People don’t just come to Geneva for watches, chocolate, and very important international business: It is also the perfect base for some amazing Alpine ski resorts, but which should you choose? We’ve put together a list of some resorts that offer a little something for everyone, whether you are a nursery slope novice, a hardened powder hound, a snow park soldier, or even an apres-ski aficionado.
Of all our recommended resorts, La Clusaz is the nearest to Geneva, but, despite its proximity to the metropolis, it has abundant Alpine charm. The self-contained resort is centrally positioned at the foot of a series of high peaks bordered by slopes of varying degrees of difficulty. La Clusaz may not be the most challenging of terrains for veteran skiers, but it more than compensates for this with a well-maintained snowpark and boarder-cross trail.
Meribel is one of the world’s greatest ski resorts. Part of the Trois Vallees, which is the biggest ski area on the planet, it offers unbeatable skiing and snowboarding. The original resort nestles into a steep west-facing hillside and spreads broadly away from the centre and the home piste, which runs down beside it to the main lift stations in the valley bottom. It offers the biggest lift network in the world, charming chalet-style lodges, and exemplary piste maintenance and snow-making. And when you’ve finished cutting up the slopes for the day, Meribel offers an adrenaline rush of apres ski.
If you care more about indulging yourself than you do about snow conditions, Megeve is the resort for you. It's not very high (village 1,000m, highest skiing 2,353m) so snow can be unreliable, despite the sophisticated network of snow cannons, but you could never be disappointed by Megeve. It’s a food lover’s paradise, with eight Michelin-starred restaurants, delightful cafes and patisseries on the lovely Place d'Eglise, chic shops, and horse-drawn sleighs. It’s also linked to Mont Blanc, and it’s only an hour’s drive from Geneva.
As one of original and most famous Alpine resorts, Chamonix is a natural choice for skiers and boarders flying into Geneva. The Chamonix valley is a vast ski area sitting is the shadow of Mont Blanc, but with five unconnected ski areas strung out along the valley over 20 km, skiing in Chamonix can be unconventional and inconvenient, so it may be wise to go as part of a package tour. Your options include Brévent for wonderful views and a variety of runs, Argentière for its snow park, and the Vallee Blanche for serious off-piste adventure.
If you want to stretch out the skiing season for as long as possible, you really cannot beat glacier-capped Gstaad. Accessible via Berne Airport 81 km away, Gstaad enjoys one of the longest seasons in the Swiss Alps, so you can ski the 3,000-metre high glacier from October until the start of May. The resort covers six independent ski areas, incorporating some 250 kilometres of pistes, as well as snowboard parks. Apres ski is well catered for in the village, where traditional-style chalets and hotels mix with hip bars and clubs.
Aoife O’Carroll is a staff writer for Nova Car Hire, a convenient website for arranging car rental in 26,000 locations worldwide, including car hire in Geneva Airport French Side.