A La Clusaz snowboarding holidays will find you in one of a very small group of French resorts which are not purpose built but are none-the-less located next to world class ski areas. Indeed this traditional Savoyard village is regarded by some as one of the most picturesque in France and has attracted tourists since the beginning of the twentieth century.
The chalets sport their hand-cut wooden shingles and the resort has a reputation for its production of the local Reblochon cheese and other farm foods. The large ski area for a single resort of any type covers five lift-linked mountains in the Aravis system and visitors have additional terrain to explore above neighbouring le Grand Bornand on the Aravis Pass – a total of 200km (125 miles) of trails.
La Clusaz snowboarding has kept at the forefront of European snowboard scene, being one of the first resorts to grant ‘boarders access to all areas and introduce terrain features. It was also one of the first Alpine centres to establish a permanent Boarder Cross where four freeriders can race against one another down a course of bumps and banks.
There is also a Snowpark which incorporates quarter pipes, gaps, tables, fun boxes and whoops. Facilities are located on Cret du Loup and Manigod. Away from terrain parks the Balme mountain is generally regarded as a snowboarding paradise with powder stashes, big craving slopes and plenty of natural hits.
La Clusaz has attracted the Telemark World Championships and the Freestyle World Championships , typical of the resort’s open-minded approach to winter sports, whereby dozens of other mountain sports are offered, besides skiing and snowboarding. La Clusaz also works hard to maintain it’s ‘traditional community’ feeling and to involve its guests in this atmosphere.
An entertainments office ensures that there is some event or another on daily, with weekly torchlit descents in which guests can participate and there are also weekly get togethers staged by the tourist office where guests can meet a variety of village residents on an informal basis.
La Clusaz’s snowboarding spreads across five mountains – Beauregard, La Croix Fry-Manigod-Merdassier, L’Etale, L’Aiguille and Balme. These are all lift linked to one another by more than 50 lifts. The big area covers all kinds of slopes from large wooded trails for relaxed descents, to high summits and steeps.
Beauregard is the mountain closest to the village and is regarded as a place for easy cruisers, although with all the slopes below the treeline its possible to enjoy some exciting tree skiing if you have the technical expertise required. Over the back of Beauregard there are the Croix-Fry Manigod Merdassier slopes which were linked to the resort in 1985. This is an area of largely gentle slopes, ideal for children and beginners. Right next door however are the slopes of l’Etale, largely above the treeline and much steeper.
Rising up across the village is the Aiguille Mountain, known for its sunny slopes with big verticals, such as the Grand Crêt which drops 1,200 metres (3937 feet). You can also take the exciting la Combe du Fernuy run which starts black but ends red and leads you over to the fifth and highest mountain, Balme. This is the most snow sure of the resort’s ski areas with long fast cruises, all above the tree line.
There are plenty of attractions for advanced and expert snowboarders on the slopes of La Clusaz. A Summit Circle route has been introduced, using only black and red trails. It includes, among others, the 4km (2.5 mile) long Vraille slope on Balme which drops 1100 metres (3609 feet) on North facing terrain with a reputation for powder snow.
Another tough slope is the Crêt du Loup mogul slope, now known as ‘The Edgar Wall’ after Edgar Grospiron, a French skiing champion who lives in the resort. Located on the Aiguille mountain it is one of the best natural mogul slopes in the world. Expert snowbaorders also have the chance of steep slope riding with a little bit hiking to take the route from Aravis to La Giettaz. Off piste touring with a Mountain guide is another option as is heliskiing in Switzerlnd and Italy.
A ski bus network links the base of the mountains and makes the link over to the smaller ski area of le Grand Bornand at least once every 30 minutes. La Clusaz is a centre for other snow sports also, notably Telemark – being a former host of the original downhill skiing sport’s World cup event in 1994, as well as to more modern variants like Skwal and carving. Cross-country skiing is another strength with 70km of trails spread across the two plateaux of Confins and Beauregard.
A lively resort, La Clusaz has an Entertainments office which arranges events daily to help the village maintain its feeling of being a lively community rather than just a place with a lot of bars. The Monday evening welcome nights, with free vin chaud at the tourist office are a good place to pick up information on what’s happening during your stay and informally meet a wide dross section of village residents.
La Clusaz is one of the closest ski areas to a major international airport anywhere in the world – in its case only 50km (31 miles) from Geneva. However the nearest airport is at the beautiful town of Annecy, 34km (21 miles) away. This is also the location of the nearest railway station (30km/19 miles) which is linked to the resort by bus or taxi and by TGV high speed train to Paris in three and a half hours.
Annecy Sud is the motorway exit for car drivers driving to the resort on the A41 motorway. The exit is 25km (15 miles) from Bonneville on the A40 which links to Germany, Italy and Switzerland.” “La Clusaz is busy through the Summer with a continuing program of events and festivals such as the village fête and a festival in celebration of the local Reblochon cheese.