Ski resorts by train

Les Contamines - slopes

Les Contamines’ ski slopes are set amongst some of the most panoramic views in the Alps.  On one side, there is an unparalleled view of Mont Blanc; on the other, a breathtaking vista across Hauteluce on the other.

What is more, the terrain is blissfully uncrowded – and indeed remarkably empty even at peak dates such as February half term.  For skiers coming here for the first time, the resort feels like a real discovery and a well-kept secret.

There’s 120km of piste here, which is absolutely plenty to keep you entertained for a week, skiing different sectors and slopes each day. What is more, the resort is part of the Evasion Mont Blanc ski domain, so your lift pass can give you access to the slopes of St Gervais and Megeve (accessed easily by a 15-minute bus ride).

You can access the ski terrain via two gondola lifts, called La Gorge and Montjoie, both of which which take you to the intermediate station of L’Etape, which is the main ski school meeting point.  From there, the bubble up to Signal, at 1900m, delivers you to the beginning of various enticing options and some great-quality skiing.

There’s a snowpark at Tierces, called the Ludoparc, for turning your hand to jumps and tricks.

Ski highlights for all levels

Beginners: With such quiet slopes, Les Contamines is an excellent place for beginners, or children, to learn. The resort has two special beginner zones, with magic carpets.  Then, at the top of Signal there are is a dedicated  blue run, Signal, too, and access to the blue Jonction piste, which opens up yet more possibilities.  The runs down into Hauteluce are also very smooth and well-groomed, such as Col and Croix.

Intermediates: Intermediates will be in their element in Les Contamines, with its network of blue and red runs. One of the most interesting things to do is, from the top of the Signal lift, to drop into the Gentianes red run.  A lovely run in itself, this then opens up the reds of Fredze and Buche, as well as the blue Combe and black Tobogan, with great restaurants to stop for coffee or lunch.  

Just over the other side of the mountain, the runs from Col du Joly, at 2000m down toward Hauteluce have lovely gradients and interesting turns – all tantalising stuff.  You can drop all the way down to Belleville at 1200m and then come back up on the Ruelle chairlift.  Another brilliant sector is that either side of the Nant Rouge chairlift, with the Coins, Tierces, Nant Rouge and Besoens pistes serving up much exhilaration.

Experts: Advances skiers will love the black runs from the top of the 2487m Aig. Croche with a 900m vertical decent along the Grevettaz run, or alternatively via the Liaison and Rebans runs.  The resort is also criss-crossed by some thrilling red runs, so there are always interesting options.

Off piste:There are some fabulous, accessible off-piste opportunities in Les Contamines, with wide-open bowls and powder fields between the trees.  What is more, the fact that the area has relatively few skiers per kilometre of piste, means that when the fresh stuff falls from the heavens, it is shared by fewer skiers, giving you ample time to enjoy powder run after powder run.   One of the best areas is off the side of the Combe run. As always, off-piste is best attempted with a guide, which the ESF can provide.

Ski schools and guides

ESF (+ 33 4 50 47 02 82) has two offices, one in the village centre and one in Le Lay. There is also an office at the mid station at Etape, where the main ski school meeting point is.  ESF offers group or private lessons for children, and group or private lesson for adults.

There’s a specially designed kindergarten for young children at Loyer, at 1200 metres too, located convenienty by La Ruelle restaurant, with its stunning views over the Hauteluce valley.  ESF also run a Freeski course, with freestyle and freeride. Youngsters learn tricks with a pro, and how to stay safe in off-piste.

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Lift system

The network of gondola and chairlifts in Les Contamines is well designed, and even at half term queues are almost non-existent.  Two gondolas converge on Etape, at 1470 metres, and from there a range of fairly modern chairlifts whisks you around the rest of the slopes.

Snow reliability and snowmaking

Les Contamines has an excellent snow record. To quote the excellent Weathertoski site, “For it’s height, Les Contamines has one of the best snow records in France”, due both to its natural snow record and bowls with shaded aspect, which hold their snow well.  Most of the slopes above 1800m and face north or north-east, and the effect of the cooled air from the glacier means that snow retention is excellent.  This results in a long season, from the start of December to the end of April.   The pistes are excellently groomed, with 210 cannons providing ample snowmaking top-ups. The points most prone to warm weather conditions are the south-facing black runs below Veleray, and the west-facing ones above Hauteluce.

Snowcarbon Founder, Daniel has made a two-minute film about Les Contamines, interviewing British skiers found at random on the slopes, to ask what they think about the resort, which you can see here:

Evasion Mont Blanc piste map

Ski area
Village Altitude
Ski Altitude
1200m – 2500m
Green Runs
Blue Runs
Red Runs
Black Runs
Total Runs 48
Terrain Park
Cabin Lifts
Chair Lifts
Drag Lifts
Total Lifts 24