Top Lift: 2400m
Ski area: 220km of piste
Adult lift pass: 184€ for six days
In a Nutshell
A traditional French market town, not too well known by the Brits. The pistes are quiet and the prices quite reasonable. We just wish it was 1000 metres higher.
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
The ski history of La Clusaz dates back to 1907 when it first welcomed tourists into town. The following year, local lad Pierre-Noel Vittoz, experimented with skis and an invention called Le Paret – the first ever snowbike. Skiing really took off after the World War II, with the first chair opening in 1956. Prior to this, skiers used to use rope-tows pulled by carthorses. The popularity of La Clusaz increased through the 1960s, not just with locals but also for people from all over France and Switzerland.
The proximity of Geneva – just 60 minutes’ drive – has in more recent years increased the number of British skiers, although the resort is still predominantly French. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming in all the bars and restaurants.
La Clusaz is a candidate for the Annecy 2018 Winter Olympics, and invests annually in new hotels, regraded runs and new snow-cannons to ensure the resort can keep running even during bad snow years. It has replaced several old lifts, as well as adding a telemix six-person chair-bubble lift. Considering the small size of the town – it has just 2000 inhabitants – it is interesting to note that there are several high-profile names amongst the local skiers, such as Vincent Vittoz (World Cup cross-country medal winner) and Candide Thovex (X-Games gold medal winner).
A good variety of ski terrain
The resort consists of five mountains offering a good mix of runs, both tree-lined and more open, as well as off-piste in the Etale area and great freeride and off-piste opportunities at La Balme. The fact that much of the mountain turns back into cattle pasture during the summer ensures that the pistes don’t need a huge snow-cover in order to stay open – a definite bonus for the run back into the resort.
The village itself is traditional and pretty. It is based around a main town square and an early 19th-century church, with traditional wooden buildings housing sports shops and boutiques, some lively bars and restaurants, and a couple of night clubs. Many of the bars feature live music and the village hosts various events throughout winter – such as freestyle competitions, a Mardi Gras carnival and a Retro Ski event, all of which keep the apres lively and fun.
See also our feature on What You Should Know About Lake Annecy Skiing.