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Les Contamines at New Year

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi everyone.

Been a while since I've been on here begging for advice. I've been really boring and, owing to having a 1 and 3 yo, I've rebooked the same family hotel for next March already - in fact, I booked it a month after we got home in March!

However, I have tickets to Geneva for Sat 29 December to Tuesday 1 January and a car already hired/reserved. Edit: This is just for me and the other half - should have made this clear!

I've been to Morzine twice at New Year and have been burned both times, especially 2016/17. Not willing to risk it again, unless I can get a 100% refundable option and I know that Les Contamines is very snow sure. Currently limited choices from Samoens, La Clusaz through Megeve for 3 night breaks with a hotel that has a spa.

How easy is it to get to the other areas by bus (iirc, it's a change half way along the valley?!) and I'm guessing that the St Gervais car park by the cablecar gets really busy over New Year. I would have thought that days 1 and 4 we'll be local but maybe 2 and 3 we'd want to leave Les C behind.

Re things to do in Les C, would there be a couple of classy places to relax and eat in?

Currently looking at this hotel if it makes any difference? HŰtel-Chalet de Tradition La Chemenaz

Cheers!

BB


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Mon 30-07-18 17:11; edited 1 time in total
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@Badbobby, Why would Les Contamines be any more snow sure than Portes du Soleil?
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under a new name wrote:
@Badbobby, Why would Les Contamines be any more snow sure than Portes du Soleil?


Because I understand that it has its own little microclimate, owing to its position at the end of a valley - which means that it generally does better, especially vs PdS.

I also fancy going there.
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@Badbobby, Not sure about any microclimate?

But worth a visit. Just unconvinced you'll necessarily do better for snow than anywhere else in the area at those altitudes.

NY 2015/16/17 it certainly wasn't being talked about as any better than anywhere else.
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Also I think Les C is meadow based so doesnt need as much snow depth to be skiable.

Its a nice small resort with a good feel. We enjoyed it.
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under a new name wrote:
@Badbobby, Not sure about any microclimate?

But worth a visit. Just unconvinced you'll necessarily do better for snow than anywhere else in the area at those altitudes.

NY 2015/16/17 it certainly wasn't being talked about as any better than anywhere else.


Yes, I appreciate it won't help massively - but I can imagine being very cross i've I get stuck in Morzine with pastures and read that Les C is perfect! Wink
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Locals of LC always talk of the microclimate in the same way those of Grand Massif do and IIRC their snow coverage seems to be pretty similar and a smidge better than Les Gets and Morzine.

The explanation of the microclimate is that if the weather from comes from the East then the weather has to climb over Mont Blanc which forms the cloud and therefore rain/snow and if it comes from the North the same effect by the Portes du soleil and if from the south the mountains there.. not too sure if the stats support the explanation.

Whether it is the microclimates or as @ster, says both areas are meadows in the summer so need less coverage to be able to ski on.
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@marcellus, yeah and the PdS same the same about "their" microclimate.

Unconvinced.
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Saying anywhere is "very snow sure" in the context of Christmas/NY skiing is a misnomer. And certainly Les Contamines is no magic pill. Yes, conditions might often be a little better but if you were "burned" in Morzine, you would have been lightly burned in Les Contamines.

Christmas/NY is a unique time IMO. If the weather is poor, and it certainly can be, lower altitude skiing and particularly the trees are your friend. And Les Contamines won't help you there. If the weather is benign but lacking in snow you need the altitude. The ideal scenario is to be staying at low altitude with good local skiing below the tree line but with lift access to higher altitudes if conditions are poor lower down.

There are other reasons I'd have reservations for your group. Accommodation isn't on the slopes. There is a cable car up and then the skiing really begins. There is one very busy run down - which many forego. So you don't have a "front de neige" to chill, play in the snow, sledge, etc. Also, not sure if your 3yo skiing but there are several steep drags that would not be suitable.

My TR from 2012.
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@Badbobby, The Chemenaz is the closest hotel to the Gondola 50yds. There are some very good resturants in the village which is a 10 min walk from the chemenaz
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Just realised that I didn't make it clear that I'm NOT taking the kids with me! It's just me and Mrs BB.
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Layne wrote:
Saying anywhere is "very snow sure" in the context of Christmas/NY skiing is a misnomer. And certainly Les Contamines is no magic pill. Yes, conditions might often be a little better but if you were "burned" in Morzine, you would have been lightly burned in Les Contamines.

