They are still there, those hidden gems. Ski resorts with fantastic opportunities, snow-sure and undiscovered by tourists. The cosy mountain village of Les Saisies certainly belongs in that category. It is an ideal winter sports destination at the foot of Mont Blanc. From the beginning of December to the end of April, great descents await the relaxed winter sportsman. A convivial atmosphere prevails everywhere because Les Saisies is a charming mountain village with many traditional chalets. Besides an abundance of fantastic ski runs, Les Saisies offers various other winter activities. This makes this mountain village a great destination for real enthusiasts.
Winter sports in Les Saisies
Charming Les Saisies is located at an altitude of 1,650 metres. Wherever you stay in Les Saisies, you can quickly reach one of the ski lifts. In fact, they depart from the village. In total, the Les Saisies area has some 77 kilometres of slopes. Most of these are ideal for skiers who like relaxed skiing.
The area is almost completely in the sun when the weather is nice. The views of the mountain landscape are breathtaking. Mont Blanc, the Beaufortain massif and the Aravis mountains surround the winter sportsman. The sunny slopes, fantastic views and many beautiful runs make for a perfect ski day.
From the village you can go in three directions. Chairlifts take you to the summit of La Légette (1,865 metres), Chard du Beurre (1,869 metres) or Mont-Bisanne (1,940 metres). All these peaks do not exceed 2,000 metres. Yet the Les Saisies area is hugely snow-sure. Its location at the foot of Mont Blanc regularly ensures abundant snowfall. So, skiing from early December to late April is possible.
Calgary in Les Saisies
After a strenuous day of skiing, you’ll find plenty of life in Les Saisies. Strolling through the mountain village past the many quaint shops, hotels, restaurants and bars is a blast. The traditional wooden chalet construction creates a nice atmosphere in the streets.
If you want to relax in the sauna, a visit to the Le Signal aqua and wellness centre is ideal. Several swimming pools and saunas provide soothing relaxation after a strenuous day in the snow.
We stayed in a traditional hotel with the somewhat unusual name Le Calgary. That name was given by Franck Piccard, a famous skier from Les Saisies, to the hotel he started after his sports career. It is a reference to his performance at the Calgary Olympics. At the time, he became the first Olympic champion on the Super-G. He also won a bronze medal in the downhill in Canada. In nearby Albertville, he captured a silver medal four years later. You can admire those medals if, like us, you rent skis at Franck Piccard’s ski shop.
Les Saisies, part of Espace Diamant
Les Saisies is part of the impressive Espace Diamant. That makes for a vast ski area with no less than 192 kilometres of slopes. Many of these go through a wooded area, which makes downhill skiing even more fun. The vast majority of runs are blue or red. Ideal for the easy-going skier who wants to leisurely glide down the rolling slopes. The many wooden chalets along the slopes provide an authentic atmosphere.
The nice thing about the Espace Diamant ski area is that it is nice and wide. This ensures a good spread of all winter sportspeople. Thus, the area is nowhere crowded. It is certainly possible to visit all the sub-regions in one day on the long slats. Just make sure to return from Praz-sur-Arly in time before the lifts close. Along the way, you will regularly come across nice mountain huts where you can eat and drink in a lively ambience.
Espace Diamant includes four more picturesque villages besides Les Saisies:
- Flumet. This village is a hidden gem with its traditional architecture and atmospheric ambience. The skiing environment here is diverse, from gentle slopes to steep challenges.
Notre Dame de Bellecombe. Authentic and charming, Notre Dame de Bellecombe welcomes visitors with its distinctive wooden chalets and friendly atmosphere. Here you will enjoy both the tranquillity of the mountains and the great runs on several ski slopes.
- Praz-sur-Arly. This village is a perfect combination of tradition and adventure. With its cosy atmosphere and varied ski slopes, Praz-sur-Arly is an ideal destination for families and enthusiastic skiers.
- Crest-Voland. A picturesque village surrounded by majestic mountains. Especially enjoy the breathtaking views of Mont-Charvin.
Other winter activities in Les Saisies
Les Saisies does not only stand out for its great skiing opportunities. The resort also offers a wide range of other winter activities. Therefore, for anyone who loves snow, Les Saisies is an ideal travel destination.
If you want to go cross-country skiing, this area is an excellent choice. Because Les Saisies is known as a popular destination for cross-country skiers. It is one of the largest cross-country skiing areas in France. There are around 120 kilometres of cross-country trails around Les Saisies, suitable for both beginners and experienced cross-country skiers.
During the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, Les Saisies hosted the cross-country skiing competitions. This confirmed the resort’s reputation as a leading Nordic skiing destination.
There are great views of the surrounding mountains from the trails. The combination of the beautiful landscape, the well-maintained trails and the variety of difficulty levels makes Les Saisies an ideal travel destination for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. Whether you want to take a relaxing trip or push your limits, the cross-country skiing opportunities in Les Saisies are sure to meet your expectations.
A variant of cross-country skiing is biathlon, also an Olympic sport. During the 1992 Albertville Winter Games, Les Saisies hosted the Olympic games of biathlon. For those not familiar with this sport: cross-country skiers have to shoot at a target with a rifle at certain points on the route. Any miss means a time penalty. I always watch it with great admiration. Athletes arrive at their target with a heart rate close to 200, lie down in the snow and then fire five bull’s-eyes at lightning speed with a steady hand.
