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Les Contamines at Half-term ... busy?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all,

So .. have flights booked Edinburgh to Geneva for 15th-22nd Feb next year. This is half-term in the UK, and also the week that Paris have their holidays. But .. we got the flights cheap on the day they were released Smile

Last year (only our 2nd skiing holiday) me and the family (wife + 13yo and 10yo) went to Les Contamines - based on advice from here!. Unfortunately, I fell and broke my thumb at the end of day 1, so we had to fly home day 3 so I could get back to the UK to get my thumb sorted (the French Doc wanted to operate and put pins in it!).

Anyway ... the little time we did spend in Les Contamines we enjoyed, and the wide pistes and easy blues just what we wanted. My injury was a low speed ski pole/strap accident ... totally my own fault ... nothing that would put me off the resort, that's for sure.

We're considering going back again this year, and this time I'll try not break anything Smile

However, with it being Paris half-term ... anyone know how busy is it going to be? I don't mind a bit of a queue in the morning, or 5 minutes queue at some pinch points ... but we're relatively new skiers, so if the Pistes are likely to be very busy then our alternative is to cross over into Italy, where (from what I've heard) it's quieter than France. However .. Les Contamines isn't a major resort and it's not linked to anything else ... so maybe it wouldn't really be any busier than Italy?

So ... anyone experience of Les Contamines at Half-term Paris, and how it might compare to Italy (Pila? La Thuile? Cervina?) the same week?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I live in Chamonix and have done day trips to Contamines during half term. It is pretty busy tbh, all French though very few Brits. The lower pistes and nursey slopes were a bit of a circus but it was fine once you got a bit higher. If you're not yet happy on reds and blacks then you may find the blues busy. I've not been to Italy in half term so can't advise (the MB tunnel will have big queues if you're driving)
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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?
@zedzed_uk, unlucky on the thumb, could have been worse, I done a quad arm & 6 ribs & its not put me off.
couple of points.
reason for your cheap flights are that is not Scottish half term, (I know cause they have scheduled the Scotland/England 6 nations on the first Saturday of HT) it is English & Paris as you say, so everywhere will be busy.
LC & StG both have the bottle neck of getting up to the slopes, but once up there you are not talking 15+ minute waits as per the big tour operator resorts. Personally we only go to LC on clear days, it is different from StG (same pass if you didn't know) as it is far more open with wider pistes and generally the skiing is a lot faster up in LC than down in StG, so if you are not comfortable at speed then think about trying a day in StG.
I like that whole ski area as you have 4 nice area's to chose from (LC, StG, Megeve & Le Jullie) all on the same pass & they are on the easier side of skiing spectrum.
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I went to Les Combloux (next valley) during Feb 19 half term and couldn't believe how nice and quiet it was.
Typical Haute Savoie resort, below the tree line, amazing views of Mont Blanc as it's so close. Lots of easy blues and reds, good lifts, very few foreigners compared to other resorts in Feb, so really pleasantly surprised.
Heading back this year with friends who are fairly inexperienced as it suits them, and my refusal to queue to get on a ski lift.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@polo, 100% agree, forgot that was in the EMB pass as well, lovely restaurant down by the swimming lake, Danddy I think it is called
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combloux, flumet and praz sur arly are all on the hit list for this winter, all in the same general area as contamines and megeve. No Brits and get really nice reviews from people I know who've been there. Not sure if they are on the Evasion pass but you get a day ticket to them on the Mont Blanc Unlimited


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Tue 3-09-19 9:26; edited 1 time in total
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

Not sure if they are on the Evasion pass

Praz sur Arly is not. It's on the Espace Diamant pass along with Notre Dame de Bellecomble, Flumet, Les Saisies and Crest Voland.
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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!
Had you considered Switzerland? Yes, I know it has a reputation for being pricey, but the GBP is standing up quite well against the CHF at the moment. If you research somewhere non-premium like Nendaz, Veysonnaz or the Grimentz-Zinal area, and go self-catering, you may find that the subsistence costs aren't that different from being at home. And there are plenty of Swiss resorts within 2 hours drive of GVA, 3 - 3½ hours by train/télépherique/bus. And CH won't be hit as hard by the Paris Week Syndrome.

https://www.sbb.ch/en Public transport timetable
https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/experiences/winter/ Swiss Tourist Office
https://www.nendaz.ch/en/ski-area-lifts/winter-activities/winter-activities.htm Nendaz
https://www.ovronnaz.ch/en/?season=winter Ovronnaz & link to the 'Magic Pass' (Area ticket for multiple resorts)

As a guideline for apartment rental prices, our 68m², 2-bedroom apartment in the Swiss 4-Valleys area, with an underground parking place, central heating, hot water and linen included would be about CHF 1500 for the French school holiday week. And no, I'm not trying a soft sell here, there are loads of similar places available at the moment across all the Swiss resorts: you'd need to do your own research and decide on whether the economics work for you and the sort of resort you want to be in. IF it does look promising, I'd go to the resort landing page first and then look at the various rental agency sites.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@zedzed_uk,

I have a place in Les C and ski there every HT.

