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Les Saisies - location advice please

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi,

A few months ago I had some wonderful feedback from a few of you regarding where to go in 2019 for our family ski trip (Feb half term unfortunately). Your feedback helped me pinpoint the Espace Diamant, namely Notre Dame de Bellecombe (Mont Rond area - thanks Pam!).

However I've only managed to find 3 or 4 places to stay that would meet our requirements (as that particular area is more of a hamlet). We've probably been spoilt the last few years in Chinaillon but would like to keep our criteria the same - 2/3 bedroom, no less than 50 square metres space (so that tends to rule out appartment blocks), almost ski in/ski out (we've usually only had to walk 40 metres to the nearest piste, self catering - and we want to return to where we are staying to have lunch most of the time.

My husband has pointed out the obvious - perhaps I shouldn't be putting all my eggs in one basket when Les Saisies is much bigger and probably has more/better options. But looking at a piste map doesn't help me much - there must be key areas in LS that have an advantage over others so wondered if anyone had advice please?

Note that the kids will be in ESF ski school in the morning and need picking up. I found some nice places in Bisanne 1500 but a piste map makes it look like we'd have to hoof it some if we wanted to go further afield and be back in time (we are good intermediates). I know what lift queues are like at half term and we do want to make the most of the whole ski area but don't want to be continually clock watching! Thanks!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Well, I know Les Saisies well. Well enough to know it's not a great destination for half term - the main Saisies bowl is the busiest part of the Espace Diamant. In Les Saisies village itself nowhere is very far from the "front de neige". The apartments in the "Village de Lapons" might suit your requirements - and are available (inter alia) through Peak Retreats. They also have other high end accommodation in the station. The ESF meeting point is in Saisies, not Bisanne 1500 - so the main problem there would be getting the kids over the mountain (on skis) or round the mountain (car or bus) in time for their lessons.

Frankly, as a big fan of the place (only just sold my apartment in Bisanne 1500 after 15 glorious years) I'd not go to Les Saisies if your half term coincides with the Paris half term. In fact, as a Francophile, I wouldn't go anywhere in France during Paris half term.

However, if you do come up with any suitable-looking accommodation I'm happy to advise about location and give you any other entirely honest and disinterested information you need!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
You could look in Praz sur Arly too - fast 6 man chair (Cred du Midi) gets you swiftly to some very good and uncrowded skiing, an easy route over to the top of Notre Dame de Bellecombe and a not-always-easy (a cambered and sometimes mogully red run masquerading as a blue as it's a "liaison") to Saisies.
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We stayed in le hameau de Beaufortain some years ago with Peak Retreats and it was in a beautiful location and perfect for ski to and from the door. It was not so good for the village itself but we had a hire car so that was fine.

Le Village des lapons is as pam says well placed for skiing and the village....but probably more basic than Hameau de Beaufortain.

Village des Armaillis looks more luxurious than both the above as it is only a year old but is a little way from the slopes.

Les Chalets d'Emeraude look better than Village des lapons but I think it is another lagrange place where you would be charged all sorts of little extras whereas with Hameau de beaufortain and Village des armaillis I expect cleaning, beds made on arrival, Hammam etc would be included.

I've seen there is a new place called Les Chalets des cimes being built in Les Saisies for next season which looks well placed for skiing and village but I doubt any tour operators will list it until it is nearer completion.

If I had to choose something now I think it would be either le hameau de beaufortain or village des armaillis.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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Can your kids ski, @Kettonsnowmum? The Hameau du Beaufortain is well located for skiing if your kids can ski (easy slopes) but isolated in other ways - you would be reliant on ski bus (during the day only except very spasmodic service in evenings) or car to get anywhere else. At half term parking in the village can be difficult, especially when it's snowy - another consideration. There's a big free car park but that often overflows at half term too. All the French holiday weeks are busy but the Paris weeks are just manic. Personally I'd go to Italy if I had no choice but a week of the Paris holidays! But then I'm spoiled by weeks of no lift queues and having pistes all to myself.
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Hi all, to clear a couple of things up......we usually drive down so happy to be living away from the masses. Kids will be on ESF 3rd star next year (and they can be scary fast when they want to be - no fear!). Double checked and we're not on half term with Paris next year so that's good. We have been renting direct from owners - usually an apartment in a chalet (my French is pretty good) so assume maybe Peak Retreats would be more expensive and slightly smaller than what we're used to? Although you do clearly get extras!

I will take a look at Praz and see what's on offer there. Maybe one of the locations I'm looking at in Mont Rond will be available - but looking for a backup. Pam, if I find something but am not sure about location I will be in touch if that's OK?

