The fact that Les Saisies is known variously as the “French Tyrol” and “snow storehouse of the Savoy Alps”, tells you a great deal about what this charming ski station has to offer. Located 1,650 metres up in a high valley between the Val d'Arly and Beaufortain-Tal valleys, the beautiful countryside around Les Saisies – including panoramic views of Mont Blanc – is alone reason enough to want to spend a winter holiday here. But it has other attractions too – many visitors are drawn to this delightful winter sports resort in the Espace Diamant skiing area by the combination of excellent snow conditions and long hours of sunshine. A particularly charming feature of Les Saisies are its mountain lodges and chalets built in traditional Savoyard style, a reminder of the origins of this authentic mountain village.
Without doubt the Les Saisies skiing area is best known across the world for the facilities it has to offer fans of Nordic skiing. Since hosting all the cross-country and biathlon events in the 1992 Winter Olympics, the station is able to offer keen cross-country skiers a total of 120 kilometres of ski runs. Many of these pass through the wonderful countryside around Les Saisies, giving skiers the chance to enjoy absolute peace and tranquillity – and see nature at her glorious best. And at an altitude of 1,650 metres, the Les Saisies ski trail network is one of the highest in Europe – that means snow is more or less guaranteed from mid-December right through until the end of April.
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But Les Saisies is also a great place for alpine skiers. Together with Hauteluce and Bisanne 1500, its two delightful neighbouring villages, the Les Saisies station has its own skiing area with 70 kilometres of slopes. Over half of these are well-groomed, easy runs - ideal for families or novice skiers.
Those with more experience under their belt will find a wide variety of slopes taking them through the wooded areas around Les Saisies, including some demanding Olympic courses. Since linking up with its neighbouring ski station Les Saisies is now able to offer an even bigger choice of challenging downhill runs. Those who fancy trying a different skiing experience whilst on holiday at Les Saisies can venture out onto the Périots slope for some thrilling night skiing. Freestyle skiers and snowboarders will also find plenty to enjoy at Les Saisies’ superbly equipped snowpark which has rails, jumps and much more besides. There are also two boardercross and slalom courses.
Skiers wanting to use Les Saisies as a base from which to explore the whole of the Espace Diamant resort will be completely spoilt for choice – with a total of 152 runs spread over 185 kilometres there is plenty of variety for skiers of all abilities. The network of slopes, located at 1,050 – 2,060 metres, are connected by a series of 85 lifts which means skiers have less waiting around and more time to relax and enjoy their skiing! The ski villages Notre Dame de Bellecombe, Flumet and Crest Voland offer additional snowparks and boardercross courses.
Les Saisies also provides plenty of exciting action off the slopes and there are many different ways to explore the unique countryside around this winter sports area, for example ski touring, snowshoeing or dog sledding. And there is no shortage of options for ‘adrenaline junkies’, including snowmobile and snowcat rides, the chance to climb a frozen waterfall or take a helicopter flight over the entire Espace Diamant ski area. You could even try your hand at skijoring in which you are pulled along on your skis by a horse.
The programme for younger visitors is no less exciting: kids can enjoy horse, donkey or pony rides, a night-time snowshoe hike (including a close look at animal tracks along the way), a trip on the Mountain Twister or a rollercoaster-style toboggan run (open all year round) with a breathtaking 800-metre long descent.
For those who prefer something a bit more relaxing, Les Saisies has several spas or, if an excursion is on the cards, there are many cheese-dairies in the area which are well worth a visit. There is plenty of entertainment in the evenings, including a wide range of restaurants, bars, pubs, crêperies and a cinema.