Simple Spring Skiing Safety Tips – Avoiding an Early Trip Home

Spring Skiing
Spring Skiing

For most skiers, the slow but steady arrival of the warmer spring weather means the inevitable reality of shelving ski dreams for another year and finding other ways to kill time until the season comes around again. For the more dedicated snow-hounds out there however, the spring months bring nothing less than glorious weather, shorter lift lines, fewer crowds and lower prices – all of which add up to ski nirvana, just as long as you know where to go.

However, those looking to dip their proverbial toe in the latter category for the first time must be aware of the fact that springtime skiing brings a series of hazards most will probably not have come across during the winter months – the following examples are by far the most worthy of attention:

1. Conditions – During spring, the snow on the slopes and around the resorts is prone to melting in the day and then freezing again overnight, which can in turn lead to some seriously unpredictable conditions in terms of ice, water and so on. Never take conditions for granted from one hour to the next.

2. Sunburn – It might still be nippy to a certain extent, but the sun is stronger and the snow still reflects a ton of harmful rays to hugely increase the likelihood of sunburn. In spring, put on the sunscreen you think you need and then add another layer just in case!

3. Falls – That being said, if the weather does take a turn for the warmer and you find yourself tempted to shed a few layers, don’t forget that snow and ice can have a cheese-grater effect on your skin if you fall at speed – especially where melting snow has re-frozen into rough spikes. Keep skin
covered up as much as possible.

4. Layers – The temperature on the slopes during the spring can change massively and in a matter of hours, making it important to know how to
dress on order to be able to adapt. The best advice is to always layer up and thus be able to adjust, rather than donning just a single thick-layer or
something lighter.

5. Thinner Snow – Be aware of the fact that as the snow thins, various hazards like roots, stumps, holes and so on will once again rear their
heads – never take a run for granted even if you’ve tackled it dozens of times in the winter.

6. Avalanches – Extreme perhaps, but spring can be peak avalanche season as the snow begins to melt, shift and give way under enormous weight.
Always look into any avalanche warnings and never stray anywhere you’re not supposed to.

7. Eyewear – As the strength of the sun increases, so too do the dangers to your eyes. As such, be sure to choose eyewear that’s guaranteed to filter
out damaging UV rays and wear them at all times.

8. Common Sense – Just because the slopes may be nearly empty, this doesn’t mean that spring is the best season to push yourself to the next
level in terms of high-speed or extreme skiing – the conditions may not be up to handling it.

Some useful top tips from Alps2Alps the airport transfer provider for all your ski transfer needs.

The Beginner’s Guide to Skiing Essentials

Okay, so you’ve decided to take yourself off on your very first skiing holiday. You’re no doubt in for the most fantastic time, but before you go make sure you’ve got all those necessary essentials in place. For a little ‘icespiration’ (see what we did there) here’s a quick guide of what to pack.

Skiing Holidays

Thick layers

You’ll need to wear lots of layers as it’s likely to be very chilly out there! Keep warmth and comfort at the forefront on your mind when packing, making sure you pop some items of breathable clothing in your suitcase to wear on top of the layers. Don’t worry about being too hot, you can simply peel off a layer if needs be. Remember, it’s easier to remove a layer than it is to add one.

Here’s a clothing checklist:

– Thermal vests
– Leggings/long-johns
– Long sleeved t-shirts
– Fleecy tops
– Ski pants or salopettes
– Insulated, waterproof gloves
– Woolly hat
– Ski goggles, so you can see clearly in case of heavy snow
– Plenty of ski socks. We can’t stress how important ski socks are, there’s nothing worse than cold feet
– Swimwear. If there are Jacuzzis on resort, treat yourself to a warm, bubbly soak after a day of skiing. They’re perfect for relaxing tired, achy muscles
– Evening wear. Don’t forget to pack your best clothes to wear in the evenings

Sun Cream, it’s Not Just for Beach Holidays you Know

You will need to get some strong sun cream slapped on you. Don’t be fooled by the snowy weather. Even on cloudy days, you’ll need to wear the protective lotion to guard yourself against sunburn. Mountain sun, along with the reflection from the snow, is far more intense then normal. Get some good sun cream, of at least factor 25, packed.

Don’t Pay Over the Odds for Ski Gear

When it comes to ski gear, it can prove quite pricey, many skiers tend to rent their equipment instead. But if you want to purchase your own, but don’t want to pay over the odds, you might find some cheap ski gear in some shops, especially if there’s a sale on. But make sure you shop around. Second hand gear is another option, check out some online marketplaces, like eBay.

No Need to Pack Skis and Ski Boots

Skiing Holidays

You don’t need to take equipment, such as skis and ski boots, with you. Even the Mr Snow-it-alls out there know that it’s best to hire these in resort. And remember, the ski boot is the most important item of ski equipment, so make sure the boots fit your feet nice and snugly. Comfort is key.

