Nestled at the heart of a great glacial valley, surrounded by seven dramatic peaks, Samoëns is well known for being a very pretty, atmospheric and authentic French village and an ideal choice for families. Samoëns retains the friendly charm of an ancient market town, whilst offering a modern and fast lift, to get you on the slopes speedily. There’s a generally peaceful, timeless feel to the resort, pleasurable to walk around admiring its natural ambiance, architecture and thoughtful design.
Samoëns is one of five resorts in the Grand Massif lift-linked circuit of more than 265 kms of ski runs. These areas include Morillon, Flaine, Les Carroz and Sixt Fer a Chaval. It is linked with the gondola, the Grand Massif Express, which lifts skiers up to 1600m up, in just eight minutes. However this lift starts from around 800m away from the centre and is accessed via the free shuttle, so staying around the pretty village means there are very limited ski in ski out options.
If not selecting a catered chalet option, there are plenty of restaurants in the village, from the traditional to pizzeria restaurants as well as American style fast food options. Many of the restaurant owners have made great efforts to ensure that the interiors reflect the Savoyard traditional style, with welcoming chalet decor, often with a roaring log fire. The quality of the food is generally good and at peak holiday times there is often a need to prebook your evening meals, especially with the more popular eateries.
There are certainly a number of bars to try out, but mostly they are not for party seekers. Samoens is certainly not renowned for its vibrant apres ski, but there are a number of decent bars. The Clarine Bar is very modern and has created an original and large selection of entertaining cocktails and beers. Le Savoie is another good bar, with live bands during the ski season. Le Covey’s, is the usual Irish bar option, offering a wide range of beers and a reputation for good craik. Another good choice is L’Aspen which is wood lined with attractive carvings and decorations. Here, sample beers from all around the world as well as the local Samoëns brew, Criou, named after the local mountain.
As regards the skiing, the Grand Massif is highly regarded by the winter media and journalists, as one of the top 3 areas in France and an ideal choice for beginners and intermediates, with some good stuff too for experts. The 14km long, blue rated wonderful Cascades run, descends to the resort of Sixt Fer a Chaval. Expert skiers looking for tough skiing take the same lifts but head for the Combe de Gers sector and a black slope called “Styx” which is never “groomed”. Closer to home the Croix area at Samoëns 1600 has the black slopes Marmotte and Chamois”, both really enjoyable runs with jumps and ramps at the end of the slopes. The runs over to Flaine make for an enjoyable excursion, with Flaine itself offering some superb skiing for everyone too.
For snowboarders, there are three parks in the Grand Massif region. Above Morillon the park is especially for children, above Samoëns on the Soleil slope there’s a park for all levels of ability, whilst -Flaine’s The Jam Park in the Vernant area contains a Boarder Cross and other features.
All in all Samoens is a great choice for families and couples wanting fabulous skiing, in a truly atmospheric resort. With short transfers from Geneva, a pretty good snow record, a resort for all ability levels and a good choice of catered chalets, hotels and apartments to suit almost any budget, Samoens should come high on your must see and ski list!