Haute Savoie / France
Often overlooked in favour of its larger neighbours, La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand and Manigod. Saint-Jean-de Sixt is a delightful, family-friendly village at the heart of the Aravis ski area. Just 3km from La Clusaz in one direction and Le Grand Bornand in the other, and well connected by ski buses, it gives you the choice of where you’d like to ski each day.
And when snow conditions permit, this typical Alpine village, known as the gateway to the Aravis, has its own tiny ski field which is the ideal place for young children to gain confidence - 200m of piste, one lift and a daily ski pass for €9.50 (2023)!
Saint-Jean-de-Sixt’s unspoiled natural environment make it an obvious choice for active holidays all year round. A great choice of hiking and cycling trails are the main draw, but there’s also tennis, fishing and the incredible Bun J ride - a year-round “ski jump” that can be tackled on skis, a snowboard or even on a bike!
This traditional Alpine village packs a big punch when it comes to winter sports - situated in the heart of the Aravis mountains, the ski resort of La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand and Manigod are all within easy reach. Between them, these resorts offer 220km of well-groomed pistes and 90 lifts, all just an hour from Geneva airport.
Your Aravis ski pass covers the frequent and extensive ski bus network, which connects Saint-Jean-de-Sixt to all of the resorts. As well as downhill skiing there are 48 Nordic ski trails, cross-country skiing at Les Confins and Beauregard, toboggan runs, three snow parks and a boardercross course.
But the fun doesn’t start and end with skiing - while you’re here try ski-joering (skiing while harnessed to a horse), dog-sledding, ice-skating and paragliding.
There’s so much to see and do when you visit Alpine resorts outside the ski season, and Saint-Jean-de-Sixt is no exception.
Walkers will find trails to suit all ages and abilities, from family strolls through the forest to strenuous hikes into the Aravis mountains - perhaps head to the summit of the Tête du Danay or from Mont Durand to Lac des Confins.
Cyclists can choose from mountain bike trails, cross-country tours or challenging road tours, some of which feature regularly in the Tour de France.
Other activities include tennis, horse-riding, paragliding, fishing, via ferrata and of course the Bun-J ride - a combination of ramp jumping with bunjees and ziplines that you can tackle on a bike, a summer sledge or just your feet!
Skiing and boarding are the main activities that bring guests to chalets in Saint-Jean-de-Sixt in the winter, and in the summer, hiking, biking and climbing are the most popular. But when you stay at an OVO Network property, there is so much more to see and do.
Here are some of our favourite things to do in and around Saint-Jean-de-Sixt - you’ll find the details below:
Via ferrata This Alpine adventure is a great day out for families with older children (seven years and over) - it combines hiking and climbing on a trail cut into the rock face. You’ll wear a helmet and be clipped to the trail at all times to ensure your safety, but you’ll still need a head for heights! There are three via ferrata courses within 12 km of Saint Jean de Sixt, all of which are free - but you’ll need equipment and, if you’re inexperienced, we recommend hiring a guide.
Horse riding Discover the Aravis mountains on horseback with a one- or three-hour ride with Aravis Equitation. Anyone from the age of seven, from beginners to experienced riders, can book up a ride or a private lesson, through the woods or in the mountains. And you can ride all year round - why not try riding in the snow?
Dog sledding Let a team of huskies take you on an exhilarating sleigh ride through the snowy mountains - it’s the perfect outing for those who love animals, nature and the great outdoors. You can also learn how to drive the sled from the musher, who will pass on their skills and passion.
Ski joering Combine skiing and horse-riding when you try this unusual Scandinavian sport! All you need to do is strap your skis to your feet, hang on to a wooden bar attached to a horse harness and let the horse pull you across the snow!. Anyone aged seven or over, who knows how to snowplough on skis can have a go - you’ll need your skis or snowboard, and children must wear a helmet. Gloves and goggles are also recommended.
Night sledging: Join the guides from the ESF ski school to go sledging with a difference - this is at night and you’ll be tackling slopes up to 7 km long! The XXL 7km course is open to anyone aged 8 and over, but there’s also an XL 4km course for those aged seven and above. You’ll need your ski pass to take part and helmets are compulsory for under 18s. The meeting place is at the lifts in Chinaillon, Le Grand Bornand.
Paragliding Whatever time of year you visit Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, paragliding is always a great way to get a new perspective on the mountains! Flying with an instructor is a great introduction to this sport - you’ll get to see the wonderful Aravis scenery, fly with birds of prey and perhaps even spot marmots and chamois.
Enjoy a sleigh ride What could be more magical than a sleigh ride through the snow, especially at Christmas! The rides, which are suitable for all ages, leave from Le Grand Bornand, and can be combined with a farm visit and reblochon tasting - a great family day out.
Build an igloo There’s a skill to building a good igloo - and this is your chance to learn it! Children aged from six to 12 can join staff from the ESF Le Grand Bornand or if you want to join them, you can book a group session for the whole family.
