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The Beginner’s Guide to Skiing in Samoëns, Morillon, Flaine and the Grand Massif.

You’ve checked into your Alps Accommodation apartment for the week.  Your resort rep. delivered your pre-ordered ski passes to the door and gave a good recommendation for ski hire, which consequently is now sorted.  They gave you some pointers on where to grab a quick drink or a bite to eat. All there is to do now is enjoy your first night in Samoëns, as your excitement about the week ahead grows.  You’re a beginner skier, and although you can’t wait to get on the slopes, a good part of your excitement is sheer anxiety! After all, you only have a limited amount of experience on skis.

So where should you start on your first morning?  Without a doubt the answer is Samoëns.  The debutant area at Samoëns 1600 is great.  As you step off the gondola on to wide, open and FLAT terrain, your nervous tension immediately subsides - it’s such a relief knowing you can clip into your bindings without fear of sliding away down the hill!  Even better, you can then have a little waddle around (à la canard) on these flat surrounds, getting used to the strange new additions to your feet.  Then, when you’re ready you add some vertical into the equation, but in perfect, progressive steps.  Take a warm up run down one of two gentle green runs (Chateau), then move on to the ever so slightly steeper blues (Babuches, Char, and Damoiseaux).

Once the confidence begins to grow you can take the plunge into Samoëns proper, heading to the summit via the Chariande Express.  From here you can descend via the long, meandering Dahu run, which also happens to be blue.  Yes folks, you can head straight to the top safe in the knowledge that it’s possible to get back via a blue run but practice for a few days first!  A much more progressive approach however is to take it easy on the first few days.  Practice in the debutant area or perhaps even finish early and take a stroll around the village.  You’ll want to be rested up for the rest of the week ahead.

For beginner skiers, Morillon is a great next step on the week’s itinerary.  You can ski across from the top of Samoëns via the Perce-Neige.  You’ll need to be confident of your speed however if you’re to cover this narrow ridgeline without too much bother.  Alternatively, a much better option in your first week is to jump on the free ski bus and start your day directly in Morillon.  After a short gondola ride to Morillon 1100, take the Sairon chairlift to the top and try the Marvel run.  This lovely long green winds its way along the tree-lined edge of the mountain back to 1100, where up you go again. Tackle the blue Sairon run this time around, or if the first few metres of it look a bit too daunting, head once again in the direction of Marvel.  This time however take a right onto Les 7 Frères, popular with ski schools because of its gentle, undulating terrain.  At the bottom you can catch a draglift back up or if you’ve found your rhythm carry on to rejoin Sairon, which from this viewpoint looks far less daunting.

A stone’s throw from Morillon is Les Carroz.  The Canada experience to some with its beautiful tree-lined runs, Les Carroz is a must-do on the beginner/intermediate skier’s itinerary.  With an assortment of blues, some as wide as highways, and easy to more challenging reds and blacks, this resort is a great place to improve skills.  And it’s just so pretty!  As much as there is on offer in the Massif area alone, a trip to the Grand Massif may not feel complete without at least a bit of skiing in Flaine, and even for beginner skiers this is well within reach.  If you’re feeling a little rusty however, or lacking some confidence, it’s probably best you save this outing for the latter half of your week’s holiday. 

Flaine is accessed from the summit of Samoëns via the Vernant Valley.  The Tourmaline run leading into Flaine can, during school holidays, get quite busy, so take your time and don’t be put off by the other skiers.  Once in Flaine, you can easily find a place away from the crowds.  This big, open basin is made up of predominantly blue and red runs, some favorites not to be missed being Serpentine, Cristal, Mephisto, and Faust.  There’s a jam-park that although requires conquering a slightly challenging drag-lift to get to, is well worth the effort.  Blue runs either side mean beginners can spectate, and green jump lines mean the more adventurous can even participate! 

A highlight and perfect end to a day out in Flaine is to return via the Cascade run.  As it winds its way around the mountain and back down into Sixt, this 14km blue run takes in some magnificent views of the Mont Blanc Massif.  Once progressing to intermediate skiing you will love the feeling of achievement upon completing this run, as although it’s blue it is a little challenging in parts.  A free ski bus picks up from the end of the Cascade run to take you back to Samoëns, or you can take the draglift up and have a play in Sixt itself.  This small picturesque resort is well worth a visit, though from a beginner skier’s point of view it can be a little limiting.  The area consists mostly of red runs, though by the end of a week’s skiing, you’ll be more than ready to tackle some of those!

As you can see Samoëns and the Grand Massif really has a lot to offer the beginner skier.  It has a lot to offer skiers of all levels in fact, so stop thinking about it, and get planning your winter break for 2013.  The team here at Alps Accommodation would be more than happy to help you out, so give us a call!

Samoens