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Grand Massif - where to stay

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Looking for recommendation of best place/resort to stay in Grand Massif. 2 adults and 2 children - intermediate to advanced skiiers. Like the look of Morillon, but wonder if it is too low, though we will be going in scottish school hols, 09-16 Feb so hopefully lack of snow low down not an issue. Also wondering what queues etc are like, I am assuming that as the english schools won't yet be off and only 1 sector of france is, should not be too bad. All thoughts/recommendations much appreciated - family are keen to try somewhere new after a few years of sticking to Italy. Also, best ski schools for children- any thoughts? Thanks in advance.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I can't answer about queues, as we always head home for vacances scolaire!

There are two Morillons - the real village, down in the valley, and Morillon 1100 up the mountain. In February, you should be fine at 1100 and if you stay in the village, you can always download in the telecabine if the village runs are not open. Even in the worst weather, the links between Morillon and Les Carroz are very rarely closed, so you always have a good area to ski.

The Grand Massif offers loads of variety, and it's hard to know where to recommend without knowing what you are looking for.

For ski in, ski out convenience the centre of Flaine is hard to beat, especially if you are still at the 'please carry my skis' stage with the kids. But the home run down Tourmaline back to Flaine from the Grand Massif can be icy and crowded for tired legs at the end of the day. I'm not a fan of the satellite villages in Flaine as they feel out of everything, but that may be just me.

I'm totally biased about Les Carroz which is a proper village, where we have an apartment. It has less ski in, ski out, but an excellent and efficient free ski bus. It is also 'in the middle' in terms of the whole area, offering lots of options without a long run home with tired children.

Samoens also has a village level (one of France's prettiest villages) and Samoens 1600 up higher. I'm not sure how much effect the new Club Med will have on queues, as we've not been there at peak time for French holidays.

We have lessons with Lynne Stainbrook in Flaine, who is very hot on technique and does a lot of children's lessons. I don't have experience of any group lessons

These opinions are very subjective and I'm sure someone else will be along soon with other advice! If you post a bit more about what you are looking for we can try to fill in some gaps.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
At the risk of increasing queues in our beloved Les Carroz, I would support sj1608ís views on LC. LC offers better access (and a little used high-season alternative access point) to GM area than Morillon and it is a lovely village. You need to manage your high-season days carefully but I have managed to avoid high season queues many times over the last 10 seasons, some GM slopes and lifts can be horrendous at certain times. You have got me longing for the GM slopes already, hope 2018/19 season is like the last one!
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thanks for that. Les Carroz does look lovely, but I had worried it was a bit spread out and far from pistes, though your glowing recommendations might persuade me. Children are old enough to carry their own skis, but maybe not too far as I really can't cope with the complaining after a days skiing and to be honest at the end of a long day, it is me that is tired not the children any more! They also love getting up in the morning and going out to buy bread/pastries. Husband and I like being able to go to a nice bar for a few beers after skiing, but somewhere we can take children (10 and 12) as well. We will have a car, is the car park at the telecabin free or if not, what does it cost per day? Can we park other places close to telecabin if park is full? How regular are the navette? Flaine itself is not really an option, budget wise I am sure we can get somewhere nicer in one of the smaller villages and I stayed there about 25yrs ago and for reasons I can no longer remember, did not really like it! I had been veering towards Samoens but not entirely sure about the only way home being the telecabine. Ref the holidays, I am hoping that only been the first week of 1 sector of french hols and not english hols the queues would not be too bad, we have been totally spoiled last few years in Italy and never been in a queue for more than 5 minutes and often have pistes to ourselves, I am also a bit nervous about that side of it, but being out voted by the family who want a change. good ideas all, much appreciated.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I've stayed in both Flaine (at Easter) and Les Carroz (January). I'd also recommend Les Carroz, mainly because I think it's the most weather-proof resort in the Grand Massif. On windy days when the links across Tete de Saix are closed, Les Carroz / Morillon has the biggest local area, while Samoens and Flaine get cut off. This really helped us on a couple of stormy days in January. Snow at resort level shouldn't be a problem in February.

Then when the sun comes out, all the skiers who have been trapped in Flaine head across to Les Carroz, Morillon and Samoens, leaving Flaine relatively quiet for a day trip across.

The skibus was reliable and fairly regular so distance to slopes not really an issue as long as you're near a bus stop. Not sure about parking charges.

Possible downsides to Les Carroz: the steepest skiing is probably in the Flaine sector which is a bit of a trek. Not sure if that's important to you or not. Also the gondola out of the resort might be queue-prone in half term, not sure.
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There are four main free Navette routes that operate 8.15am until about 7pm (https://winter.lescarroz.com/images/skibus/BDPlanoramaCarroz_Circulation_2018.pdf)
Accommodation in village centre would be between 10 seconds and 2 minutes walk to a ski bus stop, which is then a 1m 20s journey to the Kedeuse gondola (you can drive up to the free car park but itís really not worth the hassle, especially in school holidays), you also have the option of advance online booking of a heated ski locker at Kedeuse gondola which easily holds 4 sets of equipment and would make your short journey on the bus easier OR if bus is busy itís a pleasant 8 minute stroll up the road to gondola station. There is a free car park 10 minutes drive up towards Flaine at the Molliets/Carroz 1500 area, which gives access on a direct chairlift to the Grand Massif hub at 2150m (Tete des Saix), additionally during the school holidays there is a morning free bus that runs up from the village centre to Carroz 1500m, no return journeys at all as itís used to reduce the pressure on the Kedeuse Gondola a little. There are 3 lovely bread/pastry shops in village centre + 2 Supermarkets.
There are quite a few suitable bars for you in the centre.
After your skiing there is a blue or red route back to village (or you can get the gondola down), itís then a bus to centre every 10 or 15 minutes or ski to within a 400m walk to centre. Agree that if only 1 French area is on hols and not British hols, slopes should not be too bad.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
We've stayed, over the years, in all areas of GM. As said above, each is quite distinct in character although obviously using same ski area.