Sideline: went we went this year at half term Chinaillon was practically empty....turns out only one part of France was also on half term. Never seen it so empty - no lift queues (bliss). My friend went to La Tania and said the same. Ah, if it could always be like that!!!
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For 3 years we stayed in chalet apartments leased by Joguet in LS. Secret ski in/out, at the top of the village. We did it in Paris half term, too, and fared pretty well. 3 br, 67 sqm, w/d, killer views and near ski bus stop. Sleeps 6-8. Think we paid 1800 euros per week, including covered parking. They have a website. Another great option is Crest Voland - easy to get to main ED areas but lower altitude.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Quote:

Pam, if I find something but am not sure about location I will be in touch if that's OK?


Yes - of course!
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Hi all, just thought I'd throw this out to the masses for opinions especially if anyone with kids have been in the same boat! It's a nightmare trying to find somewhere to rent in Les Saisies that's the size we want and in our 1500 Euro budget (in half term!). Waiting to hear back from my last few enquiries but feeling like I'm reaching my limit (and end of patience). Think something will need to give.

Thinking it may come down to either a) Staying in Cohennoz (Le Cernix) or b) Staying in Bisanne 1500 (I've found that Glisse Passion don't start their lessons until 10.30am so assume this gives us enough time to get up and over??). Any thoughts??
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If you have a car, would you consider staying somewhere 20 mins drive, you would have a lot more accom options

Crest Voland ?
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@Kettonsnowmum, If you can find somewhere that is the right size in Le Cernix then it will only be a short walk to the snow. The ESF does meet in Le Cernix as well as the main bit of Crest-Voland.
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Quote:

(I've found that Glisse Passion don't start their lessons until 10.30am so assume this gives us enough time to get up and over??).

Yes, no problem at all, given the competence of your kids. Glisse Passion will have slightly smaller groups than ESF at half term. We always use GP. If you stay in Le Cernix it's easy to get up to Saisies and you have two possible routes back, one via the Chard du Beurre chair and one from the Bisanne side down that long green run (extremely pleasant through the woods, especially after fresh snow).
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I'm staying in Hameau du Beaufortain over Easter, so hoping snow will be good and can give you a good report¬!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Brilliant - thanks for all the helpful comments.

Staying in Les Saisies itself seems a long shot. But just as I had talked myself into Le Cernix a property in Notre Dame de Bellecombe 1350 has become available (the pre-bookers have pulled out). Le Cernix vs NDB anyone?? One of the locations must have an advantage over the other perhaps?? PS - don't forget the kids have ski school (and Feb half term!) so we'd be on limited distance skiing in the morning.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Of the two, I'd go for NDdB provided you're properly near the Mont Rond chairlift. Some places calling themselves 1350 are a bit strung out. Parking in half term will be difficult - you need to be able to walk easily to the lift. The top part of NDdB - around the Lac and Plan des Fours chairlifts - is an interesting area with some challenging red runs, lots of bits of off piste and quieter than much of the domain - certainly quieter than Les Saisies.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Hi Pam, could do with your knowledge here then. The house is meant to be 250m from ESF meeting point at Mont Rond. It's in the Planay area. On Googlemaps (however accurate that is) the property is near restaurant La Ferme de Victorine. To me that looks like you are on a slope which means walking down to the main lift. However what worries me is whether it entails a 200m walk back uphill to get home with tired ten year olds. The property is described as 'possibility to ski back' which I take with a pinch of salt.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Hmm. I know the Ferme de Victorine (was very good food when we visited a few years ago but extraordinarily grumpy proprietor - made a bit of a career of it, I think, but it might have changed hands since - was one of the best restaurants in the Espace Diamant). If it's quite near that, would be OK. The "possibility to ski back" will refer to the run which comes down from the top of Mt Reguet - very well described in the recent excellent trip report on the Espace Diamant - which you must read, if you haven't already. It's an alternative to the slow two-man, two-way chair between ND 1150 Mont Reguet and 1350. It's not always tenable - the sunny side of the valley - dodgy snow - but certainly a good way back to that area if you are returning from Mont Rond 1150. Irrelevant if (as is more likely) you're returning from the Mont Rond side. To walk to and from the Ferme de Victorine to the Mont Rond chair is along the road and up/down a set of steps. Not far - and 10 year olds shouldn't have a problem with it. But it depends how "near" it is to the Ferme de V.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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Hi all. Well, having sat down with the hubby the other night he totally poo-poo'd my shortlist of accommodations based on size or proximity to lifts. Picky! Then, after all that, I got a reply from an accommodation in Les Saisies that is apparently '50m walk to the Chenavelle piste down to Le Legette chair'. It's booked and weeks of stress now off my shoulders (in time for my birthday at the weekend!). Thanks to all of you for your help with this and keep sharing how you find Les Saisies/Espace Diamant!

Pam - Any thoughts on good restaurants in the area (the kids love a Pierrade where they get to cook all the meat themselves!)?

