Ski Les Houches!
For experienced skiers, Les Houches, at the tail end of the Chamonix Valley is all about Kandahar.
This is world class stuff.
The one and only black piste at Les Houches is the signature run for the World Cup Downhill Grand Slalom. Skiers with the Mont Blanc Unlimited Ski Pass can access this fantastic Chamonix ski region. We regard this pass as the best value for skiing in france.
The typical Savoie village is located at the tail end of the Chamonix Valley heading away from the Swiss border into France and access is via free train and bus transport with a valid ski pass or on the carte d'hote. The journey does not take long, about 15 to 20 minutes from the Chamonix Town Center.
The two things that really "make" a visit to Les Houches are the Kandahar, which is where the World Cup Grand Slalom is held and the lovely treed groomed ski areas, ideal when visibility on the mountain is poor.
About Les Houches:
You can either catch three chair lifts to do the whole Kandahar or you get the Bellevue cable car followed by a chair lift, Voza Prarion to get to the start of the Kandahar.
From the top of The Kandahar, the run descends a steep 900m down to the bottom, ending at the bottom of the Bellevue cable car. For variety you can ski the red run, which runs alongside.
The Kandahar is clearly world class. It’s long and quite broad all the way. The bottom half had snow making facilities but the top half was natural snow only. Just prior to the World Cup Downhill competition, the top parts of Kandahar were closed off, to protect the snow for the races.
The piste is hard packed, so, it becomes quite difficult to ski in the later part of the day. The pistes here are immaculately groomed, quite unlike the top parts of Les Grands Montets, which is not groomed and high traffic areas become moguled.
The Kandahar is a long, steep and exhausting run. The snow on the piste retains its good condition as it’s north facing, but it does get icy and hard packed.
Ski Les Houches: World Cup Ski Championships
The 2011 men’s Kandahar World Cup Downhill Ski Championships was held on this very piste and we skied alongside the racers in training.
The World Cup Downhill Ski Championships has their home here at Les Houches. The competition is held on the Kandahar every 2 years. This is a testament to the high standards of this ski area at Les Houches and facilities in Chamonix. Chamonix Mont Blanc had a celebratory atmosphere during the World Cup Championships, with outdoor music, jump demos and a huge outdoor party.
The elite sporting history of Les Houches goes way back to 1924, when Les Houches hosted the first Winter Olympic Games.
View of the Bellevue Chair from the Kandahar
Ski Les Houches: Minor Pistes
For variety, there is a long blue run, Allouds. Other than that, it’s predominantly a few short runs at intermediate level (red and blue) starting from the ridge.
It’s good fun skiing down the two red runs leading down from the top of Bellevue to the Grand Bois Poma lift. They’re fairly steep, smooth and regular.
These runs face south. As they face the sun, the snow crusts up early.
Beautiful wide open slopes. A drag lift at Les Houches
Ski Les Houches: Snow Park
In this same area, is a new terrain park with jumps, boxes and rails. This new snow sports area is a hit with snowboarders and skiers. You’ll find it running alongside Voza Prarion.
Les Houches: Eating
We recommend the café at the bottom of the Voza Prarion lift. It’s on the ground floor of a substantial looking hotel. There is a proper restaurant in the hotel. The café was cheap and cheerful and we appreciated the good service.
This area at the bottom of the Voza Prarion lift is quite busy. This is where the tramway has its mid station, the Col de Voza. The Tramway du Mont Blanc for sightseers, starts at La Fayet heading to the top of the mountain.
Les Houches: Overall Impression
Unlike the other areas to ski in Chamonix, at Les Houches, the broad pistes are cut through the forest. As you’ll know, when there’s a white out or poor visibility, skiing through treed areas makes for a little better definition.
are a number of intermediate graded runs and there’s good variety but
there’s no question, we were here to ski Les Houches, and that means The
More on nearby pistes: