stay, however, you won't get the best price if you just walk into the nearest when you arrive. It really pays to book online in advance. It also saves you time when you arrive in the resort, because your ski rental equipment is reserved, fully prepared and ready and waiting for you.

ALPINRESORTS.com works with several ski shops in La Clusaz and the other resorts, and can get you discounts of up to 60% if you book online here.

SKISET has two shops in la Clusaz and more in the other resorts. It will give discounts of up to 50% if you book online via this link.

 La Clusaz Pros & Cons

+ Pretty village in a pretty setting.
+ Just big enough for a week's skiing.
+ Easy to get to/popular weekend option.
+ Good variety of slopes if off-piste is included.
+ Rural, relaxed and friendly.

- Not really snowsure.
- Not enough steep pistes.
- Weekend queues on the roads, in restaurants and for ski lifts.

 

 

La Clusaz Ski Area

The main ski area consists of five inter-connecting mountains with a good amount of easily accessible off-piste.

The main ski area at La Clusaz consists of five inter-connecting mountains with a total 132km groomed pistes and a good amount of easily accessible off-piste. Much of the best skiing is found at La Balme, reached by a high speed gondola and served by two chairlifts and a drag lift. These lifts open up a surprisingly large and exciting ski area, much favoured by boarders and free-style skiers. From the summit of the Col de Balme chairlift (2470m) there is a magnificent view of the Mont Blanc massif and from here there are wonderful off-piste opportunities including the spectacular Combe de Bellachat.

La Balme

Take the Fernuy gondola connecting the La Balme area with the skiing at l'Aiguille (2380m) which opens up the Cret du Loup and Cret de Merle pistes. This is the most popular area with pretty runs through forest and meadows dotted with delightful lunch-spots below the mid-station, and wide open red runs above, accessed from the Aiguille 4 man chairlift. From here you can reach the Combe de Borderan, an often neglected good off-piste run.

Etale

The Etale mountain is a great choice for busy days as it doesn't seem to attract the crowds. From the summit of the Etale cable car (1957m) enjoy the challenging red run 'Regine Cavagnoud' or black 'Les Tetras'.

Beauregard

The new Beauregard gondola (1648m) gives access to a sunny plateau and the best nursery slopes in La Clusaz. From here you can get back to the village via a long, scenic blue run or try the new black run. These runs should have a longer season thanks to the upgrading of snow-making on this part of the mountain for winter. An easy blue run links the Beauregard area with La Croix Fry and Merdassier, all offering good easy and intermediate skiing. This area in turn links up with the rest of the resort but do note that in order to ski the whole area in one day you have to travel in an anti-clockwise direction, starting at the Beauregard gondola.

By purchasing the 'Aravis' lift pass you gain access to a further 88km of skiing at the neighbouring resort of Le Grand Bornand, cost of ski bus included.

La Clusaz Lift Pass & Ski Lifts

A new gondola reduces pressure on the main lifts out of the village, so there isn’t much queuing at La Clusaz.

The ski lifts open between 8.45-9.00am and run until 4.00-5.30pm. A new 8-passenger gondola has recently been installed at Beauregard (2003/4), reducing pressure on the main lifts out of the village and much improving the 'on snow' experience for the many beginners who use this area. There isn't generally any queuing problem at La Clusaz with the exception of the Cret du Merle and Aiguille chairlifts on busy weekends and during the February school holidays.

La Clusaz Beginners

La Clusaz provides some excellent accessible skiing for first-timers.

Beginner Skiing in La Clusaz

La Clusaz provides some excellent accessible skiing for first-timers. There are a couple of beginner lifts at resort level but the best area is undoubtedly at Beauregard which boasts a sunny plateau with gentle blue and green slopes. Beginners can progress to 'Le Meridien', a long blue run right back to the village, or to the Croix Fry/Merdassier slopes via another easy piste and a 2-man chairlift. Another favourite is the Cret du Merle area where beginners will find lots of Savoyard mountain restaurants for a well-earned pit stop.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in La Clusaz

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La Clusaz Intermediate Skiing

Most intermediates will love La Clusaz if the snow conditions are good.

Most intermediates will love La Clusaz if the snow conditions are good. Early intermediates will delight in the gentle slopes at the top of Beauregard and over on La Croix Fry at Manigod, where there's a network of gentle tree-lined runs. And they'll be able to travel all over the area on the gentle green linking pistes, where poling or walking is more likely to be a problem than fears about steepness. L'Etale and l'Aiguille have more challenging but wide blue runs. More adventurous intermediates will prefer the steeper red slopes and good snow of La Balme and the long red down Combe du Fernuy from l'Aiguille.

La Clusaz Advanced & Off-Piste Skiing

There is plenty to challenge advanced skiers at La Clusaz, especially off-piste. The best terrain is at la Balme.

There is plenty to challenge advanced skiers at La Clusaz, if you include its off-piste. The piste map doesn't seem to have a lot to offer experts, but most of the sectors present off-piste variants to the pistes and there are more serious adventures to undertake when accompanied by a qualified guide - all the more attractive for being ignored by most visitors.

The best terrain is at La Balme where there are several fairly challenging pistes above mid-mountain including the black Vraille run which is seriously steep. The piste map now shows the long new Lapiaz Black run down the Combe du Fernuy as well as La Noire at Beauregard, though the latter does need very good snow cover to be enjoyable. The Tetras on l'Etale and the Mur d'Edgar bumps run below Cret du Loup have been recently reclassified as blacks, and rightly so.