In Les Saisies, it is possible to take beginner biathlon courses. We want to try that too! In the sports shop, we get our cross-country skiing equipment. Then we take to the snow on our narrow slats. Fortunately, we don’t have to cross-country ski with the rifle on our backs. We only get that when we arrive at the point where the shooting test takes place. Quite comfortable.
The cross-country skiing is reasonable, despite the snow falling in buckets. This does make for a beautiful, fairy-tale setting. At the shooting range, the instructors are already ready and get the rifles out of the magazine cases. What strikes us right away is the enormous distance at which the targets are positioned. That won’t be easy to hit!
All five hit, or not?
We start with landscape shooting. I am not confident I will succeed. I was rejected for military service years ago because of my poor eyesight. Patiently, the instructor explains everything. Then I get to aim at the target five times. After I finish, the instructor shows me the result. I got all five bull’s-eyes! He immediately destroys my moment. Turns out I’ve shot the target of the course next to me! In a match, that would have meant a hefty time penalty for me.
Shooting standing up would be easier, but I don’t match my good result from before. I did, however, use the right target this time. According to the instructor, that is also worth a compliment. Afterwards, we cross-country ski another round. With the fresh snow on the firs, the landscape becomes more and more magical. This makes our introduction to biathlon in Les Saisies even more enjoyable.
Snowshoeing is becoming increasingly popular as a winter sporting activity. We have already regularly hiked through the snow on ‘tennis rackets’. Like in neighbouring Val d’Arly, for example. And every time, we enjoy a fantastic trek through fairytale-like surroundings.
Les Saisies has seven marked, unprepared routes totalling 65 kilometres for snowshoeing. In addition, there are several trails that are also suitable for snowshoeing. These are all cared-for trails with markings.
We will walk through the snow with a special guide. Hélène is a mountain guide and qualified yoga teacher. During the hike, she teaches us to become one with nature. We also do some simple yoga exercises in the snow. Now, that’s what I call mindful hiking in the winter! The landscape is enchanting. The abundance of snow has covered all the trees with a beautiful white down. In peace and quiet, far away from the ski slopes, we walk through an area where we don’t meet anyone else. Once again, snowshoeing is a great experience.
In one weekend, we got to know Les Saisies as a perfect location for winter sports. The combination of beautiful descents, the many other winter activities, the cosy atmosphere and the beautiful location near Mont Blanc, are trump cards of this ski resort, as far as we are concerned. Finally, the connection to the large Espace Diamant area is an additional asset for Les Saisies.
At the invitation of l’Agence Savoie Mont Blanc, we visited Les Saisies and the Espace Diamant ski area. We compiled the content of the blog independently and objectively based on our own impressions. In connection with the heavy snowfall, we used photo material from the Les Saisies tourist office in some cases.
Frequently asked questions about ski resort Les Saisies in Espace Diamant
Les Saisies (located at 1,650 metres) is in the Savoie Mont Blanc region, just over half an hour's drive from the well-known ski resort of Albertville. Together with the villages of Flumet, Notre Dame de Bellecombe, Praz-sur-Arly and Crest-Voland, Les Saisies forms the Espace Diamant ski area.
By car: from Paris it is 625 kilometres to the ski resort. Up to Albertville, this is motorway (toll). After that it is another 30 kilometres on a provincial road with some curves, but nowhere very steep. However, this last section can cause some delays during winter conditions.
Train: you take the TGV to Albertville. Then take a bus, hire car or taxi to Les Saisies.
By plane: take a direct flight to Geneva in Switzerland. There you can continue by hire car to Les Saisies. You can also continue by train from Geneva to Albertville, changing to a bus, taxi or hire car.
The ski resort of Les Saisies offers numerous plus points that make it a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
- Extensive slopes and great snow conditions: Les Saisies is part of the Espace Diamant ski area, which comprises more than 190 kilometres of slopes in total. Its altitude and geographical location ensure good snow conditions.Variety of slopes: the ski area offers slopes of different levels of difficulty, catering for beginners as well as experienced skiers and snowboarders.
- Cross-country paradise: Les Saisies is known as one of the best destinations for cross-country skiers. With around 120 kilometres of well-prepared cross-country trails, the area offers beautiful routes through snowy forests and open fields.
- Panoramic views: the ski resort of Les Saisies offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, including the imposing Mont Blanc.
- Winter activities: in addition to alpine skiing, several other winter activities are possible in Les Saisies. These include snowshoeing, biathlon, tobogganing, hiking and ice skating.
- Cosy village atmosphere: Les Saisies has an authentic and cosy atmosphere. The village is charming with its traditional chalets and offers a range of restaurants and shops. There are several cafés, but do not expect extensive après-ski in Les Saisies.
These are good lodgings in Les Saisies:
- Le Calgary: A cosy hotel with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The rooms are comfortably furnished and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding nature. The ski slopes are very close by.
- Hôtel Beaufortain: This charming hotel offers cosy rooms with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The location is ideal, close to the ski slopes and the village centre.
- Hôtel Chalet Le Caribou: This hotel has a traditional chalet style and offers comfortable accommodation with a touch of authenticity. It is conveniently located near the ski slopes.
- Résidence Club MMV Les Chalets des Cimes: If you are looking for a stay with more independence, this résidence offers fully equipped flats with access to amenities such as an indoor pool and wellness area.
This is the complete list of accommodation in Les Saisies.