The Espace Diamant ski area has unique panoramic views over the Savoy Alps and Mont Blanc. Winter sports fans can expect almost 200 km of pistes with varying degrees of difficulty. Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe has picturesque mountain villages with old-world charm which contrast starkly with the ultra-modern winter sports areas like Les Saisies.
1) General information about the Espace Diamant ski area
- 192 km of pistes and 79 lifts
- A group of five winter sports areas
- Guaranteed snow due to its location and 2,069 m altitude
- Fantastic views of Mont Blanc and the Savoy Alps
The Espace Diamant ski area was created by merging the five winter sports areas of Flumet, Praz-sur-Arly, Crest-Voland/Cohennoz, Les Saisies and Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe. Together, they offer holidaymakers around 192 km of pistes of varying degrees of difficulty. There are 79 lifts which provide transport for winter sports fans. The ski area stretches from 1,050 m in the valley to 2,069 m at the summit “Sommet de l’Espace Diamant”. Beginners can look forward to 42 km of green and 90 km of blue pistes, which make for relaxed long descents into the valley. Advanced skiers will want to seek out the 49 km of red pistes and 11 km of black pistes. Downhill runs from the summit offer stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Many pistes lead through magnificent snowy forests.
Experts have awarded 3 out of 5 stars in the category of “Lifts & cable cars” while “Reliability for snow” was awarded 4 stars. The favourable altitude in the Savoy Alps and 479 snow cannons make skiing possible even in April. The average snow depth in the Espace Diamant ski area is 50 cm in the valley and up to 210 cm at the summit. The snowiest month is February.
2) Espace Diamant ski area map
3) Skiing in the Espace Diamant ski area
With 192 km of pistes, the Espace Diamant ski area offers a wide range of trails to suit all levels. SnowTrex’s experts have awarded the category of “Beginners” with an impressive 5 out of 5 stars. Above the ski area there are numerous blue pistes from Roc des Évettes (1,600 m), Mont Reguet (1,460 m), Mont Lachat (1,650 m) and Crêt du Midi (1,884 m), as well as easy green practice pistes. Experienced winter sports fans cannot resist the tall peaks. One of the most beautiful descents is the red “Piste des Sangliers”, which leads down from the “Chard du Beurre” at 1,889 m to Crest-Voland. “La Cuberotte” runs from the mountain station of “La Légette” (1,865 m) down to Les Carrets. For all night owls, the “Périots” trail at Les Saisies is recommended.
Those who want alternative piste action should take the “Télésiège de Douce” lift up to the summit and descend from there to the valley of Hauteluce in a secured area. From the village of Près, a free shuttle bus takes cross-country skiers back to the Chozal lift, which leads up to Légette. The SnowTrex experts have awarded 4 stars in the “Experts & freeriders” category.
The Espace Diamant ski area not only enjoys an excellent reputation for Alpine skiing. The cross-country and biathlon competitions were held on the Les Saisies cross-country track for the Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, 20 miles away. For those who wish to try their hand at biathlon, the “Ecole du Ski Français” offers introductory courses. France’s former biathlon star Raphaël Poirée already practises here. No wonder the SnowTrex experts have awarded this area 4 stars.
The children’s programme in the Espace Diamant ski area was one of the reasons that the category “Families & children” received 5 stars. Where else can children learn to steer a dog sled through the snow and build igloos? Several ski schools offer beginner courses – even for the little ones. The “Piou-Piou” club in Val d’Arly is loved by children. Exciting discoveries await holidaymakers in the “Forest of the Elves” at Les Saisies and in the fairy-tale house at Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe. A wide range of animation programmes, child-friendly practice slopes, the “Marmot Sound Trail” and several toboggan runs complete the family-friendly options.
Snowboarders and freestylers will enjoy the several snow parks and boardercross runs in the ski area. The largest snow park is the “Waouland” at Cohennoz on Mont Lachat, with boxes, rails and kickers. Boardercross is possible in the “Snow Park Forest” and on a beautiful course at Mont Rond.
4) Expert rating
Overall, the Espace Diamant ski area earned an excellent 4.1-star rating from SnowTrex experts. Some notable areas included the facilities for “Families & children”, “Cross-country facilities & trails”, and as one might expect in France – “Mountain restaurants, huts & gastronomy”.
