La Clusaz | Ski Resort Review

26 Jun 202310 min
By Roger Fulton
image of the village of la clusaz in france with snowy chalets and church

Nestled in the heart of the Aravis chain in the Northern French Alps, lies the enchanting La Clusaz ski resort, a picturesque village boasting traditional-style architecture. With convenient access from both the regional capital of Annecy and the international airport of Geneva, La Clusaz offers an expansive ski area spanning across five interlinked mountains.

La Clusaz – Overview

Nestled in the heart of the stunning Massif des Aravis in Haute-Savoie, the charming village of La Clusaz boasts a picturesque postcard-perfect setting. Located just 30km away from the beautiful lakeside town of Annecy and under an hour's drive from Geneva, the village has become one of the most popular ski resorts in the Northern French Alps, while still retaining its traditional charm and character.

While the proximity to Annecy and Geneva provides easy access to the resort, it also means that the weekends and holiday periods can be quite busy. La Clusaz sits in a broad valley at the base of the jagged peaks of the Aravis range, and the village is centered around a steepled church and a pleasant market square, surrounded by a compact core of shopping streets, filled with a delightful mix of boutiques, sports shops, patisseries, local produce shops, restaurants, and laid-back café-bars. The numerous chalets and small chalet-style hotels on the surrounding hillsides give the place a distinctively Swiss feel.

From the heights of the Aravis range, the ski slopes of La Clusaz sweep down towards the edge of the village. There, visitors can access the primary uplift into the expansive ski area, which is provided by twin gondolas situated side by side, just a short stroll from the bustling village square. Despite the low overall altitudes, skiers need not worry about a short season, as the resort boasts an ever-expanding snowmaking network that covers most of the principal lower slopes and key links, ensuring an extended ski season.

In summary, La Clusaz is a charming and popular ski resort situated in the Massif des Aravis, with easy access from Annecy and Geneva. The village has managed to preserve its traditional ambiance and architecture while becoming a favorite destination for skiers. Visitors can enjoy a unique shopping experience in the compact core of streets that surrounds the market square, and the surrounding chalets and hotels provide a distinctively Swiss atmosphere. The ski slopes extend into the village, with convenient access to the key uplifts, and a growing snowmaking network ensures an extended skiing season.

Ski Resort Highlights

Ski area
Apres ski
Ski area: 220km
Summit: 2600m
Resort height: 1100m
Altitude range: 1100–2600m
Vertical drop: 1500m
Parks: 1
Geneva (1h 8min)
Train stations:
Annecy (43min)

La Clusaz – Ski Map & Pistes:

La Clusaz's ski area runs alongside the Aravis range, which stretches south-west to north-east, and covers five inter-connecting massifs: Beauregard, Manigod, Etale, Aiguille, and Balme. With a wide range of terrain, the ski area is perfect for intermediates, but beginners will also find plenty of lovely areas to explore and advanced skiers will have no shortage of challenging runs.

The Beauregard sector is particularly easy to access, with a gondola directly from the main base area that takes visitors to a sunny plateau with excellent nursery slopes. From there, visitors can embark on an anticlockwise circuit of the full linked domain, beginning with an easy blue piste that connects to the neighbouring La Croix Fry and Merdassier sectors of Manigod. For the home-runs to La Clusaz, visitors can enjoy a lovely long blue piste or test their skills on a challenging black piste that slices down through the scenic forested slopes from the summit of Beauregard.

For visitors looking to escape the crowds on weekends, the Etale area offers slightly more challenging slopes that tend to be quieter. A long green run that hugs the valley links back to La Clusaz, making for a lovely way to end the day. Alternatively, visitors can continue the circuit by taking the TPH du Transval cable car to link with the lower slopes of the Aiguille sector.

The Aiguille sector of La Clusaz's ski area offers a great mix of mid-range reds and wide blues, as well as a challenging mogul run. Green valley-level links towards La Clusaz make it easy to return to the village.

For the best snow conditions, head to the north-easternmost and highest Balme sector, which can be accessed from Aiguille via long tree-lined blue and red runs or a tough black descent. The Fernuy gondola provides a link in the opposite direction. Balme's numerous bands of cliffs and boulder drop-offs make it a popular spot for local freeriders, while the pisted slopes offer mainly good reds and a couple of steep black runs. From the highest point at the Col de Balme (2477 m), skiers can take in a magnificent view of Mont Blanc and access some terrific off-piste terrain in the Combe de Bellachat.

With a full Aravis area lift pass, visitors can explore not only La Clusaz's ski area but also the neighboring resort of Le Grand Bornand, which is conveniently connected by a free ski bus service. In addition to alpine skiing, La Clusaz caters to Nordic skiing enthusiasts with dedicated areas on the Plateau de Beauregard and Plateau des Confins, with the latter being a Cross-Country/Nordic World Cup venue.

2023 Skimap of La Clusaz in FranceSkimap of the La Clusaz ski resort. Click on image for the large and interactive version.

La Clusaz – Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:

La Clusaz is a popular destination for off-piste skiing, backcountry skiing, and ski touring enthusiasts. The resort has a wide variety of terrain, including steep couloirs, open powder fields, and dense forests, which provide endless opportunities for skiers seeking adventure beyond the groomed runs. La Clusaz's altitude and northern exposure also mean that the snow conditions are often excellent, with frequent fresh snowfall and well-preserved powder stashes.

