Espace Diamant is a large ski area near Mont Blanc, bordering the French departments of Savoie and Haute Savoie. The area covers six ski resorts and 192km of pistes, so when friends invited me to join them on a day trip from La Clusaz, I happily obliged.
Getting to Espace Diamant is easy, with a number of routes from different directions. Only one is relatively flat (via Salanches), and there are closer resorts to airports from every direction, which is perhaps what keeps this ski area quieter than we expected.
Our route was over the Col des Aravis towards Megève, which is one valley over from Espace Diamant (and more expensive!). We parked the car for free right opposite the ticket office at the Praz-sur-Arly sector of Espace Diamant and paid €38.80 each for a day pass.
The access chairlift to the top was in the morning shade, but we decided to take the shadowy piste underneath anyway: the groomed run was virtually empty, and we enjoyed soft corduroy pistes the whole way back to the bottom.
The piste map had three suggested tours — a panoramic route, a ‘fun’ route for snowpark lovers and a challenging route for advanced skiers. We followed the panoramic route in the morning, with Mont Blanc towering above white peaks all around us.
On the way to Les Saisies, we passed snow kiters on the Col de Véry and we enjoyed uncrowded pistes along the way. Our last run before lunch was Perdrix at La Légette. This is the perfect black piste for skiers still cautious about blacks: it’s wide, groomed, mostly flat, and after the one short steep section, there’s a flat run-out.
The villages each have snack bars or restaurants, but we decided to eat at one of the few altitude restaurants to enjoy the views and soak up the sun. The restaurant was a typical mountain self-service place, with home-made food and friendly staff.
Organised groups had brought picnics with them and made use of the panoramic picnic spots. A snack bar would have been our preference, but there are none with view points.
After lunch, we sampled the off-piste. Fresh snow had fallen overnight and untracked powder was all around. In the morning, we’d stayed on south-facing slopes where it had already transformed into wet snow. In the afternoon, we were happy to find powder fields on the north-facing slopes with barely any tracks. Steep and tight or wide and rolling, there was off-piste for every skill level.
End of the day
Tired legs directed us back to the pistes for the last few runs of the day, and the only busy run was the last one back to Praz-sur-Arly. We should have enjoyed the views at the top a little longer while the crowds emptied: the back of my home resort, La Clusaz, was easy to spot, and there were some tree-sized icicles (pictured) to admire. Driving out of the resort was easy, with no traffic, and the four of us left with smiling faces.
Size: 192km of pistes
Alpine ski runs: 158
Nordic ski runs: 120km
Lifts: 82 (mostly modern chairs)
Lift pass: €38.80
Resorts: Praz-sur-Arly, Flumet, Notre Dame de Bellecombe, Crest-Voland Cohennoz, Hauteluce, Les Saisies