Visit to the new spa in Les Carroz d’Araches

This was a great alternative to a day on the ski slopes and an opportunity to relax in a mountain spa environment.  After a couple days of hard skiing it was a joy to rest tired muscles whilst enjoying the wonderful relaxing and refreshing water and facilities at the Les Carroz Spa, just a short walk from our apartment in Les Alpages.

As you enter, the welcoming staff direct you to the changing rooms where you will find lockers to secure your clothing and belongings, you need a 1 euro coin to use them. I then decided to start my new adventure in the indoor spa.  As I made my way down the short corridor  towards the spa I was enticed forward by the lovely herbal aroma emanating from the Sauna room and Turkish Hamman (steam bath). I was very impressed by both facilities and took the opportunity to bask in the steam in the Hamman.

Some photos of the spa are shown below

View inside Les Carroz spa

View inside Les Carroz spa

Water jets in Les Carroz spa

Water jets in Les Carroz spa

After a refreshing shower I entered the spa, wow! The water lovely and warm and about 1.5 meters deep. There are several water spouts, individual booths with Jacuzzi style massage jets to ease tension in your neck, back and legs, plus lots of air bubble jets set around the pool area. This is set in a well designed building with large glass areas so you can relax on the loungers, read a book or magazine and take in the spectacular views of the mountains and the Timolet piste returning to the village of Les Carroz.
I then made my way to the outside swimming pool, it was fantastic to swim in the midst of the most amazing winter wonderland scenery with snow all around whilst remaining cosily warm in the heated 30 deg C pool water. After a several laps I enjoyed the water jets set around the edge of the pool. Another opportunity to massage tired ski muscles.
I truly enjoyed my afternoon experience at the les Carroz Spa and will certainly be returning.
To enjoy the best experience at the spa, take a towel or bathrobe to enjoy the sun loungers with a few magazines and books to relax with (sunglasses also needed) . For men, baggy shorts are not allowed – need to wear close fitting swimming trunks or briefs.
The entrance fee of 15 euro covers you for all day, from opening time at 14:00 until it closes at 20:00.

I can strongly recommend this as an alternative way of spending an afternoon in the mountains.

Pool and indoor spa in Les Carroz

Pool and indoor spa in Les Carroz

Les Carroz pool and piste view

Les Carroz pool and piste view

 

Skiing in Les Carroz and the Grand Massif, March 2013

The snow levels in the Grand Massif during winter season 2012-2013 were the best since 2002 and some of the highest snow depths in the French Alps were recorded in Flaine and the Grand Massif.  At March 31st there is still 365 cm of snow at the peak. Arriving on Saturday in the 2nd week of March we had 2 days of continuous snow, white-out conditions and significant snow down below the village of Les Carroz (altitude 1200 m). Snowfall of about up to 50 cm was reported at altitude so we were excited about the prospect of skiing in fresh powder conditions.

I skied in white out conditions for a short time, before deciding to abandon, but then the weather turned to blue skies, remained cold and the pistes were in absolutely brilliant condition with large depths of snow.

As an example, is a photo of the Sabonne blue run, which goes from Les Molliets to the Timolet piste in Les Carroz d’Araches. The piste is quite narrow and how a lot of low incline so is really more suitable for cross country skiing, nevertheless some of the views are spectacular.

Sabonne piste in Les Carroz d'Araches

Sabonne piste in Les Carroz d'Araches

View of stream on Sabonne piste

View of stream on Sabonne piste

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been a regular skier in the Grand Massif since 2001 and keep a watch open for lifts and pistes that are very snow and weather dependent. In March the red piste called Grand Chaudron was open on several days. This piste is accessed from the Veret drag lift off the blue piste called Tourmaline; which is one of the main runs down into Flaine from Les Carroz d’Araches. The views from the summit provide a different perspective on the Grand Massif as Samoens, Les Carroz and Flaine are readily seen from the summit.

