Who is the winning resort between la Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand?
La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand are well-known ski resorts, part of the Aravis chain of mountains and situated in Haute Savoie (close to Geneva). La Clusaz has become very exclusive last ten years (sometimes called “Le petit Megève”). As a result, new ski apartments for sale in the resort are selling for over 10,000 euros per sqm. There is very little new-build activity in La Clusaz in general, which also explains the high prices. Le Grand Bornand is also beautiful and quickly increasing in price. Le Chinaillon area (ski lifts) seeing several new-build developments last few years.
It can be challenging to compare two ski resorts on purely practical criteria like ease of access, parking, the skiing or maybe more the restaurants or apres-ski. Perhaps it is the child-friendly aspect that you will prioritise or the summer activities that grow in importance in the last few years. Let’s also say that we believe at Findhomeabroad that both resorts are incredibly beautiful and the proximity to Geneva airport is a real advantage.
So which of the Aravis ski resort should you choose between La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand?
A general presentation of both ski resorts
Nestled at the heart of Aravis country (famous for its beautiful sites), a ski property with direct views of these peaks increases its value instantly. Both mountain villages are at the heart of a very traditional region. With old farms and endless activities all-year-round and not just skiing (another advantage when buying a new ski property is the summer activity aspect).
Born at the beginning of the last century (1907), La Clusaz is a quaint and traditional postcard village as we like them. Its development started in the 50s with the first cable car. It is also one of these very “French” resorts with fewer international clients than maybe say in nearby Les Gets or Morzine. Many residents from Annecy and Geneva go there for the weekend. La Clusaz is part of the select “Top of the French Alps” ski resorts.
Le Grand Bornand is one of these typical Savoyard mountain villages with the small church and main square, its farms (1,000m high so charming to live all-year-round). The ski area is 6kms above the town (easily linked by free ski shuttle). The area is called Le Chinaillon and gives you access to the beautiful ski area. Several French leaseback developers built new apartments in front of the Chinaillon lifts a few years ago.
Access and parking in La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand
Access to both villages could not be easier, and both are close to Annecy, a major town only 30 minutes.
You have two main roads: A40 until exit 16 (Bonneville) and then follow “Stations des Aravis” (20kms) or take the A41 until Annecy Nord, follow Thônes then “Stations des Aravis”. It is when you reach Saint-Jean-de-Sixt that you have the choice between both villages to continue until your final destination.
By train, the central station in Annecy links all the major French cities.
By plane, Geneva and Chambery are the nearest around 70km and under an hour away. Another option is Lyon (150km). From the airport, you can use the bus shuttles, Altibus and Aeroskibus or check online for the best means of transport.
In La Clusaz, you can park your car in the centre of the village (paying or free limited to one hour). Other than this, you have two underground parking where you can pay per hour or per day: Salon des Dames and Centre Village parking. There are free bus shuttles in La Clusaz to Confins, Balme, l’Etale, Merdassier, Col de La Croix Fry or the other ski resorts St Jean de Sixt and le Grand-Bornand.
In Le Grand Bornand, there are numerous parking lots in all of the village and also in the ski area Chinaillon. Also, free ski buses link the different areas in Le Grand Bornand, the village centre and Le Chinaillon snow front. Also, buses connect the neighbouring ski resorts and villages.
Comparative study of La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand ski areas
Although la Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand are neighbours, they are not linked on skis but instead by ski shuttle (free). This bus service gives you access to 220kms of the ski area.
With peaks around 2,600m (this is pretty high up), La Clusaz ski area is over five mountains (Beauregard, Manigod, l’Etale, l’Aiguille and Balme) and they offer superb skiing options. With 132kms of pistes and 52 ski lifts, there is plenty for everyone whether you are a beginner, expert skier, freestyler or rider.
In La Clusaz you can also go cross-country skiing: 86kms of pistes, 24 turns combined with a 7kms connection to Le Grand Bornand. The Confins plateau is famous and part of the cross country skiing world championship. It welcomes the new generation too with its snow garden, a nordic ski park and nordic cross.
A bit smaller, Le Grand Bornand ski area offers though a similar quality of skiing. The ski area is 92kms of pistes and 32 ski lifts. It is also ideal for all levels with five beginners’areas, three levels of competition, one of the best snowparks in France (top 10) and plenty of hors-piste.
It is also very welcoming to cross-country skiers with its 58kms of pistes which can be accessed by three different areas (the village, Les plans and the Auberge Nordique). Varied turns also between 1-1.5km are available to skiers.
Activities and life in La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand
The good thing about both villages is that they have year-round residents (around 2,000) so you have shops and services available from January to December. Plenty of medical services too like doctors, dentists and several specialists not to forget vets for our loved ones and that is true for both villages.
What about the apres-ski in La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand?
La Clusaz is pretty famous for its apres-ski scene with plenty of live shows, bars and cosy restaurants. There are also plenty of activities on offer in La Clusaz like the new aquatic centre, ideal to relax after a long day on the slopes. For those who are more into sliding, you have the vast 1,000sqm ice rink (new roof) where you can also learn hockey and skating. Don’t forget the famous disco nights! Other popular activities are the sledge descent at night (also initiation for the bravest if you wish) or the famous full moon party in January.
One of the highlights in Le Grand Bornand is the night skiing on Tuesdays between 8-10:30 pm on one of the longest pistes in Savoie! For all the others, there are also plenty of activities and bars/restaurants in Le Grand Bornand, not to forget a disco for those who are ready to party.
How family-friendly are La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand?
Well for a start they are both labelled family-plus resorts, and it is a healthy competition for both village to see who is most family-friendly. Many restaurants, activities, hotels/apartment complexes are family-friendly, and the different ski clubs and nurseries offer a wide choice.
In La Clusaz, children between the ages of 2-10 can learn ice-skating at the Ice Garden (Jardin des Glaces) in a magical environment. For more sliding, three new pistes for the sledge are free and ideal for our little ones. Even the aquatic centre caters to the smaller ones: water games and toboggan, a small pool, a particular area for mums to change nappies not to forget swimming lessons for children. And last but not least a local visit to a Reblochon cheese production line in a traditional farm.
Le Grand Bornand also has plenty to offer like the 4 secured sledge areas are available including one which is lit at night. Also a youth centre “Les P’tits loups, trappeur, skate, jeune” teaches the little one cross-country skiing and raquettes in a really fun way. For the more adventurous, open all year, you have the forest adventure park (La forêt des Dodes).
Who wins our match between La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand?
Both very similar, both resorts attract a broad audience but mainly families. Because La Clusaz is investing heavily in new infrastructures (high-end accommodation + ski lifts), it tends to attract ever more wealthy families (sometimes called the “small Megève”).
Le Grand Bornand, on the other hand, is slightly quieter and authentic, and it is very popular with families looking for a place full of traditions away form the rat race. From a property point of view, La Clusaz is more expensive than Le Grand Bornand to buy. New-builds are rare in both resorts.