Samoens

Beautiful village 1 hour from Geneva, accessing 265km of slopes.

Samoens Ski Holidays

Samoens' historic centre gives the town a unique blend between authentic French village and ski resort.

An hour from Geneva airport, with a high speed gondola outside the village speeding access to the whole Grand Massif - including Flaine, Les Carroz and Morillion. Intermediate ski holiday heaven, and not bad for beginners or advanced skiers either!

Close to Geneva
Uniquely beautiful village
Beginners and intermediates
Decent size ski area

Geneva, 1hr

265km of pistes in Grand Massif.
Ski from 800m – 2561m.

Samoens Ski Chalets


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Samoens Ski Holiday Guide

Samoens sits in the middle of a glacial valley and roughly translated, its name means 'the seven mountains', a reference to the peaks that surround the village. It's location, less than an hour from Geneva airport, makes it a popular weekend ski holiday destination, and the resort is also really popular with the French skiers too.

It's sometimes difficult to call Samoens a ski resort, as it can feel like much more than that. The town is a unique blend between an authentic French Alpine village and a winter sports resort. It's also home to more than 2500 permanent residents, which serves to add to its charm and character. Samoens is the only ski holiday destination to be classified by the 'Caisse Nationale des Monuments Historiqies' as a 'historical monument', and you'll see evidence of the town's stone masonry heritage at almost every turn.

Beginner One of the largest dedicated beginner ski areas in the Alps

Intermediate The large Grand Massif ski area offers days and days of fun to intermediate skiers

Advanced Fun, but not the most challenging terrain in France

Snowboarders The off-piste can be nice and challenging, especially in nearby Flaine, but park wise, there's not a great deal on offer

Families Resort facilities are great, as are the ones on snow, but the links between the two can be challenging for families

High Altitude 1500m - 2480m. 80% of pistes are North facing, giving them great snow coverage throughout the season

Nightlife Relatively tame, and those that holiday in Samoens like it that way

Pretty Village Beautiful, charming village square with loads to see and do

Cheap Possibly one of the best value ski resorts in France

Large Ski Area With 265km of connected piste, the Grande Massif is the 5th largest ski area in France

Close to airport 1 hr by road from Geneva

In resort convenience Ski lifts aren't directly accessible from the centre of the resort without using the local free bus service, your chalet minibus or tackling a 20 minute walk.

So in summary then,

Samoens ski holidays are great for:

  • Skiers who also like a traditional Alpine resort
  • Beginners and mixed ability groups
  • Short breaks as Geneva airport is just 1 hour away!

Samoens ski holidays are not great for:

  • Convenient access to the lift system as they run from just outside the resort
  • Really extreme terrain
  • Apres parties and a big boozy night out

Skiing Samoens

The Samoens Massif ski area connects the resort to Morillion, Sixt Fer a Cheval and Les Carroz to create a 125km ski area. Add on the easily accessible, high altitude resort of Flaine and you have the Grand Massif, totaling 351 runs, served by 78 lifts, covering 265km of piste. The area is France's fifth largest ski area. 80% of the runs in the Grand Massif are North facing, which gives them a great chance of staying show sure until the end of each winter season. The Samoens ski area itself is made up of 16 lifts and 22 pistes, making it a less daunting and easily accessible ski area for beginners.

Beginners

Beginners are well served in Samoens. Not only does the resort have one of the largest beginner ski areas in France, it also has a number of easily accessible, confidence building progression slopes too. The 'Marvel' beginner area, located near to Samoens 1600, is a 5km run through a beautiful Alpine forest, which is sure to make even the most nervous skier fall in love with the sport. There are also seven dedicated beginner ski lifts and a number of excellent ski schools.

Intermediates

Intermediate skiers and snowboarders staying in Samoens are likely to head straight to Cascades run, a staggeringly long 14km blue piste that cruses from the highest peak of Flaine into the resort of Sixt Fer a Cheval. Confident intermediates will find lots of nice jumps and off-piste sectors alongside the main piste. The rest of the Grand Massif ski is heaven for intermediate skiers and even if the weather turns into a white out, there's still plenty of fun to be had in the wood-lined areas.