Summit of Veret drag showing Combe de Veret piste

Summit of Veret drag showing Combe de Veret piste

Summit of Veret drag showing Grand Chaudron piste

Summit of Veret drag showing Grand Chaudron piste

 

 

 

 

 

There were a few days when the weather warmed up to about 8C in the village of Les Carroz, but the pistes at 1750 m and above were perfect all day and only the lower slopes in the late afternoon were showing that soft or crystalline snow feeling.

A fantastic few weeks of skiing in the Grand Massif and with these snow depths I expect great conditions until the end of April 2013. If the lifts remain open then I could envisage skiing into May this year.

A walk from Vernant lift to Tete de Saix, Flaine to Samoens peak.

We were on holiday in Les Carroz d’Araches in the French Alps in mid June. The weather changed from overcast to warm (22 C) with clear blue skies. I had wanted to walk some of the areas that I ski during the winter so I drove towards Flaine on the D106 Route de Flaine and parked at the Vernant ski lift car park, altitude of 1750m.

I walked along the path under the Telesiege du Lac ski chair, towards the Lac de Vernant at 1840m. Below is a couple of photos of the lake and the view towards the Route de Flaine and Pointe Percee as I started the climb towards Tete de Saix.

View of Lac de Vernant in summer

View of Pointe Percee and Lac de Vernant

 

 
 

 

 

 

The view from the top of Tete de Saix was magnificent, with far reaching views over Morillon, Samoens and a snow capped view of Mont Blanc. What was surprising for June was the amount of snow still around on the ground at altitude.  Below is another photo showing the ski signage at Tete de Saix at an altitude of 2120 m and a video showing the views panning through 360 degrees. 

Tete de Saix 360 view from Mont Blanc to Le Mole

Tete de Saix ski signage in summertime

Mountain Biking near Samoens and Flaine

The return part of the journey took half the time of the ascent. The wild mountain flowers were in abundance so I took a few photos shoing the contrast in colour from a bright yellow to a deep rich violet. A mountain biker was making the ascent on of the paths.

Violet flowers on Vernant to Samoens hike

Yellow flowers on Vernat hike

A walk from Morillon to Samoens along the Giffre river

After a couple of wet days in June 2012 we decided to walk from the Adventure park near the river in Morillon, alongside the river path and into Samoens for afternoon cafe time. This walk is not strenuous as there is no elevation change and is suitable for families and older people, assuming a reasonable level of fitness, as it takes 40 minutes and was approximatley 2 miles each way.

The River Giffre was fast flowing owing to the snow melt (still significant snow at elevations above 2000m) and recent storms. I’ve included a few of photos of the river near Morillon and the path showing cyclists. At this time of the year it is perfect for white water rafting; which we saw a group doing later in the walk. The photo is taken from a bridge over the River Giffre.

River Giffre near Morillon

Walk along Giffre and Cyclists

my kind of town

White water rafting on Giffre near Samoens
White water rafting looking towards Morillon

 

 

The track of the walk is shown below, taken from Google Earth. 

Morillon to Samoens hiking track

 

 

 

Skiing in Les Carroz and Flaine; March 2012

This trip was a planned late season visit to Les Carroz d’Araches in the Grand Massif, where I expected those gorgeous spring skiing days of pure blue skies, great morning skiing, lunch and then a leisurely ski home by about 1400. We were in for a real treat. Arriving on Saturday in the 3rd week of March we had 2 days of continuous snow, white-out conditions and significant snow down below the village of Les Carroz (altitude 1200 m). Snowfall of about 30 cm was reported at altitude so we were excitedly waiting to see if the weather would be conducive for getting up on the mountain.

Some photos of the village during the snowfall is shown below

Les Carroz d’Araches village during snowstorm

Les Carroz d’Araches village during snowstorm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then on the Monday the weather changed and blue skies appeared. And of course 30 cm of fresh powder to enjoy.  The weather also remained cold permitting all day skiing especially in Flaine and on northern slopes in Les Carroz. The pistes were in absolutely brilliant condition with large depths of snow. Having skied over various seasons in the Grand Massif regularly since 2002, I assessed the  next 5 days as some of the best spring skiing I have ever had. We enjoyed the snow covered reds in Morillon, Les Carroz and Flaine, did small excursions into off piste and did motorway cruising on the long runs in Flaine.

