Tag Archives: Flaine

Hike to Lac Gers in Flaine Summer 2016

Summer Hike to Lac Gers in Flaine

During our holiday in Les Carroz d’Araches in the French Alps in July 2016, primarily for the Tour de France where stages 18, 19 and 20 were a short drive from Les Carroz d’Araches; I took the opportunity to do a walk in Flaine and further my stages of the Tour of Mont Blanc. I drove towards Flaine on the D106 Route de Flaine and parked at the bottom of Flaine at 1600 m altitude, catching the DMC telecabine to the peak at Flaine. It was a hot day with temperatures of 25C in Les Carroz d’Araches and 21 C in Flaine; the views of Mont Blanc from the summit were as spectacular as ever. I was surprised by the amount of snow at the summit for July. I have walked here in previous years and this is the most I had ever seen. There was a very good snow base winter 15-16 so I guess the depth of snow ensured it lasted through to summer.

Mont Blanc Summer 2016

Mont Blanc Summer 2016

Summer snow at Flaine summit

Summer snow at Flaine summit

Walking down from the summit to the whale-back ridge. A short walk along this narrow ridge gave some spectacular views of the Grand Massif and down the valley to Sixt Fer a Cheval, although the path to the peaks looked to precarious to go any further so returned to the serpentine piste and walked towards the Combe de Gers bowl.

View from Whale Back in Flaine

View from Whale Back in Flaine

Narrow path on Whaleback summit

Narrow path on Whaleback summit

The walk down to Lac Gers passes close to the Gers drag lift, a very steep drag, not for beginners. The view of the lake and valley down to Sixt Fer a Cheval opens up to wonderful views. The winding trail down was relatively straightforward, but the return on the other side of the valley virtually climbs straight, with no switchbacks, so it is very tiring and slow if you are not accustomed to alpine walking.

Combe de Gers bowl in summer

Combe de Gers bowl in summer

Signage at climb up from Lac Gers

Signage at climb up from Lac Gers

The signage throughout the hike was clear, as shown on the climb out from Lac Gers it suggests the distance to Flaine is 2 hr 30 min and 50 min back to Lac Gers. In practice I find that adding about 20% to the times gives a more realistic estimate allowing for rest breaks. We walked back to the Flaine bowl at 1600 m and car park. Total time on the hike was approximately 7 hours.

Hiking in Flaine and Montagne d’Aujon September 2014

During our holiday in Les Carroz d’Araches in the French Alps in September 2014 I had wanted to walk some of the areas that I ski in Flaine during the winter so I drove towards Flaine on the D106 Route de Flaine and parked at the bottom of Flaine at 1600 m altitude. I walked up the Celestine red piste through the forests of d’aujon heading towards the drag lift called Aujon. In the winter these are nice winding pistes through the forest with a moderate incline. When hiking this seems a challenging incline; interesting and different perspective from winter to summer, skiing and walking. Below is a couple of photos of looking back towards Flaine.

View back to Flaine Forum

View back to Flaine Forum

Mountain view

Mountain view

 

Walking and pushing my mountain bike towards the Aujon area of skiing the views become quite spectacular. Below are a couple of photos showing the Aujon chalets and my mountain bike at about 1750 m altitude.

Aujon Colony in mountain at Flaine

Aujon Colony in mountain at Flaine

Mountain bike at 1750m

Mountain bike at 1750m

The return part of the journey was considerably quicker on the mountain bike, although in many parts it was too steep to safely ride the bike. I headed towards the Serpentine piste under the Grand Platieres lift with good views of the Grand Vans lift and ski slopes above Flaine.

Total time spent on the mountain was approx 2.5 hours with majority pushing the bike from the centre of Flaine to about 1800 m before the cycle back to 1600 m. 

View of Grand Vans lift in summer

View of Grand Vans lift in summer

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

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

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).

