Wendy and the boys make for Margeriaz, away from the crowds to enjoy a days skiing. Winter in Les Bauges is quite simply beautiful. When the snow arrives the landscape is transformed with a vale of white reflecting the plentiful winter sunshine, but on a blue sky day – we head for the slopes just a short drive away… take a look at what skiing at Half-term looks like! No crowded slopes here…
Skiing in Les Bauges provides ‘real skiing’ with local people. Aillons-Margeriaz is only 20 mins drive from Le Chatox. Le Feclaz/ Revard 30 mins. The ski resort is a hidden gem frequented by the French in the know and has enough slopes to suit skiers of all abilities and a snow park. It is perfect for beginners and brilliant for intermediates and families with small children who might not want to spend a whole week skiing but prefer to mix it up with visits to Annecy, Aix-Les-Bains or Chambery. You will be staggered at comparisons to the big resorts in prices where you pay 240 euro per week for a lift pass and may only cover 10% of the area in a week. Lift passes in Les Bauges are only 97 euro for a week! Kids rates go to 18years not 12 as in the larger resorts and are only 75euro. Day rates are 10-19euro. We have a great agent for discounts on equipment hire at approx 45 euro for ski’s and boots! For this reason, Le Chatox is a great base to try skiing for the first time and get real value for money. Its also very quiet with no crowds.
Situated between the lac d’Annecy to the north and Chambery to the South, the Bauges Massif is often ignored as skiers head to the large Savoie resorts. Interestingly, because of its location, Les Bauges often gets the first snow of the season. Skiing in Les Bauges provides ‘real skiing’ with local people. Aillons-Margeriaz, 1000 – 1950m, is approx 20 mins drive from Le Chatox. There are two resorts here just 3 miles apart. The ski resort is a hidden gem frequented by the French in the know and has enough slopes to suit skiers of all abilities with 20 ski lifts and a snow park.
At Aillons-Margeriaz you can not only learn how to ski with expert tuition from ESF, you can find enough piste to keep you content for your stay and at less than half the price of the big resorts. For those of you who are non-skiers or just want to try something different, Les Aillons offers Husky dogsled rides or ski du fond (cross country aka Nordique skiing) which is great fun and a fantastic workout. If you have waterproof walking boots, why not try snow shoeing by hiring some racquets from one of the nearby ski hire shops. This way you can even meet the skiers up the mountain at Margeriaz for lunch or a vin chaud at La Bergerie, a rustic restaurant which we highly recommend, owned by Alex and Natalie. You may think hiking is only for the summer but if you fancy something other than skiing you can check out the winter hiking trails.
Another nearby resort with amazing views over the Lac du Bourget, is Le Revard, La Féclaz and St. François de Sales together known as the Grand Revard 1350m – 1500m, just 30 mins from Le Chatox. It is also known as “Little Canada” primarily because it resembles the vast winter tundra of the Canadian west: miles of rolling sunlight clearings and thick evergreen forests. Although situated in the mountains, the whole ski range is on a high-plateau, thus allowing for miles and miles of endless Nordic skiing. In fact, the resort reputes itself as being the number one French destination for Cross-Country skiing (140km) with Alpine sking (50km) and snowpark activities as secondary attractions. But if the skiing isn’t enough for you, there are snowshoeing, dog-sled rides, tobogganing, snowscooting and an old form of Savoyard sledding called yonner.
Other more popular and higher “snow sure” ski resorts such as Courcheval, Meribel and our favourite, Val Thorens are within easy reach for a days skiing (approx 1hr drive).
If you want an afternoon away from the slopes, why not head to the beautiful town of Annecy for lunch followed by a walk around the old town or perhaps venture over to the west side of the lake with its numerous Michelin 3 star restaurants!
For another excursion there is the spa town Aix les Bains and the Lac du Bourget for its mountain views and thermal baths.
There are hire shops at Les Aillons Station, Margeriaz & La Feclaz. To make a big saving we recommend booking in advance online at Skimium for the best deal and collect at Aillons Sport.
It is also worth keeping your ski pass from Aillons-Margeriaz as you get a refund on your next pass if you ski outside school holidays! Likewise, if you just pay on a daily basis there is a discount if you already have your pass.