I’ve attached some images of the pistes below.

Pistes at summit of Les Carroz d’Araches

Pistes at summit of Les Carroz d’Araches

 

 

 

 

 

 

The skies remained clear all week, and the views were magnificent. An iconic view of Mont Blanc are show below from the summit of Flaine, where we enjoyed some excellent rest and recuperation in the sunshine.

Enjoying sunshine, mountain views and restaurant in Flaine

Mont Blanc view from Flaine March 2012

Wild flowers in Les Carroz August 2011

A walk from Les Feux to Les Molliets in Les Carroz

Wild flowers in Les Carroz August 2011

Wild flowers in Les Carroz August 2011

Another fine day in late August in Les Carroz, as the heat of the day was waning I drove to just outside Les Feux and started a walk to Les Molliets, the time was about 1730. The walk involves a reasonably gentle gradient all the way to Les Moilliets, from an elevation of 1250m to an elevation of 1450m over a distance of 2.5 km.

The walk goes past the Haute Combe refuge just off to one side of the track, through wooded areas and then into an open expanse of fields and farms. I’ve attached some photos of the walk, and on the return leg of the journey I remembered to activate my GPS tracker, so have attached an image of the walk showing the track in Google earth.

Chateau d’ Yvoire on Lake Geneva

A day in Yvoire on Lake Geneva (Lake Leman)

Chateau d’ Yvoire on Lake Geneva

Chateau d’ Yvoire on Lake Geneva

We had not visited Yvoire since 2004, so in August 2011 we decided to drive from Les Carroz dAraches to Yvoire on Lake Geneva. I took the D6 route through Marignier, then the D907 through Bonne. There was very little traffic and was free flowing all the way, some 40 miles took just over an hour of driving. Yvoire is a medieval village, believed to have existed since 1306 and retains many of the fortifications from the 14th century, including ramparts and entry gates. It is also a Village Fleuris and prides itself on displays of flowers, in hanging baskets, pots, window displays, climbing wisteria, climbing roses and other vivid colorful displays seen overhanging balconies in the narrow streets. The unmissable Chateau d’Yvoire, a typical Savoie castle, sits overlooking Lake Geneva and can be seen from just about anywhere in the medieval town. A pity that it is in private hands and not open to public viewing.

There is a small harbour and many cruises regularly depart from here across the lake to Nyon, or various other less frequent round trips to Thonon. Evian, Montreux and Lausanne. Usually one boat per day is on an historic, pre-First World War Belle Époque paddle steamer.

There is also the Garden of the Five Senses (Le Jardin des Cinq Sens), the garden is the former kitchen garden of Chateau d’Yvoire and takes its inspiration from the middle ages, with an abundance of flowers, a maze and quiet spots to sit and relax. Entry is 10  Euro, more detail is available at this link.

If hungry there are plenty of restaurants to chose from, or even snack places where freshly made filled french bread rolls will be prepared as you wait.

I’ve included a selection of photos as we walked around Yvoire, illustrating the sights and features of this beautiful medieval town.

 

A walk to Refuge de Sales in the Grand Massif French Alps

We were on holiday in Les Carroz d’Araches in the French Alps in late August, with fantastic weather, blue skies and hardly a cloud. I had wanted to walk some of the GR 5 towards Flaine, so I drove to Sixt fer Cheval, and started the walk at Le Lignon at an altitude of 1180m, with an expectation to climb to about 2000m towards either one of the refuges. Near to the waterfall called Cascades de la Sauffaz the path split with the GR 5 heading towards Refuge d’Anterne and the GR 96 trail heading towards the Refuge de Sales.

The route is shown in the photo, taken from a picture board on the walk.

Gr 5 or GR 96 in Sixt fer Cheval

The walk from Le Lignon was quite steep, below is a photo looking North towards the start of the walk.

