Le Grand Bornand – A real skiers paradise
L’haute Savoie is an area in the French alps, a one hour drive from Geneva. It holds several of the world’s greatest ski resorts including Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz, Manigod, and leads up to the ultimate skiers mecca- Chamonix. My family and I have spent nearly every winter weekend on the slopes of Le Grand Bornand for the past ten years, and can now call ourselves a part of the ski community there. This has permitted us to slowly find all the hidden gems of the place.
Skiing is the main attraction of Le Grand Bornand, and is what keeps the local economy running during the winter. La Clusaz is a more famous resort and is also the home of freeski legend Candide Thovex. It is only a 15-minute drive away from Le Grand Bornand and drags the masses of tourists away, leaving Le Grand Bornand significantly less crowded. This greatly improves the quality of skiing for those who ski in Le Grand Bornand because of smaller lift lines and more untouched snow on powder days.
Forty lifts allow you to access a wide array of different terrains around the resort, providing everything from high-alpine spines comparable to some of the gnarliest runs in Chamonix, to world class slope skiing, and beautiful tree runs through forests.
The micro climate created by the cold valleys that receive minimal sunlight during the winter months means that there is snow nearly always and that every year we get a handful of super deep powder days. Those are the days that provide me motivation to ski when the stress hits.
Usually I spend most of my time hot lapping the “Zone-Freeride” down from the highest point called Le Mont Lachat. Otherwise skiing down onto the Col Des Annes from the Col Du Maroly gives great off-track runs.
The snow park has some incredibly technical lines to offer for those who want to catch massive airs from the perfectly shaped kickers.
Back country skiing
Le Grand Bornand is surrounded by mountains that are not accessible by ski lifts. However, there are some famous ski touring routes that my father and I like to cover towards the end of the season.
Dining & Après Ski
There is a vast array of restaurants that offer local foods and drinks – lots of cheese, meat, and beautiful wines and ciders. La Bournerie, Le Chalet des Outalays, and Le Chalet du Maroly all offer great local foods like a tartiflette, a fondue savoyarde, or even a burger from the Alps. Genepi is a digestive that is locally made out of the Genepi flower, and is the perfect way to finish any lunch or dinner.
The après ski scene in Le Grand Bornand is rather tame for French standards, possibly because it is the destination for many day skiers who come up in the morning and leave in the afternoon. Regardless, sitting on the porch of our chalet with a gin and tonic to finish the day can be much more satisfying than dancing on tables in an après ski club.