Overview of Samoëns
If you’ve been yearning for a characteristically French family-friendly ski resort that oozes charm, character and authenticity, you’ve found it in Samoëns.
Located in the middle of the Savoie Mont Blanc region and just 57km from Geneva, it’s the only French mountain resort classed as a national heritage site, with a church that dates back to the 12th Century and a captivating car-free main square where you can stroll around admiring the distinctive ancient buildings that reinforce its reputation as a centre for stonemasonry.
The après-ski here is authentic and organic rather than the slightly formulaic options you might find in more modern resorts ̶ so while you’ll still be welcomed with open arms, think sipping vin chaud listening to an oompah or swing band by the ancient Linden Tree in the heart of the village, rather than downing toffee vodkas and dancing on tabletops (which can be great fun in the right context, mind you!). The snow conditions and skiing quality in Samoëns are superb ̶ the resort’s altitude of 1600m and geographical location mean it’s snow-sure, the ski season runs from December to April, and all pistes are proudly maintained throughout.
With plenty of scenic tree-lined blue and red runs, this is an ideal resort for beginner and intermediate skiers, but more advanced skiers will embrace challenges that await close by, like the 14km Les Cascades route and the expansive Gers bowl.
Samoëns is also part of the impressive Grand Massif ski area with sister resorts Morillon, Les Carroz and Flaine ̶ equidistant from Chamonix and Geneva, this awesome area has 265km of pistes supported by 70 efficient ski lifts and also offers off-piste opportunities for more capable and confident skiers.
Accommodation options are comfortable and convenient in terms of reaching the slopes and town centre, ski schools are on hand to provide lessons for child and adult novices, and there are shops for self-caterers and quality cafés and restaurants if you prefer eating out.
It’s hard to think of another Alpine resort that has such a magical mixture of history, culture, ambient authenticity and super skiing ̶ once you’ve sampled a Samoëns ski holiday, don’t be surprised if you fall in love with this great village!
Skiing in Samoëns
Samoëns has 133 groomed pistes, is served by 16 ski lifts, and since it has plenty of easy green, blue and red runs, it’s a great place for beginners and families. If you’re an advanced skier, there are a few black runs to challenge you and you’ll also be more than satisfied by the on- and off-piste challenges on offer in the wider Grand Massif area. Here’s a little more information about skiing in Samoëns:
Novices can hop on the Grand Massif Express Lift to Samoëns 1600, where there are some manageable nursery slopes that are ideal for polishing your technique and building your confidence. If you want to be thrifty, a beginner’s-only lift pass is also available at a lower price than a regular ticket and this provides access to all the slopes that are appropriate for your level.
Intermediate skiers can also reach the rest of the Grand Massif ski area from Samoëns 1600 and if you class yourself in this group, there are ample snow-kissed adventures here to keep you entertained. The expansive powdery bowl above Flaine dominates the Grand Massif and it’s blessed by bountiful fast wide pistes descending into it from all directions, including incredibly long, snaking runs that commence above the treeline and swoop down through the lower altitude forests before ending in the small villages at the end of the valley.
The 14km Piste des Cascades runs all the way down to Sixt Fer à Cheval and is probably the most famous run for Samoëns skiers ̶ you can access it from the Grandes Platières cable car and the good news is that it’s graded blue, so you can feel confident tackling it if you’re an intermediate.
La Combe de Gers is a natural basin between Samoëns and Flaine where you’ll frequently find fresh powder if you’re a fan of off-piste, the steep Styx run is always a thrill to take on, and the Marmotte and Chamois slopes in the Croix area above Samoëns are also worth exploring for advanced skiers.
The 3.1km Diamant Noir is officially the toughest run in the resort itself, but if you’ve got the guts, guile and experience, the Vallée Blanche run above Chamonix is also within reach (with a guide and the right equipment) starting from a heady altitude of over 3800m, you can descend as far as 25km!
Samoëns is a major centre for cross-country skiing and there are over 90km of trails here. The main area for this discipline is the Upper Griffe Valley, which is split into two areas ̶ one which runs from Morillon to Cirque du Fer à Cheval on the valley floor and another located at altitude on the Col de Joux Plane mountain pass. The slopes above neighbouring resort Les Carroz also offer scenic Nordic skiing tracks suitable for all abilities.
As you can see, skiing in Samoëns is great for novices and intermediates, but advanced skiers don’t miss out due to its excellent connectivity to the rest of the Grand Massif.
Snowboarding in Samoëns
The Grand Massif is a great place for riders ̶ here’s the lowdown on ripping up the slopes in Samoëns:
The efficient lift system means you can easily reach the boardercross Jam Park in Flaine’s Vernant sector and the terrain parks above Morillon, which feature boardercross areas and various rails, kickers and boxes to suit riders of all aptitudes.
There’s a fun park in Samoëns on the Soleil slope which also has various obstacles and features for all abilities.
The snow park at Les Carroz is also worth exploring ̶ it has a half-pipe as well as various rails, boxes and kickers.
Savoie and Haute Savoie are excellent for freestyle snowboarders ̶ chip in with your friends to hire a local mountain guide for the day and they’ll help you find the freshest powder and great ungroomed runs.
