When you’re staring out the rain-spattered window of a cramped commuter train the bright sunshine and fresh snow of the Alps can seem a world away. And for many it is.
Even enthusiastic skiers usually only get to escape from work once a winter – the received wisdom being that the Alps are just too far away to warrant going over there for any less than a week at a time.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With up to three flights a day from London City Airport to Geneva, it’s perfectly possible to leave your office on a Friday after work, be in resort later that evening and on the slopes first thing on Saturday.
If you play it right, you can enjoy two full days skiing before flying back on Sunday in time for work on Monday morning, all without taking a single day off. How? Well, the key lies in booking the right flight (British Airways fly up to three times a day from London City to Geneva, and up to three times a week from London City to Chambery) but also in picking the right resort – one that involves only a short drive at the other end.
You may think that would limit your options, but you’d be surprised by just how many there are. We’ve compiled a list of nearly 30 stations de ski that you can reach in less than an hour and a half* by car or transfer taxi from Geneva Airport, offering a vast variety of terrain types – from the mellow foothills of the Monts Jura to the epic steeps of Chamonix.
*Driving time to the centre of the resorts without traffic jams according to Google Maps.
Monts Jura, France – 21 minutes from Geneva Airport
If you look carefully when you’re coming into land in Geneva, you can see the three small ski areas that make up Monts Jura out of the airplane window. It’s that close. Nestled in the alpine foothills of the Jura National Park to the north of the city, Mijoux, Crozet and Menthieres might seem small, but between them they boast a perfectly reasonable 60 km of marked runs.
You’ll want a car to get between the areas and to and from Geneva each day (accommodation options at the bottom of the pistes are limited) but you could happily spend a weekend cruising round their mellow tree-lined runs.
Find out more at: monts-jura.com/en
Les Brasses, France – 54 minutes from Geneva Airport
Located in the Massif of the same name, Les Brasses boasts 15 pistes that run from the base station at 800 metres to the top of the peak at 1600. It’s got a reasonable beginner skiing area two black runs and even a snowboard park. While it’s never going to compare with the likes of Chamonix or the Three Valleys there’s enough here to keep even a relatively experienced skier occupied for a day. And when it’s that close to Geneva, can you really complain?
Find out more at: lesbrasses.com
Morillon, France – 56 minutes from Geneva Airport
Tucked away in the secluded Giffre valley, Morillon is something of a hidden gem. The small resort is one of the five offering access to the enormous Grande Massif ski area, the most famous of which is Flaine. But while Flaine’s concrete tower blocks might put people off, no-one could be offended my Morillon’s pretty alpine architecture or sleepy old world charm.
Find out more at: ot-morillon.co.uk
Bellevaux-Hirmentaz, France – 57 minutes from Geneva Airport
Hirmentaz isn’t the highest resort in the world – its peak at 1610 metres is lower than the main village in Courchevel – but along with the next door village of Les Haberes, it offers a decent number of runs and a reasonable amount of variety just a short drive away from Geneva airport.
Find out more at: hirmentaz-bellevaux.com
Les Carroz, France – 58 minutes from Geneva Airport
Like Morillon, Les Carroz is part of the large Grande Massif ski area and as such offers access to more than 250km of pistes snaking down from peaks as high as 2,500 metres. Even if you were visiting for a week you’d be hard pushed to ski everything the area has to offer and for a few days Les Carroz is perfect.
Find out more at: lescarroz.com
Les Houches, France – 58 minutes from Geneva Airport
You can buy a lift pass that lumps Les Houches in with the rest of the massive Chamonix ski area, but the village is a separate entity and counts as a resort in its own right. Nestled at the entrance to the Chamonix valley it offers tree-lined runs that are ideal for intermediates and those who just want a gentle cruise.
Find out more at: leshouches.com
Le Grand Bornand, France – 58 minutes from Geneva Airport
Located in the Aravis mountains just under an hour away from Geneva airport Le Grand Bornand is not a resort that many Brits have heard of, but it has plenty to offer.
Its 90 kilometres of slopes are a good mix of reds, blues and greens with a couple of black runs thrown in for good measure. The resort is a typical Savoie village which boasts with plenty of good accommodation options.