A round of golf Keen golfers in your group will appreciate the 10-hole course at Golf des Confins, just 8 km from Saint-Jean-de-Sixt. There’s also a driving range, putting green and a restaurant - and if you haven’t brought your clubs, you can hire them there. And the children don’t need to feel left out either - there’s a 12-hole crazy golf course near the Confins chapel.
A day at a spa There’s nothing more relaxing after an active day in the mountains than watching the sunset from a hot tub, followed by a massage and perhaps a facial? The Chalet a Bulles in St-Jean-de-Sixt offers a range of beauty and wellness treatments, and the children are welcome to use the heated outdoor pool.
Don’t fancy cooking? There’s a huge choice of restaurants in and around St-Jean-de-Sixt. Here are some of our favourites:
Le Cairn (41 Route de Thones Lieu dit Les Sixt, tel: +33 4 50 10 82 45) Formerly Le Cabanon, this Michelin-recommended restaurant is a real find. Fresh, seasonal food served up with a warm smile, you can eat by the fire in winter or on the shady terrace in summer. The menu format is constantly evolving, but at the time of writing, you could choose between the four-course La Balade menu (56€) which has to be booked 24 hours in advance, the six-course Ascension (68€) or the three-course Promenade (46€), which is served at lunchtime. Vegetarian versions of the menus are available. This cosy restaurant has just 25 places, so make sure you book well in advance.
Confins des Sens (Le Villavit, Le Grand Bornand, tel: 33 4 50 69 94 25) This cosy restaurant with mountain views is another one recommended by Michelin. Favourites on the menu include the foie gras soup and the hot chocolate fondant, which both feature in the Ballade Gourmande menu (55-75€) and on the a la carte menu. But if you’re visiting for lunch, and you’re feeling adventurous, you could try the Petite Ballade menu (32€) - three courses all of which are recommended by the chef!
L’Escapade (431 Route de Thones, Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, tel: +33 4 50 64 10 53) Burgers are the stars at this friendly, laid-back restaurant - try them with reblochon cheese, smoked trout and cream cheese, chicken nuggets or veggie. You could also opt for a melted cheese platter, pad Thai, beef tartare or a salad. The desserts are all delicious, but if you can’t make up your mind, how about the cafe gourmand - a selection of five mini puds with coffee!
La Ferme du Danay (1986 Chemin Pastoral du Danay, Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, tel: 33 6 67 96 75 07) This charming mountain refuge is the perfect stop-off for a drink or snack if you’re hiking up to the Tête Du Danay. Enjoy a local beer with a plate of cheese and charcuterie, or Savoyard specialties such as tartiflette and fondue. It’s a bit off the beaten track, so if you’re planning on visiting, it’s worth letting them know you’re on your way. And if you’re visiting in winter, take your sledge - the refuge is at the top of a 2.7km toboggan run!
Grano e Orzo (35 Place de l’Ancienne, Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, tel: +33 4 58 10 50 69) Sometimes only pizza will do! There’s a huge choice to eat in or take away at this stylish restaurant, with classics like Margherita or Napoletana and something a bit different - the Belpiano has cheeses and dried figs, the Altissimo comes with butternut squash, pancetta and mushrooms. If you want something that’s not on the menu, they will do their best to help you and there are options for vegans and vegetarians too.
Restaurant Le Peille (60 Place Madeleine Lafrance, Residence le Beausejour, tel: +33 4 50 02 35 28) This is the place to come for a cheese fondue! Made with local cheeses, you can order them with or without mushrooms, salad and charcuterie. There’s also a three-course menu (43€) which could include tataki beef or a cheese tart to start, followed by roast lamb or pork, or trout tartare. Follow that with a delicious selection of desserts. The 13€ children’s menu offers burgers and ice cream or chocolate mousse.
Saint-Jean-de-Sixt is a busy Alpine village all year round, so it should be no surprise that it is well served with essential shops. As well as a Carrefour Express, you can buy local produce such as cheese, charcuterie and jams at La F’nire, pick up great local meat, both fresh and cured at L’Etale des Bouchers, and fresh bread and pastries as well as sandwiches and snacks at La Paniere and Capucine. There are more shops and restaurants in La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand, and a large Intermarché supermarket in Villards Sur Thônes, just 4 km away. But if you’re looking for a day of browsing elegant shops and markets, head for Annecy (29 km), where you’ll find fascinating individual shops, wonderful produce and antique markets and elegant canalside restaurants.
Getting to Saint-Jean-de-Sixt
By car - Highway A40, exit n°16 Bonneville, towards Aravis ski resorts (Stations des Aravis), 20km. Highway A41, exit n°17 Annecy Nord, towards Thônes - Aravis ski resorts (Stations des Aravis) 30km. Make sure your car is equipped with snow tyres or chains if you are visiting in winter.
By train - Saint-Jean-de-Sixt is just 30km from the mainline train station at Annecy, which is served by high-speed trains from most major French cities. Buses run regularly to Saint-Jean-de-Sixt.
Getting around Saint-Jean-de-Sixt
By bus - The free shuttle bus links the villages of Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, Manigod, La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand during the summer and winter seasons.