Les Gets is no longer such a hidden gem of a ski resort. Families in particular are returning to the pretty little hamlet year after year, for a weekend's skiing just an hour's drive from Geneva
One of the dozen small towns and villages that make up the Portes du Soleil, Les Gets is a part – though only a peripheral part – of the giant linked ski area that straddles the French border with Switzerland above Lac Léman. Nevertheless, it connects to Morzine and Avoriaz higher up in altitude, so does theoretically offer access to this vast ski area. However, there is plenty of great, scenic skiing to be had right on the doorstep.
The resort has a high influx of repeat visitors every year, which speaks volumes for its appeal – especially to families. They typically come for short weekend breaks, arriving from Geneva only an hour's drive away. Charmed by the Christmassy atmosphere and nocturnal illuminations, they think Les Gets is as good as it gets.
Once a traditional farming village, Les Gets is a lovely, picturesque family resort with a relaxed atmosphere. The action is centred around a cute, picture-postcard village centre complete with ice rink. A toy-like train runs between the lift stations, adding to the family ambience. In short, Les Gets has a charm all of its own.
The skiing is in three main areas. Mont Chéry, a single peak on the other side of the village to the nursery slopes, is a quiet tree-lined area with a couple of secrets. One of them is the best mountain restaurant in the Portes du Soleil, La Grande Ourse (see The Dining, below); the other is the most challenging run in the resort – the black Bouquetin, where excellent off-piste powder is available after a good dump of snow.
Back on the other side of the main street, there is easy access (via high-speed chairs and gondolas) to the main skiing area of Chavannes, towards the peaks of La Rosta and La Ranfoilly. From here, you can ski on towards Le Pleney which in turn links into Morzine via Chavannes. With 400km of skiing available in the Portes du Soleil, you will not run out of new runs in a hurry.
Les Gets is truly excellent for beginners, with convenient access to the floodlit nursery slopes running right down to the main street, and long green and blue runs further up the mountain. However, there is plenty for intermediates and experts, too, making this a resort for everyone.
There are good nursery slopes in the village, and more in snow-sure Chavannes. Higher up the mountain, there are some long green routes – but also some relatively easy blues lower down that are floodlit at night. Piste maintenance is excellent. If looking for a ski school, try Ecole du Ski Francais (00 33 0450 758003, www.esf-lesgets.com). Group tuition costs €105 for six half-day sessions.
For nice, long scenic tree-lined reds, head for quiet Mont Chéry. The main areas of La Ranfolly and La Rosta have an abundance of rolling blue and relaxed red cruises. Heading higher up to Point Nyon there are some perfect reds both in the Chavannes Bowl on the Les Gets side and more heading down the Arbis red on the Morzine side.
The black runs from, and on the back of, Mont Chéry are quite challenging, with off-piste opportunities in good weather conditions. There are some steep mogul challenges at Point Nyon, the Aigle Noir and the equally bumpy Creux. More expert challenges in the Chavannes Bowl include the Yeti and Rosta mogulled blacks.
Three favourite runs
Bouquetin (black). Take the gondola up to Mont Chéry for this, the most challenging run in the resort. Alternatively, head along the red route back into the village from Mont Chery. Its wide open spaces allow you to express yourself before winding down between the picturesque tree-lined slopes down to Les Gets.
Chamoisière to Morzine (black, red and blue). As Les Gets is rightly becoming renowned as a resort catering for all levels of skier, it seems befitting to choose a run that fulfills all requirements. This one starts with a steep (black) descent at Creux. Once over that, the challenge gradually eases into a wonderful twisting red and then a relaxed cruising blue. Enjoy!
Another bonus of the Chamoisière run is the wonderful scenery. The views from the top are among the best vistas in the Alps. From here you can see Mont Blanc, and as far as Lake Geneva in the distance with the whole of the Morzine valley leading up to it – truly a spectacle; and once viewed, never to be forgotten..
Morzine Pleney Slopes (blue, easy red). This is a whole area of wide, forgiving blues and reds where you can perfect your turns. The downside is that it gets a bit congested with ski-school traffic, especially in the morning. It is at its best mid-season, when the snow is consistent nearer the valley bottom at Morzine.
LES GETS AT A GLANCE
Number of lifts (in Les Gets) 48
Number of lifts (in Portes du Soleil) 206
Lift capacity per hour 242,000
Mountain restaurants 11
Number of pistes 68
(four green, 26 blue, 29 red, nine black)
Beginners pistes 30 per cent
Intermediate pistes 60 per cent
Expert pistes 10 per cent
Linked area Portes du Soleil (400km of prepared pistes)
Pros and cons
Charming village, ideal for families.
Friendly and personal feel to village.
Perfect for beginners and intermediates.
Few local queues.
Low altitude means not always snow-sure.
Few challenging pistes.
If dialling from the UK, prefix all numbers below with 00 33 and omit the first zero.
La Grande Ourse (06 79 42 58 86) Location: Mont Chéry. My top recommendation. Take the Mont Chéry cabin lift, then the two-person chair lift . La Grande Ourse is right near the top. This absolute gem of a mountain restaurant, owned and run by the Cornish family Venning, has spectacular views of Mont Blanc. Phone ahead early to book.
Les Crêtes de Zorre (0450 79 24 73) Location: Morzine. This comfortable restaurant serves hearty portions of reasonably-priced, Savoyard cuisine.
Les Mines D'or (0450 7981 52) Location: In the Vallée de la Manche. Rustic, traditional Savoy food.
Belvedere (0450 79 81 52) Location: Mont Chéry. A welcoming, comfortable mountain hut with traditional food and generous portions.
Chez Nannon (0450 79 24 73) Location: on the blue piste beneath Point Nyon. An intimate, old-style restaurant serving hearty local food.
Ferme de Montagne (0450 75 36 79) My personal favourite, with some of the finest food in Les Gets. The French chefs here are former students of Alain Ducasse, the acclaimed multi-Michelin star-winneer. Reservations essential.
Hotel Mont-Chéry (0450 75 80 75) This place lso comes highly recommended. Situated on the main street at the foot of the slopes, it is a real treat – serving gourmet cuisine at reasonable prices.
Le Flambeau (0450 79 80 66) Excellent for traditional Savoyard food.
Le Tourbillon (0450 79 70 34) Again, excellent for Savoyard cuisine. Recommended.
Best for pizzas
Tyrol (0450 79 70 55) and Le Schuss (0450 79 71 67).
Nightlife in Les Gets is fun but civilised. This is a lovely, cosy village with a smattering of bars and one nightclub; it may be family-orientated, but it isn't a place where everyone is tucked up at 7pm. There is a friendly buzz about the place in the evenings.
Le Pub Irlandais (0450 75 86 02) A bit of Irish craic and a draught Guinness, right in the middle of Les Gets at the foot of the slopes. Serves really good pub grub too!
Zebra 3 (0450 79 78 50) at 610 rue du Centre. At this cool zebra-themed bar, check out the flaming cocktails. Just don’t tell Health and Safety, as it involves setting the bar alight…
Urban Café (by the old church) Very popular with the resort workers, this place has a great vibe. It has a big screen with live Sky sports.
Le Bowling (0450 79 87 77) at 507 rue du Centre. This is a great hangout, with pool, darts and two lanes of bowling. Excellent music is played until 2am.
Bar Bush (0450 79 86 62) Internet access and Sky sports are among the perks at this popular small bar.
The Canadian bar (0450 75 40 81) Has a nice outdoor terrace with patio heaters, and an inside pool table. Laid-back, quiet and cool.
Boomerang (0450 79 80 65) The liveliest fun bar in the village, with regular live music and DJs. Also has internet access.
L'Igloo (0450 75 85 00) Les Gets is really a late bar town – so L’Igloo has the nightclub disco scene to itself. It’s small, but starts to rock from 1.30am until dawn.
Best for families
Open-air ice rink (0450 75 80 84) A great way to keep the kids happy after skiing is to head for this village focal point. It all adds to the fun family-orientated atmosphere. Open daily until 9pm.
Hotels in Les Gets are family-run and comfortable, offering excellent service – and most are within a stone's throw of the lifts. Don’t expect four-star international trappings, though. These hotels reflect the fact that Les Gets is a true, traditional ski village majoring on friendliness. That's why so many visitors return year after year.
Hotel Le Labrador 3* Quiet, nice location on outskirts of village. Indoor swimming and great views.
Ferme de Montagne 3* Fantastic place for families with very friendly and welcoming staff. Comfortable rooms, superb food in restaurant – and in a great location just above the village.
Chalet Hotel Crychar 3* Wood-styled chalet hotel. Excellent bar with log fireplace, and friendly staff. Highly recommended for families with young children.
La Marmotte 3* Great location next to the main chair lift. Great restaurant and bar with very friendly staff. Good for families. Highly recommended.
Hotel Mont-Chéry 3* Close to main lifts – and close to shuttle bus for access to Mont Chéry ski area. Excellent restaurant (see Village restaurants, above).
Hotel Le Nagano 3* Great location. Right across the road from the ice rink. Has a swimming pool.
Hotel Chamois 2* Basic but good value. Aimed at winter sports enthusiasts. Not recommended for families.
Geneva airport is 55km from the resort, roughly an hour's drive.
Travel to Cluses, with regular bus transfer from station.
From Geneva (35 miles), the nearest airport, take the A40 to Cluses, then the D902 to Les Gets. For car hire, try Alamo (0870 400 4562, www.alamo.co.uk); Avis (0844 581 0147, www.avis.co.uk); Budget (0844 581 2231, www.budget.com); Easycar (08710 500 444, www.easyCar.com); and SIXT (0844 248 6620, www.sixt.com).
From Lyon (116 miles), take the A42 to Pont-d'Ain, the A40 to Cluses, then the D902 to Les Gets.
From the ferry at Calais (500 miles), take the A26 to Reims, the A4 from there to Châlons-en-Champagne, then the A26 to Troyes. From there, follow the A5 to Langres, the A31 to Fauverney, the A39 to Bourg-en-Bresse, then the A40 to Cluses – and finally the D902 to Les Gets.
Office de Tourisme des Gets (0450 75 80 80, www.lesgets.com). Open daily 8.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-7pm.
Buses and taxis
Buses are free with a valid lift pass. Taxis are available from Alp Services Heritier (0450 75 81 05).