If you ever book a ski holiday to Les Carroz, your friends will probably not have heard of it, and if you tell them the altitude of the village is 1140m they may think you have taken leave of your senses booking it for a late season ski holiday. However, on three occasions in late March or early April, we have driven round the final corner on the road through Les Carroz and been greeted with a snowy piste right to the ski room door of Les Chalets de Jouvence.
This year we arrived at Les Chalets de Jouvence on a glorious day with the piste glistening under sunshine and blue skies. As we opened the door to reception, the familiar aroma of spa products wafted out and it felt as though the holiday had truly begun. One of the reasons we love coming back to this property is the warm welcome we receive from Stephane the Manager and his friendly team. In school holiday weeks there are various chances to enjoy sitting on comfy sofas by the open fire in the residence lounge, whether it be for the welcome drinks and nibbles, the children’s Easter egg hunt or an end of holiday drink of “vin chaud”. The residence has a wonderful pool with coloured underwater spotlights and a relaxation area which includes a large poolside Jacuzzi, a steam room and sauna. From the poolside you can also enjoy looking towards the cosy log fire. It is a perfect place to relax after a hard day’s skiing. There is also an excellent spa in the residence and the Aromassage I had there this holiday was one of my apres ski highlights.
As we tucked into lunch on the apartment balcony, we admired a new feature on the local slope: a swish, covered “magic carpet” running from the ski room door up to the Kedeuse gondola and ski school meeting point. Our daughter couldn’t wait to try it out and marched straight from the ski hire shop to the magic carpet and clunked on her skis without even stopping for her full ski attire. The lift was free and the children had fun practising a few turns before the start of proper skiing the next day. At night the magic carpet glowed in various colours and was soon nicknamed “The Caterpillar”!
The Grand Massif ski area comprises the resorts of Les Carroz, Morillon, Samoens and Flaine. Les Carroz itself has an excellent range of skiing terrain for all abilities. Lou Darbes is a beautiful run through the forest and is particularly magical if one is lucky enough to ski it in fresh powder when the tree branches are laden with snow. The red runs in the Gron area are good fun and if anyone wants to try their first black, Véroce is an ideal choice.
From the highest point of the Les Carroz ski area there is an excellent red called the Chamois from where you can now turn off to the new Oasis Cool Zone complete with palm trees! Much to our children’s delight they were able to help themselves to free Oasis drinks before zooming off around the snow park. A good piste for an easy cruise at the end of the day is the Plein Soleil, aptly renamed “Plain Sailing” by the youngest and speediest members of our party. This leads to the Anfionne restaurant where one can enjoy reclining in a deckchair for a drink whilst taking in the view before heading down the steeper Timalets home.
The skiing in Morillon is also ideal for families. The Marvel is a long scenic green run through the forest and is enjoyable for experienced skiers as well as beginners. There is also plenty of blue cruising in this part of the Grand Massif. Our favourite lunch stops are the Chalet D’Clair and Igloo mountain restaurants at the top of Morillon, which both offer extensive menus and where the food is always delicious. The Chantilly topped hot chocolates at Chalet D’Clair have always been good but this year the restaurant surpassed themselves using jumbo multi-coloured marshmallows!
After lunch we often enjoy skiing the reds in the higher part of the Morillon ski area or sometimes head over to Samoens for further scenic skiing.
No ski holiday to the Grand Massif is complete without spending time in Flaine in search of challenging runs with enticing names such as Fred, Démon and Diamond Noir. We are always excited as we head down the Tourmaline run towards Flaine in anticipation of seeing the vast expanse of wintery slopes come into view as we near the resort. Seeing so many tempting runs it can be hard to know where to start, so we often take the Grandes Platieres lift to the top where on a clear day there is a fantastic panoramic view of the Mont Blanc mountain range. The Flaine ski area provides an exciting contrast to the rest of the Grand Massif, with many runs starting high above the treeline. We particularly enjoy skiing the long reds such as Amandine, Faust and Lapiaz. This year we also skied some gentle pistes accessed by a drag lift in the pretty wooded Aujon area. Whilst the architecture of Flaine is an acquired taste, we love some of the unique quirky features of the resort. Where else can you ski past a hotel half hanging off a cliff, encounter an ice tortoise in the woods or take a ride in a yoghurt pot ski lift?!
The journey back from Flaine to Les Carroz can be an adventure in itself, should you find yourself caught in a blizzard, as we did the first time we ever skied it.
This year we finally had the chance to ski the Dolomie run towards Les Carroz in sunny weather and perfect snow conditions. Part way down, our teenage son who had been bemoaning the lack of open blacks, was thrilled to discover the option of an unpisted mogul field which then rejoined the Dolomie. Although it was sunny, there was a strong wind which caught us as we skied down the final part of the Dolomie and it felt as though we were literally flying on skis. Whilst there is then an option to return to Les Carroz via the Corbalanche lift, we carried on down the pretty tree-lined Portet to the Molliets lift.
After fun-filled days on the slopes we usually enjoy a couple of evening meals out. This year we tried Les Airelles next door to the Chalets de Jouvence, which has a rustic interior and cosy ambience even if the service was a bit eccentric during our visit. On another evening the children enjoyed their pizzas and Dame Blanche ice creams at L’Agora in the village square which has a good view of the Timalets piste if you are lucky enough to get the right table. However, we are always equally happy enjoying fondues or drinks in the apartment with friends, often playing charade-style games and re-living the highs and lows of the holiday together. Our son had us in stitches this year as he tried to balance a bread basket on top of a cheese grater to imitate the Grandes Platieres lift!
Whilst we used to enjoy going to a different resort every year, we are finding it harder and harder to resist the lure of the Grand Massif ski area. It offers everything we are looking for in a family ski holiday; a scenic and extensive ski area, a multitude of cosy mountain restaurants, high-quality accommodation with a pool and spa, and ski to the door convenience in an attractive village setting. Our children have already said they would like to go back again even if their reasoning is not the same as our own. Our daughter made friends in ski school who ski there every year and our son has unfinished business skiing the black runs that weren’t open this time!