Ski Expert Jake heads to Flaine
I have just returned from a fantastic week away in Flaine, situated in the stunning mountain range of the Grand Massif.
Why did me and my mates choose the relatively unknown resort of Flaine?
- Cheap accommodation compared to resorts like the 3 Valleys/ Espace Killy
- Short 1-hour 15-minute transfer
- Over 250kms of skiing with reviews saying hardly anyone skiing on them!
- Personal recommendations from colleagues at Ski Weekends who have skied here before
After a hassle-free transfer from Geneva and bar not being able to find our accommodation at 1 am, we got off to a great start!
We soon found Flaine to be to our liking and we were spoilt with some of the best snow on piste that I have skied in my life!
Flaine is divided into 3 sections with a road snaking up through the three of them:
- Flaine Forum; This is the lowest section where both the Terminal Neige Totem and the White pub is located. To access Flaine Foret there is a free pedestrian lift that runs up and down 24/7
- Flaine Foret; The middle section of the resort that is similar to the above with a collection of shops, restaurants and a few bars. This is where the bowling alley is located that has pool tables, a bar, arcade room etc
- Hameau de Flaine: 2km up from Flaine Foret which are linked together by a free bus service that runs every 15 minutes. This is by far the prettiest place in Flaine. There is one bar/restaurant here with a ski hire shop on site. This general building is called the General Store.
- Wide, open and usually quiet slopes run from the high altitude bowl of Flaine all the way down to the tree-lined runs of Les Carroz, Morillon, Sixt and Samoens. Perfect for all levels of skiers whether you are practising your turns or opening up on some cruisy blues/reds
- I would highly recommend getting the Grand Massif lift pass in order to ski down to all of the little villages. Think tree-lined runs with fantastic views. The villages have a very local feel and are cheaper to eat out in compared to Flaine
- The Slopes were not challenging in terms of steepness. There are a few fun mogul runs to enjoy however it is a very family friendly ski area
- One of the most famous runs to tick off is the 14km long Cascades run. This goes from the top of Flaine (Grandes Platieres lift) all the way down to Sixt at about 650 meters. Whilst my mate Adam decided it would be good to ski this in a whiteout, apparently, the views are incredible!
- There is quite a bit of non-challenging off-piste to be had in Flaine. This does get tracked out very quickly, however it is great for ageing skiers or young skiers who still want to go for a wander off the slopes. Nothing is steeper than 30*. The Combe de Gers is a great introduction to off-piste however it is highly popular and gets tracked out fast.
ACCESS TO SKIING
- Unless you are staying in Flaine Forum at the Hotel Terminal Neige Totem, it is highly likely that you will not be in a ski in / ski out property.
- Whilst the initial shock to not having ski in ski out after a lifetime of it (walking to the slopes, madness!), we were soon won over by how easy access to and from the slopes was.
- The regular shuttle bus service runs every 15 minutes from Flaine Foret up to the Hameau de Flaine. This is a hop on hop off service and is not too crowded.
Going out; From Chalet Flaine or Marmotte you will need to walk down the road to the roundabout (150 yards) and on the right-hand side of the road you will see a wooden ski locker shed. You can put your skis on here and ski down an easy unmarked ski track to the “Les Gerats” ski lift (1-minute ski). At the top of this lift, turn right and the fairly flat green/blue run will take you down into Flaine Foret or on into Flaine Forum.
Coming back; Whilst you could get the Les Gerats chairlift and ski to the bottom of the unmarked track and walk up, it is a lot easier to get the bus back from Flaine Forum. If you stay on the bus after the roundabout stop then you will be able to walk downhill all the way to the chalets instead of uphill from the roundabout.
We were fairly surprised at the prices on the mountain with them being very similar to 3 Valleys costs. In fact, Les Menuires is a lot cheaper than the restaurants located on the Flaine Bowl side.
The cheapest place to eat out is a burger joint by the white pub in Flaine Forum where you can get a burger, drink and chips for 9 euros, bargain! However, it is set up like your local kebab shop with eating on stools
A good place to eat is the “La Pente a Jules” Chalet, this is on the approach to Flaine Foret. This has a nice restaurant and a separated snack bar which was great. There is a DJ here and it is the only real apres ski place in Flaine located on the slopes. Think small time DJ, friendly bar staff, great vin chaud, sun loungers and some awful dad dancing.
If you are after an apres ski mecca, Flaine is not the place for you. It is all about the skiing here.
APRES-SKI / NIGHTLIFE:
“La Pente a Jules” is the best place for slopeside apres, however, it is more of a chilled out atmosphere
Since the Flying Dutchman has closed down, there is only the Bowling alley in Flaine Foret or the White Pub in Flaine Forum to go to that are open late.
When we visited the Bowling alley it was dead, resembling a scene out of the inbetweeners movie. We made a quick exit!
The White Pub was fairly busy one night. The bar staff are mostly English and do their best to create a good atmosphere. We bumped into the celebrity Joe Swash which added a bit of glamour to the place, however, it still has a bit of a school disco vibe when the Dutch DJ was playing.
Getting back to the Chalets; The free taxi service runs till 11;30/midnight and all you need to do is call them and they will come and pick you up. If you are out later and in Flaine Forum then you will need to get the pedestrian lift up to Flaine Foret and then walk on the pavement up to the first Pierre & Vacances Hotel. Cut through the Hotel and take the elevator up to the ski path. From here you will walk up to a second Pierre & Vacances Hotel which you repeat the above. From there you will walk back to the Chalet
I was expecting a very French ski resort however it is full of Brits. There was a smattering of Dutch and a few French in Flaine, however, all I heard non stop was English.
To get more of a French feel it is worth skiing over to Morillon, Les Carroz, Les Samoens or Sixt which are all very easy to ski to.
We had a cracking week in Flaine and I would recommend this resort to any customer that is after a great family friendly resort. I would not send the apres ski-obsessed here or those after a lively resort. However if you can create your own fun, are content with a few bars and the holiday is all about the skiing, then Flaine is the place for you!
Jake is part of the ski expert team at Ski Weekends – and he really is a ski expert! Growing up in France for 5 years (one of which was spent in Albertville in the alps), Jake skiied in his PE lessons, taking part in downhill one week and cross country the next! Throughout the rest of his childhood, he also grew up skiing in the French resort of Les Saises where his aunt owns a chalet.
Jake is an experienced seasonnaire, having worked two ski seasons in the Alps. He spent one season working in Reberty and the other in Le Bettex near Les Menuires and has worked as a transfer driver and chalet host.
To find out more about Flaine or to book a ski break with Ski Weekends, call one of our ski experts on 023 8020 6971 or email email@example.com