Also, I believe the Le Legette chair opens at 9am. If we got there early enough to be on one of the first up (do they really leave it until bang on 9am to open??) does anyone know if we'd make it down to the ESF Centre Station meeting point for a 9.15am start (apparently this is at the top of the Chardons carpet). Sounds tight. Thanks
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You'll need to either walk or bus up to be at the top of the magic carpet by 0915
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We always stayed in chalet apartments run by Joguet and there is a narrow skiable track down to the Le Legette chair that runs through that part of Les Saisies. It is <<almost>> possible to do what you describe but not quite. Best thing is to catch the bus to be at the top of the magic carpet at 915. You can get off the bus at a couple of different places that will get you there in time.

Pro tip: If you are going half term, take the earlier ski bus for morning lessons. Trust me on this! They get mobbed. Better to be standing around for a few minutes than shut out of a crowded bus and be late. Also, there are one or two bus lines with two separate routes. Learn them ahead of time. Also trust me on this!
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Pasigal wrote:
We always stayed in chalet apartments run by Joguet and there is a narrow skiable track down to the Le Legette chair that runs through that part of Les Saisies. It is <<almost>> possible to do what you describe but not quite. Best thing is to catch the bus to be at the top of the magic carpet at 915. You can get off the bus at a couple of different places that will get you there in time.

Pro tip: If you are going half term, take the earlier ski bus for morning lessons. Trust me on this! They get mobbed. Better to be standing around for a few minutes than shut out of a crowded bus and be late. Also, there are one or two bus lines with two separate routes. Learn them ahead of time. Also trust me on this!


Edited to add that the Le Legette chair is rarely crowded and a great way to get into the main ED versus the Chard du Beurre chair, which is often slammed for most of the day. Good location choice! You can also "ski in" to that part of LS through a couple of goat tracks if you're a confident skier. Last time we were there, 2017, we did not use our car or the skibus except for morning lessons. Every other time we took the various tracks through the chalets to Legette.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Brilliant info - thanks!! Wasn't so much of a location choice but all that I found actually available but perhaps it sounds like I got lucky. And we do try to be vehicle/bus free for the week. Yes I am very, very thorough when it comes to research (as maybe you can tell?) so I'll be downloading bus timetables way in advance. In my head I'm hoping, like you say, it's one bus needed per day at the start.....but with all the other families there heading for the same time class in all ESF groups I can imagine a 9am bus will be rammed. One other thought though would be to maybe go with Glisse Passion lessons which start much later - that way I imagine we could ski down Chenavelle, lift up and meander to the meeting point in a more relaxed fashion.
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Quote:

I imagine we could ski down Chenavelle, lift up and meander to the meeting point in a more relaxed fashion.

Yes - from the top of the Legette you can ski all the way down into the centre via a pretty boring green run OR take a short drag lift and a more interesting blue (easy to make a decision when you see the queue for the drag lift). Personally I much prefer Glisse Passion to ESF - and maximum 10 in group lessons.

As @Pasigal says the buses at ski school time will be very busy. Personally I'd put my skis on my shoulders and walk, rather than queue/scrum. It is uphill but you'll know exactly how long it takes you after the first day. And a bit of exercise first thing in the morning is no bad thing!
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Chenavelle is not the run you want to get to the center of LS. As @pam w, says, from the top of Legette you take Blanchot, a long green run, over the main road and down into the bowl where the magic carpet is. Legette is kind of a dead end lift, though I really like the runs off of it on the front side.

We really loved Les Saisies, the only issue was after three years we've kind of skied it all and wanted a change. It can get extremely crowded at half term, especially if the snow in the other ED areas is not good -- everyone goes there for the altitude. You can't beat the views!
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Sounds great. Yes, we've done 3 years at Le Grand Bornand (Chinaillon) hence changing to here as we're a little bored. I know that crowded half term feeling well unfortunately.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
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Quote:

Legette is kind of a dead end lift, though I really like the runs off of it on the front side.

To speak up for the Legette..... it is also a great way to get to the very good skiing down to Hauteluce or - even further afield - across to other Espace Diamant areas (via one of 3 runs, 2 blues and a very easy red, to the bottom of the Roche Blanche lift and the liaison to the Douce bowl - in fact, the Legette can take you everywhere except Crest Voland. And although it's quite a slow lift it's less busy than the Chard du Beurre.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Agree that the Legette runs are decent. However if you're a beginner / cautious intermediate, be aware that (we found) the Chenavelle blue is a genuine blue, i.e. one of the steeper blues in Les Saisies, and also one of the busier runs in the domain. The two blacks (Perdrix and Cuberotte) are really more of red gradient.

The restaurant at the bottom of the chairlift did an amazing all-you-can-eat BBQ (chips and salad bar included) in January 2018, for about 13 euros.
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