La Clusaz Snowboarding & Freestyle

La Balme mountain is considered a freeriding paradise.

La Clusaz was one of the first resorts to grant boarders access to all areas and introduce terrain features. La Balme mountain is considered a freeriding paradise with numerous cliffs, big carving slopes and drop-offs, especially on the far Combe de Bellachet side. Candide Thovex, current freestyle champion, hails from La Clusaz and ensures that the freestyle spirit thrives here with a full calendar of events each winter.

Snowboarding is popular in La Clusaz and it is relatively easy to get around the resort. Although there are still a lot of drag-lifts, most are avoidable. Boarders and freestylers can check out the terrain-park and half-pipe on l'Aiguille and the separate boardercross course.

La Clusaz Mountain Restaurants

In La Clusaz you’ll find, refreshingly, mostly rustic family-run restaurants serving good and reasonably priced Savoyard food.

La Clusaz has managed to avoid the plague of self-service mountain restaurants which have sprung up in so many resorts. Here you'll find, for the most part, rustic family-run restaurants serving good and reasonably priced Savoyard food.

Try The Bercail on the Cret de Merle for seriously good tartiflette (local speciality) or La Ferme, a little further down the piste, with its wood fire and home-made pizzas.

Bruno and Sam's Relais de l'Aiguille is a great place to enjoy a sun-downer with its lovely sunny terrace and eclectic mix of music whilst the Telemark Café is a good chill-out lunch spot over at l'Etale. La Vielle Ferme at the Col de Merdassier has a charming restaurant with excellent food and service and is a great place to stop for lunch if you're doing the 5 mountain circuit.

On the other hand the two restaurants at La Balme, one at car park level and the other at the mid-station are rather disappointing and lacking in atmosphere.

La Clusaz Village

La Clusaz is typically Savoyard with a charming church and village square at its centre.

Tourists have been coming to La Clusaz since the beginning of the 20th century, regarding it as one of the most picturesque mountain villages in France. It is typically Savoyard with a charming church and village square at its centre. From here the village fans out into three main shopping streets, each packed with wonderful food shops, bars, hotels, sports shops and restaurants. 

Don't miss out on fresh coffee and croissants at 'Le Belier' (aka Bread and Breakfast) or the wonderful Monday morning produce market in the Place de l'Eglise. Other facilities include an open-air ice rink, located near the church, and a magnificent aqua-centre with indoor and outdoor swimming pools and Jacuzzi.

To search for hotels, aprtments and chalets, compare prices and check latest availability, please see the La Clusaz Accommodation page.

La Clusaz Restaurants, Bars & Apres-Ski

La Clusaz has plenty of good dining options, including delightful authentic Savoyard experiences out of town.

With around 60 restaurants, La Clusaz has plenty of good dining options. For excellent food and wine try La Scierie in the village centre or a little further afield in Les Confins you'll find Le Chalet du Lac, the oldest farm in La Clusaz, serving regional home cooking in a delightful setting - well worth the trip.

Le Grenier and L'Arbe are both excellent restaurants in the heart of the village or, as an informal alternative, try the Ecuelle with its wonderful pizzas and excellent, friendly service. For a really authentic evening the Chalet des Praz, built in 1792 and located on the Cret du Merle piste is a great choice or the Bercail, accessed by snowmobile and very popular for its cosy atmosphere and Savoyard charm.

Night owls can continue until late at Club 18 or at L'Ecluse with its glass dance floor over the river.

La Clusaz Après-Ski

La Clusaz is a fairly chilled place in the evening, not a resort renowned for its après-ski. On the mountain the Relais de l'Aiguille is a good choice for a drink at the end of skiing as are many of the bars on the home trail at Cret de Merle, particularly late in the season when the weather is warm.

Off the mountain a great meeting place is the Caves du Paccaly, a delightful rustic bar in the village centre with scrubbed tables and old wood decor.

For those wanting to chill-out try the Grenier, very popular with locals and featuring a big fireplace and wooden platters of Savoyard and Mexican canapes. Other lively bars include the Salto, the Pressoir, popular for sports coverage, and La Braise with its excellent selection of wines, a very popular bar with resort staff.

The tourist office offers weekly complementary vin chaud in the Place de l'Eglise and four times each winter the lifts stay open for all-night skiing under the full moon. The wackiest event of all is the Defi-Foly in April in which competitors use any sliding device they choose to tackle an insanely steep slope into Lac des Confins. He/she who travels furthest across the water before submerging is the winner!

La Clusaz Activities

La Clusaz is a pretty village and there are plenty of places to walk, but apart from that there isn't a lot to do except skiing, both alpine and cross-country.

La Clusaz offers 70 kms of cross-country skiing, 18 kms on the Beauregard plateau and 52kms at the Plateau des Confins, which hosted the World Cup in 2004.

There isn't a huge amount for non-skiers to do in La Clusaz though it is a pretty village and there are plenty of places to walk. The outdoor/indoor swimming pool is particularly nice and the ice rink is open daily. There is a good variety of shops in the village, particularly for foodies, and La Cabane and Chalet d'Ambience are well worth a visit for their wonderful gift ideas. For more serious retail take the local bus to Annecy and stroll round the old town and the lakeside. And don't forget the bustling Monday morning market in the Place de l'Eglise.

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