Gr 5 walk looking North to Sixt

 

La Sauffaz waterfall near Sixt fer Cheval

 

 

The waterfall was quite spectacular even late in the season, when there is no snow melt. I can imagine in spring that this would be a torrent.

Cascades de la Sauffaz near Sixt fer Cheval

Cascades de la Sauffaz near Sixt fer Cheval

I decided to take the Gr 96 and head towards the Refuge de Sales at 1840m. The walk passed some dried out stream beds, past mountain goats or Chamois grazing on the mountain sides, more waterfalls, across plateaus and around some narrow paths with safety ropes.

I was very pleased to capture the wild mountain goats, so close to the path. On all other walks I have spotted them in the distance on high rock ledges but never grazing on the lower mountain slopes.

A few movies showing the path and the view due North are below, with a gallery of the photos following.

I started at Le Lignon at 1000 and reached the Refuge at 1230, which included a couple of breaks to drink and eat sandwiches. The walk back was slightly quicker, taking about 2 hours.

Video of Gr 96 walk towards Refuge de Sales

Video of Gr 96 walk south of Sixt Fer Cheval

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Hiking in Sixt Fer Cheval Spring 2011

I visited Les Carroz d’Araches over the Easter break in 2011. The weather was unseasonably warm, reaching 20-22 degrees C in the village at 1200m altitude. The peaks were still snow capped which meant for some stunning scenery and photographic opportunities. I was tempted to do some end of April skiing in either Flaine or Chamonix, but opted instead for a number of walks.  I had assumed that the waterfalls would be quite spectacular given the snow melt so headed for the valley walk in Sixt fer Cheval, some 20-30 minutes drive from Les Carroz d’Araches. I commenced the hike at the Cirque du Cheval, at the cross, shown in the picture.

Cirque du Cheval walk start

Cirque du Cheval walk start

A map of the route is shown in the following photo taken from one of the guide displays.

Wild alpine flowers were in abundance, some blue variety shown here. No idea what they are ?

I’ve attached a gallery of the waterfalls and valley views as the walk progressed from the valley floor up to a height of approximately 1600m.


A fantastic walk, next time I’m aiming to get to the plateau at about 2200m, need a full day for that.

Grand Massif Skiing Flaine January 2010

In January I skied the Gers bowl for the first time. It had just opened on the weekend. On previous visits to the Grand Massif and Flaine it had either been closed or icy moguls but on the 18 January after recent dumps of snow and with no avalanche warnings it was an ideal opportunity to give it a try. The Combe de Gers bowl is a large un-pisted bowl with approximately 800 m of vertical drop going down towards the Lac de Gers and ultimately Sixt fer a Cheval.

Gers bowl January 2010

Paragliding in Gers Bowl

While skiing the bowl a para glider whizzed past nearby – shown in attached photograph.

The main run is the black Styx which is quite steep but plenty of terrain to select the best route to the bottom of the drag lift. The drag lift takes you back to the top of the Combe de Gers or if the Cascade run is open (the longest blue run in Europe) then you can ski down to Sixt fer a Cheval and catch the free shuttle bus back to Samoens and cable cars and chair lifts back to Flaine or elsewhere in the Grand Massif. Attached some photos providing views looking both down into the valley and back up the bowl; including the drag lift.

Combe de Gers is accessed from the top of the DMC (Les Grandes Platieres Cable car)or the Col de Plate chair lift. The conditions were fantastic (no moguls but amazing snow with plenty of powder and some un-tracked spots). This is an under rated ski area, the views down the valley from the top of Styx, the terrain and challenge, in my opinion makes Gers one of the best ski runs in the French Alps. Suitable for strong intermediates and experts.

Lower slopes of Gers Bowl

Gers Bowl Lone skier

An alternative treat from Cascades or Styx is the restaurant at the Gers lake, a popular place to sit, enjoy a meal and admire the scenery. Access is either off the bottom of the Styx run, which means a walk around the lake shore, or from the notice and phone that is situated by a bridge on the Cascades run, after dropping into the Gers valley; skiers call up the restaurant and are pulled up to it on the back of a skidoo (the ride and tables are best reserved in advance).