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France conundrum...

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'll try to keep this relatively straightforward to explain my planning conundrum...

Family of four with a confident, black-level skier (me) and three shaky beginners (wife and two kids)
I'm fine skiing every day, even if not a full day, and bouncing around from mountain to mountain or exploring new resorts while the rest of the family is equally happy doing a mix of skiing but also other activities.

Traveling into Geneva next March and from quite a distance so snow sure resorts are important to me. Last three years have been to Obergurgl (2x) with a little jaunt to Solden and Courmayer (1x) with side jaunts to La Thuile and Pila.

Right now we have a hotel in Chamonix Mont Blanc and we'll have a car. Since I need a location that has good snow options in March but offers more than just a quiet town (Obergurgl was a bit sleepy even though I loved it) I am trying to figure out if Chamonix is right for us. I figure I can drive the family down to Le Tour / Vallorcine for lessons and skiing. If the snow is good, Les Houches should be an option. Grand Montets just seems bad for them. Anyway, it will be Chamonix Mont Blanc as the base (wife can use a spa sometimes, pool/recreation center, plenty to do other than ski) but the skiing portion will be a pain in the ass given our varying capabilities.

So, considering La Clusaz since it offers a real town but wonder how snow sure it is. Also thinking Val d'Anniviers in Switzerland as a possible option. Flaine has been suggested but the town looks like a brutalist dream which is great in some ways but not on a ski hill. So... what to do? Cervinia seems like a pain from Geneva and I could default back to Courmayeur since we can hop to La Thuile (which I love but seems too sleepy).

* Snow sure
* Good mix of abilities
* Not just a ski town so more to do other than skiing
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Side note: don't want to spend a fortune Smile
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If you want snow sure I'd go to Flaine. The ski area is very scenic even if the buildings aren't!

We have often stayed in Les Carroz which is a prettier village also in the Grand Massif ski area. There is a good pool in the village itself but we have not yet been to it as we stay in les chalets de jouvence which has its own pool/spa and is at the foot of the slopes. Most times we've been there there has been plenty of snow in late March. This year the snow was poor in the first week of April and we drove to Flaine some days which took about 20 minutes.
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Les Carroz looks interesting... I see some places that look slopeside with good access to easier slopes
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
When are you going exactly? If in French holidays, it will be more expensive...

Morzine? Les Gets? Both I expect livelier than La Clusaz.

Chamonix not a terrible option. You could easily spend your whole week up Brevent-Flegere which has reasonable bunny slopes and quite enough for anyone more advanced to have fun on.
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Mid-March... I have to say that when we were in Courmayeur on a whiteout day, we went over to Chamonix for lunch (love that tunnel... that pricey tunnel) and found it really nice and warmer. I heard the snow was not as great on the French side vs Italy.

As for liveliness, not looking to drink it up with kids so good town life but not crazy is OK.

Thank you!
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@ItaloSkier, I think the location of the Chalets de jouvence is hard to beat in Les Carroz as it is at the foot of the slopes but also within a few minutes walk of the village centre. There are a couple of places higher up the slopes (eg. Front de Neige, Milk Hotel) but they are at the foot of a red rather than blue and they are not as well located for the town. There are other residences in the village (eg. Fermes du Soleil, Chalets de Leana) which are good for the shops etc but more of a walk up to the piste.

We like Les chalets de Jouvence as it has a lovely pool/spa area, and from the ski room you are literally a couple of metres from the magic carpet up to the gondola. We have always booked it through Peak Retreats. one thing to be aware of is that this residence has an annex called Chalet de Belles pistes which is across the road and not right by the lift, so I would ask to be in the main building.
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Sounds like an ideal place and I saw it has a pool and a spa which ticks a lot of boxes with the family. Having the piste at your feet is hard to beat.

At one point, prior to booking a flight into Geneva, we were thinking about http://www.sportinia.it/info-orso as it was smack in the middle of the slopes... inconvenient at night but there's much to be said for skiing on and off
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Does lEs Carroz have any nightlife at all however?
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@under a new name, it's certainly not a party town, but there are plenty of friendly bars and restaurants. Since the OP is part of a family with two children and he doesn't mention nightlife, it doesn't sound as if it would be an issue.
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@sj1608, yes, he did.
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@under a new name, I suspect we have interpreted what he says differently. He says 'offers more than just a sleepy town' and talks about a place being 'inconvenient at night'. I took that to mean plenty of activity and interest, you took it to mean nightlife. Perhaps OP could confirm?
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@sj1608, possibly. Equally, you may have mis-interpreted my "nightlife" to mean bouncing nightclubs. I just (but have never been to Obergurgl) haven't on skis and drives through seen much of anything in Les Carroz.

