Chalet Etoile

Chinaillon, Le Grand Bornand

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Winter at Chalet Etoile, Chinaillon

Chalet Etoile is located in the ski resort of Le Grand Bornand, in the heart of the Aravis chain of mountains, less than an hour’s drive from Geneva airport. Le Grand Bornand is a well established modern ski resort with over 90 km of downhill ski runs and 31 lifts in the village.  Cross country skiing is very popular in the area, (there are about 60km of varied and well kept runs in the Bouchet valley).   Running through the forest, passing small hamlets and farms, these cross country routes connect to La Clusaz just 5 miles away.  La Clusaz is another world class Aravis resort, with an extra 128 km of down hill ski runs and an additional 45 lifts - a combined Aravis lift pass allows you to make the most of the extensive skiing in the region.  The village is divided into two distinct areas. The village of Le Grand Bornand lies in the bottom of the valley at approximately 1000m.   Chinaillon, which is sometimes referred to as the second floor of the resort, sits on a sunny plateau at approximately 1300m.  Most of the skiing starts in the village of Chinaillon where the chalet is situated.  

 Le Grand Bornand, has been described as “one of the best kept secrets of the French Alps” - “A lovely unspoilt and completely authentic part of the Aravis region. The village is charming and the locals are some of the most friendly I have met whilst skiing. The skiing is excellent - with a great snow record and, because a lot of the skiing is on mountain pasture, it does not need the depth of snow which much rockier resorts need to get a decent coverage. While the piste map does not indicate a massive amount of skiing on the scale of the mega French resorts, this is deceptive. A morning with a local instructor will show you lots of fabulous intermediate to very difficult off-piste areas"

The skiing is ideal for intermediate skiers but the more advanced have lots to interest them, including one of the steepest black runs in Europe “a black run reserved for only the most competent (or crazy!) skiers".  In addition for those that love a challenge the newly opened Espace Freeride  (secured but not groomed) allows access to the face of Lachat, where there is excellent off piste in a very dramatic natural bowl.  The snowparkgb offers an amazing array of jumps.  The snowparkgb has a snowcross, beginner and advanced areas, a 120 meter long pipe and a “cool zone” with permanent sound system.  See this you tube video of "Toto, Minet and Franky" showing what can be done at the snowparkgb.

 Le Grand Bornand piste map.

 Thanks to its location within the Aravis range of mountains, which catches passing cloud formations, snowfalls are particularly abundant in Le Grand Bornand.  The north/south orientation of the ski area also provides a lot of sunshine, creating the picture postcard scenery. 

Chalet Etoile is situated just a couple of hundred yards from the nearest ski lift.  However due to the location of the river, the Torrents du Chinaillon,  access to this lift by foot is a little further.  It is approximately 10 minutes walk to this lift, or you can take the car (there is ample parking by a number of lifts, although during peak weeks you need to arrive early to get a spot).  Alternatively the ski bus goes right by the chalet with a stop conveniently located at the top of our drive.  There are three main bus routes, and due to the location of our stop "la Bergerie" in the evening every ski bus passes it, so at peak times a bus will pass every few minutes. (In the morning be warned: do not take the Le Grand Bornand Village bus, it will take you straight down the hill - make sure you only take one pf the buses on the two Chinaillon routes.

There are a number of ski schools operating in Chinaillon, all do group and private lessons.  Booking in advance is advisable in peak season. We tend to use Starski and are very happy with their service, size of the classes (smaller than ESF) and their instructors.  Other ski schools in the area include Aravis Concept, ESF France  and Ecole 2 ski.

The local ski rental shop that we would recommend is Le Tremplin, which is run by one of the oldest (and most friendly) families in the village.  They offer a free ski and boot locker to customere who rent skis from them, this is very handy especially with young children, or if you fancy a quick beer and do not want to carry your skis!

Winter activities in the area are numerous,  and include cross country skiing (ski de fond or ski nordique), ice skating, night skiing, outdoor swimming in la Clusaz, dog sledging, ski joering (being pulled by a horse), snowmobiles, going to the cinema (in French!) see Sunshine world France for extensive details of the activities on offer in the winter season.

There is also floodlit night skiing every Tuesday night in Chinaillon from 8pm until 10.30pm. 

 Map of the village.  Go to the Tourist Office and pick up a leaflet and heck out what is happening in Le Grand Bornand for the week/month of your visit;  there are always lots of things on offer.