Skiers on wide piste with panoramic view of mountain landscapes at Les Saisies

Les Saisies

Espace Diamant, Haute-Savoie, French Alps

Located just south of Megève in the underrated Espace Diamant, which unites the ski areas of the Val d’Arly and the western end of Hauteluce (the opposite end being linked to Les Contamines).

The result is one of the better-kept secrets in the French Alps, with a wealth of varied terrain and great snow record, thanks to the nearby presence of Mont Blanc. You’re going to be hearing a lot more abou it as it continues to expand and develop.

Skier leaving chairlift

The Ski Area

Compared with other French ‘grande domaine’ areas, the Espace Diamant’s greatest selling-point is the possibility of skiing a full circuit around the mountains and back again to your starting-point, within a day. And unlike its famous Sella Ronda counterpart in Italy, here you’ll have plenty of time for a relaxed lunch along the way. It’s great cruising terrain for intermediates, and the varied scenery brings a sense of getting well away from the outside world.

Being based in Les Saisies brings easy access to gentle novice and ski-school slopes, while intermediates who don’t feel up to doing the whole circuit have plenty of other options (including skiing a different area each day). The lift system over here is also among the most efficient in the Espace Diamant.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1150m - 2069m
Les Saisies
Pistes Total:
70 km
9 Green
23 Blue
14 Red
6 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 27
11 Draglifts
16 Chairlifts
Espace Diamant
Pistes Total:
192 km
31 Green
67 Blue
50 Red
10 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 82
57 Draglifts
27 Chairlifts

Advertisement

Les Saisies village centre, road, cars

The Ski Village

Accommodation-wise, the choice has been between the original village (above) at the foot of the slopes and the more discrete Hameau du Beaufortain (shown in our banner image), accessed by the Route du Mont Bisanne. For families the comprehensive range of services and easy access to ski-school areas make village the more practical option, while purists looking for a quieter, premium ski-in/ski-out location will find le Hameau du Beaufortain does not disappoint.

For potential property investors, however, the options are expanding. Beyond le Mont Bisanne (above Villard-sur-Doron and close to Hauteluce) lies the new development of Bisanne 1500, whose dramatic expansion is spearheaded by MGM Constructeur, which is developing not one but two sites: La Perle des Alpes and le Chalet d’Ameria – in total 70 new luxury slopeside apartments. We’ll be profiling these releases soon.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

Advertisement

Best For

Family skiers and mixed-ability groups with varied interests will have plenty of options here. There's an infectious buzz to the village, which combines the traditional, down-to-earth feel of the Beaufortain with a perceptible (and growing) move towards mountain chic. So you can ski (downhill or cross-country) all day then relax in a salon de thé or unwind in a spa – or find a lively bar, if you prefer. All of which makes it a tempting option for those in search of a substantial and affordable ski area yet with plenty of gentle terrain close at hand for novices or early-intermediates.

Advertisement

Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery
3 Snowparks
9 Snowboarder Cross


Cross-Country Skiing

One of the largest and highest in Europe. Olympic Biathlon Stadium. Free Nordic Fun Park Good place to learn.
120km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

Handiski...

  • Parking with easy access on to pistes, reserved spaces.
  • All lifts are accessible for handiski.
  • Adapted hotel and apartments available - call the Tourist Office for recommendations.
  • Accessible public toilets next to the Tourist Office and in the main car park.
  • Specialist instructors for disabled, mentally handicapped and blind skiers by ESF (in French only). Also, independent instructor Guy Bertin for personal tuition, English spoken.

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Extensive, varied skiing.
  • Improving lift system.
  • Authentic mountain village feel.
  • Accessible ski-school areas.
  • Good snow record.
  • Friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Not a legendary party capital.
  • Signage could be improved.
  • Still too many drag-lifts in some areas of the linked ski domain.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • A day with a guide will help you get your bearings and reveal things you might otherwise miss.

Practical Information

Getting there

By Car
For Dover-Calais ferry travel, other cross-channel routes, offers and bookings visit P&O Ferries

Autoroute A40: exit at Sallanches and follow signs in the direction of Megève, then Las Saisies.
Autoroute A43: exit at Albertville and follow directions for Beaufortain and Hauteluce/Les Saisies.

By air
The nearest airports are Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc and Geneva, both under 100km distance. Buses run between Geneva and Megève (about 1½hrs, with Borini ou Altibus), then you'll have to take a taxi between Megève and Les Saisies (about 50 €). Alternatively, get to Albertville and there's a bookable shuttle (service A2) to Les Saisies run by Mobisavoie.

Jet2.comoffers low cost flights to the French Alps from 7 UK airports.

By train
TGV Paris - Albertville (3h40), with a shuttle connection from the station to to Les Saisies. See Mobisavoie for timetables and reservations.

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s ski train direct to the French Alps with .

Transfers
Visit Ski-Lifts for the best range of ski transfer destinations from airports and main rail stations.


