Le Grand Bornand: Something for all the family an hour from Geneva

The Chalet du Maroly in the Grand Bornand ski region could just be the perfect family mountain restaurant.

Easy to get to on a long green run, it sits between three chairlifts that give access to different parts of the French Alps above the pretty village of Chinaillon.

Plus it serves great – and quite cheap – food. Steak hache and chips is just 10.50 euros, add a bun for the burger for another euro.

Getting to the Vallee du Maroly couldn’t be easier – a chairlift out of Chinaillon followed by La Lac, a gentle green run back across the mountain and past the lake that gives it its name.

Even our four-year-old in her first day on skis manages to comfortable get down thanks to instructor Jean-Marc from ESF.

The middle lift – Le Maroly – rises up to 1,800m across some wonderful red runs that track back down to the start of the lift, rolling and steep in places but nice and wide, with flat parts to rest if needed.

The right lift – La Tolar – goes even higher but with it comes more demanding skiing from the peak of the mountain.

If you want an easier run back down then head along Les Primeveres, which tracks across the ridge towards the top of the Les Trois Rouges chairlift – the left of the three in front of the Chalet du Maroly.

There is also the option to ski down the back of the mountain and head for the Col des Annes and spectacular views along the valley to the neighbouring resort of La Clusaz.

From the top of the Les Trois Rouges there is something for everyone – fast red and blue runs, or new for 2016, the green Les Myrtilles that offers a far gentler entry back to the Maroly bowl and the comfort of the Chalet du Maroly.

Getting back to the small village is again by La Lac, winding through the trees with a small snow park for the kids on the way.

For families, take the ski bus down to Le Grand Bornand and hop on the Le Rosay bubble lift up to a fantastic beginners area.

The village of Le Grand Bornand in the Lake Annecy ski area is just an hour from Geneva Airport so you can easily get a couple of hours on the slopes with an early UK flight.

Chinaillon is a short bus ride along the valley from the main town and a regular ski bus serves its four chairlifts as well as neighbouring ski areas of Le Grand Bornand itself and Le Clusaz.

Between two of the lifts – La Floria and Le Chatelet – is a great beginners’ area, about 50m of gentle slope with a pulley rope, perfect for someone’s first time on snow.

The two lifts either side take you up into the central ski area. Going left takes you to Maroly and right to Le Grand Bornand.

A nice, wide way back to the lift station is via the two blue runs or, for the more adventurous, the red Le Jolis Bois or Le Pessotays but both have steep endings.

For families, take the ski bus down to Le Grand Bornand and hop on the Le Rosay bubble lift up to a fantastic beginners area.

Children (and adults just finding their ski legs) can ease into it with the gentlest of slopes, learn the ropes of drag and button lifts and can graduate to negotiate lumps and bumps over short green runs without worrying about the terrifyingly competent swishing past at off-putting speeds.

Before little legs get too tired, put the new-found confidence to the test on the Serpentine run snakes back to the Les Gettiers lift.

The very narrow path slithers around and though a quaint little hamlet. It is delightfully different experience to ski leisurely past front doors and gardens rather than plummet down broad featureless mountainsides.

A word of warning, towards the end it becomes a little steep for some of a more nervous disposition but it really is only at the very end and our children found a sense of achievement at overcoming the whole run.

If that hasn’t put you off, and it really shouldn’t, you can take the lift and ski back to the central area, but if you are craving a post-piste sauna this also a ski bus stop back to the hotel in Chinaillon.

The self-catered Le Village de Lessy is finished to the usual CGH high standard with an imposing reception, swimming pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi.

Le Grand Bornand
There are a dozen chalet blocks cascading down the mountainside linked by a warren of corridors and lifts. It takes about six minutes to get from top to bottom once you have the route sussed.

Once out on the street it is short walk and another lift, at the tourist office, before arriving at the lifts.

Gazing out from our balcony at the snow white panorama of pistes it is hard to picture the area at other times of the year.

The town has one main sloping street that is jam-packed with restaurants but if you are just after an apres-ski drink head for the Green Monkey pub.

The season is a long one too – running right from late October sometimes into May.

The region is famed for its reblochon cheese and during the summer 2,000 cows flood through the streets on the way to their mountainside grazing.

It might be worth coming back then just to see it…

The eight-year-old’s view

James: It was fun and we went down as fast as a car – I enjoyed it!

Le Grand Bornand
James on his first red run

Essential Facts

  • Peak Retreats offers seven nights from £256pp at Le Village de Lessy for the 2015/16 ski season. Price based on 4 sharing including return Eurotunnel crossing with Free FlexiPlus upgrade.
  • Further information on the Savoie Mont Blanc Region visit www.savoie-mont-blanc.com/en
  • For more information on the area’s ski resorts of to www.lakeannecy-skiresorts.com.
  • Paul’s family’s skis were provided by Intersport in Chinaillon – customers are free to swap and change the skis as many times as you like during the hire period.
  • ESF offers private lessons for 1.5 hrs from 84 euros.
  • All prices based on March 2016

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