Experts

While hardened expert skiers and snowboarders will find more challenging terrain in nearby Chamonix, the adventurous will find plenty to put a smile on their face in the Grand Massif, if you know where to look. The Combe de Gers bowl, which includes an 800 metres vertical descent into what's known locally as 'Styx' is never pisted and you're likely to find fresh lines days after a dump of snow. The Croix area, and particularly the black runs of Marmotte and Chamois, is also a great way to separate intermediates from the experts.

Freestyle

There are a couple of freestyle options in the Grand Massif, the most prominent being the JamPark in Flaine. Located in the Vernant area, you'll find boxes, rails and lines for all abilities, in addition to a boardercross, which is excellent fun for both skiers and snowboarders alike. There's also a more child friendly park above the resort the Morillon.

Snow Conditions

Samoens may not be one of the highest ski resorts in the area, but it does have a good snow record.

A snow history of Samoens is coming soon!

Samoens Resort Facts

Resort altitude: 800m

Highest lift: 2561m (Tete de Lindars)

Lifts/Drags: 16 in Samoens, 78 in Grand Massif

Total km of slopes: 49km in Samoens, 265km in Grand Massif

Grand Massif

  • 15 green
  • 53 blue
  • 51 red
  • 14 black
  • 2 snowparks

Open: 15th December to 28th April

Cost of lift pass: (Winter 2013 prices – Winter 2014 have yet to be released)

Day

Adult: Samoens = €41.80 / Grand Massif = €43.50 Child: Samoens = €31.40 / Grand Massif = €33.00

Week (6 Days)

Adult: Samoens = €216.00 / Grand Massif = €225.00 Child: Samoens = €162.00 / Grand Massif = €171.00

Piste map

The Grand Massif piste map is downloadable here - http://www.skiweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Piste-Map-LARGE-Grand-Massif-Flaine-Samoens.jpg

Amenities

Being the charming, quaint little Alpine village that it is, Samoens offers quite a few great resort amenities that will really add to your ski holiday. If you're a fan of culture and history, a visit to Samoen's Farm and Eco Museum is a must. On display you'll find a traditional Alpine farm, lovingly restored to its 19th century ways, complete with period utensils, decor and furnishings.

Samoens is also home to Jaysini, the only botantical garden of its type in the Alps, and created in 1906. Located right in the centre of the resort, you'll find 4500 different species of mountain flora from all over the world.

Another popular pass-time in Samoens is people watching from one of the small cafes in the main village square, which is completely car free. From here you can also check out the village's oldest feature, an enormous lime tree planted in 1438, around which the whole village as been built.

In terms of convenience, the ancient narrow lanes of Samoens are home to lots of individual food stores, selling everything from local cheeses to wines and hams. There are the standard grocery supermarkets in the resort too, but we recommend checking out the local village market on a Wednesday morning for some real local treats.

Pamper Yourself

A couple of the larger hotels in Samoens have their own spas and wellness centres, but local company Natur'Elle (naturelle-samoens.com) have developed their own independent spa and treatment rooms. Angelique who runs the centre is a 'naturo beautician', which means she only uses natural ingredients in her treatment products. Treatments on offer include facials, body scrubs, massages and manicures, either in your own accommodation, or in the spa.

Other Samoens Activities

If you're keen for some more on-snow action after a day on your skis or snowboards, there's quite a bit going on in Samoens. For families with small children, there are a couple of tobogganing sites, one in the centre of the resort on the Joux Plane and another in Samoens 1600. There's also an ice rink in the centre of the resort, open each day during the winter season.

Cross country skiing is a big deal in Samoens, maybe because of the resort's location in the stunning Giffre valley. Just a short distance from the village centre, there's what Samoens calls its 'leisure base'. In the summer, there are two swimming lakes and lots of activities for families, but in the winter, the 'leisure base' offers 10 hectares of snow covered walks along the river bank. Husky rides, ski joering and snow shoeing activities are also available in this area.

