Tag Archives: grand massif

Hiking from Sixt fer a Cheval via Buvette de Prazon to Chalet du Boret

This was probably one of my most challenging hikes to date. I started at the cirque at Sixt fer a Cheval and walked to the chalet at the Buvette de Prazon, signposted below

Buvette de Prazon signpost

Buvette de Prazon signpost

and then climbed the Pas du Boret to the chalet du Boret. This is termed a “difficile” path; which is correct as one has to traverse across slippery rocks in the path of waterfalls, and on occasions climb via ferrata (iron steps). The path routes close to the cliff edge so one needs a good head for heights as the drop is vertical from the path edge. The signpost suggested 70 minutes to the Chalet du Boret, I took about 90 minutes with a few rest stops. There is an approximate 400 m elevation gain from 1020m at Buvette de Prazon to chalet du boret at 1390m, and about 500-600m from the car park at Sixt fer a Cheval to the chalet. There was a sign on route warning about dogs being used to guard livestock against Wolves and Lynx; the latter worried me more than the dogs.

The view from the chalet is quite spectacular, I’ve inserted a video showing a 360 degree view of the scenery.

 

The route back via le fond de la combe was about 7 km and signposting suggested 2.5 hours. The return route passed through woodland and adjacent to a waterfall, giving a spectacular view of the valley and source of the River Giffre as shown below.

Giffre Valley view

Giffre Valley view

Total time for the hike was about 4 hours, an altitude change of about 550m and a length of 10 km. Recommended for those who enjoy a challenge and do not suffer with vertigo. 🙂

Mountain Biking (MTB) Argy to Les Carroz d’Araches September 2014

Agy is situated a few kilometres from Les Carroz and is popular in the winter for ski de fond at the Centre Nordique d’Agy. The centre is accessed via the Route d’Araches (D6) near Saint Sigismond.  The Nordique skiing is across undulating countryside at altitudes up to about 1350 m.
I started at the car park at Agy, where it is a slight incline on good track to Le Haut des Flatieres at 1330m altitude. The signposting, shown below, were excellent with GPS coordinates on many signs.

Les Charmettes near Agy

Les Charmettes near Agy

Le Haut de Flatieres near Agy

Le Haut de Flatieres near Agy

Mountain Bike and signpost

Mountain Bike and signpost

On the route there are some open spectacular views across to Samoens and the mountains at Sixt fer a Cheval. Continuing along the track it rises to the ski terrain at Morillon, entering the Marvel run. Cycling past the Igloo restaurant, which we often stop for drinks and/or lunch in the ski season. Photos of views are shown below.

Mountain view near Morillon

Mountain view near Morillon

Mountain view near Morillon

Mountain view near Morillon

The route back to Les Carroz d’Araches was relatively straightforward, after reaching the summit of the Sairon chair lift in Morillon, at 1711m I cycled down the Biollaire piste,under the Gron lift and down the Combe psite. There was good track on the edge of these pistes so not too difficult.

The track near Gron chair lift is shown below.

MTB in Les Carroz near Biollaire piste

MTB in Les Carroz near Biollaire piste

Total time from Agy back to Les Carroz was 2.5 hours, some time spent pushing the MTB up hill, but rode much more than the Flaine MTB experience. Mountain Biking in the alps is a great way of seeing the mountain flora, fauna and geology without spending a full day out hiking.

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.

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.

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.

Le Mole walk

After looking at Le Mole (in the Haut Savoie region of France) covered in snow when skiing in the Grand Massif i had decided that it was going to be walked when an opportunity arose. It was a hot summers day in August 2009; 27 degs in the valley when the decision was made to walk Le Mole.

Driving from Les Carroz D’Araches, after 30 minutes and driving through Marignier and the village of Bovere i parked the car at an altitude of 1160 m. The sign below shows the well marked route with the peak at 1863 m,  estimated at 2 hr 20 mins walking.

Start of the Mole walk

Views on the Mole walk

Continuing the climb for another 30 minutes I was unclear of the route to take to the summit. With a thunderstorm on the way i took more photos and abandoned the walk in the interests of safety and decided to do the walk the next day (weather permitting) from the other sode of the mountain.

The estimate to the summit from this side of the mountain was 1 hr 20 minutes.

Start of the Mole walk from 1300m

The final ascent from about 1600 m was on a narrow steep ridge, which would not be easy to traverse in wet or windy conditions. The views at the summit were spectacular, views on the valley cities of Cluses, Bonneville, montain views of Mont Blanc and the Aravis range and Lake Geneva.

Narrow ridge at top of Le Mole

The final ascent from about 1600 m was on a narrow steep ridge, which would not be easy to traverse in wet or windy conditions. The views at the summit were spectacular, views on the valley cities of Cluses, Bonneville, montain views of Mont Blanc and the Aravis range and Lake Geneva.

Le Mole cross and views

Narrow Ridge to top of Mole

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