5) Activities besides skiing
A total of 18 mountain restaurants and ski huts ensure the culinary well-being of hungry winter sports fans. The restaurant “Le Serasson” (Crêt du Midi mountain station) overlooks Mont Blanc and offers an excellent three-course menu. Regional specialties such as Savoyard fondue are served all around the ski area. There is a 360° panoramic view from the Panorama Restaurant at the summit of Mont Bisanne which should not be missed.
In the evening, the many cosy restaurants in the winter sports areas, such as “Chez Maryse”, “Les Arcades” and “Le Saint Nicolas”, tempt holidaymakers to relax and end the day with Savoy specialties. The après ski scene is rather relaxed. Popular meeting points for a drink after the last descent are “Le Dava” at Les Saisies (by the Challiers chairlift) and “Le Bistrot de Julien” at Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe. At the “L’Olymp” restaurant in Les Saisies, the party continues into the evening with live music and DJs. Experts have awarded the “Après ski” scene 3 stars, while “Mountain restaurants, huts & gastronomy” received 4 stars.
Pistes are only just the beginning when it comes to fun-filled winter sports. There are several ice rinks and toboggan runs which provide exciting outdoor fun for the whole family. In Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe and La Giettaz there are dog sledging trips – and even the chance to steer the sledge.
Visitors who wish to swim in a pool will enjoy the newly-opened sports centre at Les Saisies. The swimming pool there has a giant slide and several hot tubs. There are also massage facilities, a gym, a climbing wall and squash courts. Another pleasant swimming pool is the “Center Atlantis” in Ugine with fun pool, sauna and hammam.
Around 65 km of winter hiking trails and snowshoe routes invite holidaymakers to spend a few hours in beautiful seclusion amidst the snow-covered mountains. A highlight for ski tourers is the summit of the 3,841 m high Aiguille du Midi over 20 km and three glaciers to Grenoble. The tours cover 2,800 m of altitude difference. These tours are offered in Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe.
6) Locations in the Espace Diamant ski area
In the heart of the Val d’Arly is the picturesque mountain village of Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe, where the traditions of the Savoy Alps are still alive. Visitors are very welcome on the farms and can buy delicious cheese there directly from there.
The nearby Praz-sur-Arly is a wonderful place to take a paragliding flight or long balloon ride over the Val d’Arly. These are both great ways to take in the breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and the mountain ranges of Aravis and Beaufortain.
The neighbouring town of Saint-Nicolas-la-Chapelle is worth a detour and highlights its greatest attraction in its name – the magnificent Baroque church that towers above the centre. The church of Saint Pierre in Cohennoz is also worth seeing. Small shops and quaint restaurants invite guests to stop in the villages. “Le Gourmet Savoyard” in Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe offers delicious regional products such as cheese, ham, wine and alpine herbs to take home.
A more recent addition to this area is the Les Saisies sports area, founded in 1935, where the Olympic cross-country and biathlon competitions were held in 1992. Also known as the “Tyrol of France”, Les Saisies offers an extensive and comprehensive tourist infrastructure.
7) Arrival at the Espace Diamant ski area
Coming from the north, the Espace ski area is accessible via Geneva and the A41 to Annecy. In Annecy North first follow the D1203 to the junction with the D916, which leads (as D909) to Flumet and Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe. Alternatively, visitors coming from the west (Lyon) should head towards the Olympic village of Albertville. From here, take the D1212 towards Ugh and continue towards Cohennoz and Notre-Dame-de-Bellecombe.
The nearest railway station is Albertville. It is served by TGV express trains directly from Paris and Strasbourg. Buses run between Albertville station and the towns in the Espace Diamant ski area.
Anyone arriving by plane can choose between Geneva Airport in Switzerland (about an hour’s drive away) and Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport (about 1 hour and 45 minutes). Many hotels offer pick-up taxi shuttle services from the airport.
8) Weather, snow depths and webcams of Espace Diamant
Want to check and see if the sun is shining in the ski area? SnowTrex provides information about the weather and snow depths, and thus gives you the chance to view webcams images.