Childcare

Some of the larger accommodation options in Samoens offer childcare as part of their holiday packages, but if you're freestyling, then you'll need to know about the 'Garderie' nursery (garderielesloupiots.com) in Samoens. Here, qualified nannies look after children from the age of three months to six years and because of this, it gets booked up pretty quickly, especially during the school holidays. Our tip if you're travelling with kids, is to book the Garderie early!

Another option for families with children of skiable age is the ESF ski school (esfsamoens.com) area at the top of the Grand Massif gondola from the village. Here you'll find both indoor and outdoor play facilities, a snow garden to introduce little ones to skiing and lots of other age appropriate activities too.

Eating out

Samoens has some beautiful, unique and traditional restaurants, as well as budget dining options to keep everyone happy.

Modern

Restaurant Mezzanine brings a fresh, modern twist to the stock of excellent restaurants in Samoens. You'll find the restaurant in the centre of the village, inside a rustic building with lots of character. On the menu are salads and fish dishes, including salmon gravlax with horseradish puree, and duck fillet with green pepper sauce. Main courses start at €19 and the restaurant is well known for its tempting dessert menu.

Pizzas, Pasta and Grills

Le Serac is one of the most popular informal restaurants in Samoens. Indeed, it's so popular that it's fully booked most evenings during the winter season, so we'd recommend booking your table in advance, especially if you're in a large group. The pizzas are thing, crispy and delicious, vegetarians are also well catered for and the grill menu is extensive and reasonably priced.

Local Specialities

On the menu at La Clarine you'll find all the delicious (usually cheese inspired) dishes that let you know your ski holiday has arrived. The restaurant is a popular choice for local people and holiday makers alike, and it's easy to find in the centre of the resort. La Clarine is particularly well known for its exceptionally friendly service and the owners take great pride in making everyone feel welcome.

Cheap

La Fandioleuse is located in what is perhaps one of the most beautiful of the old buildings in Samoens. Their crepe menu is the stuff of legend, while the €10, three course crepe menu is excellent value.

Drinking and Dancing

The apres scene in Samoens is best described as tame. You won't find banding apres parties, table top dancing in ski boots or lines of Jagerbombs in Samoens unless you go looking for them. There are some great bars though, so don't dispear just yet...

There are around 10 bars in the resort, and most are located within close proximity to each other within the village centre. Coveys Bar (coveysirishpub.com) being Irish themed and all, usually kicks off the apres party in Samoens. Coveys serves up Guinness, Murphys and a selection of other beers on draught, and there's a nice cocktail menu too. The bar hosts loads of different live bands during the winter season, and shows loads of live sport too.

We mentioned the restaurant at La Clarine earlier, but it's also worth a trip to their bar for a more sophisticated drink. Think cocktails, an extensive wine list and nice, prompt service. There's often a live DJ too, to keep the apres party going.

Le Savoie Bar offers a more authentic, Alpine apres experience just off the main village square and is definitely worth a visit. They often host theme nights too, so keep an eye out for more information during your holiday!

Of course, like we said, the apres scene in Samoens is continually changing, so check out our blog for the latest local word on where good nights out are to be found.

Travel

Getting to and from Samoens

Samoens is one of the most easily accessible ski resorts for holiday makers from the UK, and this makes it a really popular destination for weekend ski breaks. Geneva airport is just 1 hour by road from the resort, and the majority of the journey is on the very efficient French motorway system. It is also possible to take the ski train, the nearest TGV station being Cluses, 12 miles from Samoens. Local airport transfer companies such as Go Massif (gomassif.com) look after transportation between Geneva airport or Cluses train station and Samoens.

Getting Around Samoens

Whilst it might be relatively easy to arrive in Samoens, in-resort convenience isn't great. It isn't possible to ski directly back into the village and the journey to the bottom of the Grand Massif and Vercland ski lifts is best completed on a five minute bus ride. It is possible to walk from the centre of Samoens to the bottom of the lifts, but it'll take around 20 minutes, which any skier will tell you... isn't ideal.