Open: 17 December 2016 to 21 April 2017. Altitude: 1,300m
In the heart of the Aravis Mountains, in the Haute-Savoie ideally located between Mont-Blanc, Lake Annecy, and Switzerland, Le Grande-Bornand provides the best the Alps have to offer.
Le Grand-Bornand is a great place to visit in summer and winter as well as a genuinely charming village where life bustles all year round. Nature just works out well sometimes. It all starts with the Aravis Mountains, which provide a magnificent backdrop that culminates with the 2750-meter high Pointe Percée, the range’s emblematic peak from which pleasant, verdant, wooded, and gentle contours descend all the way to the village.
The town sits at two distinct elevations: Le Grand-Bornand Village is located at 1000 meters, a typical Savoyard village with its outdoor market, central plaza, church, and shops, as well as the spectacular Bouchet Valley in the background, at the foot of the Aravis Mountains, an ideal location for Nordic skiing.
Six kilometers further up the road leading to Col de la Colombière Pass is Le Grand-Bornand Chinaillon. Located at 1300 meters elevation, and serving as the main base area for alpine skiing, the well-preserved historic village center dates back to the 17th century.
Enjoying such a favorable layout at two elevations, the village unites around the inhabitants’ overwhelming connection to the land, to tradition, and to modernity.
This pervasive quality of Le Grand-Bornand can be seen in the ever-present farming way of life, and in the wonderful balance established between the locals and the surrounding environment.
With more than 400 chalets several centuries old, examples of the unique local know-how and a sense of practicality that has become a modern aesthetic benchmark, the resort ensures that any expansion respects this heritage.
Bornadins, both kids and adults, experience a wonderful love story with their village all year round, one focused on life, respect, and a bright future.
Between the village of Le Grand-Bornand and Col de la Colombière Pass, 6km up the road, Chinaillon Valley opens up with each and every hairpin turn, a veritable playground for both amateur cyclists and Tour de France professionals. At the exact halfway point sits the classic and splendid hamlet of Chinaillon, which has seen the Le Grand-Bornand ski area develop over the years above and around its quaint chapel and centuries-old chalets.
29 lifts allow alpine skiers to enjoy sliding on snow from as high as the top of Mont Lachat, and the summertime trails wind through the alpine pastures to the summits that surround the valley: Lachat, Maroly, Jalouvre, Roc des Tours, etc.
Environment and Heritage
With its rich architectural, religious, and natural heritage, vibrant farms, exceptional Savoyard cuisine, and vivacious customs and traditions, you will be won over by the unique character of the local Bornadin environment, which will enchant you all throughout your stay.
Tied to the area’s history, the local dwellings favor wood, a natural resource that people in the area learned to utilize from the floor to the ceiling of their houses. The chalets (more than four hundred), the oldest having been built in 1664, count among the village’s most cherished treasures.
Originally built in a style integral to pastoral living, they ensure architectural unity throughout the village and the hillsides. Protection from the cold of winter, a place to both live and work, every room tells a story, depicts a way of life, and reveals the local know-how. If their functionality has changed, modern architecture continues to be inspired by these examples set so long ago.
How does one recognize Le Grand-Bornand’s unique chalets?
Via specific architectural characteristics such as by the “pointe d’âne” -the main beam that maintains the roof’s structural integrity, the “solaret” – a balcony surrounding the entire chalet that serves to store hay, the “credence” – a kitchen utensil rack built into the wall, and the small adjoining attic in which occupants stored “good things”. Roofed with wood shingles and designed with covered balconies and warm interiors, these chalets are considered to be veritable jewels of the local alpine heritage.
Le Grand-Bornand is the leading farming township in the Haute-Savoie, with 65 operating farms that sustain a unique expertise in making the famous farmhouse Reblochon cheese. Agriculture shapes the local landscape, earning Le Grand-Bornand “station verte” or scenic resort status, further boosting tourism.
In addition to Reblochon cheese and legendary fondue, Savoyard cuisine has more than a few culinary surprises in store for your taste buds!
The beautiful natural environment and landscapes will amaze you: the Aravis Mountains, Bouchet Valley, Col des Annes Pass, Jalouvre Peak, Pointe Blanche, Col de la Colombière Pass; so many incredible sites to see and an extraordinary playground for mountain adventures.
While strolling through the great outdoors, remember the notion that “the landscape is the most beautiful of historical monuments.”
Aravis Lift Pass
In addition to the skiing in Le Grand Bornand itself, the Aravis Lift Pass will allow you to ski or snowboard in the other Lake Annecy Ski Resorts of La Clusaz, Manigod and Saint Jean de Sixt.
