Samoens, France | Welove2ski
Ski Resorts

Samoens, France

Samoens, France | Welove2ski
Photo: OT Samoens

The Stats

Altitude: 720m

Top Lift: 1780m

Ski area: 265km of pistes

Adult lift pass: 216€ for six days

site Official Site | site Ski Map | site Webcam

In a Nutshell

Samoens may share its ski area with purpose-built Flaine, but it couldn’t be more different. This is, officially, one of France’s Monuments Historiques – a pretty and ancient village surrounded by magnificent cliffs and mountains, which just happens to have a ski area attached.

Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip

If you’re tired of the usual high-altitude, factory-skiing schtick; if you’ve grown out of full-throttle apres-ski; if you want your holiday to be somewhere French, as well as mountainous – then may we suggest Samoens? It’s a small, low-altitude, medieval town set in the valley beneath the Grand Massif skiing area, and we can’t think of another place like it.

Of course, not everyone is going to warm to the place. This isn’t a ski-in, ski-out resort. You have to catch a cable-car from the outskirts of town up to the slopes at the beginning of the day, and back down again at the end of it. Anyone who wants to maximise their skiing or boarding time should give it a wide berth as a result. Complete beginners will probably be happier up at the purpose-built satellite, Samoens 1600 – because there’s no point adding a daily, cable-car commute to the general bewilderment of your first holiday on the slopes.

But that said, many of those who do stay here seem to love it. “Samoens is a truly wonderful place and completely unlike any other ski resort I have visited in the Alps. It is still a bit of a ‘secret’ and I’m writing about it with some reluctance, because I would hate to see it overrun by my fellow Brits,” says one. “It is a proper working town, rather than a resort, and has a lovely mediaeval square at its heart, and many beautiful buildings. In terms of character, it is chocolate-box cute, but not of the sickly sweet variety.”

In particular, this is good place for families who already have a couple of ski holidays under their belts, and don’t need the help of nannies and/or creches. They’ll appreciate the short commute from Geneva (about 45 minutes), the friendly locals and the lack of pressure to ski, ski, ski you find in the high-altitude resorts. That’s not to say the skiing isn’t good – the Grand Massif is one of the largest areas in France and boasts a super-snowy microclimate – thanks to its proximity to Mont Blanc. It’s home to many fine intermediate-friendly pistes. It’s just that in Samoens you’ll be taking your holiday at a more leisurely pace.

The Loveometer

Where to Ski Loveometer 70% | Welove2ski

We Love

We Hate

tick The medieval core of Samoens – quite unlike anything you’d normally see on a ski holiday.
tick The low-key, unpretentious atmosphere.
tick The mix of scenery – you get both high and hoary, and soft and pastoral here.
tick The big, snowy, intermediate-friendly ski area to which it’s attached.
tick The laid-back attitude to children – even in the better restaurants.
tick The easy access from Geneva Airport.
cross The fact you can’t ski back there at the end of the day but have to download by cableway.
cross The traffic – they should close more of the old village centre to cars.
cross The low altitude of the village.

Continue Exploring Samoens

About the author

Sean Newsom

As well as founding Welove2ski in June 2007, Sean has written about skiing and snowboarding in the British press for 28 years. For the last 20 of them, he’s also been the ski travel editor at The Sunday Times.

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