Things to do

Tried and testedTahiti Eden Spa & Lounge

Ave. des Jeux Olympiques
73620 Les Saisies
Tel: +33 (0)4 79 89 64 73


Tahiti Eden Spa and Lounge, Les Saisies

Indulge yourself in this delightful salon de thé with cosy sofas and views across the slopes. It serves over 40 different teas, a range of delicious hot drinks plus mouthwatering cakes. At midday there's a restaurant menu using fresh ingredients, and after 6pm you can enjoy tapas and a glass of Champagne.
Treat yourself to one of numerous beauty and spa treatments such as a soothing body exfoliation or a Pacific oil massage – or simply relax in a hammam followed by a wonderful outdoor Jacuzzi overlooking the slopes.
Spa opens daily 10h to 20h; Saturday 14h to 20h.
There's also luxury bed & breakfast for 4 people, with free entry to the spa and hammam.




Tried and testedMountain Twister

Les Périots
73620 Les Saisies
Tel: +33(0)4 79 38 98 89

Open 1030h to 1230h, 1330h to 1830h (ski season).


Mountain Twister, Les Saisies

Great fun for any age, this roller-coaster style ride is 800m long, and every twist and turn will make you scream with delight.
Price: 4€ + 1€ per passenger.




Tried and testedFromagerie des Saisies

55 place Jean berthod
73620 Les Saisies
Tel: +33(0)4 79 38 90 39


Fromagerie shop, Les Saisies

Visit the dairy and see how the Beaufort cheese is made. The shop on the ground floor is packed with delicious cheeses, saucissons and other local products.




Tried and testedTime to Try Cross-Country Skiing?


Cross-country skier, Les Saisies

Les Saisies has fantastic facilities for beginners and cross-country fans. The Nordic domain is one of the largest and highest in Europe with a varied choice of itineraries between 3km and 32km long. A downhill ski pass gives free access to the Nordic area so there's no excuse not to try it out.
We were fitted with shoes, skis and poles at Piccard Sports and made our way to the Nordic area entrance. Once we became accustomed to the skis and were able to keep our balance, we began learning the two techniques - classic and skating. You'll need instruction but you could attempt the 1km beginner trail on your first day.
It's great exercise and a superb way to see more of the natural mountain environment. We'll definitely have another session.



Where to stay

Tried and testedLe Hameau du Beaufortain

Route du Mont Bisanne
73270 Hauteluce
Tel: 0033 (0)4 79 10 46 70

Hameau du Beaufortain has a quiet woodland setting away from the busy village centre and is made up of a collection of seven traditional style chalets. The spacious, comfortable apartments all have a fully-equipped kitchenette, satellite TV, phone (payable) and free WiFi access. We stayed in a two-bedroom apartment with balcony and panoramic views towards Mont Blanc. We loved having plenty of storage and the kind of large lounge dining area which would suit a family very well.
There's a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and spa treatment centre as well as ski hire and an on-site traiteur, where you can order hot food and expertly-prepared meals.
The main village is 5 minutes' drive but skiers can access the slopes via the blue-graded 'La Beaufortaine' piste, which runs behind the residence.

Enquiries and bookings:
Peak Retreats
0844 576 0170 (UK) or +44 (0)2392 839 310
reservations@peakretreats.co.uk


Where to Eat

Tried and testedLe Benetton Bar Restaurant

Le col de la Légette
73620 Les Saisies
Tel: +33(0)4 79 38 92 61

Le Benetton Bar Restaurant, Col de la Legette, Les Saisies

On-mountain restaurant at the heart of the ski station with a huge, sunny terrace. Efficient and friendly service and a nice welcome ensures that this restaurant is popular with skiers and its a great place to relax midday. If you want to find fault, the WCs are outdated - ladies be prepared!
The menu includes Savoie specialities as well as simple pasta dishes though the Plats du Jour are worth a look - when we visited there was rabbit with polenta or veal and mushrooms for 18,90€. We enjoyed chicken and chips (18,50€) which was so generous that we could easily have shared.
Rather pricey, but a great spot for an on-mountain treat...


Tried and testedHotel-Restaurant La Ferme du Chozal

73620 Hauteluce
Tel: 0033 (0)4 79 38 18 18

Situated at the foot of the Chozal lift in Hauteluce, the beautifully-restored Ferme du Chozal is not only an exquisitely-styled, warm and welcoming hotel but it also has a restaurant serving exceptional, regionally-inspired menus. Amid a cosy Savoie style interior, expect attentive service from owners Anne-Christine and Frédéric Boulanger and their staff. We enjoyed a set menu consisting of an amuse bouche then a shellfish consommé to start, followed by Lotte Rôtie au Lard d'Arnad, saffron butter and a Turnip Tatin, an extraordinary selection of local cheeses, then a dessert of exotic fruits with a chocolate cream and vanilla-flavoured foam. Complete menus start from around €40 per person excluding wine, though Frédéric will surely tempt you with his superb selection of local wines (available by the glass).
La Ferme de Chozal is wheelchair accessible.


