During the summer months there’s often lots of work going on, with many ski resorts working hard to improve the ski experience for the winter.
That’s definitely the case for Winter Ski Season 2019/2020 so here’s an update of the new developments in each of Ski Weekender’s resorts.
These ski resorts are all located in the Northern French Alps, with just a short 1-hour airport transfer from Geneva – making them perfect for a very convenient short break or ski weekend.
The exciting developments outlined below all help with the flow of skiers around the mountain, plus ensure a more speedy and efficient lift service, helping you get even more ski time during your short break with Ski Weekender.
Many of the resorts are also investing in their snow-making facilities, enabling them to produce more artificial snow to ensure good skiing conditions for the full duration of the ski season from December 2019 to April 2020…
Le Grand Bornand – Annecy-Aravis Mountains
There’s been a lot going on around Le Grand Bornand this summer, with an exciting new ski lift and some remodelling of the pistes.
Le Grand Bornand are finishing their work on a new high speed 6-person chairlift in the Chinaillon sector – it is called “Charmieux” and will replace the old slower Gettiers and Outelays lifts, with the ability to transport 3,600 skiers per hour.
The novel 60-degree curved entry and exit access helps speed up the flow and positions the incoming chairs directly in line with the ski runs.
The “Charmieux” chairlift takes a different line, going higher on the mountain and will give quicker access to the Maroly sector with direct access onto the green “Le Lac” piste.
In order to create this, as well as improve the snow-making facilities, there
has been extensive remodelling of the slopes to create these new linking pistes, including a tunnel under the “Stade” slalom piste.
This involved some very impressive machinery…
…which has created some gentle, smooth linking runs that are now being covered with grass once more ready for the season ahead!
In a great example of recycling, it is hoped that the dismantled Gettiers ski lift can be re-used and reinstalled in the Joyere secteur next year, which will provide a boost in capacity by replacing the quaint (but ancient and slow!) Taverne lift!
In addition to the upgraded high capacity lift, there will be a second covered “magic carpet” lift for the expanded and improved beginner’s area of “Gettiers” which will also have a whole new welcome building with ESF ski school, lift pass sales office, toilets etc.
The other exciting developments in Le Grand Bornand relate to the 2nd hosting of a round of the Biathlon World Cup 2019.
This truly international event takes place in the village from 16th to 22nd December 2019, attracting thousands of fans from all around the world to cheer on their hopefuls in this thrilling race format.
It is a very fun event, which creates a unique sporting atmosphere all around the village (particularly if the French favourites win!)
La Clusaz – Annecy-Aravis Mountains
Looking for a new experience on your ski short break with a stunning view and have a head for heights?
Then the new suspended walkway and bridge at the top of La Balme in La Clusaz could be for you…. It’s a 6.5 metre long platform which would appear to take you out across the void at the rear of the Aravis mountains – complete with stunning view across to Mont Blanc.
The “Passerelle au Col de Balme” will be opening in December 2019 and will be accessible in winter for skiers only and the rest of the year for intrepid hikers who can climb to 2,500m for a mountain panorama!!
We have not yet found any images of it, but we suspect it might look something like this ‘pas dans le vide’ at Mont Revard which overlooks Lac du Bourget and Aix-les-Bains.
However, there should be a new HD webcam coming soon, so you will be able to see others enjoying the view before you join us for your own ski weekend or midweek break!
After last year’s big project of the new high speed 6-person lift for Cret de Merle, there has been more minor work in La Clusaz this season.
There has been continued but subtle landscaping works of the snow park, Cret de Loup and Cret de Merle sectors, along with the addition of yet more snow cannons across this region.
Here on Cret de Merle, you will also find the “Family Run” which is a fun zone with some off-piste and free-ride courses with a range of abilities catered for… so something to try together and share your first experiences of bumps, rails and some off-piste terrain specially designed for beginners.
A final addition which looks worth hunting out on the “Family Run” is a cosy cabin in the shape of La Clusaz’ logo – a ram’s head (le belier in French).
What a perfect hideaway to take shelter in when the fabulous snow is falling in this winter.
It is next to the 2m high ‘La Clusaz’ letters which have been moved this season to a very Instagrammable spot!
Remember to #SkiWeekender whilst you’re there!
St Gervais, Evasion Mont Blanc
St Gervais are also getting a new high speed six-person lift in the St Nicholas de Veroce sector, called “Les Chattrix”.
This will greatly improve the experience for guests staying on our weekend and midweek ski breaks.
The area above St Nicolas was always a good location to enjoy fabulous views to Mont Blanc, and one of our top-tips was to head here on a snowy day for more sheltered tree-lined runs.
However, it was always a bit slow and tricky to get back out on an old 2-person lift and a steep drag lift, but now it will be so much easier. The Chattrix lift will become a great asset for this area in the Evasion Mont Blanc ski domain.
The 7km red run of Epaule is a great long descent, linking from the Mont Joly end of the St Gervais / Megeve region and drops down to the charming village of St Nicolas de Veroce – the “Chattrix” ski lift will make this much easier to do several times over, which we’re sure you’ll do!
We’re looking forward to skiing there, and are pleased our regular coffee stop just got a lot quicker to get back from!
Les Contamines – Contamines-Hautluce
In Les Contamines it’s a quieter year with no major lift upgrades or works, although they have been busy installing a new kids play and games area at the Etape sector which is found at 1,500m.
This will be a multipurpose play park in Les Contamines which is available in summer and winter.
Samoens – Grand Massif
Over in Samoens and the Grand Massif ski domain there have been a number of improvements, continuing on the back of recent changes in the Samoens 1600 and Tete de Saix areas, following the opening of the large Club Med property.
This year the “Perce-Neige” piste which links Samoens to Les Carroz and Morillon has been widened which will help the flow of skiers on this narrow and flattish linking slope… hopefully it will now be easier for the quicker skiers to pass by the slower skiers skating their way along!
The new pistes and chairlift of “Coulouvrier” was a great improvement and opened up an otherwise inaccessible bowl in between Samoens and Morillon.
Another change is the “Corne” red run into a black piste.
There have been other improvements in the artificial snow network, with new spray-posts and cannons installed on the Tourmaline and the Serpentine pistes in Flaine, the Marvel in Morillon and Demoiselles in Samoens 1600, where they’ve doubled the capacity to a mighty 390m2/hr.
A further significant development is the construction of a new reservoir which can store 35 000 m3 of water to be used for artificial snow coverage, providing a huge boost to snow cannon capacity.
It’s part of a €1.5m project to ensure good artificial snow coverage for the Coulouvrier area, undertaken with a sympathetic approach to the local environment, including several measures to protect and create habitats for the Alpine newts and frogs.
The Grand Massif ski domain have also been busy adding to the choice of “Fun Zones” dotted around the mountain.
In readiness for Winter 2019/20 they have created the “Funny Slope » on the Tourmaline piste in Flaine, plus a sledging and games area called “ZouzouPark”at Samoëns 1600.
For those looking to go off-piste there is “Training DVA” on the Marmotte piste in Samoëns, where you can test your skiing and avalanche safety skills.
In addition – there are new initiatives to help people partake in a wide range of activities – including Ski Touring, Hiking, Yooner (sledges) and Fatbiking.
So whichever of our Ski Weekender resorts you choose to visit this season, we hope you enjoy these new developments and that they help you to make the most of your ski short break in the Northern French Alps.