La Clusaz is one of the more charming resorts in France and is a firm favourite for skiers due to its picturesque architecture, its location, sitting just an hour away from Geneva, and its large and high ski area.
La Clusaz sits in the Aravis mountain range and offers 132km of groomed piste stretching over five inter-connected ski areas. Keen skiers, however, should buy an Aravis ski pass which also includes Le Grand-Bornand (and the tiny resort of St Jean-de-Sixt) which boosts the amounts of runs to 220km. There is direct link to Le Grand Bornand from La Clusaz but with there only 6kms separating the two, taking one of the frequent shuttle buses is no hassle at all.
The centre of La Clusaz is traffic-free, which allows for a more tranquil setting compared to other resorts. Given its proximity to Geneva, the resort is busiest at weekends however for the most part, there is a relaxed and friendly, vibe throughout the village.
If you like tree lined runs, then you should certainly consider La Clusaz. The skiing is best suited to intermediates and beginners but there are some challenges for experts and interesting off-piste and freeriding terrain, much of which can be reached with very little climbing.
The resort is situated at 1100m (Le Grand Bornand and St Jean de Sixte are even lower) and a lot of the skiing is below 2000m. Despite the low latitude, its snow record is impressive, mainly due to the fact that most of its slopes face North or North West.
700m – 2561m
December – April
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There are good beginners’ areas with easy green-rated nursery slopes right next to the village in the Beauregard and Col de la Croix Fry sectors. The ski school has long experience and a generally good reputation and La Clusaz will provide you with a solid start to your skiing career in a real mountain village environment, so you’ll get to appreciate more than just the ski slopes. After your first few days of learning to keep standing and to turn and stop there are good progression green and blue runs in the area to move on to.
Intermediate skiers have a wide range of more than 80 green, blue and red runs spread across five mountain sectors – Beauregard, La Croix Fry-Manigod-Merdassier, L’Etale, L’Aiguille and Balme. These contain almost all types of ski run imaginable, from classic narrow trails winding down through the woods to open snowy slopes above the treeline and wide fast cruising trails, all inter-connected by a network of more than 50, mostly modern lifts and at the base a ski bus connection. This also runs over to neighbouring Le Grand Bornand every 30 minutes or so for those who hold the Aravis regional pass and wish to ski there too.
There’s a multitude of different opportunities for advanced and expert skiers above La Clusaz, spread between the five areas. One way to get to know some of it well is to take the summits circuit route which links red and black graded terrain around the ski area. Favourite sectors include a popular powder bowl in the Balme area, the region’s highest, where the Vraille slope in the same region which drops more than a vertical kilometre while it descends for four in length. Or over in the Aiguille sector the ‘Edgar Wall’ is the new name for the Cret du Loup piste, an infamous bumps run renamed after the locally based ski champion Edgar Grospiron. The Combe du Fernuy piste starts black but levels out a little and is downgraded to red as you progress. There are plenty of legendary off piste routes in the area too, only to be attempted with a ski school group or mountain guide. One favourite ski touring route takes you to La Giettaz, which is now lift-linked to Megeve in the Mont Blanc region close to Chamonix.
La Clusaz has great freeriding terrain and has always been a pioneer with freestyle too, opening one of Europe’s first terrain parks back in the early years of boarding and following this with pipes and boarder cross courses. Today the main park contains quarter pipes, gaps, tables, fun boxes and whoops and there’s also a 100m international standard half pipe.
There are an abundance of things to see and do in La Clusaz besides snow sports inlcding the aqua park, cinema, spas and multiple art galleries. Other than by ski/snowboard, the area around La Clusaz is best explored by snowshoeing with a mountain guide.
For the petrolheads, it is certainly worth renting a snowmobile and taking one of these slippery tracked quad tours with an experienced guide.
An amazing family adventure is a Dog Sledding experience, couple that with some horse riding and magical sleigh rides and it simply will be a holiday to remember.
Skijoring is an old Norwegian winter sport where the skier is pulled by a horse. It is certainly something different!
Once or twice a month extraordinary carnivals take place, such as Retro Ski Carnival (a popular event that celebrates the history of skiing) Radikal Mountain (a must for extreme skiing lovers), Carnival La Clusaz, Full Moon Skiing and many more.
View the live snow report for La Clusaz here
La Clusaz has a good selection of family friendly runs on the mountain and family-friendly dining and accommodation. However, as different parts of the village and the ski slopes can be quite far apart, it’s worth checking where your accommodation is and if it’s close to the ski slopes to avoid spending too much time waiting for the shuttle bus.
The village has a non-ski nursery that accepts children from as young as eight months. For older kids who want to learn to ski, ski schools will teach beginners’ lessons for kids from age four in a special snow play area.
There are some good facilities to enjoy together off the slopes too. The Aqua Centre (434, route de la Piscine; +33 (0) 4 50 02 43 01; laclusaz.org), which is open until 7.30pm each evening. The Aqua Centre is great for the whole family and will be sure to keep everyone entertained. It features a paddling pool, fountain, indoor and outdoor heated pools. The 1,000 square metre ice rink (94, place du PrÃ© de Foire; +33 (0) 4 50 02 48 45; patinoirelaclusaz.free.fr) is another major asset and offers ice hockey lessons for children aged nine to 16 years.
Hotel Alpen Roc
Hotel Coeur du Village
Located to the east of Lake Annecy, La Clusaz and neighbouring Le Grand Bornand are easy to reach from Geneva airport, which is just 69km away. Chambery Airport (77km away) and Lyon Airport (150km) are the other main gateway airports for international visitors.
The closest airport, however, is Annecy Airport which does not have any international flights but has services to and from Paris. It is just 30 kms away from La Clusaz.
From Geneva Airport, the drive to La Clusaz takes between one and one and a half hours, but there can be traffic jams at peak times at weekends because La Clusaz is a popular weekend resort, with good reason.
A40 (Autoroute Blanche), exit N°16 Bonneville, direction Stations des Aravis (20 km). Or A41 (linking Grenoble to Geneva) exit Annecy Nord, direction Thenes, Stations des Aravis (30 km).
Aravis Shuttle offers 5 shuttles per day between Geneva airport and La Clusaz bus station at the best price throughout the winter season.
The Leman Express is a train from Geneva offering 6 lines departing from Coppet, Bellegarde, Evian-les-Bains, Annecy and St-Gervais-les-Bains-Le Fayet. Up to 6 trains per hour and per direction between Geneva and Annemasse: from 5am to 00.30am during the week and 24 hours a day at the weekend. It allows you to connect the cities of Annecy and La Roche-sur-Foron and benefit from bus connections to La Clusaz.