Flaine Ski Resort Guide
Flaine is the largest resort in the Grand Massif ski area of France. As a purpose-built ski resort it offers family-friendly convenience and mostly ski-in/ski-out accommodation. As with many French resort built in the 1960s and 70s – large concrete apartment blocks dominate the scenery unfortunately. If you can look past this though you will find a compact resort with a wealth of skiing on offer.
Flaine itself is split in to two main parts. Flaine Forum would count as the centre, and is based around a big traffic-free square with the slopes and main gondola on one side. Above this is Flaine Foret, which has its own pistes and lift. These two areas are linked by lifts which run 24/7 and the accommodation here is almost all apartments in the large blocks from the original 1960s village design.
Although not to our tastes, the original architecture does split opinion; With some seeing it as a prime example of modernist, Bauhaus design. Flaine is actually the only ski resort to be listed in the French Historical Monuments Survey and was awarded the Architectural Heritage of the 20th Century label in 2008. Designer Marcel Breuer designed the Palais de l’Unesco in Paris, the Whitney Museum in New York, then Flaine ski resort.
The core of the resort is set deep in a snowy Alpine bowl and has remained relatively undeveloped since its original creation. In the 1980s the Hameau de Flaine area was created. This collection of wooden-style chalets is an attractive addition to the resort and can be found 2km out of the centre. In the 2000s another new Flaine village was planned when Canadian developer Intrawest chose the resort for its next project. However when the recession struck they pulled out of further development leaving just the Montsoleil apartment building completed.
Prices in Flaine have stayed relatively low for a French ski resort. This is further helped by the fact that almost all of the 12,000 tourist beds here are in self-catered apartments. The short transfer time from Geneva airport of approximately 1.5 hours also makes Flaine a popular choice for holidaymakers. Flaine’s reputation as a family resort means there isn’t too much nightlife, but there are plenty of restaurants and bars to spend the evening relaxing in. Away from the slopes there is the opportunity to try ice-driving, paragliding, husky sledding & go-karting.
If you’re looking for a convenient and compact resort base with all the facilities you’ll need on your doorstep then Flaine is a great choice for your next ski holiday. With plenty of budget accommodation in the resort centre and a short transfer journey from Geneva airport – Flaine is an excellent choice for a hassle-free ski trip.
Skiing in Flaine
As part of the large and varied Grand Massif domain, Flaine shares 265km of pistes with the neighbouring resorts of Les Carroz, Samoens, Morillon & Sixt. The well groomed pistes within this area will suit skiers & snowboarders of all abilities from beginners to experts. There are two dedicated nursery lifts for beginners immediately adjacent to Flaine itself. The wider area has plenty of varied terrain for intermediates, while the excellent off-piste can be properly explored by more advanced skiers.
When staying in Flaine resort you are in a great position to enjoy all that the Grand Massif area can offer. Above the resort is a large north-facing bowl reaching up to 2,500m altitude which maintains fantastic snow conditions above the treeline. This is also where the steeper black runs can be found, and the off-piste is located in the right conditions.
As you head down the mountain from Flaine towards the nearby resorts of Les Carroz and Samoens the pistes become pretty tree-lined runs which are best suited to intermediates. The ski racer Emile Allais, who also created the ESF ski school in France, designed Flaine’s ski slopes. As well as a smooth flowing design they named are named imaginatively – green runs after trees, blue runs after mineral stones, red runs for devils and the black runs for the surrounding mountains.
Flaine was the first European ski resort to introduce artificial snowmaking back in 1973 but a fortunate microclimate caused by its position at the edge of the Mont Blanc range means it holds snow particularly well even lower down. 80% of pistes also face North which helps to preserve snowfall.