Flaine's snow-sure slopes make a great winter playground for beginners and intermediate level skiers and snowboarders...
Flaine is the ski resort that fashion forgot - a monument to 1960s architectural theory, which most people find ugly and out of place in the mountains. But never mind about that.
Set 12 miles north of Mont Blanc in a steep-sided mountain bowl, Flaine seems to snag every blizzard going, and enjoys a super-snowy microclimate. In an era of climate-change anxiety, it's a far more important consideration than architecture, and Flaine is becoming popular again as a result. On the back of this, there's been significant investment in apartments, hotels and infrastructure over recent years.
Flaine forms the hub of the mid-sized Grand Massif ski area, which offers 265km of pistes. The main focus of the skiing is in the bowl in which it sits - but it also sprawls over lower, wooded slopes towards the villages of Les Carroz, Morillon and Samoens. Whilst the snow is reliable in the bowl, it can be patchier lower down at the beginning and end of the season, so unless you already know that it's a cold winter, book your Flaine ski holiday for January or February.
When the snow's good however, there's a good variety of intermediate-friendly skiing and snowboarding in Flaine, ranging from open slopes at Les Grands Platières (the highest point of the resort, at 2,480m), to pretty tree-lined pistes down to the lower villages. The nursery slopes are right in the heart of the resort too, which makes them a good place for families, and there are three terrain parks for those who fancy themselves over jumps.
Flaine is only an hour or so by car from Geneva airport...
Alternatively, you can drive from the UK or take the train to nearby Les Cluses.
The 265km of pistes accessible from Flaine offer plenty of fun for both beginners and intermediates...
However, there are fewer runs to challenge the real experts here.
Flaine is not ideal for après-ski lovers, or those seeking Alpine charm. But it's very cheap for a French resort...
Flaine is still a family-friendly destination, and is not recommended for party animals. However, both the White Pub and the Flying Dutchman can be lively in the early evening, and there are several good-value Savoyarde restaurants in the resort, including Le Perdrix Noire and Chez Daniel.
Flaine is the very opposite of sophisticated, upmarket resorts such as Aspen or St Moritz - and the shopping is almost non-existent. But for more active non-skiers there's fun to be had here - in the famous ice-driving school, quad-biking course, dog-sledding, snow-shoeing, skating and bowling.
8/10 Cost of living
There are big advantages, price-wise, to being unfashionable. Given the quality of the skiing in Flaine, this is probably the best-value mid-sized ski resort in France - especially when you consider that most of the accommodation is in cheap self-catering apartments.
4/10 Attractiveness of the resort
The 1960s architecture is dark and severe - just as it was intended to be. Still, because the buildings are mostly apartment blocks, it means the resort is compact and convenient, and doesn't overwhelm the natural environment.