Feb 2020 – So, I’ll start this recap by saying I went on a “Dude’s Trip” and did not have my kids, for this trip. Anyone reading this may ask, “Well why the hell are you even describing this place, then?” I think that’s a fantastic question. I’m simply going to cover the things about Les Houches that would have been good (had my kids been there). Also, needless to say, this visit to my first piste area in France was filled with some pain and embarrassment.
The entire trip started with a late night arrival at an AirBnB which we had booked because it had a hot tub with an amazing view of the French Alps. Unfortunately, the place had more rules than an all-female Catholic highschool. We managed to really really anger the owner to no end during the first night, just by using the hot tub after 10PM, and I consumed “a wee bit much” in Bourbon while dehydrating myself in a jacuzzi.
Needless to say, I was probably half drunk the next morning while we were taking the first lift up. I regretted every decision the night prior.
A few things on Les Houches, France: it’s a relatively small town and slope area sandwiched between the much larger and popular areas of Chamonix, Europe’s mountaineering mecca, and St. Gervais, a place where Emmanuel Macron drops in on, randomly. I don’t think Les Houches becomes overly crowded due to its relatively small size. I was pretty happy with the more “local” feel of the place. The town itself doesn’t have a ton of stuff to do, so depending on what your kids are like, this could be a blessing or a nightmare.
We may not have bought our lift tickets the right way (likely due to Bourbon), so we threw down 68 Euro for a single day. I felt it was a little pricey for such a small ski area; however, I later found out that Les Houches is part of the greater St. Gervais network of slope areas…I’m not saying I liked it but I understood the price more, afterwards. Tickets are available for both areas at a discounted rate.
The day was pretty standard. I suck at the Tellerlifts (T or J-Bars) as a snowboarder so I got yelled at a few times in French for being such an idiot on them. Les Houches actually has an awesome side of the mountain with plenty of trees to speed through and rocks to jump off; however, as you can see from the title image, this section proved to be my undoing. I think the slope area is pretty ideal for kids considering the learner’s area and the general ease of the pistes.
There’s also an area specific to learning located right next to the main lift’s dropoff point. I apologize for not offering much information regarding ski schools…but the entire area adjacent to the Prarion lift’s dropoff looked ideal. I would take my kids there.
I’ll emphasize that this was my FIRST day of a six day trip. After pushing past my hangover by drinking beer (above photo), we spent most of our time on the tree covered side of the mountain and had a pretty awesome time weaving through the greenery. Things went on like this until I stuck my hand out a little too far to make a tight turn and felt a unique new pain as I tried shaking hands with a tree.
This was a pain I had not felt before and I started feeling pretty uneasy. After taking a lift back up and getting to a hut for a beer, I immediately fell asleep in a wooden lounger for over an hour. I didn’t know it, but this was my body’s way of saying, “Power down you idiot. You broke something.”
Was I asleep? Oh. How long? Really?????-Me after waking up and realizing I was asleep for over an hour
Since I wasn’t about to wimp out and quit on my first day of a six day trip, I made a choice (a stupid one) to postpone any visit to the Doctor until this trip was over. However, this day was over, for me. As we made our way down the icy and terrible home stretch down into the village, most of our time was spent swearing at the awful conditions that this Winter had given us.
To really paraphrase Les Houches: I thought it was a cool and uniquely “local” feeling spot overshadowed by bigger places next door. I really enjoyed the tree runs regardless of breaking my arm. Depending on your drive, you may opt for the larger areas in the region; however, I’ll say that the slopes here are pretty friendly for novice-to-intermediate skilled kids (or adults). A quick Google will yield several ski schools for kids that look pretty reasonably priced. If I ended up in the region, I’d probably come back. It would be a little difficult to justify a 5-6 hour drive just for Les Houches; however……I think a snowboarding trip to the Chamonix region is well served with a day-trip to Les Houches.
If there’s anything you feel is missing or if you’ve got any questions, drop a comment below! I’ll get back to you!
Bis zum näschtes mal!the snowboard dad in europe