Whether cheesy, savory or sweet, Savoyard culinary specialties should be enjoyed without moderation!
The cheeses: Farmhouse reblochon cheese: the king of the valley’s cheeses, AOP certified, is made two times per day, morning and evening, after each milking, and has been produced since the 13th century in the alpine pastures of the Aravis Mountains. The classic green stamp on the cheese guarantees its farmhouse origins (the red stamp means that the cheese was made with milk from several different farms).
Enjoy Reblochon cheese after the 3 to 4 weeks it takes to mature in a cellar. The smooth taste reveals a subtle hint of hazelnut. An essential component of traditional dishes such as Pela or Tartiflette, both cooked with sautéed potatoes, onions, and morsels of lard.
White Tomme cheese: only available in the Aravis Mountains. A young cheese, consumed “fresh” in the hours just after being made. Add salt and pepper, and serve with potatoes, salad, and charcuterie.
Chevrotin cheese: chevrotin cheese has been made in the Aravis Mountains, alongside Reblochon cheese, for more than 3 centuries. This delicious cheese is made with goat milk, using a technique similar to that of making Reblochon cheese. It matures in a cellar for at least 3 weeks. A stamp guarantees its authenticity in accordance with AOC certification, earned in 2002.
Persillé or blue cheese: this traditional cheese from goat or sheep milk is made with milk from three different milkings. It is cellar matured for at least 2 months. Serve in fine slices while enjoying drinks before dinner, or to enhance any cheese platter.
Local charcuterie: raw hams, pork sausages dried and smoked over an open fire, are the primary charcuteries and salted meats prepared in the valley. The brined charcuterie is placed in a chimney where the smoke dries out the meat for conservation and provides an original taste.
Diots: these small pork sausages are drowned in white wine when cooked and are served with potatoes, farcement or polenta.
Farcement: from the Middle Ages, this traditional savory-sweet dish, made with shredded potatoes, lard, and dried fruits, cooks for several hours in a double saucepan within a mold locally referred to as a “rabolire”. Serve with diots and other smoked sausages.
Potato fritters: shredded potatoes, flour, egg, salt and pepper, prepared with fine herbs and immersed in boiling cooking oil.
Polenta: fine-grained cornmeal cooked with onions, lard, and shredded cheese.
Traditional desserts used to correspond to specific holidays. Now they are enjoyed on a daily basis:
Angel wings or Mardi Gras beignets: cut the dough with a pastry crimper into strips, then cut a small opening in the middle to create the characteristic angel-wing shape and then fry.
Christmas rissoles: enjoy this family pastry during any holiday, especially at Christmas time. Use shortcrust or puff pastry, pan or oven cook, and garnish with quince or apple compote. So many variations for this centuries-old recipe.
Savoie sponge cake: this cake is the mainstay Savoyard desserts, to enjoy with ice cream, chocolate mousse, or fruit compote.
Bescoin for the annual patron saint festival: this small brioche-like bread is made by the village baker during the Holy Cross fair in La Clusaz (2nd Sunday in September) and the Saint Maurice fair in le Grand-Bornand (3rd Sunday in September). This small aniseed bread has two pointed ends. It is customary for a godfather to offer bescoins to his god children on the day of the patron saint festival, which is also known locally as the “vogue”.
Pies made with red fruits: the most well-known are made with the blueberries or raspberries picked in the forest clearings of the Aravis mountains in August. You will find them in most pastries in the local villages and as well as on the dessert menus in several restaurants. To be served as an after-ski snack.
Enjoy tasting the honey and mountain jams, and brandy with gentian flower, which is the traditional distilled alcohol of the Aravis Mountains.
• Altitude: 1100 – 2 600m
• Ranges: 5
• Combined height: 15 000 m
• Ski slopes mileage:
– La clusaz-Manigod area > 132 km*
– Aravis area> 220 km*
• Total number of ski lifts: 50
• Slopes: 86 7 black, 30 red, 32 blue, 17 green + 1 snowpark (modules and rails)
• Artificial snow:
– 190 artificial snow cannons
– 63 hectare surface
* The length of the tracks corresponds to the actual length as measured in the middle of the track, taking turns into account.
Lake Annecy Ski Resorts
La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Manigod and St Jean de Sixt are the four ski resorts that make up lake annecy ski resorts.
The magical French alpine resorts of La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Manigod and Saint Jean de Sixt have joined to become Lake Annecy Ski Resorts. Perched on the majestic Aravis Range, touching the shores of Lake Annecy, they are part of a privileged, protected and exciting environment.
Preserving their charm and architectural authenticity, the resorts combine tradition and creativity to the highest level. Here, a warm welcome, friendliness and excellent service are more than mere values, they are a way of life.