We like each one of the villages and certainly wouldn't discount any one of them. Visited as larger group, much smaller and hoc weeks and more recently as family of four. Not visited during national holidays though.

But favourite of the lower cost options for us by far is Morillon 1100 Les Esserts. It's just walk out onto the snow and so convenient for it. Small enough and just big enough to contain patisserie, small supermarket, a few places to eat out and drink etc.
No download at day's end plus ski to all of the accommodation options too. Its all grouped around the main chairlift and has two very decent routes back down to 1100 from entering the Morillon sector of ski domain, main route blue, wide and great end of day. Green "Marvel" one of the best cruising pistes of that grade in the Alps, a great, long and easy cruise back to ski station. No parking charges when we were last there.

Well regarded mountain restaurants on the piste, L'igloo and our favourite Le Beu, a family run small restaurant close to base of main chairlift, get there early for lunch it fills up quickly.
With a car, it's about a 15 minute drive down to Samoens village centre which is great to walk around in the evening. All of the villages have a good atmosphere for families so no concerns for any of the areas from that point.

I feel it's a really good intro to the GM.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
that's all great info guys, thank you.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
so, another question, Morillon itself is only at 700m I think, anyone got any experience of being there mid Feb? I am assuming you could ski all the way home? I have been looking at Les Esserts, but struggling to find accommodation within our budget - looking on airbnb etc, do you think perhaps more will come up in a few months time? Any other good sites any of you can recommend for good value self catering? I think after all advice above we may go either Morillon/les Esserts or Les Carroz. thank you
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@trmacc, live there for a couple of seasons, in all that time I only remember skiing back a few of times, tbh it's not the best of runs, crosses the road at least once.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
They have extended the snow making facilities in Morillon last season with more snow making down to village level so you should be able to ski all the way home
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@trmacc, can you give us some idea of budget and what you are looking for, please.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
2 bedroomed s/c apartment. Budget of around £800 (or less even!) I realise that is not much, but I have found a few places in Samoen and Morillon for around £600. thanks
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I agree with many of the points already made although I think Igloo is vastly overrated. Not sure anybody has touched on your point regarding a few beers after skiing but Morillon 1100 is not the place for that. Morillon Village has two or three with Bon Coin being my favourite. It's right opposite the tele cabin and the bottom of the run home. The run home was open virtually the whole of last season.

I am biased towards Samoens but think Morillon or LC make more sense for you. When the GM is busy, and it will be on your dates, the worst choke point is at the Vernant chair which is the only access to Flaine from the rest of the GM. Not sure there is an ideal time to hit that one.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Ghanny wrote:
They have extended the snow making facilities in Morillon last season with more snow making down to village level so you should be able to ski all the way home


Good news I didn't ski there last season so wasn't aware!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just to add to the snow thoughts above, skied the village run in late February this year and march a couple of years ago.

No problems at all, in fact in march it was still skiable when some higher runs weren't
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
The advantage that Les Carroz has at busy times, if you have a car, is that you have a choice of 3 points to take your first lift:
- the main telecabine (accessible by car or bus)
- Carroz 1500, which offers options to both the Tete de Saix and into Morillon/LC (accessible by car or the 'one way' bus mentioned above)
- Vernant, which has a shallow lift that then takes you to a choice of two lifts either straight into Flaine or up to the Tete de Saix, (accessible only by car). This access is a very neat way of getting into Flaine before the crowds have made it over from Samoens, LC and Morillon.

All the car parks above are free.

Finally, if you want to get into Flaine without skiing over, you can drive all the way and park for Ä3 per day, which can be worth it if the links are closed. Flaine tends to be quieter if the links are closed, so can be a good option on windy days although not necessarily on poor visibility days (not enough trees in Flaine).
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Regarding ski to base village, I'd put it at about 50% we've experienced in the past when staying there which was before the improvements in snow management that's in place now. Staying in second week of March usually.

I like that run, it crosses the road twice at which point you have to take your skis off and cross. A nice meander down to the bottom.

But it's not a show stopper if closed, entirely reasonable download via telecabine lift and obviously access in the morning. You can also use car access to 1100 as public parking available there or at base.

We've also stayed across the valley in Verchaix village which is an option as it's only a five minute drive across to Morillon, is on south facing side of valley with nice sunsets and views of Mont Blanc. Costs can be good as it's not right on the snow but close enough to be convenient. Plus you can drive to Morillon or the two entry points for Samoens main lift as well as the small entry point at Vercland that also takes you to Samoens 1600. They are all within about 15 minute drive, so nothing is far away in that valley.

Used Peak Retreats or homeaway for private apartments in Les Esserts.

As above said, bar choice at base is ok.
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