The Grand Massif is about 9 hours from Calais, mostly on autoroutes (tolls will cost just over 60 euros each way). For Samoëns, exit the A40 motorway at Cluses-Scionzier (exit no.18). Samoëns is a 20-minute drive away.
For the Grand Massif travel by Eurostar from London to Paris then take a train from Paris Austerlitz to Cluses. From Cluses take a bus or taxi (20 km).
online to avoid a booking fee and get your tickets by first class post (UK only).
The cheapest and quickest way to reach Samoëns from the UK is via a low cost flight to Geneva. Hire a car when booking your flight or book a taxi in advance.
Le Grenier Savoyard
+33 (0)4 50 34 48 22
La Maison de Fifine
+33 (0)4 50 34 10 29
Places to Stay
La Reine des Près****
Samoëns, enquiries and bookings Peak Retreats
Hôtel Chalet Neige et Roc ***
+33 (0)4 50 34 40 72
MGM French Properties
Kingsland House, 122 - 124 Regent Street
London, W1B 5SA
+44 (0)207 4940706
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Pick up and ski this winter
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Samoëns: up with the best...
Samoëns combines premium skiing with high quality accommodation for a discerning clientèle who appreciate the ambience of a traditional mountain village
While purpose-built ski villages are busy finding ways to broaden their visual appeal by adding traditional-looking features, Samoëns, in Haute-Savoie, clearly has no such worries. This is the real thing, with a lot more to its architectural heritage than a few showpiece structures carefully preserved for visitors. And it’s a year-round working community, too.
Daily life here still revolves around a venerable lime tree planted in 1438. It’s still flourishing, as is the heart of the village. Just step into a side street, though, and you’re suddenly transported back to the days not so very long ago when winter activities here had little to do with leisure, let alone fashion. In an age of burgeoning boutique ski resorts, we’re going to need the simple honesty of places like this.
The setting, in the Giffre valley at the foot of the Grand Massif, is startlingly beautiful, particularly when the temperature drops, fresh overnight snowfalls transform the landscape and for days afterwards the trees resemble giant Christmas decorations. Swirling through it are 70km of groomed cross-country ski trails. Most of today’s skiers, though, have their sights set rather higher, and board the Grand Massif Express gondola lift for a smooth eight-minute haul up to the 1600m Plateau des Saix, gateway to France’s third-largest downhill ski domain.
The Grand Massif
From here the possibilities feel almost limitless, and combine the terrain of ski villages like Morillon, Les Carroz, Flaine and, most distant of all, Sixt Fer à Cheval. It’s no surprise, then, that the pleasures of the Grand Massif have not only attracted the attentions of increasing numbers of skiers, but also prestige property developers like MGM Constructeur. Suddenly the 18 million euro price-tag of Samoëns’ new high-speed lift begins to look like a shrewd investment, having suddenly propelled the village to prominence as a serious contender for those in search of the skier’s Holy Grail: big-mountain skiing, coupled with authentic mountain village ambience within an hour’s drive of Geneva airport (and one of the easier car journeys to the Alps from the UK).
Fortunately this new-found celebrity hasn’t changed things too much, and the official protection afforded to the village (along with the fact that the new link is situated at a discrete distance from it) should ensure that the focus of any major new property development will be elsewhere, out of harm's way. So life continues as before for the good people of Samoëns, who after all have seen it all before, having been welcoming skiers to the valley for longer than almost anywhere else in France.
Life goes on...
Outside the winter sports season the more traditional activities for which the valley has long been renowned still continue. Which is why the base station name panel of the state-of-the-art Grand Massif Express lift is exquisitely carved on slate from the valley, and why outside the tourism office you’ll find an imposing sculpture by a stone-cutter who also happens to be fully-qualified as a ski instructor. To everything, here at least, there is still a season.
© Roger Moss
This carved name panel of the state-of-the-art Grand Massif Express celebrates an age-old local craft.
A delicate wrought-ironwork sign continues another longstanding village tradition.
Le Gros Tilleuil
The much-loved medieval lime tree was planted in 1438 in the very heart of the village.
The famous 3.5Ha Alpine Botanical Gardens contain over 8000 mountain plants from all over the world.
The village still enters into the festive spirit.