Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip

Les Gets is a village that’s easy to reach from Geneva, and sits at the western end of the massive Portes du Soleil ski area. It’s a shame it’s not 1000m higher but it’s a great place for a last-minute break when you’re sure the snow’s good. Les Gets is the slightly higher resort than neighbouring Morzine, but both resorts share the same lift pass and make excellent bases for a mid-winter family holiday.

iWhilst early season snow has sometimes been unreliable in recent years, it is still a hugely popular family resort. The rolling pastures mean that it only takes a minimal amount of snow to be able to open, unlike some rocky higher resorts.The first lift was installed in 1936, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the winter sports industry began to eclipse farming, which still forms part of the local economy. The Chavannes gondola was first installed in 1973 and the single Portes du Soleil lift pass was introduced in 1974.

Les Gets itself is a pleasing mix of old Savoyard chalets and more modern wooden-and-stone buildings constructed in keeping with their beautiful alpine surroundings. An open-air ice-rink in the centre of town, opposite the attractive town hall building, provides a focal point for apres-ski family activity.

This is a family resort with a relaxed atmosphere and some good places to eat both on and off the mountain. Whilst there are plenty of bars (and one nightclub) to choose from, party animals would be better advised to stay in nearby Morzine.

There are good links on snow into Morzine and beyond into the depths of the giant Portes du Soleil, but the majority of families choose to stay in the local area and use the local Les Gets-Morzine lift pass. Snow cover in the main areas of Les Chavannes and Ranfoilly bowl are usually good, however, the south-facing aspect of Mont Chery means that conditions on that side of the village are not always reliable early and late in the season.

“I can see the concern about the lack of altitude,” said a reader, “but it wasn’t a problem…they seemed to have fairly comprehensive cannon coverage in case of emergencies”.

On a good day, the skiing around Les Gets and Morzine is superb – especially for beginner and intermediate levels. More advanced skiing can be found on Mont Chery, Chamossiere and Nyon. The Les Gets bowl also has a couple of black runs, but these are shorter in length.

There’s something for everybody in Les Gets and the Portes du Soleil ski area: tough mogulfields like the Swiss Wall, long, wide cruisey pistes, big backcountry descents, and easy nursery slopes. The top of the lift system rises to only 2466m above Avoriaz, which is no guarantee of good conditions. If only it were 1000m higher. Whilst Les Gets and Morzine aren’t in the heart of the Portes du Soleil, there’s plenty of local skiing to occupy most families.

However, to really enjoy the Portes du Soleil circuit, perhaps you’re better to stay in Avoriaz. A reporter recommended: “If you stay on the Chavannes side, you can quickly ski down into Morzine and take the lifts up to Avoriaz – giving you the best of everything”.

Dedicated beginner areas in Les Gets are excellent and easily accessible using the Chavannes gondola. There are two moving carpet lifts and two rope-tow lifts, plus a gentle button-lift which accesses an Indian Village for kids, and a couple of steeper beginner slopes.

The gradual progression and width of most slopes makes the Chavannes and outlying areas perfect for beginners and intermediates. However, a reader warned: “The only downside was the link to the Portes du Soleil circuit. If you’re a strong skier it’s not too bad, but even then you’re watching the clock a bit to make sure you make the return links. If you’re a timid intermediate, buy the local pass.”

“Good variety of local slopes and not a queue in sight,” said a reader, “treelined runs were a godsend on the two or three poor light days that we had, but the compensation was powder everywhere. Even on piste, you could make fresh tracks at lunchtime”.

Where to Learn

Les Gets is an excellent choice for learning to ski, with a range of ski and snowboard schools including a number of excellent British ski schools. Les Gets Snowsports (LGS) has a great reputation and is run by Tim Scott who has lived and worked here for many years. British Alpine Ski and Snowboarding School (BASS) regularly receives high praise. There’s also snowboard specialist Mint Snowboarding, and for Telemark lessons try Alpine Learning Curves (ALC).

Ecole de Ski 360 International has a dedicated following and the ESF also has a strong presence in the village. Ski Academy is for ski-touring, heli-skiing, paragliding and snowshoeing.

Mountain guides Jean-Luc Tamanini and Marco Deshayes specialise in off-piste and ski-touring in the Portes du Soleil area.

The village is the base for several British tour operators specialising in family ski holidays, including Esprit Ski which has seven chalets in the resort and its own childcare and ski classes. Ski Famille has its own Mountain Marmots ski lessons for children aged 3-12 years.

Children will love Les Gets’ mini-train, which chugs between the main lifts and the Mont Chery ski area. The local ski area is perfect for beginners and intermediates, and there’s a dedicated children’s ski area called Le Grand Cry where adults are only allowed if accompanied by children. Here children can enjoy skiing the bumps and bends as well as visiting an Indian wigwam.

After skiing, the ice skating rink is open to children from three years of age, with equipment that has been adapted for little ones.

Local kindergartens include Les Fripouilles Nursery welcomes children from six months to four years old. The ESF takes children from three to five years for a sensible mix of lessons and play. Ecole de Ski 360 International and Ile des Enfants Ski School offer group lessons for kids from four years.