Find out more at: legrandbornand.com
St Gervais, France – 59 minutes from Geneva Airport
Saint Gervais-les-Bains might not be one of the best known resorts in France but it must be one of the best connected. On one side its lifts link with Les Houches while on the other it connects to the vast Evasion Mont Blanc area, France’s third largest domaine skiable and one which includes Combloux and Megeve.
Find out more at: saintgervais.com
Combloux – 1 hour from Geneva Airport
Combloux sits in the next valley across from Saint Gervais-les-Bains and is similarly well connected. The area you can access boasts 445 kilometres of slopes encompassing 219 slopes and 107 lifts. And all of that just one hour from the airport.
Find out more at: combloux.com
La Clusaz, France – 1 hour 1 minute from Geneva Airport
The first lift was installed in La Clusaz in 1956, making it one of the older resorts in the French Alps. But it’s also been at the forefront of one of the most significant recent developments in winter sports – freeskiing.
French freestyle legend Candide Thovex, arguably the most influential freeskier ever, grew up here. And for years the resort hosted the Candide Invitational, which saw the world’s best come together to ride a specially-shaped park. The resort still enjoys a great reputation amongst freeskiers to this day.
Find out more: laclusaz.com
Samoens, France – 1 hour 3 minutes from Geneva Airport
Samoens is another of the villages that are connected by the Grande Massif ski area (alongside Morillon and Les Carroz) and so offers visitors access to the same incredible variety of pistes. The town has been awarded the prestigious title of “ville fleurie” marking it out as one of the most beautiful traditional villages in France.
Find out more at: samoens.com
Chamonix, France – 1 hour 4 minutes from Geneva Airport
To anyone with even a passing interest in skiing, Chamonix should need little introduction. As the resort in the world to install a chairlift, Chamonix was the place that kick-started alpine skiing as a sport. Its legendary steeps and stunning vistas mean it’s been a hugely popular destination ever since. What’s perhaps most incredible however is just how close the iconic resort is to Geneva.
Find out more at: chamonix.com
Les Gets, France – 1 hour 6 minutes from Geneva Airport
Les Gets is one of the resorts that make up the vast Portes du Soleil ski area, which with 650 kilometres of lift-linked pistes is the largest in the world.
It’s often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbours Morzine and Avoriaz but this small town is not only closer to Geneva than the others, but boasts a charm all of its own. When the rest of the PdS is crowded those in the know head to the Mont Chery area in Les Gets to enjoy quieter slopes.
Find out more at: lesgets.com
Megeve – 1 hour 7 minutes from Geneva Airport
Megeve has the distinction of being the first purpose-built ski resort in the Alps. It was constructed in the 1920s by the legendarily rich Rothschild family who wanted a French alternative to St Moritz in Switzerland.
It’s expanded massively since then and now has a permanent population of more than 4,000. Along with St Gervais and Combloux, it’s part of the Evasion Mont Blanc area, offering access to 445 kilomteres of pistes.
Find out more at: megeve.com
Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval, France – 1 hour 8 minutes from Geneva Airport
Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval is most famous for the geographical feature from which is takes its name; a vast curved cliff band that towers over the town and looks, from the top at least, like a horseshoe – fer-a-cheval in French. The picturesque village is a popular tourist destination year round, but in winter offers fantastic skiing – it’s part of the Grande Massif area linked to Flaine.
Find out more at: sixtferacheval.com
Les Contamines, France – 1 hour 11 minutes from Geneva Airport
Les Contamines, just an hour and 11 minutes away from Geneva Airport, sits in the same valley as Saint Gervais-les-Bains and like that resort, is linked into the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area. The resort itself is quaint and quiet.
Find out more at: lescontamines.com
Praz-de-Lys, France – 1 hour 11 minutes from Geneva Airport
Praz-de-Lys may be small but the 24 ski lifts that serve the skiable area around the town and its sister resort, Sommand, give visitors access to a wide variety of terrain. There’s high alpine skiing around the peak of Haut Fleury at 1980 metres and a plethora of excellent tree runs further down.
Find out more at: prazdelys-sommand.com
Morzine-Avoriaz, France – 1 hour 15 minutes from Geneva Airport
The town of Morzine and the resort of Avoriaz, which sits on top of a cliff above it, have long been favourites with Brits and with good reason. Morzine is a proper town with all the amenities – and nightlife opportunities – that come along with it.
