It’s 4.30pm and the main Le Merle slope above La Clusaz is bathed in sunlight. And there’s still half-an-hour’s skiing left in the day. More if you can get the last lift before 5pm. This is spring skiing at its best – sunglasses and T-shirt weather…
La Clusaz is just an hour’s drive from Geneva – no snow on the roads at this time of year – so is the perfect short-break or weekend ski destination.
The main ski area is roughly divided into five mountains – the Beauregard area is the place for beginners, quickly followed by the Massif de Manigod.
Beauregard is easily reached by bubble lift from La Clusaz and is a mix of greens and blues.
Once you have found your legs, head down and across to Manigod for some lovely blues and reds between the trees and hotels.
For a more rounded and testing ski experience head for l’Etale, l’Aiguille or Balme.
The wide, open runs of Aiguille are a joy and never feel crowded but, I had been told, ‘head high, head to Balme; start early and finish early’.
From the top, there are stunning views of Mont Blanc. And the ski down quickly becomes our favourite – a combination of blues and reds; speed and turns.
From top to bottom is about 5km. And once at the bottom, hop back into the lift and do it all again. And again!
The added bonus is the car park at Balme is free, so take all your gear, food etc and leave it by the lift.
You can also ski across from or back to the main lifts in the centre of La Clusaz if you don’t have a car.
After a day’s skiing, head to S Pub, which is next to the Cret de Merle chairlift, for a drink in the sun, or to Bar PMU, which is where the locals congregate in the early evening.
Eating out in the Alps can be expensive – breakfast at our hotel was 11 euros – but opposite we found the wonderful l’Atelier du Pain where coffee and a croissant is 2 euros.
It’s hardly a secret find, though, as the whole town seems to pass through from about 7.30am-9.30am.
Next to the main Beauregard bubble lift is la Ferme Restaurant – and adjoining la Grolle pub – with its rows of pine tables and overpowering aroma of cheese.
My son wanted to try snails – so we did at 7 euros for six, while the tartiflette comes with a generous side dish of salad and charcuterie, easily enough for two people to share.
The main town is roughly split in two on a hill, with the lifts, restaurants and ski shops at the bottom, more restaurants and hotels at the top.
It’s in this area that you will find the perfect place to unwind – the Aravis Aqua Centre with its indoor and outdoor swimming pools, jacuzzi, sauna and, in the summer, water slides for the kids.
The added bonus is the view over the town and mountains from the large outdoor pool. It’s the perfect place to reflect on the day – and plan the next.
SHOULD YOU CHOOSE LA CLUSAZ FOR AN EASTER BREAK? – Mad Dog Ski