Not a criticism, but ...
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You know it makes sense.
@under a new name, there is a club, Club 74, but I've never ventured into it! There are several nice bars and restaurants, usually a reasonable amount of live music around, but it's certainly not a party place. One thing I think they do well is that the animation programme means there's plenty going on for kids that is free or virtually free.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
La Clusaz also has a "nightlife" of that type (i.e. nice bars/restaurants/a club etc.).
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 Poster: A snowHead
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It is an excellent area and very convenient for Geneva. Good mountain restaurants too. Consider Samoens too.

La Clusaz is lower and not as snow sure though March should be fine.

One thing to consider possibly for yourself that going 'off-piste' can be treacherous in Grand massif as there are numerous holes everywhere. Definitely guided only
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@hawkesbaynz, La Clusaz - 1100m-2600m is "lower and not as snow sure" as where?
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Well, given that my last two seasons, Obergurgl was 1920 meters, its not as snowsure. I see a place like La Thuile being good as the base may be a bit higher than La Clusaz but the main runs really start at 2000m+

That said, how snow sure is Le Tour/Vallorcine in March. Bulk of main runs seem to be at 1850+ but south facing. I keep reading articles about it being the "snowiest village in France" but is that true?
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@hawkesbaynz, GM "guided only"?

I really don't think so!
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Here is that claim...

"Firstly, this end of the valley is naturally snowier than the Chamonix end - indeed nearby Le Tour claims to be the snowiest village (as opposed to resort) in France."

https://www.weathertoski.co.uk/our-blog/top-5-late-season-ski-resorts-france/

Another... "Chamonix is a great destination for snowkiting’, Ligonnet asserts. ‘There’s plenty of wind, good snow conditions and lots of height. In fact, the little village of Le Tour, where we are based, is the snowiest in France. "

https://awe365.com/chamonix-snowkiting-guide-local-pro-rider-thomas-ligonnet-gives-us-his-views/
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@ItaloSkier, march?

Pretty snow sure. Aprils usually skiable as well, at least until closing date.
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Excellent... thank you. I wonder if it is best to stick with Chamonix and just cope with driving to the various areas... I personally don't care and if all they have to do is get in the car and let me drive, maybe its not so bad. I can also drop them off at Le Tour on some days and head to GM or other areas... maybe even over the border into Les Marécottes for something different but close and manageable in a morning.
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@ItaloSkier, how beginner is beginner?

Cham also has benefits of at least a few alternative activities if required. Many other places don't
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So, they've been on the slope a few times... two are young (will be 8 and 10 but get to ski once a year) and my wife is just not confident on skis and would be happy not being on skis. That's why I think Cham probably offers more to keep them busy if they don't feel like skiing. I think they can handle more than they try... I've seen them with a private instructor and they are better than they are with me. Probably due to my frustration since they won't listen (and THAT is why you never teach your own family to ski). So, at a place like Le Tour, I suppose I can leave them with private trainers for 3 days while I get my fill of snow and then we figure out the other days. If only I could get them closer to me. The 8 year old is probably the most confident and fearless. He will progress fastest.
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Most of your options are detailed in this handy brochure:

http://pro.savoie-mont-blanc.com/var/ezwebin_site/storage/original/application/07853faa0f417f2f2c76be97fb409a94.pdf
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ItaloSkier wrote:
I'll try to keep this relatively straightforward to explain my planning conundrum...



Traveling into Geneva next March and from quite a distance so snow sure resorts are important to me.

Right now we have a hotel in Chamonix Mont Blanc and we'll have a car.


Do you have to go to Haute-Savoie resorts?
You have a hotel and car means you already paid for it or got a good deal and want to stick to it?

From what you want it seems to me you will have much nicer time in Tarentaise. You will only have to "invest" in longer transfer time but from there you wont need a car...
Consider 3 Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy... ten times better for skiing, snowsure and all that jazz that tick your boxes
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@ItaloSkier, if the kids are enjoying it then they'll catch up pretty quickly.