The slopes around it and up in Avoriaz offer some of the best and most varied skiing and snowboarding in the whole of France. And the whole thing is part of the Portes du Soleil area, which boasts an insane 650 kilometres of pistes.
Find out more at: morzine-avoriaz.com
Flaine, France – 1 hour 19 minutes from Geneva Airport
Flaine, which sits at the centre of a wide open high alpine bowl, is renowned for having one of the best snowfall records in France. Its architecture is best described as an acquired taste (think Barbican-style brutalism meets Moonbase Alpha) but there’s no disputing the quality of the skiing on offer.
Find out more at: flaine.com
St Jean d’Aulps, France – 1 hour 20 minutes from Geneva Airport
Saint Jean d’Aulps is part of the Portes du Soleil area but sits slightly apart from the rest of it and isn’t lift linked – you need to get on a free ski bus to access the main lifts of Morzine-Avoriaz or Les Gets during the winter. This seclusion has its advantages too however, especially if you’re looking for somewhere slightly quieter for the weekend.
Find out more at: valleedaulps.com
Champery, Switzerland – 1 hour 21 minutes from Geneva Airport
Nestled at the bottom of a sheer cliff, Champery is picturesque with many buildings hailing from the 19th century when it first became a popular tourist destination.
In 1969 this Swiss village was one of the founders of the cross-border Portes du Soleil area alongside Morzine. Its been going from strength to strength ever since.
Find out more at: champery.ch
Torgon, Switzerland – 1 hour 21 minutes from Geneva Airport
Torgon is another of the smaller villages that make up the vast Portes du Soleil area. This quiet Swiss town sits at 1,100 metres so you’re up amongst the skiing as soon as you set foot out the door.
Find out more at: trogon.ch
Morgins, Switzerland – 1 hour 21 minutes from Geneva Airport
Morgins is another Portes du Soleil village offering access to the domain’s enormous 650 kilometres of pistes, huge accessible backcountry area and multiple snow parks.
Find out more at: morgins.ch
Courmayeur, Italy – 1 hour 23 minutes from Geneva Airport
The only Italian resort within spitting distance of Geneva Airport, Courmayeur is a popular choice with Brits in the know as it offers access to the same mountains as Chamonix for a fraction of the price. While the powder hounds of Chamonix will track out all the new snow within hours, over in Courmayeur you can still be enjoying fresh tracks for days after a dump.
Find out more at: courmayeur.com
Villars-sur-Olon, Switzerland – 1 hour 23 minutes from Geneva Airport
Villars in Switzerland was once the home of Snowbombing, the massive alpine music festival that brings rave culture to the mountains every spring. But it’s never been all about the après ski. With lifts that link to Les Diablerets and nearly 270 kilometres of piste, there’s plenty here for serious skiers.
Find out more at: villars.ch
Leysin, Switzerland – 1 hour 24 minutes from Geneva Airport
Leysin’s history stretches back way before the town started offering skiing. It was first mentioned in records as long ago as 1231 and in the 19th century doctors prescribed trips to the famous sanatoria in the town believing the clean mountain air would cure tuberculosis. These days it’s a thoroughly modern ski resort which has hosted a major international snowboard contest for several years running.
Find out more at: leysin.ch
Vallorcine, France – 1 hour 25 minutes from Geneva Airport
As the last village in the Chamonix valley, Valorcine sits slightly apart from the main towns that access the resort. It offers visitors quick and easy access to the domaine de balme with its cruisey reds and blues. A great alternative to the hustle and bustle of Chamonix proper.
Find out more at: vallorcine.com
Les Diablerets, Switzerland – 1 hour 27 minutes from Geneva Airport
Les Diablerets enjoys a reputation as a great all round resort with runs to suit all ability levels. It’s linked to Villars so there’s more to ski around there too and despite being small, it punches above its weight when it comes to après ski.
Find out more at: lesdiablerets.ch
Chatel, France – 1 hour 28 minutes from Geneva Airport
Chatel may be less well-known than the biggest villages in Portes du Soleil, Morzine and Avoriaz, but it’s no less attractive a proposition for Brits. The resort combines old world appeal and modern amenities nicely and the area around it has some excellent backcountry skiing as well as great pistes.
Find out more at: chatel.com