The purpose-built resort was designed with a striking Bauhaus style in mind and although it may appear quite stark, it is incredibly convenient and most of the accommodation is ski-in-ski-out. The car free streets are very family-friendly and when you add in a quick, hour-long transfer from Geneva, this is one of the most accessible resorts in France.
The fact that a lot of people don’t like Flaine’s Modernist architecture means that prices have stayed relatively low for France. Add Flaine’s snowy micro-climate into the mix and you can see why some people come back here year after year.
Flaine is a car-free resort (apart from 90 minutes allowed for loading and unloading baggage) and has 12,000 tourist beds. It has long been a village of apartments and club hotels, so if you’re looking for accommodation that’s more traditional in flavour then you’ll need to check out the lower-lying villages of Samoens, Morillon and Les Carroz.
The skiing is in a big snowy bowl. It’s great for beginners, families with young children, and lower intermediates, and there’s also plenty of scope for excursions beyond Flaine itself and into the other resorts of the Grand Massif area. It is worth noting that there is also some excellent off-piste skiing to be found, especially if you book a guide or instructor.
The north-facing bowl above Flaine has a reputation for maintaining great snow conditions, whether this is on the gentle blues above the resort or on the plentiful off piste that gives this resort so much variety. Add in the network of mostly tree-lined slopes dropping down towards Samoens, Les Carroz and Morillon and the 265km of linked pistes will keep all but the most expert of skiers happy.
Good nursery slopes are located in and outside the village, making it an ideal spot for families with young children. Flaine was the first resort in France to install snow-cannons. The slow old chair-lift serving the nursery slope at Flaine Forum, which also brings people back from the gondola to the main village, has finally been replaced with two covered moving carpets.
This is not a resort for party animals, it’s much too quiet, but that does make it a good destination for families who are not looking for apres-ski. The two major ski schools run classes for children from two-and-a-half years old. There is also a nursery in Flaine Forum for babies from six months to three years old, and there is also an in-hotel creche in the Hotel-Club Mer Montagne Vacances Flaine.
150km (600km linked piste)
697m – 2480m
December – April
This is a great resort for beginners, and there are some fantastic learning areas right in town, just steps away from most of the accommodation. Several of the lifts are free and there is also an excellent beginner points card. For a longer green, it is worth moving across to the Arolle piste below the Le Lac chairlift, you do need to drive there or catch the bus however. Progression on to gentle blues and longer runs is then possible across the ski area.
Flaine is ideal for confident intermediates, with a great variety of long, well-groomed blues and reds in the snowsure bowl above Flaine. Many of these drop the full 800m of vertical back to the resort and are a blast first thing in the morning when freshly pisted. More adventurous intermediates will want to explore the blues and reds above Samoens and Morillon, we’d recommend the long runs served by the Coulouvrier chairlift.
Some fantastic lift-served off piste and some seriously challenging terrain is within easy reach of the resort. Most of the blacks are genuinely steep and the two marked freeride zones, off the Lindars Nord chair and Veret draglift, are always popular. The Combe de Gers is another excellent area, although it is served by a fairly tricky draglift.
As far as snowboarding is concerned, Flaine offers some great and varied terrain for different abilities. Flaine sits in a big bowl and forms part of Le Grand Massif area, which includes the linked resorts of Samoens, Morillon, and Les Carroz, offering a good variety of off-piste options.
Ripping around the empty slopes on a snowmobile after the lifts have stopped is one of the most fun apres ski activities you can do. Anyone from the age of 18 can take control of their own vehicle, but you can also sit back and enjoy the scenery while an experienced driver whisks you around if you’d prefer. Kids from the age of 10 can ride as a passenger.
Ice Driving Circuit
For another adrenaline-fueled activity, test your driving skills on the resort’s ice driving circuit, which at 1500 metres, is the longest in France. Circuit Glace offers tuition ranging from introductory sessions to longer, more advanced courses, or you can drive unsupervised. They have a range of vehicles that you can hire, or you can bring along your own. Spiked tyres are available to rent.
Ice Quad Bikes
There’s also an ice quad biking circuit, which is located next to the ice driving track in the Front de Neige area of the resort. Mecene has a range of vehicles for both adults and kids to ride on its 700 metre long track. The centre is open all day, seven days a week, and is floodlit for evening sessions. They take either individual or group bookings and also offer a range of other activities for groups of 20-50 people, including human table football and snowshoeing. There’s a hut in the centre of the track where you can buy snacks and refreshments, or you can book a table at the nearby restaurant, La Ferme du Sartot for some post-ride nourishment.
Evasion Nordique runs a range of dog sledding packages where adults and children can learn to drive a sled of three or four huskies. Their special dogsledding evenings include an hour long introductory dog sledding session followed by dinner in a mountain restaurant.
