Part of the gigantic ‘Grand Massif’ ski area, Samoëns is a rather charming, family-friendly town in a very scenic valley. It’s not ‘fancy,’ and dining is on the lower key side, but it’s easy to navigate and feels very festive. We’d like to go back in the summer for hiking.

Skiing: tons of Brits! Down market, but not in a bad way – not particularly pretentious. Very large, two thirds below tree line. Beautiful views. Lots of slope side restaurants, places to have drinks. Caliber of skier is the worst we’ve seen in Europe (very beginner), and pinch points can get quite crowded. However, given the size, and quite good lift infrastructure/coverage,  we didn’t have problems with waiting in line. Because it’s low, make sure it’s cold and there’s a lot of snow, or go early in the year. Looks like it would be great off-piste when there’s good coverage.

We enjoyed our stay at **Chalet-Hôtel Neige et Roc. It’s one of the nicer hotels in the area, traditional Swiss interiors (think cow pictures, wooden furniture). They’ve put effort into keeping it in pristine condition, and the rooms are quite comfortable. Food is not amazing, not a restaurant I’d seek out. There’s a small sauna, and two pools (outdoor is summer only).

On the opposite side of the ski area, we had a surprisingly bad lunch at *Hotel Les Servages D’armelle in Carroz. Very nice interior, indifferent service, tasteless food.

Repeating the pattern, in Samoens we had a disappointing dinner at *Le Monde a l’Envers. Service was lovely, setting very local/casual, menu was nothing but cheese. That’s not incredibly unusual here, but the execution was below average.

Le Frahan, a bit away from the main action, looked like a nicer place to eat. There’s a civilized wine bar (Vin Sur Vin) next door to it.

At the end of the valley past Samoens, **Cascade du Rouget is a reasonably easy uphill 30 minute hike and worth the effort for a grand waterfall scene. In the summer, it’s the start of many higher altitude hikes.

Driving adventures on the way to Samoëns

Driving to and from Samoens, the roads are really impressive – it’s a good distance for a morning drive followed by a great lunch. Very windy, well maintained, not-crowded, impressive views. Starting from Thonon-les-Bains, take the D902 to Taninges, and return via the D26 or D226. For lunch, ***Hôtel Restaurant Les Cygnes on the outskirts of Evian is a great choice. We also liked the look of Auberge du Moulin de Léré in Vailly.

On the D902, you’ll pass *Les Gorges du Pont du Diable: an impressive natural gorge. Tedious experience, you have to get a tour and waddle along at a glacial pace. Stick with the gorges near Martigny.

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