Between the cities of Chambéry and Annecy in the French Alps, lies a mountain range called the Massif des Bauges. It is part of the French pre-Alps and contains a number of summits above 2,000m – meaning that in the winter time there is plenty of snow. If you’re into a ski ‘resort’ with short lift-lines and pretty amazing views over the Lac du Bourget, then you ought to take a detour towards Le Revard, La Féclaz and St. François de Sales (together known as the Grand Revard). It’s also oddly known as “Little Canada” primarily because it resembles the vast winter tundra of the Canadian west: miles of rolling sunlight clearings spotted by thick evergreen forests, exhibiting only the peace and tranquility a winter tundra can provide.
Although situated in the mountains, the whole ski range is on a high-plateau, thus allowing for miles and miles of endless Nordic skiing. In fact, the resort reputes itself as being the number one French destination for Cross-Country skiing with Alpine sking and snowpark activities as secondary attractions. But if the skiing isn’t enough for you, there are snowshoeing itineraries, dog-sled rides, tobogganing, ski-touring, snowscooting and an old form of Savoyard sledding called yonner. To top it all off the ski passes couldn’t be at a better price: a five-day pass costs 70 euro and gives you full access to all the services I mentioned above.
It is without a doubt one of the most impressive ski areas in Southwest France, and not overrun with hundreds of skiers. You can stay in any one of the Chambre d’hôtes found in the mountains or in any one of he hotels in the valley. For a bit more you can get the 5-day pass and bus transport. In fact, many shuttle busses leave daily from Aix-les-Bains and Chambéry making this little-known-little-Canada a perfectly convenient destination for anyone interested in breaking new ground on the skinny skis.
If you go up early in the day, remember how cold forests can be (regardless of how hot you’ll get later on in the day). Temperatures were well freezing at even 9:30 am as we cut through the thick of the forest. Thankfully, the ticket booth and the main activities area are all located right where the sun’s rays come shining through even at 8:00 am. But dress warm, lots of layers and a good change of clothes for when you’re hanging out at the Creux de Lachat drinking vin brûlé and experiencing that post warm/cold bliss that’s as delicious as the mountains surrounding you.