Ski Flaine

Flaine Ski Resort

Flaine is a ski resort which has polarised opinion since its inception in the late 1950s. Derided by some as a concrete montrosity in the mountains, it is loved by others for the extent of its ski area and the range of runs originally laid out by ski star Émile Allais.

For many years, the ski lift system and accommodation stayed as they were but in more recent times Flaine has embarked on a steady upgrade of its ski lift infrastructure, as well as a massive expansion of the accommodation in conjunction with American resort developers Intrawest.

These days the Grand Massif region can proudly take its place on any list of the best ski areas in the French Alps.

View of Flaine ski area
View of Flaine ski area

History of Skiing in Flaine

The original plans for the skiing and the village development in the Giffre range of mountains near Mont Blanc came from Swiss mountaineers and ski touring enthusiasts. But it wasn't until the ideas were adopted by the wealthy Boissanas brothers - also mountain enthusiasts and, got under way.

The "modernist" style of architecture proposed by architect Marcel Breuer was considered controversial in its day and now stands diametrically opposed to the current trend of using local materials and styles in ski development. Flaine is however a listed monument, and can boast sculptures by Picasso.

Flaine's development also fell foul of locals (who considered they were being cheated by the compulsory purchase of the land) and government officials (who were opposed to the style of the resort).

Eventually however financial, geological and access problems were finally mastered and the resort opened for the 1968/1969 ski season.

Flaine Today

Flaine is part of the Grand Massif ski area, one of the largest interlinked skiing regions in France with around 270km of groomed runs. This also covers and links the neighbouring villages and ski resorts of Les Carroz, Morillon, Samoëns and Sixt.

Those taking a ski holiday in Flaine do not however have to buy the whole Grand Massif ski pass. There is a slightly cheaper day ski pass option aimed at the beginner skier and limited to the lifts in the local area.

Originally, Flaine resort consisted of two levels - Flaine Forêt and Flaine Forum - but a chalet development - Hameau de Flaine - was added later, and a new section called Flaine Montsoleil between the original settlement and the Hameau has now been added.

The villages around Flaine have also become more popular as access points to Le Grand Massif ski area. A future project plans to link Sixt fully into the system - currently, skiers can take a ski run down to the village but only get back into the ski area via Samoëns.

Why take a ski holiday in Flaine?

  • the ski resort is at a relatively high altitude and the snow record is good
  • short transfer time from Geneva airport
  • expansive ski area with good options for all levels of skier

What are the drawbacks?

  • much of the skiing around Flaine is above the tree line and can be inhospitable in bad weather
  • the good access to the motorway system and the short transfer time can mean that the Grand Massif area is busy in high season
  • lack of ski resort atmosphere and limited nightlife for those who like a more exciting apres ski experience

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Flaine Ski Resort Video

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74300 Flaine, Haute Savoie, France