Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval

Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval is classed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. The village is centred around a 12th-century abbey and it has been home to stonecutters since the 15th century. Sixt is a haven of peace and tranquillity just one hour from Geneva airport and is located within the largest nature reserve of the Haute Savoie. The village forms part of the larger ski area of the Grand Massif.

Location

Set back at the end of a long road, high up in the Alps is the wonderful village of Sixt-Fer-A-Cheval. Sixt is actually made up of 24 or so little hamlets such as Le Mont, Passy, Salvagny, Le Fay, Hauterive, Le Molliet and Le Frenalay. The village is centred around Sixt Abbey, a small abbey and church dating back to the 12th - 15th centuries. The 12th century abbey was built by the Ponce de Faucigny and is a symbol of the former wealth of the village. The church is 13th century and is composed of an abbatial section and a parish section. The gardens and the church can be freely visited and there are guided tours of the abbey.

Sixt is set within the largest natural reserve in the Haute-Savoie. Over 80% of the territory is designated as a Nature Reserve. It contains an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, as well as famous natural spectacles such as the Cirque du Fer à Cheval - a remarkable site with 700 metres cliffs in a horseshoe creating a wall in front of you with waterfalls cascading down the rock face. The Cascade du Rouget is the largest of these waterfalls.

Properties

Property in Sixt tends to be of traditional design - stone and wooden chalets, picturesque farmhouses and ancient buildings. In fact the history of the region is all around. There are Nine chapels, forty oratories, crosses, fountains and carved doors all providing evidence of the skills of the Haut Giffre - the stone cutters who were world famous for their work with the hard, black limestone still used in the village today (called Noir de Sixt Fer à Cheval). Sixt and its surrounding villages are renowned for having maintained their traditional look and the area has avoided high rise development and ugly purpose built blocks.

Access to slopes

Sixt is an ancient village. It is characterized by picturesque beauty and an extensive mining history. It offers a wild skiing landscape and is perfect for beginner skiers although it has a selection of slopes for all abilities. The resort has 10 slopes in total, 21 of which are green, 3 blue, 3 red and 2 black. The piste at Sixt Fer à Cheval is served by 7 lifts. Sixt is great for families, with an easy access beginner area, a snow garden for children from 3 years and a secure sledging area.

You can’t ski from Sixt to the other areas of the Grand Massif, but you can ski back to Sixt from the Grand Massif using Les Cascades piste. This is a 14 km piste that takes you from the summit of Les Grandes Platières at 2,500 m down to Sixt located 900m further down the mountainside. It passes through alpine meadows and forests on the edge of the Sixt Fer-à-Cheval’s Nature Reserve and its common to spot local wildlife on your ski (or summer walk). You can then take a free shuttle to Samoens or Morillon to take a gondola back into the main Grand Massif system, or you can stay and enjoy the pistes of Sixt.

Its proximity to Mont Blanc means that Sixt, indeed the whole of the Grand Massif, benefits from the ‘fridge’ effect surrounding the highest mountain in Western Europe. The skiing only goes up to 2500m but the resort’s snow record – even in the worst years like 2010-11 – is always superb.

Sixt has been a popular holiday destination since 1854 when it was visited as a climbing destination and also for its natural beauty offering a number mountain hikes. 

Local Amenities

The village is small but it does have good local amenities all centred around the 12th century Abbey. There are a few shops, a post office, a small but very useful supermarket, a few cafés and restaurants. There's an excellent boulangerie and a couple of sports shops. There are also some shops selling regional products and Souvenirs, a Cash point and a library. During the winter there are weekly welcome drinks on Sundays at the tourist office at 18.30.

All other amenities can be found in Samoens (5km) where there is a doctors, pharmacy, physiotherapist, hairdresser, laundry/dry cleaning, bakeries, several sports shops and a local market on Wednesdays.

Getting there

Just one hour from Geneva Airport, less than two hours from Chambery and Grenoble, a 10-minute drive from Samoëns and only 30-minutes from the motorway exit near the TGV train station of Cluses makes Sixt ideal for a long weekend as well as an extended break.

There is also a regular ski-bus service to Samoëns and Morillon. Les Gets and the Portes du Soleil are only a short drive away.

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