Great little ski resorts: Val d’Arly, France | Travel


Er, where?

Just 5km south of impossibly chic Megève, you reach the first of four villages that make up Val d’Arly – Praz-sur-Arly – swiftly followed by Flumet, Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe and Crest-Voland. With the glamour of Megève and Chamonix so close by, it’s easy to miss this collection of traditional villages tucked in between Mont Blanc and the Aravis range. But between them they cover 120km of pistes, and they’re connected to the larger Espace Diamant which includes Les Saisies.

Why try it?

You get gorgeous views of Mont Blanc for considerably less than you would pay in Val d’Arly’s starrier neighbours. The vibe in the villages is relaxed, friendly, solidly French and geared towards families – they’re still very much farming communities that run all year round. With lots of recent snow in the Alps it’s a good bet for a last-minute Easter ski break this year. And it’s hard to resist a place that runs a festival that allows you to ski with eagles: the next Festival Aigles à Ski is between 5-8 March 2018.

Mountain lowdown


Notre-Dame and Crest-Voland – linked by a free ski bus – have the lion’s share of the slopes, most of which are sheltered, wide, tree-lined pistes. Crest-Voland’s long green runs make it a better bet for newbies, while more confident skiers can tackle the more challenging blues and tough reds in Notre-Dame. Expert skiers have only a handful of black runs, but there’s good off-piste skiing as well as ski touring. Both Notre-Dame and Crest-Voland have direct links to much larger Les Saisies, which you can add to your lift pass, and two snowparks and six boardercross courses are scattered among the four villages. There are no cable cars, but chairlifts at the base of each village take you up the slopes.

And apart from skiing?

When the snow is good, there are lots of fun non-ski activities: hop on a snow-scoot (a cross between scooter and snowboard), fat bike, snake glisse (trains of linked toboggans) and modern variations on sledges such as the single-runner yooner. You might spot some chamois on a snowshoe walk around Col des Aravis, which take place on Wednesday mornings. If the snow is too thin for dog-sledding in Notre-Dame, the exhilarating rides take place in the forests of Les Saisies. People of all ages flock to the outdoor ice-skating rink in Notre-Dame, which is open from 4-8pm. There are also guided visits to local cheese farms, which add to the region’s supply of tomme de Savoie and Beaufort.

Après any good?

L’Ambiance, Notre-Dame, France



L’Ambiance

This certainly isn’t the place for nightlife, although L’Ambiance in Notre-Dame can be lively in the evenings when there’s live music. There’s also a piano bar at Terre Neuve in Crest-Voland and a good vibe at Le Shamrock in Flumet.

Where do I eat?

Try the delicious Beaufort fondue at L’Equipe (+33 4 7931 6126) in the centre of Notre-Dame, or the baked cheese at Le Bistrot de Julien at the bottom of Mont-Rond. For a sunny mountain lunch in Crest-Voland, take the Logère chairlift to La Belle Métairie, which has refined seafood as well as cheesy Savoy favourites.

Where do I stay?

Le Village is a traditional, simple self-catering residence in the centre of Notre-Dame, with kitchens and an indoor pool. A week’s rental with Peak Retreats costs from £481 for an apartment sleeping up to four, including Eurotunnel. The village’s only hotel, La Mollinière, which includes a good restaurant, is at the foot of the Reguet lifts and has doubles from €77, room only. Hotel Pension Plein Soleil is a handy base for Crest-Voland’s Logère chairlift, with doubles from €72 half board.

The nitty gritty

120km of pistes, 51 lifts, highest point 2,069m

Good for
Families, friendly ambience, French atmosphere

Limitations
Low altitude means it’s sometimes reliant on snow cannons

Cost
Lift pass (6 days): adult €158, child €122. Beer: €4

Green runs 21 | Blue runs 38 | Red runs 34 | Black runs 4



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