Snow Conditions in Samoëns
With a good altitude and great location, snow conditions in Samoëns are generally excellent ̶ here’s the lowdown:
Samoëns’ Grand Massif location in the north of Haute Savoie means that it enjoys bountiful snow falls throughout the season and the resort is renowned for its snow quality in spring
Around 80% of the slopes here are north-facing, which means the snow is longer-lasting and stays in good condition for skiing and snowboarding.
On the rare occasions when the natural snow cover in Samoëns needs to be topped up, the resort has 143 snow cannons capable of making snow on 35km of its runs.
The latest official seasonal snowfall statistics for Samoëns reveal a total snowfall of 300cm, a total of 31 snowfall days, largest snowfall of 50cm, average base depth of 32cm, maximum base depth of 103cm, average summit depth of 80cm and maximum summit depth of 165cm.
Apres-Ski in Samoëns
It’s fair to say that Samoëns isn’t the epicentre of the Alpine party scene, but its après-ski includes a clutch of friendly and lively bars, as well as an excellent choice of restaurants. Here are some options you should make a beeline for after a fun day on the slopes:
Covey’s Pub is the place to be if you fancy a few pints of the black stuff and some of the best craic (lively conversation) in the resort ̶ as you’ve probably guessed, this is the Irish pub in Samoëns, it’s open 4pm until late, it’s as lively and welcoming as you’d expect and one of the best places to watch live sport on big screens.
Red Rock Café is a laid-back spot in Rue des Billets where you can choose from a wide range of refreshments including wine, beer and delicious cocktails. There’s live TV sport, tasty wood-fired pizzas on Wednesdays during peak season and it’s a busy spot to mix and mingle as the evening progresses.
Popcorn Vintage is a pretty unique venue ̶ it’s a boho boutique located opposite the church where you can browse cool gifts and souvenirs as you enjoy a lip-smacking craft beer or cider.
L’Après-Ski Chez Jeff serves the best vin chaud in Samoëns ̶ this popular outdoor bar attracts an amiable crowd each evening and it’s become a bit of a local institution.
Facilities in Samoëns
Samoëns is brimming with traditional Gallic charm but it also offers a range of up-to-date activities and facilities for all the family ̶ read on to find out more about what you can expect.
Ski Hire in Samoëns
There are several ski hire firms in Samoëns, but the most hassle-free way by far to grab the best gear is by booking it through Erna Low. We’ve established great relationships with reliable operators over the years and we can easily source the best quality equipment for your skiing experience level and style and organise a pickup from a location a short stroll from your accommodation. If you’re interested in rolling ski hire into your holiday package, contact us for a chat.
Ski Passes for Samoëns
Erna Low can also organise your Grand Massif ski passes for Samoëns and we often have special offers for early bird booking as well as group discounts and even free child passes. Ask us what’s on offer for your desired dates ̶ we always want to maximise value for our customers.
Spa and Pool in Samoëns
Some of the well-appointed resort residences have in-house spa and pool facilities and there are a few other facilities designed for your rest and relaxation too. The Oxalis Institut offers a wide choice of health and beauty treatments, the Fifine Balneotherapy and Relaxing Centre features an outdoor tub and hammam, and the Aquacime Centre caters for your wellness with a plush pool, fitness centre and spa facilities, including specially adapted areas for families and disabled guests.
Shops in Samoëns
Whether you want to splash out on souvenirs to take home for friends and relatives, pick up some tasty local edibles or grab a few everyday essentials, shopping in Samoëns is always satisfying. At L’Art de Choix, you can pick up postcards and trinkets, at La Feuille de Vigne Savoyarde you’ll find the best French wine and champagne as well as artisan local foods, and last but not least, you can enjoy the full French hair salon treatment at Espace Soan if you wish to and step out on the slopes looking like a superstar!
Facilities for Children in Samoëns
Family values are front and centre in an authentic resort like Samoëns ̶ here’s a little more information about how your little ones are catered for.
Ski Schools in Samoëns
Several reliable ski schools operate in the resort ̶ here are a few recommendations:
ESF Ski School has built a good reputation over the years and caters for kids aged 6-12 years old, with ski and snowboard lessons available.
Ecole de Ski 360 teaches children aged 4 years old and upwards ̶ groups are kept small so that every member gets as much individual tuition as possible and progresses at a sustainable pace with their peers.
Entertainment in Samoëns
The off-slope activities for kids in Samoëns are endless. Indiana Parc is an imaginative woodland adventure park with zip lines, tunnels and rope bridges, there’s a cinema to watch the latest releases, disc golf, an ice rink, laser tag, paintball, and don’t forget the signature ‘Rosalie’ four-person pedal cars which you can hire to explore the village streets in style.
Childcare in Samoëns
Sun and Snow Childcare provide experienced English-speaking ski nannies in the resort ̶ they’re available for full days, half days and during the evenings if you fancy a rare romantic night out!
With a resort height of 1600m, a summit peak of 2500m and a strategic location within the Grand Massif ski area, Samoëns has many natural blessings that mean it’s extremely snow reliable.
In addition, most of the resort slopes are north facing, which means they’ll stay in prime condition and hold their powder well.
Conditions here are conducive to first-class skiing and snowboarding for beginners and intermediates, while there are plenty of black runs and off-piste areas for advanced skiers to explore in the wider Grand Massif.