One of the most exhilarating ways to enjoy the area’s stunning scenery is to take to the sky by paraglide. Flaine Parapente is one of several companies in Flaine that offer tandem paraglide flights to visitors, and is recommended by the tourist office.
Flaine’s main aquatic centre is located within Residence Le Centaure in Flaine Forum and is open to the public. The spacious leisure complex has a 25 metre swimming pool, separate kids’ splash pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room and treatment rooms where you can book a range of massages and other therapies. Several other of Flaine’s residences have their own swimming pools and leisure facilities, with Flaine Montsoleil Les Terraces d’Eos having one of the best. Its fantastic heated outdoor pool offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, which can also be enjoyed from the large indoor hot tub and glass fronted gym.
Indoor Climbing Wall
The auditorium in Flaine Foret, next to Residence La Foret, houses a number of recreational facilities including an indoor climbing wall, where adults and children of all abilities can have fun scaling its heights under the supervision of qualified instructors.
The same centre in Flaine Foret is also home to the resort’s bowling alley, which has loads to keep both adults and kids occupied after the lifts have stopped. The complex has 6 lanes, with one dedicated to kids from the age of four, as well a games room, pool tables and a bar with large screens that show live sport.
The resort’s cinema is located in Flaine Forum, next door to Residence Le Centaure, and shows a programme of the latest releases, with some screenings in English.
Flaine Forum is also home to the resort’s ice skating rink, which is another great apres ski activity for the whole family.
Flaine Forum also has a cultural centre with an art gallery that showcases the work of both regional and international artists. There’s also a bilingual library with titles for both adults and children in French and English, a reading room, and separate audiovisual room. The centre is open from 4-7pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and entry is free.
While there are a couple of small boutiques in the main hub of the resort, most of the shops in Flaine are either ski shops or grocery stores.
View the live snow report for Flaine here
Largely pedestrianised with predominantly ski in/ski out, family friendly accommodation, Flaine is the perfect resort for a family ski holiday. Excellent ski school and childcare facilities, plenty of gentle beginners’ slopes, family oriented restaurants and a wealth of activities for kids, all help to strengthen its family friendly credentials even further.
Family Friendly Accommodation
Most of the accommodation in Flaine consists of self catered, ski in/ski out apartments, which are perfectly suited to families with children. Residence Le Centaure is located right next to Les P’tits Loups nursery and within easy reach of the kids’ club meeting points, making it particularly convenient for families with young kids.
Ski School and Childcare
The ESF has two kids’ ski schools: Le Club Piou Piou, based in Flaine Foret, and Le Rabbit Club at Flaine Front de Neige. Both clubs welcome kids from the age of 3 to 11 and have their own snow gardens where younger kids will have great fun playing and learning to find their feet on the snow. Older kids who’re ready to progress to the slopes are taught in the fun and safe environment of the schools’ dedicated kids’ beginner slopes with magic carpets and safety mats. It’s possible to book your kids in for either half or full day lessons, either with or without lunch. L’Ecole de Ski Internationale (ESI) runs La Souris Verte kids club, which takes children aged from 3 to 5 years. It has its own snow garden and is based at Flaine Forum. There’s also a range of independent instructors with whom you can arrange private lessons. Catherine Poupeville is a French and British qualified ski instructor who speaks fluent English and specialises in teaching children. She takes kids from as young as two and a half, for either one, two or three hour sessions.La Garderie des P’tits Loups in Flaine Forum is a nursery that offers day care for children from the age of 6 months to 3 years.
Hotel Terminal Neige
Geneva Airport: 95km to Flaine (about 1 hour 15 mins drive); 75km to Les Carroz (about 1 hour drive).
Grenoble Airport: 214km to Flaine (about 2 hours 15 mins drive); 198km to Les Carroz (about 2 hours drive).
Lyon airport (St Exupery):Â 210km to Flaine (about 2 hours 15 mins drive); 195 km to Les Carroz (about 2 hours drive)
Flaine and Les Carroz are close to the A40 motorway that runs from Geneva to Chamonix. Take exit No 19 for Flaine and follow the N205 for 2km and then the D106: you will pass through Les Carroz about 15 minutes before you reach Flaine. There is a petrol station in Cluses, which is 30km away, as well as one at the Spar in Les Carroz. Driving to Flaine and Les Carroz from the UK and Northern Europe is relatively simple compared to other high Alpine resorts, both Flaine and Les Carroz are about 10 to 12 hours drive time from London in normal conditions.
Helvecie has bus services at weekends only and bookings must be made 48 hours in advance. For departures from Flaine it is necessary to book from the Flaine tourist office. Tel: 41 22 756 9000. Web: www.gare-routiere.com . S.A.T provides bus transfers every day and bookings must be made 48 hours in advance. For departures from Flaine it is necessary to book from the Flaine tourist office.
Cluses has a TGV railway station and is located 30km from Flaine. Geneva also has an international railway station and is located 80km away.