Espace Diamant

Our annual lift pass gives us three days of skiing at other resorts in the Haute Savoie region. One place we had not been to for at least 5 years is Praz sur Arly, which has fairly recently joined up with 4 other ski areas to form Espace Diamant, an area with 185km of pistes, 84 ski lifts and 401 snow cannons. We went there last Friday – it is only about a 45 minute drive from the Chamonix valley – and had a glorious day.

There is a particular circular route that we have done before and we mostly followed this. All in all, we travelled on 10 ski lifts and I think we probably skied just over 20kms. At Flumet we were attracted by a wide, well-pisted red, and we deviated from the circuit and skied down to the base of the Les Seigneurs button lift. This lift is quite exceptional being over 1.5kms in length. It takes about 7 and a half minutes from bottom to top and has an average slope of 35% and a maximum slope of 66%; skiers will know that is quite a slope for a lift. Non-skiers will have to use their imagination. The lift was first constructed in 1963/4 and has its own website with an extensive history, a good deal of technical detail and photos of every one of the 20 pylones, should you want to see them! (http://www.espacediamant-ski.net/tkd1_seigneurs.php#sect_photos)

There is a long blue run along a ridge which takes you back to Praz sur Arly. The run gives great views of Mont Blanc and the ski area of Les Contamines. It is advisable to invest a bit of energy at the start and walk up a small hill to give you the momentum to get over the, fairly flat, first part of the run. We did not realise this and had a fair amount of poling to do. But the views are quite exceptional, even when poling.

Mont Blanc massif from Mont Rond (1767m)

Mont Blanc massif from Mont Rond (1767m)

When we were last there the area was not joined to Les Saises for skiing. Now, there are a couple of links and we strayed into the Les Saises area in order to take in an invitingly-long and wide red piste. Les Saises was the location for the cross country skiing competitions when the winter Olympics were staged at Albertville.

Leading onto the Douce chair lift, part of the Les Saises ski area

Leading onto the Douce chair lift, part of the Les Saises ski area

We had lovely weather, excellent snow and it was surprising how few people we shared the skiing with.

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