Situated in the heart of the Grand Massif ski area in the Alps mountains, Flaine is one of the most renowned ski resorts in France. It is a familial resort, offering wonderful facilities for skiing enthusiasts as well as beginners, with a wide range of slopes, breathtaking scenery, and excellent ski facilities.
The ski slopes at Flaine cater to all levels of skiing ability, from beginners to expert skiers. This makes it one of the most popular ski resorts in France.
The resort boasts of more than 85 miles (137 km) of ski domaine with 62 lifts and an elevation of 1,600 to 2,500 meters. The slopes are well-groomed and maintained, ensuring that skiers, snowboarders, and lugers have the best possible experience.
However, I should mention that Flaine is not one of the “most beautiful” resorts. It was built in the 1960s, when the tendancy was to build big buildings in concrete rather than scenic little chalets.
Flaine has received the label “Architectural Heritage of the 20th century”, awarded by the Ministry of Culture in 2008. But we have to acknowledge it has a different charm than the older Serre Chevalier which counts more historic houses, or Val Thorens or Les Arcs which are more modern.
Flaine is also famous for its enlarged sculpture attributed to Pablo Picasso. In 1967, Éric and Sylvie Boissonnas met Pablo Picasso and obtained the agreement to enlarge a “Tête de Femme”.
The expansion was initiated during the 1980s with the project to set up in Flaine, near the Totem hotel. It is an ode to cubism, located near the Flaine Forum.
There are 3 main parts to the Flaine resort, all walkable from one to the other. There is “Flaine-Forêt” at 1,700 m, “Flaine-Forum” at 1,600 m, and “Flaine-Front de neige” at 1,500 m.
All three are connected by two exterior lifts and two pedestrian paths. Flaine fôret is quite small and quiet, while the other two are much livelier with shops and commerce.
Flaine also has a number of restaurants and bars that offer local alpine food and drinks, making it an excellent destination for après-ski activities. I should mention however that this is more of a familial resort, so there are no real nightclubs in the area.
In addition, the ski facilities at Flaine are top-notch. The resort has a number of ski shops where skiers can rent or buy ski equipment. The ski lifts are modern and efficient, reducing the wait time for skiers.
For beginners, Flaine has a number of ski schools like ESF and UCPA (all inclusive) that provide professional instructors who can help them learn the basics. The ski schools offer group and private lessons to individuals of all ages.
Flaine also offers a range of non-ski activities, such as spas, snowshoeing, and ice skating. The resort has a number of trails for snowshoeing, providing an excellent way to explore the surrounding area. Ice skating is also available in the resort’s ice rink, while toboganning is a popular activity for children.
The Ski slopes
The Flaine ski pass gives you access to a larger Grand Massif network of alpine ski slopes and chair lifts. It is smaller than the Paradiski or Trois Vallées ski networks but still relatively large.
Grand Massif over 85 miles (137 km) of ski domaine with 62 lifts, including the following:
- 23 green slopes
- 61 blue slopes
- 43 red slopes
- 11 black slopes
The largest portion of these slopes are around Flaine, but there are number of slopes around the other resorts of Les Carroz, Sixt, Morillon and Samoëns as well. It is relatively easy for intermediate and expert skiiers to get around on skis from one resort to another, but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners.
Note, it does get quite crowded around the ski lifts at the end of the day as skiers try to get back to their base ski resort.
For young children and beginners there are several magic carpet slopes as well as ski tow slopes in Flaine for everyone to practise.
Hotels and accommodations
There are several great accommodation options around Flaine which include ski-in and ski-out facilities, including:
- €€€ – UCPA family (all-inclusive ski and lessons)
- €€€€ – RockyPop Flaine Hotel & Spa
- €€€€€ – Pierre & Vacances Premium Les Terrasses d’Hélios (aparthotel with indoor heated pool)
- €€€€€ – Pierre & Vacances Premium Les Terrasses d’Eos (aparthotel with outdoor heated pool)
How to get to there?
By Train: Flaine is part of the “Grand Massif” network of ski slopes and the closest train station is the Cluses 74 train station, which is about 18 miles (30km) away.
High-speed TGV trains from Paris, London, Amsterdam and other major cities in Western Europe arrive at Cluses 74 all winter long, bringing you to the foot of the Alps.
From the train station, there are several busses including Altibus which costs around €8-14 for a ride to the Flaine ski resort.
From Airport to Flaine – There are several large airports within driving distance of Flaine. Approximate driving times with no traffic are:
- 1 hour 30 minutes from Geneva,
- 1 hour 50 minutes from Chambéry airport,
- 2 hour 30 minutes from Grenoble.
How easy is it getting around?
It is relatively easy to get around the three paths of Flaine, as there are well-worn footpaths and stairs. There is also a scenic elevator that takes you up to Flaine forêt.
If you are on skis and have a ski pass, you can also explore nearby resorts that are part of the Grand Massif system like Les Carroz, Sixt, Morillon and Samoëns.
There is a bus service that runs between the different Grand Massif resorts, but buses are not frequent, and you may need a car to get around.
How many days should you spend?
In the busy part of the winter during ski season, most places in the Flaine ski station only rent for the week (Saturday to Saturday), so you will be required to stay at least 1 week. Skiing is a very popular sport in France, and the French take their skiing seriously.
In the off season and summer time, you should have more flexibility with dates, but I would still recommend staying at least 3-4 days to full enjoy the resort. You can read more about the best time to go skiing in France here.
If you enjoyed this article, you may like to read more facts about the Alps here. A bientôt!