We (four of us, two couples) spent Christmas and New Years in La Clusaz (one week) and Chamonix (three days). I was there mostly for downhill, so only spent one day in La Clusaz on skinny skis, but my better half spent nearly the whole time in both locations cross-country skiing.
La Clusaz is as good a location for in-track skiing that I’ve seen (which is probably fitting of a place that has hosted two World Championships in the past five years). The trails were beautifully prepared and the scenery is spectacular. The only complaint the missus had was that they ran the snowmaking non-stop even when it really didn’t seem necessary.
The trails are perfectly set up with two tracks on the outside and a large inside area for skating on each route. I only thing I missed was a bit of out of track touring. You get a lot more of that here in Germany and in the Czech Republic (we’ll be heading there is a few weeks, though).
As for the village, LA Clusaz is simply beautiful. For an area so close to Geneva, the town is wonderfully free of foreign tourists, especially Brits. It still has a very French feel to it, unlike so many other ski resorts nearby. The downhill skiing was also fantastic.
We had blue skies the entire week there, and we really could not have asked for anything better.
Chamonix of course needs no introduction as a downhill ski resort, and it certainly delivered in that area. The cross-country skiing is a lot more limited that in La Clusaz, but it’s accessible directly from the village. In La Clusaz, a short bus ride was needed to get to the main Nordic centre. The trails in Chamonix were also more crowded and not as well maintained. It was good for a few days, though.
Chamonix village really is a mixture of all that skiing in Europe is. You have the fur coat brigades out in numbers, but also a lot of poor ski bums. It is easy to forget that you are even in France, as mostly Brits and Swedes seem to populate the place. Much of the town can be frustrating, but once you find a few nice, ‘normal’ spots, it really is great.
For downhill skiing I’d go back there in a second, but we usually look for destinations with a good mix of downhill and cross-country, and for that La Clusaz certainly comes out on top. At any rate, mostly because of cost, we’ve pretty much decided on returning to Austria for our big trip next winter.
Pictures (sorry, mostly downhill):
La Clusaz: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48566742@N ... 614842061/
Chamonix: http://www.flickr.com/photos/48566742@N ... 635293911/
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