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6 Reasons to Focus on FABULOUS FLAINE

Flaine has been the Marmite of ski resorts for all of its five decades of existence.  It’s not so much the massive powder bowl it sits at the heart of, nor its enviable snow record or the ease of reaching it from Geneva that’s the cause of any contention; it’s just that the original architecture that doesn’t quite appeal to some visitors. The irony is that those critics tend to think of themselves as lovers of truer arty and traditional architecture when, actually, Flaine is officially a work of art, all be it fairly modern art, beloved by great artists like Picasso.  Read on to learn more! But most people aren’t fussed too much by the architecture it’s the stress-free short transfers, wonderful long runs, deep powder and the many other good things about Flaine that brings them back season after season.

Here are 6 things that really put the ‘fabulous’ in Flaine:

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1) It’s Big

Flaine’s ski area is amongst the biggest and best in the Alps.  Known as the Grand Massif, the region connects the high-altitude ski slopes of Flaine with those of four traditional villages down below – Morillon, Les Carroz, Samoëns and Sixt-a-cheval.  Flaine itself sits within a giant snowbowl, with dozens of runs radiating down within it, including terrain for standards.  From the ‘trim’ of this bowl longer runs, including some 10km in length, radiate down to the neighbouring villages providing glorious long cruising descents through spectacular scenery.  All the required lifts are included on the Grand Massif pass.

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2) It’s Quick and Easy to Reach

Flaine is one of the easiest ski resorts to reach from a major airport – and for skiers you don’t get any more major than Geneva which offers a huge choice of flight routes and times.  The A40 motorway allows you to whizz south from Geneva, taking exit 19 at Cluses.  Altogether it’s a 90km trip  which shouldn’t take much more than an hour from the airport.

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3) It’s Got a Great Snow Record

It’s relatively well known that Flaine has a reputation for building up a deep snow base in the giant bowl that surrounds it each winter, what’s less well known is that the snowfall stats show its consistently one of THE snowiest resorts in the Alps, markedly ahead of most other leading French resorts (higher slopes at Chamonix perhaps the only exception) in terms of the volumes of the white stuff it receives.  The snowfall totals are around 6 metres, on average, at the base and a remarkable 15 metres at the top of the runs – that’s not a stat you see often in Europe, only Japan and parts of Western North America. Why? A key reason is that the Grandes Platières slopes above the resort represent the highest point that weather systems tend to hit after Mont Blanc.  The air is forced to rise and off load its snowy goodness (in exactly the same way that weather systems dump on the aforementioned Japanese ski areas and Western North American peaks).  With predominantly north and north-westerly slopes above Flaine, all that snow tends to stay in good shape for longer too.

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4) Snow Much Fun

Beyond all the groomed runs and freeriding terrain, Flaine make extra use of its great snow record by creating special fun zones, dotted across the whole grand massif region.   For example Flaine’s Ze Forest fun zone provides the chance to take on the amazingly stunning terrain features (rated up to XL in difficulty) with the reward flor successfully completing the course the chance to sit on Mephistopheles throne at the end of your run!  Or for younger kids the Ride Ze Kraken beginner terrain park invites budding skiers to evade the tentacles of the Ice Kraken. Fun times are guaranteed.

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5) It’s Well Designed

Flaine has a compact centre with shops, cafes, restaurants most other other facilities focussed in an area at the base of the slopes, partially indoors and partially out, so everything is very close together and just a few steps from your accommodation.  Most chalets, hotels and apartments are either ski-in, ski-out or just a few steps from the slopes for maximum convenience and again, fast access over snow to most of the resort’s facilities.  So it’s a great choice for driving in fast from Geneva then skiing out from your accommodation just a short time later!

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6) It’s a Work of Art

Flaine, traditionally, scores negative points in reviews because the original concrete apartment blocks are seen as too ugly in an era where we all want recreations of traditional Savoyard chalet style buildings. But it seems those reviewers have not done their homework or indeed, looked closely enough. In fact Flaine’s original creators were great art lovers and they commissioned an architect from the stark Bauhaus school of design, Marcel Breuer, to create the original complex.  Breuer was well known for prestigious projects at the time including the Palais de l’Unesco in Paris, the Whitney Museum in New-York and so today Flaine is in fact the only ski resort built in the 1960s that’s officially listed as a French Historical Monument. Flaine became a Mecca for artists and you’ll see at the bottom of the slopes works of public art donated by masters including Picasso. So although Flaine has changed over the years, when you look at the original blocks, don’t think “ugly 1960s concrete” think “ah yes, I can see the artistic beauty of that modern architecture.”

Find out more about Flaine at

Words by Patrick Thorne.