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If you’re looking for a holiday destination in a beautiful part of France, with lots of activities, easy access and authentic charm – look no further than Châtel. Deciding on a holiday destination can be tricky – whether you’re holidaying with family, friends, or as a couple it’s so important that your chosen spot ticks all the boxes for everyone in the group. For ski holidays Châtel has a lot to offer, and we hope this guide will help you plan your perfect holiday in Châtel.
Châtel is a beautiful village in the French Alps full of traditional mountain charm and breathtaking scenery. Originally a small farming community, Châtel has grown over the years to become a world-class ski resort as well as a very popular summer destination. Agriculture however remains at the heart of the area and once the snow has melted each year the local Abondance cows roam the pastures in great numbers. The resort of Châtel sits on the French/Swiss border at 1200m above sea level, and in between Lake Geneva and the Mont Blanc mountain range. This location provides exceptional climate and quick easy access at just a 90-minute drive from Geneva airport.
Châtel is hard to beat in our opinion, with an ideal combination of great snow, fast access to skiing and a massive area to explore, as well as the charm and beauty of an authentic alpine village. As part of the huge Portes du Soleil ski domain the area offers over 650km of pistes in 12 interlinked resorts and 2 countries – a truly unique experience! The area offers unrivalled discovery skiing; and all the resorts are very well linked so you can ski in France one day and Switzerland the next, Morzine in the morning, and Châtel in the afternoon. If you’ve not skied in the Portes du Soleil before, Châtel is a perfect choice of resort because it has some of the best skiing in Europe and also sits right in the heart of the Portes du Soleil with easy access to all of the other resorts for those who want to venture further afield.
On the slopes
First time skiers
Châtel is a very picturesque tree-lined resort, with a great selection of terrain for beginners. The ski area at Super Chatel is a brilliant starting point with easy access to a selection of drag lifts leading to wide gentle slopes. Once you exit the Super Châtel telecabine it’s very easy to see all of the lifts and slopes in-front of you, so it’s very easy to navigate and a very safe and comfortable area for first time skiers.
The ski area at Pre La Joux is brilliant for first time skiers with a selection of drag lifts at the bottom and a magic carpet which is ideal for very young skiers as its much easier than drags or chair lifts. The Bellete green run is a great beginner slope, 3km in length which very gently zigzags through the trees, so providing a great ski experience compared to repeating short draglifts.
Chatel is part of the huge Portes du Soleil domain – the largest linked ski area in the World, boasting 122 blue runs! Now that is a huge amount of intermediate skiing and it’s virtually impossible to ski every run in one week.
Our favorite blue run is from the top of the Chaletneuf drag lift (part of the Chatel ski area but actually in Switzerland.) It’s a super easy wide blue, ideal for early intermediate skiers that rolls and turns through the trees back to the bottom of the drag. There are several different routes on the same run so you can try a few and then relax with a drink at the conveniently located restaurant half way down. From the top of the drag enjoy incredible views of Mont Blanc and see if you can spot Lake Geneva below you on the way down!
The Donkeys above Plaine Dranse in Châtel is an off-piste section ideal for intermediate skiers. Located between the Cornebois and Combe chairlifts, it’s equivalent to an off-piste blue and there are lots of hidden valleys and little jumps that make this a unique playground in the snow.
Unknown by many British skiers, Châtel and the Portes du Soleil is a hidden secret for advanced skiing.
There are currently 32 black runs in the Portes du Soleil with the most famous being the ‘Swiss Wall’, which drops down from Avoriaz into Les Crosets. The Wall, as its name implies, is very steep and usually full of thigh-high moguls, so be careful – it’s not for the faint hearted!
Because the Portes du Soleil is so large there is something for all advanced skiers depending on your preference and snow conditions; from steep couloirs to powder bowls, jump parks to mogul fields – no matter how hard you want to push it, you won’t be disappointed.
The most popular destination for snow boarders is ‘The Stash’. About one mile long the Stash is a range of natural jumps, rails, wall rides and log jibs designed by Burton Snowboards. Hidden amongst the trees in the Lindarets valley, the Stash uses natural terrain or wooden obstacles to create a playground for snowboarders and freeriders. There are three slopes to choose and plenty of more unmarked routes creating a unique slope experience. Closer to home, Châtel has an exciting jump park and boarder cross in Super Châtel with jumps and rails for all abilities. In Pre La Joux the Donkeys is an easy off piste playground, ideal for snowboarders with natural jumps, drops and half pipe valleys.
Our favourite mountain restaurants
Châtel and the Portes du Soleil have lots of brilliant restaurants on the mountain.
La Cremaillere, Les Lindarets (Goats Village)
This is our favorite restaurant in the Portes du Soleil. It has a wide range of salads, omelets and local specialties however we always choose the plat du jour, which is accompanied by the best sauté potatoes and Savoyard cabbage in the world.
