An old village, at the heart of Reblochon country, with more than 400 traditional chalets, set at the foot of the striking Aravis range.
|Parking at the main village (1000m)|
It's very close to civilisation - a little over an hour from Geneva, with regular ski buses direct from Annecy. If you get the early flight from Luton or Heathrow, you will be on the slopes by 11.30 (with a following wind).
"Le Grand Bo" has been developing quietly over the years. Its population has risen from 1,500 in 1960s to 2,000+ now, making its current population now above 1807 levels (for more, see the wikipedia page). It actually has more inhabitants than its better-known neighbour, La Clusaz, which boasts 130km of pistes. There has been talk about linking the two areas via Le Danay since at least 1974/75 apparently. The reasons for this not having happened yet appear to be as follows:
1. Local rivalries between La Clusaz and Le Grand Bo
2. Low natural snowfall - apparently there was a draglift there until 1950 but it got taken down because there wasn't enough snow, even then...
3. Environmental concerns associated with developing a virgin site
4. Environmental concerns associated with having to build a mega neige de culture facility to keep the link open (see 2 above)
5. Would it be worth the investment - it's a moyenne montagne area, very familial, people coming here aren't into the motorway piste-bashing experience you get in the Tarentaise. Etc
I can't find much recent by way of debate about the proposals. So, for the foreseeable future, you need to rely on what seems to be a reasonably well organised network of ski buses to access the 200km+ of Aravis pistes.
It won't keep you going for a week, but Le Grand Bo's 90km of pistes are a lot of fun. There are a whole series of areas to explore, including a real "away from it all" valley below the Col des Annes. It has one of France's leading snowparks. There is a great kids' area at the top of Le Rosay gondola. The area is peppered with restaurants. And at 31€ for a day pass, you have money in your pocket for a plat du jour, when compared with Les Arcs' €46...
|Col des Annes (1)|
|Col des Annes (2)|
Ski geeks will find just about everything they'd wish to know about the ski areas of both Le Grand-Bo and La Clusaz is on the excellent www.ski-aravis.com site.
Day-trippers can stop in the old village where there is a car park by the two gondolas and some street parking (1000m).
|At the top of Le Rosay gondola|
This is probably neater than driving up to Chinaillon (the summer gateway to the Col de la Colombiere). The pistes at Chinaillon (1300m) are great for second week skiers:
Le Grand Bornand has been trying to brand itself as a real "sporting town" in recent years. For example, it has been very assertive in investing in its role as a regular Tour de France location. The 2013 Tour will finish at Le Grand Bo for the fourth time in a decade - you can read more about its TDF history here and see a profile of the 2013 stage here.