French skiing – it’s not all about mega resorts like Val d’Isère, Tignes, La Plagne, Flaine and Les Arcs, wonderful as the skiing there is. There are pretty little places too. And you can often even forget the “little”.
I first got to know Les Gets many years ago when (more macho back then!) I ambitiously started skiing the length and breadth of the Portes du Soleil: 14 resorts more or less linked across the French/Swiss border on the far side of Lake Geneva (or Lac Leman as I prefer to call it). They share a remarkable 650 kms of pistes.
But what I didn’t appreciate when I first started skiing this huge network back in the 1980s was that it wasn’t necessary to ski all or even most of them to enjoy a few days’ skiing. And these are not the words of a man who has got lazy after decades of skiing. Au contraire – only two years ago I skied 150 kms in two days for a Snow Camp charity challenge taking in Les Gets, Morzine, Avoriaz, Châtel, La Chapelle d’Abondance, Morgins, and The Col des Portes du Soleil between Avoriaz and Les Crosets (terrific views of the Dents Du Midi).
But you don’t have to ski remorselessly from resort to resort to enjoy Les Gets and its neighbour Morzine. There’s plenty of local skiing – enough to keep you going for a whole week. Honest!
Les Gets village, just an hour and a quarter or so from Geneva, is one of the prettiest ski resorts in the French Alps. It has an appealing mixture of old chalets in distinctive Savoyard style and tasteful modern buildings, which blend to create a charm and character not often found in French resorts.
The village has a colourful main street with lots of reasonably priced shops, bars and restaurants.
I bumped into Marcus Brigstocke at the City Ski Championships in Courmayeur the other day, and the comedian, who adores skiing and snowboarding and runs a stand-up comedy tour and a comedy festival in the Alps, summed up the attractions of “small but pretty” resorts like Les Gets.
“I like it very much” he said. “It’s really nice. I think it’s very pretty. I like skiing with a bit of aesthetic. Pretty villages, with nice places to eat and not necessarily leg-slapper lifts. Little lifts, perhaps, that take you up to a run that’s not necessarily open all the year round. Les Gets really has a good feeling.”
The terrain is ideal for beginners and intermediates. Opposite Les Gets’ main Chavannes slopes is the smaller Mont Chéry area, with satisfyingly long runs, some excellent bumps and a snow park. Higher up, thanks to the 49 lifts linked with Morzine on the local ski lift pass, there is also a good range of skiing for the more experienced skier or snowboarder.
There’s also a genuinely good variety of reasonably priced mountain restaurants and huts. La Paika, situated on the quiet La Turche slopes, is just one example. An authentic restaurant drenched in sunlight (unless it’s snowing!) in peaceful surroundings, it has unspoiled views across the valley. In neighbouring Morzine I can recommend Le Vaffieu Restaurant.