Chez Denis, Plaine Dranse, Châtel
Located at the top of the Pierre Longue chairlift it’s possible for beginners and non-skiers to get here. Chez Denis is a very cute and rustic old farmhouse serving local specialties such as Berthoud and tartiflette that Denis the owner makes with cheese produced on his own farm.
The village of Chatel is very charming and has a very French feel. It is un-spoilt by UK tourism and has a very scenic high street with lots of shops and restaurants. The center of the village is based around the Marie and village square which is home to a traditional old carousel which all the children really enjoy. Located at the head of the Abondance valley it is very scenic with amazing views of the mountains and alpine forests.
Opened last year is a fabulous new leisure complex with several swimming pools, spa area and gym which is ideal if you are looking for a non-skiing afternoon.
There are several bars in the village, a bowling alley and a nightclub however it is not a wild party town so we would not recommend it to stag do / party animal groups.
Our favourite café
There are lots of lovely restaurants in the Chatel to enjoy a morning coffee or hot chocolate. We like the alpine chic atmosphere in the bar of the Hotel Macchi – great coffee and big leather armchairs to sink into.
Our favourite shop
For ski and mountain gear I would say Twinner in the middle of the village – they also have a great and high-tech boot fitting service if you’re looking to get new ski boots. For gifts to take home go to the ‘Poterie Savoyarde’, a lovely local pottery shop with beautiful handcrafted items.
Our favourite restaurant
It’s hard to beat Le Fiacre, which offers a broad menu including delicious steaks served on sizzling stones, Savoyard specialities, and really good pizzas – something for everyone! There’s always a busy, vibrant feel and the service is second to none.
Our favorites après ski
The Avalanche pub is always lively and has regular live bands playing, and the Nazca bar offers DJs and cocktails. First and foremost though Chatel is a family resort so don’t come here if you’re looking for a wild party scene.. It’s more ‘Champagne in the hot tub back at the chalet’ than dancing in your ski boots until dawn!
Our favourite non skiing activity
Strapping on a pair of snow shoes and walking to Chalet Theos for lunch. Located in the woods above the village it’s about a 40min brisk walk. Their fondue is arguably the best in the area and on a sunny day the terrace is a real sun trap with amazing views.
Accommodation in Chatel
Catered ski chalets
The most luxurious option is to stay in a catered ski chalet where you will have a team of helpful chalet staff on hand to serve, breakfast, drive you to the slopes, keep the chalet clean and prepare a delicious evening meal for you to enjoy with your friends and family after a day on the slopes.
At NINE & TENNE we are proud to offer the finest collection of catered chalets in Chatel. All of our chalets have all been carefully chosen because of their unique character and Savoyard charm. For more information, please visit our website:
Self-catered Ski Chalets
Choosing a self-catered ski chalet gives you the home from home luxury with lots of freedom to enjoy the town and local restaurants.
The chalets in Chatel can vary in standard so make sure you research thoroughly and check to see that linen, towels and end of stay clean is included.
At NINE & TENNE we have an exclusive collection of self-catered chalets that make the perfect ski retreat and we have many luxury extras to ensure your holiday time is perfect such as stocked fridge and meal delivery service. For more information, please visit our website:
Historically apartments in the alps have been a bit budget and lacked space and facilities however this has really changed over the last few years. There’s been a big increase in good quality apartments built in Chatel many of which offer hotel-like services or facilities such as shared swimming pools and gyms. For more information, please visit our website:
Getting to Chatel
Châtel is ideally located only 90 minutes from Geneva airport.
Access is fairly straight forward compared to a lot of mountain resorts which makes it very easy if travelling with children or for short breaks.
The nearest International airport is Geneva in Switzerland, which is serviced by a number of large operators such as Easyjet, Swiss Air, and British Airways. Once you arrive at Geneva, the transfer to Châtel is just under 2 hours by car. Your accommodation may include airport transfers, particularly if you’re staying in a catered chalet, but otherwise there are various transfer companies.
It can be useful to have a car while staying in Châtel – both in the winter and summer seasons. The journey from Calais takes around 9 hours and is fairly straightforward. If you’re driving in the winter make sure you’re fully equipped with the correct tyres for the conditions, or at the least get some snow chains – even if you drive a 4×4.
At NINE & TENNE we are on owner run company and have been providing ski holidays in Chatel for ten years. We have lots of insider knowledge that you can only gather from living and working in an area.
If you would like any help or information when planning your ski holiday in Chatel then please feel free to contact us. Whether you are staying with us or not we are always happy to help and can point you in the right direction if our holidays are not what you are looking for.
Good luck and we hope to see you in Chatel soon.