Geneva is in the somewhat unusual situation where the some of the best skiing close at hand is over the border in France. But there are a number of decent ski areas within 130km of the city and remaining within the borders of Switzerland.
Three of the closer ski resorts at the top of the list are smaller family areas, while the next three are substantial well-known resorts with a greater variety of terrain suitable for all ability levels.
Three smaller ski resorts near Geneva
There are a number of tiny ski areas with just one or two draglifts in the
The Massif de la Dôle is the closest decent-sized Swiss ski resort to Geneva by some way. It is part of a collection of smaller ski areas in the Haut Jura mountains which straddle the border between France and Switzerland. The actual mountain of La Dôle is the highest point of the area with a height of 1620m. It connects to Les Tuffes on the French side and combined the area has 19 lifts and 33 runs.
Distance from Geneva: 40km
Les Pléiades is a small family ski resort in the collection of ski areas known as the Ski Riviera in the mountains behind Vevey and Montreux on Lac Léman. The skiing is reached by a mountain railway which runs from the lakeside up to 1348m and offers views of both Lac Léman and Lac Neuchâtel. There are three draglifts and a chairlift to choose from as well as a number of snowshoe and cross-country skiing trails.
Distance from Geneva: 100km
Moléson is a small ski area above the town of Gruyères, famous for its cheese and castle and somewhat away from the larger ski areas in the mountains along the Rhône valley. It is still however within easy reach of Geneva and a daytrip from the city may include some sightseeing in the area. Access to the skiing is by funicular railway to three drag lifts or, alternatively, a cable car to a long ski route.
Distance to Geneva: 125km
Leysin is the first of the larger ski resorts up in the mountains on either side of the Rhône valley. Leysin itself is a sunny mountain village also known as a centre for language schools. It is reached by cog railway from the valley town of Aigle and is around 125km from Geneva.
Leysin has a reputation for specialising in school groups, possibly developed from the foreign educational establishments which make their home there. At any rate, the resort is a perfect choice to learn to ski, with a wide range of beginner and intermediate runs in a sunny location with great views.
It has also traditionally been a popular location for boarders and holds regular international competitions.
Leysin can be reached by road or cog railway from Aigle and the main lifts start at an altitude of 1350 metres above sea level. The main gondola up to the Berneuse area rises to just over 2000 metres and this accesses the couple of tougher runs above Leysin. Forgiving intermediate-level slopes head over towards the Solepraz lift, with a ski bus connection to the neighbouring La Lécherette-Les Mosses area.
Leysin Ski Video
Leysin Ski Facts
Total Ski Lifts: 1 gondola, 6 chairlifts, 5 drag lifts, 3 magic carpets
Total Ski Runs: 17 blue runs; 4 red runs; 3 black runs
Resort Height: Leysin ski area – 1350 metres
Highest Point in Ski Area: 2205 metres
Distance from Geneva: 125km
Ski Resort Website: www.aigle-leysin-lesmosses.ch
Villars – Gryon – Les Diablerets
Villars and Gryon are two villages above the Rhône valley which are connected to the village ski area of Les Diablerets. Villars is the better-known of the two and, like the ski resort of Leysin just to the west, plays host to some prestigious international schools.
The village of Villars can be reached by bus from Aigle or by cog railway from Bex, which also stops at Gryon. A further connecting railway is used to take skiers and boarders into the heart of the mountain terrain at Bretaye.
Similar to the resort of Leysin above, the skiing in this sunny area is mostly of a flattering intermediate standard. The runs above Villars and Gryon are almost without exception easy-ish blues and reds.
The ski area above the two villages tops out at 2120 metres above sea level at the Grand Chamossaire and there is a connecting chairlift available over to the Les Mazots terrain above the nearby village of Les Diablerets.
If snow conditions are getting a bit problematic then it is possible to head up to the glacier above Les Diablerets (known as Glacier 3000 and where, as the name suggests, the top skiing reached an altitude of over 300 metres). Note that there is a 1- or 2-day ‘local ski pass’ which includes the three villages but does not include the Les Diablerets glacier.
Villars Ski Video
Villars Ski Facts (Villars-Gryon-Les Diablerets ski area only)
Total Ski Lifts: 1 funicular railway, 3 gondolas, 10 chairlifts, 15 drag lifts, 4 magic carpets
Total Ski Runs: 16 blue runs; 17 red runs; 1 black run
Resort Height: Villars – 1300 metres
Highest Point in Ski Area: 2120 metres
Distance from Geneva: 123km
Ski Resort Website: www.villars-diablerets.ch
Champéry (Portes du Soleil)
Champéry is an attractive small village at the end of the branch rail line which heads south into the mountains from Monthey in the Rhône valley. It is one of the Swiss access points into the massive Portes du Soleil ski area which crosses the border into France and forms one of the largest ski areas in the world.
Skiers looking to access the Portes du Soleil could also choose to stay in the smaller and less connected resorts of Torgon or Morgins, but Champéry is probably the best solution both for ease of access from Geneva and lift connections in various directions.
Skiers starting out from Champéry can access the ski area by means of a massive cable car starting from the bottom end of the village next to the final station on the railway. There is actually a second route into the ski area via a chairlift at Grand Paradis further up the valley although this is a far less convenient option.
The cable car destination is an area called Planachaux. A short ski and a connecting lift and now it is simple to access the Portes du Soleil ‘circuit’ either by turning left towards France and the (in)famous Chavanette bumps on the way to Avoriaz or, alternatively, heading right towards the interesting ski runs around Les Crosets – still in Switzerland – and the access to either the Lindarets valley or the skiing on the way to Châtel in France.
Champéry Ski Video
Champéry Ski Facts (Champéry only)
Total Ski Lifts: 1 cable car, 7 chairlifts, 8 drag lifts
Total Ski Runs: 8 blue runs; 8 red runs; 4 black runs
Resort Height: 1037 metres
Highest Point in Ski Area: 2146 metres
Distance from Geneva: 127km
Ski Resort Website: portesdusoleil.com
(See our related article: French ski resorts close to Geneva)