If you’re booking your next alpine getaway, why not steer your skis away from the big resorts the season instead head to somewhere a little more picturesque.
La Clusaz, in France’s Haute-Savoie region, is an internationally-renowned alpine destination, an authentic village with a unique identity and a strong community spirit.
With 125km of pistes spanning four mountain ranges – Beuregard, Étale, Aiguille and Balm – the resort features 84 tree-fringed slopes and 49 lifts at altitudes of 1,100 – 2,600m. Open until the end of April, nearby Manigod and Le Grand Bornand extend the ski area even further whilst retaining the cosy feel of a small resort, a far cry from some of the more buzzing addresses in the alps.
Read on for Citizen Femme’s guide to how to make the most of this alpine haven.
THE PACKING EDIT
Where to Sleep
St-Alban Hotel & Spa
St-Alban Hotel & Spa may only be in its second year but it’s set to become a favourite. The art déco style features leather and brass accents in the downstairs with warm tones and dim lighting to create the soft, cosy ambiance of an English gentleman’s club. Wood-panelled rooms come with aged leather headboards, stained oak parquet, marble bathrooms and tweed soft furnishings, some even with hammocks and bookshelves stacked full of fascinating French titles, ready for you to unwind after a day on the slopes.
There’s a NUXE spa complete with heated pool, sauna, relaxation room with salt wall and a sensory shower, while the built in ski shop will make sure your kitted out ready for action.
Au Couer du Village Hotel Spa
The five-star Relais et Chateaux property offers 54 rooms and suites with contemporary décor. The cosy lounge’s open fire its the perfect place to curl up after a day of exertion, while the Le Cristal Spa is one of the best in town.
Two restaurants offer the choice between a gourmet experience or casual brasserie, with a focus on responsibly sourced local and regional ingredients from chefs Cédric Heurtebise & Vincent Deforce.
Refuge d’ze La Voye
A former alpine farm dating from 1779, an intensive renovation renewed this chalet to its original charm.
Seven rooms with private bathrooms sleep a total of 20 people, while the pool and sauna ensure you will enjoy all the joys of being in one of the village’s hotels but with the peaceful isolation of its location at the foot of the Aiguille de Manigod.
Where to Eat & Drink
If you’re after big nights out with your ski trip you may want to look further afield, but if it’s delicious food you’re after, with a blend of inventive and traditional dishes, you’re in the right town.
Savoyard cuisine is notoriously indulgent, so to find it paired with Japanese culinary art is pretty niche. Situated in the centre of the village Sushi Fumi’s two managers, Jérôme and Cyril, manage to do just that, bringing some unique dishes to the menu, as well as a €12.90 set lunch menu.
The dining room at this four star Manigod hotel has a panoramic view of the slopes, the perfect location for keeping an eye on the action. With a menu full of indulgence, including local specialities of fondue, raclette and reblochon tartiflette, it’s perhaps a wise idea to head there for dinner rather than filling up on lunch and then trying to roll back down the mountain.
Traditional regional cooking right on the slopes, La Ferme offers a classic menu du jour with an entrée, main dish and dessert all year long for just €19.50.
For a dinner with a difference, La Scierie’s winter tasting menu hits the spot; with dishes like duck foie gras millefeuille with spiced pear compote and port wine reduction and scallops with Jerusalem artichoke and black truffle mousseline, foie gras ravioli and beef jus, it’s certainly an indulgence.
What to Do
Indulge in the Deep Nature Spa
If you’re in need of a little R&R after the exertion of those black runs, the Deep Nature spa circuit, inside Odalys’ Prestige Residence and designed by Serge Blanco, includes a 160 m² pool with hydro-massaging jet streams, an aquatic upstream corridor, a swan-neck fountain, and a space for deckchairs with water jets, plus a treatment area of eight cabins. At just €29 for an afternoon circuit it’s worth every penny.
Ski under the stars at the Full Moon Party
If you ever partook in a Thai Full Moon Party back in the day, this couldn’t be further from it. By the light of the moon, the slopes stay open and the party begins. Take to the slopes under the stars whilst stopping off at bars and restaurants that are open throughout the night. The next one is on 7th March.
Discover the mountains from a new perspective
For some serious adrenalin, try an afternoon of skijoring; being pulled along on skis by a horse. If that’s a little extreme for you, horse trekking through the snow is a magical experience, or take to a horse-drawn sled ride for a dose of festive fun.
Experience husky sledding
Even dreamt of dashing through the snow on a husky-pulled sled? Professional musher René Duc offers a real adventure in the company of his dogs, only ten minutes from la Clusaz.
Watch the creation of skiers’ favourite cheese
Every week one of forty locals farms that produce the famous Reblochon opens its door to visitors. Discover the stages of making the Alps’ favourite cheese, from the milking to the refining in the cellar, discover the secrets of its flavour and its inimitable texture during a tasting with the producer.