Le Grand Bornand’s friendly and unintimidating environment, along with relatively easy access to the slopes from most points in the two villages make it a good choice for beginners. The resort has convenient nursery slopes at the bases of both villages and also gentle slopes at altitude to use when snow conditions are not good at village level. There are also plenty of long greens and blues to progress on to once you’ve mastered the basics. The two main ski schools compete to provide the best service, both offering specially tailored beginner packages of course.
Intermediates will enjoy the 90km of piste the most, divided in to more than 40 runs and served by nearly 30 modern lifts making it just right for a week with a great variety of terrain both above and below the treeline and runs are up to 2km long. The skiing is spread over four linked sectors: La Joyère, Le Chinaillon-Lachat, Le Maroly and La Duche-Les Annes which can all be accessed from the Village or from Chinaillon. If that’s not enough the regional Aravis pass gives you access to 210km of ski runs in total.
Night skiing is available every Turesday evening on the Cyclamens and l’Abondance pistes accessed by the Gettiers chairlift at Grand-Bornand Chinaillon from 8-10.30pm but you do need to buy a special night skiing ticket, your regular pass won’t cover it.
Advanced skiers may find Le Grand Bornand a little limited for them if they plan a full on week, but there are a few blacks and Le Lachat, the high point of the ski resort at 2100m, has exposed north and south-west facing slopes which are among the more challenging. The steepest black in the area is here, an 800m descent, and there’ also a Freeride zone to kick loose on.
If you have money to spend the local Mountain Guides Office (+33 (0)4 50 02 78 18) will be happy to take you over to tackle the Valle Blanche, the world’s longest lift-accessed off-piste run, or even heli-skiing over to Italy.
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
Freestylers have an excellent terrain park close to the top of the slopes which means conditions are normally good. It has a choice of lines for different abilities and a 120m long half pipe. Boarders and freestyle skiiers will find much of the area easily accessible by fast chairlifts and there’s also an enjoyable freeride zone which is great to let loose in.
Cross country skiing is very big in Le Grand Bornand which has terrain to meet most needs and there’s a special ‘nordic area’ with routes of 3, 5, 10, 15 and 20km suited to both traditional and skating styles and a 2.5km route from Le Grand Bornand Village to the Nordic Area itself. At Grand-Bornand Chinaillon there are more tracks of 2, 5, 8 and 12 km in length which begin at the old part of the village. There’s also a special bus service for cross country skiers and a dedicated cross country ski school offering lessons again for all ages and all ability levels. Particularly well known routes include a 14km track to neighbouring La Clusaz (Confins) and a 12km skating route to the Bouchet Valley. 9km of the tracks have snow making cover and facilities include a biathlon stadium (see ‘Resort Attractions’). You need to purchase a Nordic Pass to use the tracks.
Le Grand Bornand’s slopes are not among the highest in the French Alps but many are north facing and there’s increasingly extensive snow making covering the key routes so cover is normally reliable from kid-December to mid-April. The majority of the ski area is also at the top of the slopes, accessed by fast chairs and gondolas, so if snow cover is poor at resort level you can be whisked quickly up to where the snow is good.