Christmas/NY is a unique time IMO. If the weather is poor, and it certainly can be, lower altitude skiing and particularly the trees are your friend. And Les Contamines won't help you there. If the weather is benign but lacking in snow you need the altitude. The ideal scenario is to be staying at low altitude with good local skiing below the tree line but with lift access to higher altitudes if conditions are poor lower down.

There are other reasons I'd have reservations for your group. Accommodation isn't on the slopes. There is a cable car up and then the skiing really begins. There is one very busy run down - which many forego. So you don't have a "front de neige" to chill, play in the snow, sledge, etc. Also, not sure if your 3yo skiing but there are several steep drags that would not be suitable.

My TR from 2012.


Thanks for the reply - I've updated my first post to clarify that this is an adult short break for just me and the other half.

What are thoughts re Les Houches as an alternative? I'm fearful that Chamonix and its environs will be very very busy in New Year. Quite tempted to see if I can get something cheap in Courmayeur and get the bus to La Thuile and Aosta.
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@Badbobby, why not look further afield?

Champoluc fírinstance, is usually not too bad on crowds and significantly better value for food and drink than e.g. Chamonix...(though it pains me to admit).

Www.ski2.com worth a look, great service.

Our apartment is already booked.
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@Badbobby, I think Les Contamines is a good destination for that time of year - especially as you have a car. The slopes are relatively high in case snow is poor at low levels, and you can drive to St Gervais if it's stormy.

I'm sure a lot of resorts claim to have snowy microclimates, but the claims about Les Contamines seem particularly persistent so there's probably a lot of truth in them.
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My experience (last 8 years) is that we've always had good snow cover at NY in Les C - but on two occasions only just (i.e., Christmas had been a bit restricted and very busy because there was nothing open in the rest of EMB!).
I think the snow fall at Les C is a bit better than similar altitudes (PDS, GM) because the prevailing weather (from the west) hits it first, i.e., the hills are lower to the west.

I don't think you'd have a problem parking at the St G bubble. I've never yet had a problem, and I have done it a couple of times at Feb HT (albeit quite early).

TBH every season I think I'm going to do more trips to other resorts but then don't get round to it. In part this is because we tend to ski during school holidays and I always feel every where else will be busier.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@under a new name, I have had a play with maps and Iíd looked into the nearer parts of Italy (to Geneva). Just seems a touch too far for a short break. Looking at Verbier/Gstaad but suspect availability and cost will scupper.

I see you have had a place in Chamonix for a long time. Whatís it like over New Year?
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Quote:

Re things to do in Les C, would there be a couple of classy places to relax and eat in?


Eating out in Les C:
Several decent but very typical places. One upmarket restaurant (O de la Bouche) which is very good. That apart, I actually think the eating on the mountain is better than in the village (Le Roselette, Buche Croisse and Auberge de Colombaz are our favourites but there are a couple of other good ones). A de C requires a bit of off piste skiing but you can get a horse drawn sleigh up there from the valley if their is snow cover.
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@Badbobby, hmmm, even short breaks, Champoluc 2 1/5 hours from GVA? Beother in law does a couple of weekends from SE England into GVA a year.

Chamonix is busy. This was New Yearís day this year. Mobbed.

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under a new name wrote:
@Badbobby, hmmm, even short breaks, Champoluc 2 1/5 hours from GVA? Beother in law does a couple of weekends from SE England into GVA a year.

Chamonix is busy. This was New Yearís day this year. Mobbed.



Yes, hoping that NY day would be quiet anywhere. I was in Klosters for NYE last year and that day was insanely busy. Perhaps a kid of bright sun, loads of snow, a Sunday and NYE etc etc.

Joking aside, Iíve never been to Cham - is NY a busy time on the buses and slopes?
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Itís busy, but not usually insane. Your problem would be sensible accom.

No idea about buses, never use them. Weíre 2 minutes walk from Brevent so thatís the default - or we drive.
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@under a new name, guess it depends on ďsensibleĒ Wink

My flights are almost free via air miles. So maybe £750 for 3 nights if it had a spa would be bearable.
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@Badbobby, nice.

Whatís available?
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Iíll have a butchers. Iíd written off Cham through fear - might revisit. Would be good for transfers.
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Badbobby wrote:
Just realised that I didn't make it clear that I'm NOT taking the kids with me! It's just me and Mrs BB.

Well that definitely takes away some of the issues I was thinking you may have with Les Contamines. I loved the skiing there.
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Personally I'd only bother with Chamonix if I was doing gnarly stuff. Otherwise there are standard ski resorts just as convenient/good.