Insight: Les Saisies

View from chair-lift of skiers and village of Les Saisies

Insight: Les Saisies

We’re no strangers here, having already spent a memorable day putting a full circuit of the Espace Diamant under our skis a couple of seasons ago. On that occasion we’d been based in nearby Crest Voland, and our experience of Les Saisies had been been confined to simply skiing past it a couple of times. Even so, what we saw had been enough to put it near the top of our growing mental list of ‘we’ll come back here’ ski areas.

We were finally able to return, our approach (from Albertville this time) taking us through the Beaufortain valley towards Beaufort-sur-Doron, on the outskirts of which we turned off the valley road to climb steeply through conifer forests towards one of our favourite spots, the village of Hauteluce. After a few final hairpins the climb relents and we approach Les Saisies, where just a few minutes later we’re safely parked and transferring our gear to an impressively spacious and well-equipped apartment at the Hameau du Beaufortain.

“Les Saisies provided some of the best snow conditions we encountered during what turned out to be an unreliable season.”

Skiers on Blue-graded pistes at Les Saisies
The Douce chairlift, Les Saisies.

Filling in the gaps

Next morning we take advantage of the ski-in/ski-out location at the Hameau du Beaufortain and take a leisurely blue- and green-graded cruise over to the front-de-neige of Les Saisies 1650, where the ski school groups are already assembling and confirmed skiers are converging on their preferred departure points. Ours is the Chard du Beurre lift. The powerful high-speed six-seater whisks us smoothly high above the Route des Grandes-Alpes, which passes through the heart of the village, before climbing to the 1889m Chard du Beurre. Although in absolute terms not that high, the sweeping panoramic views from the summit provide the perfect vantage point for newcomers keen to get their bearings.

Turning our back for now on the unmistakable outline of nearby Mont-Blanc (4810m), we take a blue-graded cruise via the Trolliers and Lézette pistes though wide open landscapes to the base of the Brichou lift. The onward steep haul takes us through some of this sector’s steadily-increasing tree-cover and drops us onto a ridge from which green, blue, red and black pistes return to the base of the lift, while ahead lie blue- and red-graded pistes dropping into the Grattary/Douce bowl.

Each turns out to be well worth trying, but for now we take the Coudray blue, which snakes its way down to the Douce chairlift, a useful link over to Praz-sur-Arly, Crest-Voland and Notre-Dame de Bellecombe. At the top we’re sorely tempted, but instead turn around to ski the Péchette red piste, a relatively steep run which swerves beneath the lift, skirts more forest and eventually fires us back to the Grattary chairlift. On reaching the summit we ski off onto the Grattary blue, before peeling off to take Arcosses for a red-graded swoop beneath the Brichou lift and onwards to the Roche Blanche 4-seater fixed chair.

Fresh snow above Hauteluce, en-route for Les Saisies.
Ski-in/ski-out chalet apartments at Bisanne 1500 are transforming the range of visitor accommodation.

Dropping into Hauteluce

This time when we leave the lift at 1865m we do give into temptation, in the form of a long red-graded descent on the Lanches and Balme pistes which between them plunge through 715m of vertical all the way down to Hauteluce. The lower section is the steeper of the two, but since each piste has its own lift, you have the option of returning before you commit to the start of Balme. Having come this far, we press on, and find that snowmaking, combined with low temperatures have actually produced better conditions than we encountered during our previous visit. The run terminates beside la Ferme du Chozal, one of the better places to stay in the Beaufortain and offering a fine restaurant with a large sun terrace. Our planned lunch break is elsewhere, however, so we relax and take in the amazing scenery during the lift rides back up to the La Legette sector. From the top a gentle glide is all it takes to bring us to Le Benetton.

Developing Bisanne 1500

Some time later, when we finally summon the will to leave this seductive spot, we join Blanchots for a gentle, green-graded cruise back past Les Saisies 1650 and join one of the onward chairlifts serving Mont Bisanne (1940m). This impressive viewpoint has orientation panels to help identify the surrounding peaks, but our sights are set on a spot currently hidden from view but much closer at hand. Getting to Le Planay is simple enough, via a scenic cruise on the blue-graded Le Planay piste (or the rather more direct Bouquetin black) which winds its way down the far side of le Mont to reach the steadily-developing ski village of Bisanne 1500. The sensational scenery and away-from-it-all setting make this a premium location, as developers like MGM Constructeur are keenly aware.

Les Saisies village from Mont Bisanne
Les Saisies winter sunset

Perfect day at Les Saisies

After riding the Rosières chairlift back to Mont Bisanne we recall that building up some speed during the long schuss on the far side of Bisanne would be enough to carry us smoothly over to pick up the beautiful forested run over to Crest Voland. This time, though, we explore some of the terrain above Les Saisies before dropping down into the village to rest our much-travelled legs over a vin chaud in the Tahiti Eden Spa’s salon de thé.

Outside the afternoon is winding down, while the kind of buzz familiar to habituées of ski resorts is starting to build. So before the lifts close, we glide off to join our last lifts of the day, which drop us neatly just above our apartment.
Within a very few minutes we’ve stowed our skis, changed out of our jackets and salopettes, and are savouring the glow of accomplishment which rounds off the perfect ski day. Thank-you Les Saisies – and the remarkable Espace Diamant.MountainPassions heart icon