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Les Gets – TIME FOR A QUICK ONE?

If you love skiing but are time poor, Les Gets combines convenience, luxury, and snow quality, writes Richard Bath.

Why would I ski here?

Les Gets is almost exactly 1hr 15mins from Geneva Airport, so if three-hour transfers have lost their appeal, or if you’re on a tight schedule, then this could be the answer. If you catch the 06:30 Easyjet from Edinburgh, you could be on the slopes in mid-morning, while depending on what day of the week you go, there’s a 20:45 flight that gets back to Edinburgh just after 22:00, so you can eke every hour of fun out of a short break. However, if you want more than a quick in-and-out, Les Gets also offers luxury chalets at a fraction of the price of more fashionable French ski resorts. It’s part of the massive Portes du Soleil area, so there’s something for everyone when it comes to the skiing.

The village:

Les Gets is a picturesque yet relaxed Savoyard village that has expanded significantly in recent years, and where there’s a significant British community. Mainly a family resort, it’s nevertheless a sociable place where there are plenty of venues for a wee swallie of an evening, while there is no shortage of decent restaurants. The centre of the village boasts an ice rink in the square opposite the town hall, which is a good meeting place.

The skiing:

Above all, Les Gets is perfect for beginners and intermediates, which makes it perfect for families. At just 1,200m, Les Gets is higher than neighbouring Morzine but is still quite low, although its slopes are formed by gently rolling meadows so it needs relatively little snow (certainly compared to some of the more craggy resorts with steeper pistes) to provide a good base. I visited the week before Christmas and thanks to a recent dump of snow, plus the work of its many snow cannons, found the conditions to be excellent given how early in the season it was.

Les Gets is set up for families, so there are some excellent English-speaking ski schools. We had a lesson with Les Gets Snowsports (www.skischool.co.uk), which was outstanding, while BASS (www.britishskischool.com/bassresorts/lesgets) and Mint Snowboards (https://mintsnowboarding.com) also come highly recommended. There are various ski schools that specialise in children, including the ubiquitous ESF.

Personally, as an experienced intermediate who prefers to stay on piste, I found that Mont Chery, which is on the opposite side of the hill from the main lifts, to be by far the most enjoyable skiing in Les Gets. Most of the slopes there are reds, and are slightly steeper than the main resort, and because the chairs are slightly slower the whole area is far less heavily used – interestingly, virtually every resident I spoke to said that this is where they do most of their skiing (it also has a nice on-mountain restaurant called Les Chevrelles, at the bottom of a fantastic red run).

There’s plenty of action for advanced skiers staying in Les Gets, although you often need to travel to find the really tough stuff. Morzine is similar terrain to Les Gets, but the joy of the area is that you get to access the whole of the Portes du Soleil, which is absolutely massive, with 194 lifts and almost 400km of pistes, and which boasts iconic runs such as the fabled mogul field of the Swiss Wall at Avoriaz.

There are, however, a couple of caveats. Watch your time if you’re going across to Avoriaz – it’s a schlep getting there from Les Gets via Morzine, especially for beginners, and if you’ve got a car I’d recommend driving to the Les Prodains lift. Also, while Avoriaz has great snow and virtually guarantees you’ll be able to ski, if the snow conditions are bad elsewhere then people are bussed there and it can become intolerably crowded, especially for beginners.

As for ski passes, you’ve got two main choices: a pass that covers the whole of the Portes Du Soleil, or one that covers the 48 lifts and 71 slopes of Les Gets and Morzine. All passes are roughly 10% cheaper if you buy in advance on the internet, with six days at Les Gets/Morzine (www.lesgets.com/en/lift-pass/skipass-prices/) costing €228 (€40 per day for 2-5 days, and €62 for the weekend). A day pass for the Portes du Soleil costs €58.50 and a six-day pass will set you back €292.50. There are also discounts (usually 10%) if you buy four or more passes at the same time.

Les Gets - Alta Lumina

Eating, drinking and making merry:

There are many great places to eat in Les Gets. Les Copeaux (www.lescopeauxrestaurant.com), La Remise (www.larmize.fr), La Biskatcha, La Fruitiere des Perrières, and La Pela specialise in traditional meals, while Les Durs à Cuire and L’Op Traken are good for children. On the mountain, La Chasse Montagne (https://lechassemontagne.com/en/) and La Paika (www.restaurant-lapaika.com) are well worth trying.

As for the drinking part, as we were on a whistlestop tour our hosts suggested that we started at the Black Bear, before heading to Boomerang and then Bar Barbylone before winding up at Igloo, the village’s only nightclub. However, we loved the packed laid-back energy of the Black Bear bar, and never made it any further. If you really want to go long into the night, think about visiting nearby Morzine.

And if you need some time off from the Epicurean delights, I’d suggest an hour or two of detox at the Alta Lumina experience (www.altalumina.com/en), a wonderfully quaint light show in the woods on the edge of the village, which is easily accessed by a shuttle bus.

Where to stay:

Affable former ski racer Jamie Hustwayte, from Perthshire, and his wife Mary run Jack & Jill Chalets (www.jackandjillholidays.com), specialising in luxury catered and self-catered chalets in Morzine and Les Gets. We stayed in their newest and most luxurious property, Chalet Valambrun (www.jackandjillholidays.com/catered-chalets/chalet-valambrun), a remarkably plush catered chalet that sleeps 10-15 in double five bedrooms (plus two bunk rooms) and also has a cinema, indoor swimming pool, sauna, yoga studio, and hot-tub. Fully catered, and boasting three full-time staff – with drivers on hand to shuttle skiers to and from the lifts – this was opulence of the highest order, with incredible breakfasts, afternoon tea and cake, and then stunning four-course dinners each night, plus visiting masseur Martha Perry (www.mpmassagetherapy.com) to wipe away the aches and pains. At a cost of between £14,000 and £32,950 for the week, this certainly isn’t a cheap option, but it is significantly cheaper than a stay at a similarly luxurious chalet in, say Meribel, Val D’Isere, or Courcheval. Jack & Jill also have seven other chalets nearby, with prices starting from £2,355 for the week.

IN BRIEF

We liked: The ease of getting to Les Gets, its laid-back atmosphere, and the sheer luxury of Chalet Valambrun.

We didn’t like: The lack of more challenging on piste skiing in Les Gets and the time it takes to get to Avoriaz.

VITAL STATISTICS:

Getting there: I flew from Edinburgh to Geneva with Easyjet (www.easyjet.com).

Airport transfers: If you’re staying at Chalet Valambrun they can arrange transfers. Otherwise, see www.geneva-airport-transfers.com

Website: www.lesgets.com

Tour operators: For Chalet Valambrun, contact Jack & Jill Chalets (www.jackandjillholidays.com). Several tour operators serve Les Gets, including Edinburgh-based Ski Independence (www.ski-i.com/france/les-gets)

Read more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s travel pages.

Plus, don’t miss our readers’ hotel reviews in the February issue of Scottish Field magazine.

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