It is the busiest time of year of course but I personally find it less busy than other French resorts at HT (much quieter than Megeve/St G just down the road, ditto Chamonix , 3V etc).

Part of the reason is the shape of the ski area, narrow at the bottom but spreading out wide with open bowls higher up. IME once you are up one of the bubbles from the valley you only have one lift to avoid (a drag). Most people drive in and park at the bubbles. I think the constraint on skier numbers is the car parking not the lift infrastructure. My take is that if you avoid the pre-skischool rush for the bubbles (go earlier or later) you would be pretty pleased by the lack of queues. Someone mentioned that you need to be happy on reds and blacks to avoid busy pistes. I'd point out that a fair criticism of Les C is that the blacks are very easy and the range of pistes from blue to black is quite narrow in difficulty. Certainly the reds are tame by EK or Chamonix standards. The exception would be the resort runs at the end of the day - if you don't enjoy the challenge of busy narrow reds then get the bubble down! The consolation for good skiers is the acres of accessible off piste.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Would Combloux be any quieter than Les Contamines? I'd have thought no given that you can get to it quite easily from Megeve and LC is more "self-contained" ... but perhaps Jedster or those with experience of the area can advise. Also took a quick look at Combloux and I cant find anywhere walkable to the slopes - so I assume it's ski bus to the lifts?
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
I think Les C would be a better bet - not least because it holds its snow better than Combloux, which is on the "sunny side" of the Arly Valley. If headed to the Arly Valley, Praz sur Arly would be a better bet than Combloux. There is plenty of accommodation within walking distance of the fast 6 man Cret du Midi chair.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Think that is right. I really only know the skiiing on the Megeve side of Combloux (Mont D'Abre I think) which I really like but it is pretty hectic at HT
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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
@pam w, considering the OP's requirements (easy blues), might the pistes at Praz sur Arly be a bit steep? Might be a bit busier, but perhaps the skiing would be more suitable at Crest Voland?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:

might the pistes at Praz sur Arly be a bit steep?

Yes, perhaps so. and some of the drags not for the faint-hearted either! Crest Voland certainly suits the "easy blues" requirement - don't know how busy it would be at half term though. Nowhere around will be really quiet, obviously.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
We stayed just outside Les Diablerets/Villars in Switzerland during half term last year. It was a little more expensive but was practically empty so well worth it. It's also linked to Glacier 3000 - we had a blue sky powder day there and even then it was empty.
However if you decide to stay in France then Les Contamines is a good choice. As someone has already said it is quieter than other French resorts (being right at the end of a valley helps).
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Thanks for the replies - everyone. Love this forum Happy

Looking at Villars it looks like the slopes might be what we're looking for ... and I would guess quieter than France at HT. Les Des looks ok too .. but more "towbar" lifts?

Only thing I'm finding with SC accommodation is that they all seem to want an extra £250-£300 over the "listed price" for:

* last day cleaning - 41CHF per person
* 25CHF per person for bed linen.
* Tourist tax at 5CHF per person per night.

So ... e.g. £1200 for the week quickly becomes £1500. I'm used to some of these on SC elsewhere but I guess I'm dealing with Swiss prices.

Anyway .. if anyone has any recommendation for accommodation in the area let me know. Not planning on hiring a car (given I can get there by train in 2.5 hours) ... so would need to be somewhere close to the slopes, or on the bus pick up route.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@zedzed_uk, apologies for hijacking your thread but we're also looking at this area for HT after changing plans! One thing that put me off Les Contamines was it would seem that the base lifts are a way out if town so lots of bus or parking faff every morning. @jedster, with your local knowledge, how much of a pain is it esp with 2 smalls in tow (will be 10 and 8 at HT so not that small!)?

@denfinella, the Val d'Arly resorts are also tempting but struggling from piste maps to see the links well esp from Praz to any other places? We'd be self catering but eating in most evenings but the resorts here seem small and accom spread out so struggling to work out which would work well as a base - we're all good intermediates, husband is a boarder so is anti-drags though. Kids ski and board - boarding less skilled than skiing but are not set on one or the other less of an issue.
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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?
@always29, I am sure Jedster will be along soon with more local knowledge than I but it all depends on where in LC you are staying, sure the town is a 2 min bus ride to the uplifts & these are the bottle neck in the system (once up there is no problems) but there is also a fairly large holiday type village "hameaux du lay" that is 5 mins walk into town & right next to 1 of the uplifts, if you are going self catering then it may be worth looking at them there are 2 uplifts to the skiing.
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@Jonny996, thanks - will have a look at that- we would be self catering so hopefully there's some apartments there still for rent!
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