I've done a week and a long weekend in Chamonix.
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Layne wrote:
Personally I'd only bother with Chamonix if I was doing gnarly stuff. Otherwise there are standard ski resorts just as convenient/good.

I've done a week and a long weekend in Chamonix.


It would sadly be motorway stuff with the mrs with leisurely apres commencing with lunch at 2pm!
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Badbobby wrote:
Layne wrote:
Personally I'd only bother with Chamonix if I was doing gnarly stuff. Otherwise there are standard ski resorts just as convenient/good.

I've done a week and a long weekend in Chamonix.


It would sadly be motorway stuff with the mrs with leisurely apres commencing with lunch at 2pm!

If piste cruising, with the use of snow cannons these days, anywhere with a base at 1300/1400m should be fine. Morzine is what at 1000m - and those two Christmas periods were really poor.

Interesting the different takes on weather patterns. Here are two quotes about that area:

"The atmospheric conditions of Morzine and the Portes du Soleil area create a micro climate, where active weather fronts collide with the local mountains causing high levels of winter precipitation, as opposed to drier conditions further south in the French Alps."

"Low altitude and exposure to westerlies means risk of rain and poor snow"

Who do you believe ugh?

As I say find somewhere you like no lower than 1300/1400m ideally with a bit of tree cover and the jobs a good un.
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@Layne, both of the above quotes are true. Notice the first one says "precipitation", not snow - Morzine also gets a lot of rain.
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denfinella wrote:
@Layne, both of the above quotes are true. Notice the first one says "precipitation", not snow - Morzine also gets a lot of rain.

The same article stated "As previously mentioned, the Portes du Soleil consistently records some of the highest snowfalls and deepest snow depths in Europe.". It was from the Simply Morzine accommodation website though wink wink

I take it all with a pinch of salt. Hence I think the OP is looking for the holy grail, a micro-climate sweet spot that gives is a leg up in the great snow hunt. We've all done it Laughing Laughing
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@Layne, I also want the moon on a stick. Donít forget that please
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@Badbobby, I know, I know Laughing snowHead

So what do you think you'll go for?
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@Layne, dunno! Spent a while on hotels.com and Airbnb looking for inspiration. I can solve the late checkout conundrum by just paying for a 4th night and not use it, so long as the price is attractive.

Quite keen on trying Verbier as itís pretty high and Iíd like to see what itís like.

Les Houches is tempting but concerned by how busy the Cham valley will be.

Could do Samoens or Les Carroz.

Too Much Choice!!
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So... fired off some emails last night and have ended up reserving 3 nights at the Hotel du Bois on the edge of Les Houches. A few reasons, aside from good reviews and reasonable price - it has a spa and they say that we can check out on the last day and ski, use spa and then leave for our 22.45 flights. Tick. Free private shuttle to the slopes. Tick. 100% refund until end of November. Tick. I like tree skiing and my sister liked it.

I guess my only worry is what the rest of Cham will be like for number of people.

Just need to decide if I drive and have the flexibility of the car (e.g. St Gervais, self drive to Argentiere) or just get a shared transfer.

Thanks for all the input.
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Too slow to respond... I was going to say La Thuile if you were open to going to Italy... just past Courmayeur and the main skiing really starts at 2000m and up. You can also find a few nice places in town. That said, have fun in Les Houches. Have not skied it yet although done other places in the Chamonix Valley. Would like to try it next year.
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Do you mean the free private shuttle will bus you to other skiing areas of the Chamonix valley?

If so I wouldn't be getting a car and worrying about going to St Gervais. I probably wouldn't anyway but the would clinch it.

Sounds a neat trip anyhow.
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Itís only to Les Houches. Figured weíd do the other areas in Cham in the afternoons given theyíre not massive
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@Badbobby, ? Theyíre not massive?

Our clients typically spend the whole week up Brevent.

Have you been to Cham before?
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Not yet, but the other half doesn't do off piste so we'll probably blat around it fairly quickly. Appreciate that piste maps don't always tell the whole story so i'm more than happy to be put in my place.
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@Badbobby, itís more North American than European.

Not a huge number of lifts, but long runs.
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The North American comments refers to the "feel" of Les Houches? If so, while I haven't skied there yet, I did get that feeling at San Nicolas de Veroce... more treeline, shorter lifts, less European. Not the majestic feel of being above treeline which you get at San Nicolas as you work your way up. Les Houches must be like that.
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