Espace Diamant, FR 02.06.16

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Espace Diamant, FR 02.06.16

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:53 am

For the final stop of this road trip, the Espace Diamant -- roughly translated as "the Diamond Region" or "Diamond Area" (it sounds better in French than in English) -- we left our hotel in Megève, where five inches had fallen overnight in the village, double that higher up. Here's our Peugeot halfway through the snow removal process:

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As the crow flies, it's a very short distance to the Espace Diamant, but in a car you go up and over gorges, valleys, villages, etc., so maybe a 30-minute drive. According to reports, in the next five years they're possibly going to connect it with Megève and eventually neighboring Les Contamines, which would surpass the 3 Vallees in trail kilometers and result in the largest interconnected ski region in the world. We pulled into our base for the next two days, the cute village of Crest-Voland, built around, what else, an old church:

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While parking our car, we saw something that we hadn't run into in other villages: lots of children. The very first ski class that a small child takes anywhere in France is called "Piou-Piou" (pronounced PYOO PYOO), which means "baby chicken." Crest-Voland, along with a significant part of the Espace Diamant, is proudly family-oriented: everything from restaurants to ski terrain to activities.

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We stopped for a quick coffee next to the lift:
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Booted up and headed to mid-mountain for lunch:
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... where I had roasted trout on a bed of leeks and reblochon cheese along with a cheesecake-y dessert topped by Belgian graham crackers:
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Finally, it was time to ski.
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They'd received the same 6-8 inch top-off that Megève did. Since I was with the wife, extensive forays into the off-piste weren't in the cards, so I bombed through the soft chop alongside the trails:

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... while she enjoyed the rolling groomers:

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Albertville (1992 Olympics host city) is under the clouds in the distance:
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A delightful local instructor, Françoise, showed us some of her favorite shots:

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Even though all of our accommodations for the past week were pleasant, our favorite was here in Crest-Voland, the <a href="http://www.hotel-montcharvin.com/index.aspx">Hôtel Mont Charvin</a>, which is ski-in/ski-out, has beautiful rustic décor throughout the rooms, restaurant, and bar, fantastic cuisine, and is run by a really friendly couple who go out of their way to welcome families, including their two American guests. There's something great about being in a full-service hotel where you also get to interact with the owners extensively.

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Après-Ski Drinks at the Bar

[imghttp://forum.nyskiblog.com/file/n4071469/027.jpg [/img]
Atmospheric Dining Room

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Escargot Appetizer

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Main Course: perch, frites, and green salad with a spectacular vinaigrette

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As usual, my wife makes friends with the family pooch.


Day 2
Saturday was our final outing and since we only managed to check out the skier's-right third of the Espace Diamant on Friday, it was important to get an early start to get an overview of the other two-thirds. The place is huge and on your first time there, you need to have decent navigating skills to move around efficiently. There are signs all over the place reminding you not to get stuck in a far-flung part of the region late in the day (to avoid paying a costly taxi ride to get back to your home base). Here's a slightly closer shot of the map:

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Like the other ski regions on this trip, they're not high-elevation for the Alps, but you'll find lots of above-treeline areas and loads of hidden nooks and crannies.

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9 am at the Cernix lift right behind the hotel

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Gliding Down the Chard du Beurre Traverse

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Tracked-Up Off the Douce Lift

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Heading Over to Notre Dame de Bellecombe

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My wife taking advantage of low-angle powder in a vast meadow:
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Heading down the Boulangère trail for lunch:
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While the Espace Diamant has a sizable percentage of high-speed lifts, it’s also great to see many old drag lifts still in use to access the many aforementioned nooks and crannies:
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... and how these lifts zig-zag up the mountain -- here's a nice 35-degree turn:
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And of course, there are always lounge chairs to sit down in the sun and take it easy:
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Last edited by jamesdeluxe on Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Espace Diamant, FR 02.06.16

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:28 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Like the other ski regions on this trip, they're not high-elevation for the Alps, but you'll find lots of above-treeline areas and loads of hidden nooks and crannies.

Which should make your week the optimal time frame in the long run. What is the local snow reputation vs. Portes-de-Soleil?

Of the places you went, Fraser has the following snowfall averages:
Avoriaz (Portes-de-Soleil) 5,904 ft. 316 inches
La Clusaz 6,102 ft. 253 inches
La Clusaz 4,921 ft. 184 inches
Grand Bornand 4,264 ft. 226 inches

At any rate, James has provided enticing options for a flexible ski itinerary out of Geneva.
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Re: Espace Diamant, FR 02.06.16

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:21 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:Of the places you went, Fraser has the following snowfall averages:
Avoriaz (Portes-de-Soleil) 5,904 ft. 316 inches
La Clusaz 6,102 ft. 253 inches
La Clusaz 4,921 ft. 184 inches
Grand Bornand 4,264 ft. 226 inches

I chose these regions because they're some of the closest ones to Geneva with the obvious higher altitude options -- that reportedly avoided the previous Sunday's rain event, which locals said was an insane outlier for the end of January -- a bit further out.

Hometowners said that the Espace Diamant is in the same general snow league as La Clusaz/Grand Bornand; I'd like to get confirmation on that from Fraser. I also asked him to give his opinion to your earlier question about flying in and storm chasing for a two- to three-week period. He was in Zermatt while I was in France.
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