I admit that I didn’t have to pay with money for my 4-week stay at the Les Aravis as I came here on a WorkAway stint. Nevertheless, I would like to recommend this chalet for your next Alpine yearning.
The Hotel Les Aravis is located — lo and behold — in close vicinity of the massif Les Aravis in the Alps. At the height of 950m and with a population of 1,200, the village Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, as well as neighboring Le Grand Bornand and La Clusaz, are in the center of an extended ski area with pistes for all skill levels. But the area also offers plenty of entertainment for outdoor fans during the rest of the year: hiking, mountaineering, bungee, local farmers producing the regional Reblochon cheese,…
Finally, Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, is less than 100km from here, you can see it from some of the mountain tops.
As is befitting for a tourist area, public transport is quite good. There are hourly buses to and from Annecy. Annecy itself is connected by bus and train to Geneva (and its airport), the rest of France, and Italy. During skiing season, there are also direct buses from Geneva (airport) to Saint-Jean-de-Sixt/Grand Bornand/La Clusaz. Plus: the Les Aravis (like other hotels in the area) offers a shuttle service to both the airport and the pistes.
Coming with your own vehicle, however, might be a problem at the Les Aravis as parking is limited.
But there is a reason for that: most winter clients come here via the Ski Weekender program, taking advantage of nicely priced short vacations with everything taken care of so you can concentrate on skiing.
The owners and crew of the Les Aravis are English or English-speaking, some have lived in the area for years, others come here just for the season.
The chalet that houses the Les Aravis is more than a hundred years old. Paul and his team took over the building in the early 2000s and are slowly implementing improvements (notice the paintwork in the bar and on the paneling the hallways, courtesy of yours truly’s WorkAway stay here…), moving away from stuffy 1970s alpine style with just too much wood to a more elegant, refined cottage style.
The 22 rooms are simple but clean and equipped with extremely comfortable beds. In the back of the hotel, the 1st-floor rooms have access to a large sun terrace. Most rooms are en suite; there are four rooms with two shared bathrooms in the annex.
I like the vastness of the common areas: in addition to the breakfast/dining area, there is a small library with beautiful views of the mountains, a TV/video room with English telly, a garden, a gym and sauna with massage facilities and a lounge bar. Everything is readily available while offering privacy to the user.
WiFi is stable throughout the main building and was non-existent in the annex while I stayed there. But no worries: the main building is accessible 24/7.
Breakfast is served in the large dining area, nothing special, but plentiful with a choice of drinks, different corn flakes/mueslis, breads, jams, and the occasional homemade cake.
Other meals are available on request. Plus, there are a few restaurants in the village, serving different styles, from pizza to burgers to traditional Savoyarde fair. Not to mention that you’ll probably have lunch in the huts on one of the mountains.
Saint Jean village has a small supermarket as well as bakeries and a fruit and vegetable store, and there are larger supermarkets towards/in Thônes only a few minutes by car away. However, guests have no access to the hotel kitchen.
For a special treat, I propose visiting one of the farms in the area. Above Forgeassoud, at the beginning of the ascent to 2,000m Mount Lachat, lies the Ferme Milk & Bouse. The owner is a lovely middle-aged fellow who offers daily cheese making presentations with his hunky assistant, explaining everything from the process to the unusual name of his farm willingly. And afterward, you can buy fresh milk and Reblochon, Tomme or Abondance cheeses at unbeatable prices.
Not convinced by the Les Aravis? Browse my accommodation reviews or find other accommodation on booking.com: