Haute Savoie / France
Just 6km from Chamonix, Les Houches is a great alternative for guests seeking a quiet, intimate resort, but with easy access to big resort skiing and facilities.
If quick access to the slopes is important to you, Les Houches is probably your best bet for a ski-in, ski-out property, although these are still at a premium.
Popular with families, the village, centred around its ancient church, has a great programme of events for children, a good choice of restaurants and wonderful Mont Blanc views.
Eating out is a pleasure - restaurants, both in the village and in the forests, just off the pistes, tend to be family-run and offer home-cooked Savoyard specialities made with quality local ingredients.
If you’re cooking for yourself, there are two small supermarkets in the resort, as well as a good cheese shop and a bakery. For wonderful local produce, try Le Refuge Payot, which is mentioned in the Michelin guide - and they will deliver. More varied shopping is fairly limited, but there’s plenty of choice in Chamonix.
There are several bars in Les Houches, but the evenings tend to be fairly quiet. If you’re looking for something more lively, Chamonix is just 10 minutes away and the bus runs until midnight.
Transport between the villages in the Chamonix valley is free with the Carte d’Hote pass, which will be provided on arrival at your chalet. It covers the SNCF Mont Blanc Express train, which runs about once an hour, and connects all villages from Servoz to Vallorcine, as well as the Chamonix bus, which runs regularly from Servoz to Le Tour .
Although it has great links to Chamonix, Les Houches has great skiing of its own. With 4 blacks, 13 reds, 8 blues, 2 greens, cross-country trails and a snow park, it’s a great choice for mixed ability skiers, boarders, cross country and telemarkers.
There are two main cable cars from Les Houches - one from the centre of the village to Bellevue, and the other from Les Chavants to Le Prarion.
Long gentle descents and tree-lined runs are sheltered from high winds, and there are wonderful mountain restaurants just off the pistes in the forests.
Ski Camp, at the top of the Prarion gondola, is designed just for children - teepees, sledging and snowtubing are arranged around a picnic area, making it a relaxed choice for families. There’s free night skiing at Le Tourchet nursery area, a little closer to Chamonix, every Thursday during French school holidays.
The more experienced can hone their skills on the Verte black run, which hosts the Kandahar World Cup and is a training ground for the French national team.
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