British-run Cheeky Monkey’s and Happy Feet provide childcare services in Les Gets and can come to your accommodation armed with age-appropriate arts and crafts, toys and books. They can usually also pick up children and drop them off at ski school or from easily-accessible locations on the mountain or around town.

Where to Stay

In Les Gets, the mix of old Savoyard chalets and more modern wooden-and-stone buildings have been constructed in keeping with their beautiful alpine surroundings. There’s a healthy selection of chalet holiday companies, many owner-run, offering catered and self-catered options for most budgets.

Chalet Grande Corniche is an award winning luxury chalet, in a stunning position high up the mountain above Les Gets. The property has seven en-suite bedrooms, with plasma TV’s, and boasts a heated outdoor infinity pool, full size snooker table in a vaulted wine cellar, wellness area, grand piano and a home cinema. Chalet Grande Corniche has a little sister ‘mazot’ chalet, Petite Corniche, which has room for one family.

La Ferme de Montagne is a beautifully restored old farmhouse that has just eight bedrooms. It’s set above the village and houses a spa and restaurant, which is open to non-guests. The building can be booked by the room or as a whole. Most of the woody bedrooms have their own sitting areas and all have top-of-the-range orthopaedic beds with lamb’s wool mattresses and a pillow menu.

Another lovely place to stay is Ferme de Moudon, which is the ultimate in barn conversions hidden behind the church above the village. The British owner has avoided rustic kitsch and instead fused the original features with a sharp 21st-century look. It featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs Abroad, which described it: “like something from a James Bond set.”

Le Boomerang is a little piece of Australian outback in the French Alps. Hotel Christiania and Hotel Bellevue are in the perfect position in the village and on the slopes. Hotel Alpen Sports is also in the village, offering slightly cheaper rooms and chalets. Three-star Hotel Alpina has six quality chalets, Adelphine 1-6, in its grounds sleeping from four to 16 people. Other hotels located on the slopes but not in the village are La Croix Blanche, Le Chasse Montagne and Chalet Hotel Le Crychar.


Lots of Family Chalets and Hotels

Les Gets is well served by British tour operators specialising in family skiing holidays, and by child friendly hotels. For example, Ski Famille has several chalets in town, notably Chalet Bogart and Chalet Bacall, right in the middle of town, five minutes’ walk from the ski school meeting point. Set in what used to be Les Gets’ cinema, they’re unusually spacious and feature in our guide to the best ski chalets for families. Meanwhile, Esprit Ski has four chalets in the Chaumiere building, each sleeping between eight and 13 people.

Chalet-hotel la Marmotte is another family-friendly property: a 1930s building in the village and just across the road from the slopes and main ski lifts. Facilities include a swimming-pool, spa, games room, a free evening creche, and baby-listening devices provided for parents. Chalet-hotel Crychar is right on the piste, with a children’s playroom, some family rooms but otherwise cosy (some would say small) bedrooms, and a highly-rated restaurant. Hotel Labrador also has family rooms and provides everything for babies from bottle-warming to baby baths and high chairs. Altitude Lodge is run by tour operator VIP Ski, is located on the edge of the piste and sleeps up to 29 people.

Where to Eat

The slopes of Les Gets have lots of small, romantic chalet restaurants and cafés. If only the lunch scene in the A-list resorts was as good as this. La Grande Ourse on Mont Chery is one of the resort’s best mountain restaurants and it’s certainly the highest. It originally opened in the 1930s but is now owned and run by the Venning family from Cornwall. The menu featuring a twist on traditional local cuisine – the creations range from sausage and mash to La Grande Ourse speciality lobster and scallop tartiflette.

The most popular area for lunch in Les Gets is at Les Chavannes where there’s a choice of good eateries including La Croix Blanche, Altitude Lodge and Le Grand Cry.

La Paika is a pretty little chalet halfway down the Vorosses blue piste at La Turche, with a lovely sun terrace and an outdoor barbecue. Chez Nannon is a romantic hut offering local dishes – it’s located on a blue piste beneath the Pointe de Nyon.

A selection of restaurants in Les Gets cater particularly well for children. These include La Case K2, L’Alpina, Le Chasse Montagne, La Peau de Vache and La Taniere.

Dinner in a Bubble

Something different on Valentine’s day is a romantic dinner in the Mont Chery bubble. The cabins are decorated to provide a warm, romantic atmosphere, and one course is served each time you pass through the lift station. The added bonus is the gorgeous night-time view over the village.

Where to Party

Les Gets is full of exhausted parents who are asleep by 10pm. However, it has some great apres-ski bars, although the village is probably not the ideal destination resort if nightlife comes top of your list. You’d be better off staying down the road in Morzine or in purpose-built Avoriaz.

Most of the bars are in and around the main street. L’ApréSki Bar at the foot of the slopes and Bar Bush are popular straight after skiing. Black Bear, Le Pub Irlandais and Barbylone .

For tapas and wine bars, try Le George in Hotel Regina, Le Bacchus  or Le Boomerang.

Igloo Chalet-Club is a small nightclub that first opened in 1938 and is one of the oldest nightclubs in France. Today it has a resident DJ and holds themed events such as disco, rock and 80s evenings. It is open 11pm to 6am.

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