Ask for an anglophone instructor from Evolution2 as they use La Tour and are usually pretty reliable. You might want to split the kids and the missus as the teaching cadences are quite different (kids like games and silliness, adults I find less so).
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@Przymorze, I am totally unconvinced that there's any need to head to the Tarentaise.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I'm not tied to Haute-Savoie necessarily. I did want to hop into Italy and obviously only so many options are available to do that easily The hotel can be swapped out but I was wondering if the "ease" of doing everything would make sense... with Obergurgl or past trips to places like Selva, Val Gardena, the runs were close by. As an adult, I can manage everything. With kids, you get to carry more than your own skis.

Yes, definitely the wife gets her own lessons and the boys lesson together. Great tip on Evolution2. Incidentally, private lesson rates in most of Europe are so much cheaper than the U.S. Drastically so.

The more we "talk this out", it seems like maybe sticking with the original plan makes sense.

I've wanted to ski Tignes, Val d'Isere since I was a kid... maybe in the future. So many runs, so little time.
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Tell me about Les Deux Alpes, though...
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@ItaloSkier, 2alpes leaves me very cold, although in fairness I've only been pre-season for the glacier.
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@ItaloSkier, St Gervais, Combloux, Megeve, all on the Evasion Mont Blanc circuit. Meets all your needs quite well I think. The first two towns are less glamorous and more reasonably priced than Megeve.
Les Deux Alpes is a long way south and unattractive in my opinion.
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If you are committed to the Chamonix area have a look at Les Contamines. The village is unspoiled and traditional Savoyard. I found it to be much nicer than Cham on less ritzy/glitzy than Megeve.

Certainly enough skiing for your wife and children with other activities on offer too.
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@Miranda
Aplogies my mistake. However the guide I used in Flaine had been in La Clusaz the week before and complained that the snow was not as good as GM and he had been limited in off-piste opportunities.


@underanewname
Unfortunately I do not know GM as well as you although I saw countless limestone holes in the bowl and was glad that I was being guided by a local.
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=46641
http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/Haute-Savoie/Flaine-Off-Piste

Have been to Chamonix Valley a couple of times and Tarentaise many times. Must admit the Tarentaise is much less flaff. I would never choose Chamonix for on piste skiing though great for off-piste/touring.
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The holes are usually quite well identified or fenced off.

I find Chamonix remarkably faff-less. I walk 3 minutes up to Brevent from my place. No faffing.

(What is this "flaff" you refer to?)
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This give me a lot to think about... will dig Combleaux, Megeve, Les Contamines, etc.
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Apologies should have said a 'faff'. As spent a lot of time waiting for minibuses and sitting on them when could have been skiing - 'spending time in ineffectual activity'

FLAFF means "Foot Loose and Fancy Free" I now find. Thanks for the picking up on my English.

If only I spent more valuable time on the internet rather than earning a living, my English would be better.
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Quote:

If only I spent more valuable time on the internet rather than earning a living


Titter Cool
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I think Cham can be a faff or not a faff depending on how you plan your time. Personally I think you can do Brevent-Flegere as a 1-dayer, GM for a day, and Le Tour for a day. If you have a car, you can easily do Les Houches (easily a whole day), Evasion Mt Blanc, and Courmayeur.

Why do you think GM would be bad for them? I think the blues there are quite enjoyable and there are some relatively friendly reds.

My main problem with Chamonix is just really that when the weather is good and the snow is good, the people management is terrible. There are big queues for everything, especially the main cable cars. Much as I love Cham, I just find that you're surrounded by people a lot. And I hate being surrounded by people. And as somebody who enjoys lift-served off piste, I hate the fact that if you find some nice off piste you will invariably be followed down it by some tourists who don't know what they're doing. I like having space when I ski and often Cham is just not the place for that.

With the car though, I think that changes the dynamic of it a bit. On the whole, I do prefer Les Houches, Evasion Mt Blanc, and Courmayeur.(sp?)... I just think they manage the lifts a bit better, people seem to end up better spaced out, and there is less waiting for stuff even when it's busy. Courmayeur is especially well managed... probably on account of being on the Italian side.
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Interesting to read... I got used to minimal queues in Obergurgl and found that places like Courmayeur had minimal ones and La Thuile and Pila were almost non-existent (at least when I went). Is that the case in La Tour Balme/Vallorcine, as well?

I hate lines... I think I can make an easy case to switch towns with my wife if something is snow sure... I can move to a lower altitude resort.
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