Exciting Times Ahead: New Developments in the Grand Massif

By Barbara Allan

(en français)

Exciting plans are on the horizon for Samoens and the Grand Massif. In the latest edition of ‘Oxygen’, Samoens’ biannual news gazette, town Mayor Jean-Jacques Grandcollot expressed his enthusiasm at the many upgrades and improvements made during this past year, and the many more still to come.

Notre commune est en pleine période de modernisation et d’équipement.

It’s true! Samoens and its surrounds is in a phase of modernisation and continued growth. Local real estate expert Lexie Starling from Alpine Property couldn’t agree more…

Yes, we are experiencing a major boom this year. Eyes are on Samoens as the place to invest with its two seasons wonder and medieval village charm!’

Mrs Starling says buyers are confident that the Giffre Valley is well and truly ‘on the map and that our infrastructure is expanding [both] on the slopes and in the village.’ The region has certainly benefitted from many great new additions this past year. Alps Accommodation reported on some of these back in spring, and this was just the beginning. (If you missed the article you can check it out here).

The success of the 2017/18 winter season and new life breathed into Samoens 1600 especially, was according to Mr Grandcollot, a ‘joy’ that also ensures the development of further ‘essential projects for the future.’ A brand-new aquatic centre for Samoens is one of the most ambitious and exciting developments currently being considered by local council.

You may not know this, but visitors to Samoens have been enjoying the pool and its facilities for nearly half a century! It continues to be a fabulous place to spend a day out, but the time has come to make it even better. The Mayor’s vision, as reported in ‘Oxygen’, is that it be a ‘top class’ establishment: a well-being centre for relaxation, a place of fun, and of course an excellent sporting venue where people go to train and learn. Best yet, the new and improved INDOOR as well as outdoor pool is expected to operate summer and winter!

While still only in the very early stages of planning, local council has expressed its commitment to seeing this project achieved and well underway by 2020. Alps Accommodation will certainly keep an ear to the ground and report back as and when we know more. For now, there are plenty of confirmed developments already underway, and not just improved recreational facilities.

One thing we’ve always loved about Samoens and the Grand Massif is that it’s a year-round destination. A stunning playground for lovers of summer and winter sports, the Giffre Valley is also renowned for its rich cultural heritage. Locals are fiercely proud of their history and the local council is equally committed to its preservation. They recently announced that work to restore Samoens’ ancient convent building has commenced, and construction of an alpine farm on the slopes high above the village is set to begin autumn 2018, ensuring the continued practice of the millennia old tradition of pastoral farming.

Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval, or Sixt as it is more commonly known, is another of the Giffre Valley’s cultural gems. With its 12th century Abbey and square, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in history. The village is also a place of extraordinary natural beauty, a playground in which to experience the many wonderful activities on offer in the Grand Massif. And Sixt is in line for some major upgrades in the coming years. The dated Vagnys sector chairlifts are now due for removal, the decision to cease their operation paving the way for much needed investment in other areas of the resort. Winter 2018/19 sees the first installments of a new ‘global tourism plan’, with the addition of a new and improved Fun Zone and toboggan runs, which is sure to be hit with visitors young and old.

The most exciting project in the pipeline however is the proposed Sixt-Flaine link. Connecting the resorts of Sixt and Flaine via a lift system has been talked about for years, and we are excited that this project is now officially underway. While still far from reality, plans have been approved by the Prefecture, the top level of local government, which represents French national government. Their support of the project is a pretty big deal.

Director of Tourism for Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval, Laurent Vriez, confirmed that the proposal was ‘well received’ by the Haute Savoie Prefect and that things are generally developing in a ‘positive direction.’ Mr Vriez explained that paperwork is all signed and key investors are already involved.

The plan is for two new lifts that will link Sixt and Flaine via the Combe de Gers. There would be an arrival and departure point from Lac du Gers and the painfully long Gers draglift would also be replaced by a fixed chairlift (bliss!) Development also includes kilometres of new pistes, namely three new runs facilitating access to the proposed lifts. These are exciting and grand plans, but the Giffre Valley and Grand Massif management teams are certainly no strangers to undertakings of epic proportions.

The high speed Coulouvrier chairlift and accompanying two pistes, which opened in winter 2017/18, was one of the biggest achievements in the resort’s history of development to date. And the fantastic ski area between Morillon and Samoens continues to expand. Our sources at the Domaine Skiable du Giffre (DSG) tell us that work to improve the existing blue run on the Morillon side is now complete. This is great news; the long and winding run is now a blue all the way down! We’re also excited to report that a brand-new red run from Samoens is also very nearly finished. We’re still waiting on confirmation that a second red piste will also open for winter 2018/19, but we are certain there will be at least THREE fantastic options to enjoy! We can’t wait, and to add to the excitement the lift opening dates for winter 2018/19 were recently announced. It looks like the DSG are confident of another spectacular winter too; at this stage Flaine, Samoens and Les Carroz are ALL set to open one week earlier than usual. For full details click here.

Exciting plans are on the horizon, with lots of new developments to look forward to in Samoens and the Grand Massif. As always the Alps Accommodation team look forward to keeping you abreast of it all, and of course helping you plan your holiday to what is clearly THE place to be.