The gateway to Le Grand Massif and one of the biggest ski and snowboarding areas in France, Flaine is blessed with a wonderful snow record - companies offering snow guarantees often import skiers from other French resorts when their pistes have lost snow.
Located in the Haute-Savoie region of France, Flaine is one of the most easily accessible resorts in the French Alps, with Geneva airport just 1hour 15 drive away - you can be schussing down the slopes few hours after leaving. Great for beginners, one of the green slopes runs from the resort top station which enables those just starting out to see the amazing views of Mont Blanc and the bowl before riding back down in the Cable Car.
Le Grand Massif offers exciting skiing on 133 carefully maintained runs, totalling 265 kms ... and they start right on your doorstep! Flaine is very good for beginners and intermediate level skiers who are looking to improve technique and there is an excellent range of blue and red pistes that cater for the natural improvement experienced during a week's holiday. There's plenty of variety, from the wide gentle blues, to short sharp steeps.
Flaine is a great family resort - you'll appreciate the excellent ski school kindergartens, the short transfer (90kms to Geneva - so good for weekends, too) and the car-free environment. Every skier and snowboarder hates queues - and in the busy French Alps these can be major. But Flaine is refreshingly queue-free. Sweep down the mountain then back up again with a minimum wait. The outward appearance of the resort is not as amazing as some traditional chalet-type villages, but you can ski into almost all of the accommodation with great ease. If you like the idea of plentiful snow, affordable prices, great family atmosphere and a wide range of runs for every level - head to Flaine. Many return every year after their first fantastic visit.
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Flaine for Different Ski Abilities
This is a perfect choice for new skiers, with lots of fun, easy and non-threatening snow to just relax and give it a go it. The green run from the resort top station is a great chance to get as high as the pros, while still feeling safe. Flaine has a lot of good kid's packages, and Marvel; a fabulously long green that goes through the forest is another winner, it will make you feel on top of the world - even if you've only just started out.
Flaine is very good for beginners and intermediate level skiers who are looking to improve technique and there is an excellent range of blue and red pistes that cater for the natural improvement experienced during a week's holiday. At the start there are the wide, gentle blues of Serpentine, Cristal and Olivine, where the inexperienced can enjoy practicing their carving turns. Adjacent to these and running all the way from the top station down to the resort is the more challenging red called Faust. This has just a few short, steep-ish sections and is very exhilarating. Flaine is famous for the14km Cascades blue slope to Sixt. Skiers attempting this piste should allow four hours for the return to Flaine if taking a leisurely pace. The free ski bus drops people back at either Samoens or Morillon to get the return lifts and it should be noted that these will close between 4:45 and 5pm.
The majority of Flaine's marked ski runs are suited to intermediate skiers, but there are also plenty of challenging adventure trails for experts. For advanced skiers there are 12 black trails, including one of the longest in the Alps down to Samoëns. The Combe de Gers powder bowl is also popular and off-piste courses are run by the ski schools. There's also a 'hot' snow park for snowboarders (the Jampark).
Flaine Ski Schools
Flaine's ski and snowboard schools and independent instructors will help you gain and confidence quickly on all types of terrain. They offer lessons in all snowsports, on and off-piste, freeride and freestyle. Some are known for experience in slalom or giant slalom race training, others are specialised in children's courses.
Catherine Monitrice is an independent instructor offering private ski lessons in Flaine for children only. She is affiliated to Syndicat International Des Moniteurs De Ski and is qualified in both France and Great Britian (BASI 1). With more than 20 years teaching experience, Catherine teaches skiing from as young as 2 years, 6 months. Your children will be listened to, understood, gain confidence and make progress. Having spent long period of time in England, Catherine is fluent in English and she’s easily recognised on the slopes as she always wears orange and black clothes!
Après Ski and Off the Mountain Activities
Flaine has a well deserved reputation as a family resort, with great kid's facilities and family-orientated hotels. There are a lot of chilled and fun family restaurants and bars to head to après-ski, as well as a few more rowdy party bars; it doesn't have the same wild, action-packed nightlife as some of the other French resorts. The Flying Dutchman and Diamant Noir in Flaine Foret and Le White Pub (formerly the White Grouse) in Flaine Forum are good bets; The Flying Dutchmen has a pumping atmosphere and heaters outside. The Le White Pub is a good start to the night - a large bar with a restaurant area and hearty pub food. There are lots of restaurants dotted around, mainly budget to mid-range eateries. La Perdrix Noire (Flaine Forêt) offers house specialities including grills, seafood, cheese and meat fondues. Sucré Salé (Flaine Forêt) follows Flaine's artistic theme by surrounding diners with artwork. Restaurant Savoyard (Hôtel Aujon, Flaine Forum) serves Savoyard specialities and you should usually reserve a table!
off the mountain
Take some time to stroll after skiing and maybe bring back a souvenir from one of the shops and boutiques in resort. Two shopping arcades, one in Flaine Forêt and another in Flaine Forum, contain most shops of the resort. Something that sets Flaine apart, and is well worth checking out is the cultural centre with an art gallery and a trilingual library. The top form centre will keep you in, well, top form, with its two Finnish saunas, weights room, cardio training, UVA solarium, relaxation room, physiotherapy and massages. If you're not worn out from all the skiing and boarding, try a little Ice driving, ice quad, ice kart, paragliding, helicopter flights, cinema, indoor climbing, ten pin bowling, dog sledding, snowshoeing, winter walks or cross country skiing.
How to get to Flaine
Flaine, the resort claims, is almost on your doorstep. They call it Fly-in, Ski-out, and that's pretty close to the truth. Flaine lies in France, in the northern part of the French Alps in the Haute-Savoie region, between Geneva and Chamonix Mont Blanc. It is close to major airports (Geneva, Annecy, Lyon), train stations (Cluses, Annecy, Annemasse) and the A 40 motorway (Cluses).
Flaine lies at approximately an hour and fifteen minutes from Geneva airport. Other airports are close too (Annecy -85 km and Lyon-220 km). Regular shuttle and bus services operate between Geneva and Flaine during the winter season.
Geneva International Airport
The airport closest to Flaine (70 km). Approximate transfer time: 1hr15min by car or taxi, 1hr45 by bus.
The closest train stations are Cluses (30 km), Geneva and Annemasse (70 km). From Amsterdam or Brussels, The Thalys high-speed train will take you to Paris or Lyon. From London, The Eurostar whisks you to Paris or Lyon during winter. From Paris or Lyon, there are several daily trains to Cluses.
Take the A40 Motorway Geneva to Chamonix, and choose exit 19 (Cluses centre). Turn right onto the N205, towards Sallanches and leave the N205 after about 2 km (1.2 miles) at the left turning signposted Flaine, on the D106. This takes you to Flaine via Les Carroz d'Arâches.
Online road maps: www.mappy.com