About Les Houches
Les Houches should be known as “the family end of the Chamonix Valley”. Quieter and less cosmopolitan than Chamonix town, Les Houches is a traditional Alpine village and a real hidden gem of a ski resort. Typically, the slopes of Les Houches are wider, prettier, tree lined and far more gentle than its more famous neighbour. Although Les Houches is lower than Argentiere, and the other stations in the Chamonix valley, almost all the runs in Les Houches are served by snow cannons, ensuring adequate snow cover from early season throughout the winter. Les Houches is host to the Kandahar – World Downhill Championship racing, bringing some of the most exciting skiing to this area, and thousands of dedicated followers of this exhilarating sport will flood in for a few days each year to enjoy the downhill spectacular! Bring your cowbells and whistles if you want to be part of the action!
Skiing & Boarding In Les Houches
Les Houches is served by an excellent lift system. The main Prarion telecabin, 8-place cabins, that whisk you to 1800m in less than 8 mins. Rarely is there a queue at Prarion, (except perhaps in February half term – but then, February queues are the valley over!) so little risk of waiting around in the cold. There is a dedicated beginners area at the top of Prarion which offers easy access, even for total novices. The gentle, confidence-inducing slope is great for beginner, and the easy magic carpet ride takes novices slowly and carefully to the top of the beginners slope. It is a very safe environment to learn to ski. The runs in Les Houches are typically wide and open with wonderful views. It is a real pleasure to ski here and enjoy the scenery.
Après-ski in Les Houches
Apres ski in Les Houches is not the wild affair of Chamonix, however there is some good beer and live music to be enjoyed each night between 4pm and 9pm at The Kitsch Inn, just at the base of the home run. Good food and friendly staff ensure a pleasant evening’s entertainment. There is a late bar until 2am. Christmas time in Les Houches is magical for the children, Santa will arrive on his sleigh, bringing gifts and sweeties. The ESF ski school set up a stall and offer free vin chaud to visitors, plus there are carols and music in the street. The ancient church in Les Houches has midnight mass on Christmas eve, and everyone is welcome.
This is where Les Houches really comes into its own. We have some of the best in the valley. Places like the “Les Vielles Luges restaurant”, a 250yr old Savoyard farmhouse, owned and run by Claude and Julie Battendier. This restaurant was the former home of Claude’s family. You must try the Farcon – a delicious dish, made by an ancient family recipe, cooked for 5 hours and served with an excellent Beef Bourguinon. Claude and Julie serve a very good (read powerful) vin chaud, which heats gently all day on the log burner, and they also offer a very nice selection of wine too! Another restaurant of note, is La Taniere, Argentinian run, – serving some amazing quiches and tarts. Bars – at the bottom of the Prarion run, opposite ski school and lift station, and next to the ski hire shop, is “Henri’s Roulette Rouge” – The hang-out of the ski instructors and guides, it’s an open-air, traditional wooden, caravan bar, red of course. Serving vin chaud (red or white), crepes and beer. Great place to hang out and meet the locals. Jacquiere, the local baker, operates a bakery-coffee shop-bar, also situated at the foot of Prarion. Serving great coffee, and delicious pastries, sandwiches and beer. At the lake, also below Prarion, the Guinguette, (Tavern) serves delicious galettes (savoury pancakes). This is a good place for parents to sit and watch their little ones learning to ski at the Piou Piou club.
Ice Skating, Hockey and Tobogganing
Les Houches has an outdoor ice rink, free to skate, and skates to hire. Hockey matches are played here in season – fun to watch! Le Soleray, in the centre of Les Houches, is a small, privately owned ski slope for beginners, and has a free tobogganing run too.
A huge thank you to Maison Jaune for this review and photo – Chalet Maison Jaune is a Ski in Ski out chalet with hot tub, sauna and log fire, on the piste in Les Houches. This chalet is available for rent, self catered, for up to 10 guests, in summer and winter.