One of the highlights of off-piste skiing in La Clusaz is the vastness of the terrain. Skiers can explore the mountainside and find a range of routes suitable for all levels of experience. From easy off-piste slopes to more challenging couloirs and chutes, there's something for everyone. For those seeking a backcountry skiing experience, La Clusaz offers an extensive network of marked and unmarked routes that allow skiers to explore the stunning natural surroundings.

Ski touring is also a popular activity in La Clusaz, with many routes accessible from the resort. Ski touring enthusiasts can explore the mountainside and discover hidden valleys, high-altitude lakes, and breathtaking vistas. Some popular ski touring routes include the Col des Aravis and the Col des Annes. With its excellent snow conditions, varied terrain, and breathtaking scenery, La Clusaz is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an unforgettable off-piste skiing, backcountry skiing, or ski touring experience.

La Clusaz – Restaurants, Bars & The Town:

La Clusaz attracts a lot of visitors all year round, especially local families and mature guests who come to enjoy the peaceful and scenic atmosphere of the village. 

Apart from the skiing, the local restaurants, patisseries, and delicatessens are popular with tourists. For those looking for other activities, there's an ice-skating rink and a well-equipped aqua-leisure center, Espace Aquatic des Aravis, with indoor and outdoor heated pools, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and fitness suite. 

Visitors can also engage in dog-sledding, horse-riding, ski-joëring, horse-drawn carriage driving, snowmobiling, snowshoe trekking, paragliding, and hot-air balloon flights. 

The charming lakeside town of Annecy is only a short bus ride away and makes for an excellent day trip. 

The nightlife in La Clusaz is not very lively, with a focus on dining and relaxing, although there are a few bars such as Le Pressoir, Bali Bar, and Salto. The L'Ecluse nightclub is also popular, featuring a glass dance floor spanning the river.

La Clusaz – Ski Hire:

La Clusaz offers visitors a range of ski hire options to choose from. Whether you're an experienced skier or a beginner, there are ski hire companies in La Clusaz that can provide you with the right equipment to suit your needs. Some of the most popular ski hire companies in La Clusaz include Skimium, Intersport, and Sport 2000.

Skimium is a well-known ski hire company in France, with a store located in the heart of La Clusaz. They offer a wide range of ski equipment, including skis, snowboards, boots, and helmets. Skimium also offers a range of services, including ski tuning and repair, as well as a ski storage service for those who want to avoid carrying their equipment back to their accommodation.

Intersport is another popular ski hire company with a store located in the center of La Clusaz. They offer a range of ski and snowboard equipment from well-known brands such as Rossignol, Salomon, and Atomic. Intersport also provides a range of additional services, including ski tuning and repair, equipment delivery, and ski storage.

Sport 2000 is a ski hire company with several locations in La Clusaz, offering a wide range of equipment for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. They have an extensive selection of skis, boots, and snowboards, as well as helmets and protective gear. Sport 2000 also offers a range of additional services, including ski tuning and repair, equipment delivery, and the option to reserve equipment online before your arrival.

Overall, there are many ski hire options available in La Clusaz, catering to a range of budgets and needs. With the help of these ski hire companies, you can ensure that you have the right equipment to enjoy your time on the slopes, while also taking advantage of the additional services on offer to make your skiing experience as convenient and enjoyable as possible.

Here are some of the top ski rental companies in La Clusaz and their website URLs:

La Clusaz – Ski Schools:

The La Clusaz ski resort offers a range of ski lesson options with several ski school companies catering to all levels of skiers, from complete beginners to advanced skiers looking to hone their skills. The resort has a reputation for being family-friendly, with ski schools that offer group lessons for children as young as three years old, as well as private lessons for individuals and small groups.

One of the most popular ski schools in La Clusaz is ESF (Ecole du Ski Francais), which has been teaching skiing since 1945. ESF offers a range of lessons for all levels of skiers, including group lessons, private lessons, and specialist courses such as off-piste skiing and ski touring. The ski school also offers children's ski lessons, with the option of morning or afternoon sessions. ESF has a team of experienced instructors, many of whom speak English and other languages, making it a great option for non-French speakers.

Another ski school option in La Clusaz is ESI (Ecole de Ski International), which offers a range of group and private lessons, as well as specialist courses. ESI has a team of experienced instructors who are passionate about teaching skiing and snowboarding, and who tailor their lessons to each individual's needs. The ski school also offers children's ski lessons, with group lessons for children as young as four years old.

Finally, the Evolution 2 ski & adventure school is another option for ski lessons in the heart  of La Clusaz. They offer a range of ski and snowboard lessons for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. With a team of experienced instructors, Evolution 2 has been teaching skiing and snowboarding since 1987, and has built a reputation for providing high-quality instruction and excellent customer service. In addition to group and private lessons, the ski school also offers specialist courses in off-piste skiing, ski touring, freestyle skiing and avalanche training, making it a great option for those looking to take their skills to the next level.

Overall, La Clusaz ski resort offers a range of ski lesson options with several ski school companies. Whether you're a complete beginner or an advanced skier, there is a ski school and lesson type to suit your needs. With experienced instructors and a range of lesson types available, you can be sure that you'll receive quality instruction and have a great time skiing in La Clusaz.

Here are some of the top ski schools in La Clusaz and their website URLs:


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