Grand Massif Skiing December 2009

After a successful early ski holiday in the Grand Massif of France in 2008 we decided to repeat the timings in 2009. Arriving in Les Carroz d’Araches on Saturday December 12th, there was a few inches of snow in the village which had arrived that day. Flaine had seen similar dumps of snow with the resort opening on December 12th. On Monday 14th December we skied in Flaine, with fantastic conditions, a sunny cold day with clear views of Mont Blanc, as seen in the image below.

Flaine skiing December 2009

An estimated 100 cm of snow at 2200 m and 20 cm at 1600m was sufficient for a good day of skiing in Flaine. Disappointingly, there were only 3 ski lifts open; the small beginners lift at 1600m, the large DMC telecabine providing access to the top of Flaine and the Col de Plate chair lift accessible the bottom of the Serpentine/Crystal ski runs.

Grand Massif mountain view


Serpentine ski run Flaine

The ski runs in Flaine were in great condition with plenty of snow cover until reaching the village at 1600m where some stones had been churned up. The images above show the ski runs at the top of Flaine.

Snow continued to fall in the village of Les Carroz d’Araches from Monday Dec 14th, with a centimetre or so every day until Friday 18 December when heavy snow continued to fall all day, leaving at least 10 cm in Les Carroz village and continuing to the upper slopes at 2200m.

The snow cannons were active all week, with sub zero temperatures (typically -10 degs C during he daytime) throughout. The good snow base built up in November and the blown snow, plus the snowfalls in December made for excellent skiing over the Christmas period.

Grand Massif Skiing December 2008

The snow levels in the Grand Massif during winter season 2008-2009 were excellent and surpassed levels seen over the past 5 years. At Flaine opening mid December 08 the snow cover was fantastic; a picture taken skiing in Flaine on Dec 14 2008.

Flaine cascade ski runs

Having skied regularly in the Grand Massif since 2001 it was great to be able to do runs like Cascade from Flaine to Sixt fer Cheval and I was able to do a run that I had never previously done as it appears rarely open. This is the the red Grand Chaudron piste which 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 snow was in perfect condition in late March and with fantastic views it is worth doing. With further large snowfalls in the third week of March and weather remaining cold the snow was excellent. Attached is a photo of the Timolets run going back to Les Carroz d’Araches at 1150 m altitude.

Les Carroz Timolet skirun

Tour de France Grand Massif July 2006

As an enthusiast in watching the Tour de France we visited Les Carroz for a summer holiday in July 2006. Did the telecabine to the top of Flaine to discover snow still at the top.


A walk down to the village at 1600m with a picnic half way down was a fantastic way to spend a day. The scenery was spectacular with snow covered mountains and wild flowers.

Wild flowers in Flaine summertime

The circus came to town in Les Carroz but we did not see Papa Lazaroux!

Circus in Les Carroz, Grand Massif

Walking in Sixt fer Cheval amoung beautiful waterfalls.

Sixt Fer Cheval waterfalls, Grand Massif

Tour de France passes close to Les Carroz d’Araches in 2006

Tour de France 2006 Grand Massif

The Cascade run Flaine to Sixt fer Cheval Jan 2006

The snow in the Grand Massif was excellent so we decided to ski from Les Carroz to Flaine and then try the 14 km Cascade ski run, if open. Catching the Grand Platieres (DMC) telecabine takes the skier from 1600 m to 2500 m; where there is a great view of the Mont Blanc chain and the mighty mountain itself.

The Cascade run was open. These are photos of the scenery as we made our way from the top of Flaine to Sixt fer Cheval at the bottom of the ski run.

Exiting the DMC telecabine in Flaine

Start of the Cascade ski run

Skiers alone on cascade ski run in Flaine

The white sea in Flaine

Approachng treeline from Flaine to Sixt fer Cheval

View through trees on lower slopes approaching Sixt fer Cheval

Bottom of Sixt fer Cheval

At the bottom of the run is a small restaurant that serves snacks and drinks where one can wait for the free bus that takes skiers back to Samoens and Morillon to continue skiing.