From St Cergue to Chamonix
The snowdrops are out, yet the snow is still in great condition, so what are the best options for skiing from Nyon, both nearby and up to 90 minutes drive away?
Nyon’s own “ski-hill” is at St Cergue which is easily accessible via the red NStCM train from the centre of town. The two slopes are open all day Saturday and Sunday, and Tuesday to Friday afternoon. However, arguably the best way to enjoy skiing at St Cergue is to finish work early and try the night skiing from 7-10 pm on Tuesday to Saturday. You can combine this with a fondue at one of six participating restaurants.
See their website for more info
A little bit further on and worthy of a full day is to ski at La Dole. Accessible by car or by the red train and a bus connection (take either the 07.56 or 08.56 trains from Nyon), La Dole has a chairlift and 8 button tows. It is also connected through to the French resort of Les Jouvencelles. Take your passport!
See La Dole website
Options less than a 90 minute drive away
Further afield there are many options within less than 90 minutes drive from Nyon. Heading east around the lake past Lausanne, there are a range of options including Leysin, Villars, Verbier and les Portes du Soleil.
For families, Villars is a good option.
Park either at the free car park on the left hand side on entering the town, and take the gondola onto the slopes, or alternatively, park in the underground carpark in the centre of Villars opposite the train station and take the train upto Bretaye. Take plenty of coins for the underground carpark – you will need CHF12 for 6 hours. Bretaye is the centre of the ski area from where the slopes radiate out. There is a flat area for beginners, a ski rental shop and several restaurants.
Across the other side of the Rhone valley, and opposite the Dents du Midi mountain range there is the village of Champery. It is part of the vast Portes du Soleil resort which has 650km of slopes.
Set off from Nyon at 8.15 and you could be pulling up at the carpark in front of the cablecar by 9.30. Pack your passport as the best skiing is arguably over the border in France on the slopes of Avoriaz and Chatel. Whilst there are plenty of blue slopes, there are also unpisted and steep slopes – including the downhill course at Avoriaz and the infamous “Wall” which is the Swiss side of the border on the way home (though there is no embarrassment in taking the chairlift down if you don’t fancy the moguls). There are also plenty of typical Savoyard restaurants, including several nice ones in the Les Lindarets “goat village” above Montiond.
Portes du Soleil website
Both Villars and Champery are also accessible by train from Nyon. Take the train to Brig and change in Aigle. There are mountain trains that connect to Villars and Champery, as well as Leysin and Les Diablerets.
Heading west from Nyon around Geneva and down to Chamonix, another great option for families and those who prefer to ski on blue and red runs is Les Contamines.
Turn off the motorway at St Gervais and in the town turn left to Les Contamines. This is a resort that is “off the beaten track”, with wide open slopes situated above the tree line. It is situated in the snow shadow of Mont Blanc and so often has good snow. Drive through the village. If there is no car park space by the first gondola station you come to, drive further up the valley and there is a larger car park and a second gondola that will take you up the mountain.
Les Grands Montets at Chamonix
A final recommendation for those who like steep slopes is Les Grands Montets at Chamonix. Drive to Chamonix, then carry on up towards the head of the valley to Argentière where the Grands Montets cable car is on the right hand side just off the main road.
Be prepared to share the cable car with ski-mountaineers complete with ice axes and other high altitude equipment. Pay an extra fee and you can join them and take a cablecar upto 3300m and enjoy some off piste skiing through mountain wilderness and up close to a glacier. All less than 90 minutes from Nyon.