Flaine (Samoens), France
Samoens is a truly traditional mountain town and is the only French ski resort that is designated as a Monument Historique! Once this was a thriving medieval centre for stone masons but now Samoens is a charming mountain town that relies mostly on tourism as its number one income provider.
There is a traffic free centre with narrow streets and appealing shops, bars and restaurants; there is also a substantial looking church and pleasant town square. There is a traditional weekly market and despite recent growth through tourism it remains a real French town where little has changed over the years. There are a growing number of luxury chalets in Samoens which with their close proximity to Geneva make perfect places to stay for a luxury ski holiday getaway.
2003 saw the completion of the 8 person gondola which makes this now a viable entry point for the Grand Massif ski domain. However, the lift is situated a drive or bus ride away from the centre and there is no way to ski back to the lift station at the end of the day.
The skiing directly above Samoens is on open North facing slopes (so hold snow well) and makes for great confident boosting family ski terrain. This area links nicely with Morillon and also to the slightly further away areas of Les Carroz and Flaine (for higher altitude slopes and great off-piste opportunities).
Pros & Cons
- Historic, traditional, charming village with traffic free centre
- Lift into the large Flaine/Les Carroz ski area offering high altitude and varied ski terrain
- New 6 main chair lift from the mid station means much faster access to the upper ski areas
- Easy, quick transfer from Geneva
- Crowded at weekends as close to Geneva
- Access lift for the mountain is way outside the village centre meaning a car is useful
- Relatively quiet on the nightlife and apres ski scene
- Not ideal for total beginners
Le Monde a l'Envers close to the main square produces fantatstic local Savoyarde dishes, booking is recommended. Another favourite is The Gite du Lac de Gers. This restaurant can be found halfway down the Cascades piste and is only open when conditions are favourable. Again do book ahead. For Pizzas look no further than La Louisane. For authentic atmosphere the Table de Fifine is good although a little out of town. Other good and reliable restaurants include the Relais Gourmand and the Au rendez-vous de la Piaz - consitently good and incredibly friendly.
There are some good eateries on the mountain is at Samoens 1600, the mid station area. However, the best bet is to head for just above the resorts of Morillon and Les Carroz where there are some great on-mountain restaurant options.
There are several quite lively bars and an Irish pub, Coveys, that gets good reviews.
Samoens is a little quiet for those looking for a heavy night scene. It is very pleasant but is more suited to those who are happy for a few beers before dinner and then early to bed.