Follow our above guide to packing and you can’t go wrong. Whether you’re going to be skiing in Meribel, hitting the slopes of Austria or heading to Canada, it’s vital you pack everything you need to. If not, you could end up spending more time in the shops than on the slopes. Happy skiing!

What to pack for a summer mountain holiday in the French Alps

Summer in the French Alps
Summer in the French Alps

People seem to be getting bored of the beach, and more often they turn to the mountains for their summer holiday. However, whereas a week on the beach in the med can be quite easy to pack for (swim wear, flip flops, sun cream), there are a few more things that you should consider bringing on a summer mountain holiday. This list should help to get you started:

1) Sun Protection: because mountain resorts are often at altitude, the sun can be a lot fiercer than at sea level. It is therefore a very important to pack high factor sun cream and good sunglasses. Also, don’t forget that if you go hiking on a glacier, the snow will reflect back the sun in all directions, so you may get sunburnt in areas you weren’t expecting (for example under the chin).

Also, don’t forget a good after sun balm, so that you can help your face recover from a day of fierce sunshine and dry air.

2) Waterproofs: Although the weather is usually sunny & warm in the French Alps, because of the geography of the area, it is not uncommon for late afternoon thunderstorms to build. It is better to be prepared and protected!

3) Pack clothing layers: part of the attraction of holidaying in the mountains is the ability to do things such as jump on cable cars and get whisked up to the mountain tops. However, it is often cooler at the top of the mountains than at the bottom, so it is good to have a few layers in your back pack so you can adjust your clothing to suit the temperature. Also, evenings can sometimes be a bit chilly which means that sleeping in a hot room isn’t a problem, but it is worth having a sweater handy so you can continue to sit outside after the sun goes down.

4) Speedos (for men only): If you are holidaying in France, it is worth remembering that French swimming pools don’t allow swim shorts, and will only allow “Speedo” type swimwear. So if you do want to cool off in a French swimming pool, forget your baggies and don the tight shorts instead. You never know, you might enjoy it! If Speedos really aren’t your thing, there are plenty of mountain lakes which don’t restrict bathing costumes.

5) Water bottle: when hiking in the mountains, especially on sunny days, it is very easy to get dehydrated. Avoid this by carrying adequate water, either in a water bottle or in a hydration pack.

6) Sturdy walking shoes/boots: You don’t need to by stiff leather walking boots, but if you are planning to do some walking in the mountains, it is worth having some decent walking boots/shoes/trainers. Goretex will stop your feet from getting wet in case of being caught in an unexpected thunderstorm.

7) Mountain rescue insurance: This is very important, and often overlooked on summer holidays. If you are on a trail on the mountain and twist an ankle, the only way down may be by helicopter. If you don’t have travel insurance which covers mountain rescue, this could be a very expensive flight! Don’t worry if you haven’t got mountain rescue insurance, most resorts offer this for about a euro a day (usually under the Carte Neige scheme).

The mountains do make wonderful summer holiday destinations, and there is none of the boredom which can set in after day two of lying on the same beach in the med!

Ski Hire Chatel

Ski Hire Chatel
Ski Hire Chatel

For years I have been running ski holidays in the beautiful alpine resort of Chatel. During this time, we have worked with a fantastic ski hire shop.

For our clients, it is important that a ski shop offers good service, and makes the whole process of hiring skis or snowboards as effortless as possible. Of course good equipment and competitive prices are also of paramount importance. It is for all these reasons that we work with our preferred ski hire partner.

Enter the internet. Now holidaymakers, especially Brits, tend to cast around online before coming on holiday trying to get the best deals for everything. It is easy to become obsessed with squeezing every last euro off a deal, and easy to forget that something has got to give. That something tends to be levels of service, and quality of equipment.

Over the last couple of seasons, we have found increasing numbers of clients didn’t wait until they got to Chatel and pre-book their equipment despite our advice not to. Consequently, they often don’t get what their bargained for.

The most frequent complaints from our clients who have pre-booked their ski equipment are;

That they were lead to believe that by paying in advance, they would have specific equipment put aside for them. On arrival at the shop, they found that they had to queue for a long time, and there was no equipment put aside for them.

  1. Staff in the shops were surly and unhelpful, and were completely overwhelmed by the number of clients they had to serve.
  2. The equipment offered to them wasn’t of a particular high quality.
  3. After sales service was pretty much nonexistent (no assistance with broken equipment or swapping skis.
  4. The price (despite the large discounts promised online) wasn’t really any different to walking in off the street.

We have worked with one ski shop in Chatel for the last 8 years, and there are a number of very good reasons why we carry on using them, and why our clients are always very happy with us for suggesting;

  1. The service is fantastic – people are in and out very quickly even during the busy school holiday weekends.
  2. The equipment is top quality.
  3. The after sales service is second to none. For example, if a client doesn’t ski for one day during their week’s holiday, the shop won’t charge them for this. Also, if a client wants to swap from skis to snowboard midway through the week, they do this at no extra charge.
  4. The prices are some of the lowest in resort.

At some point in the future, the service and in-resort systems of ski shops will catch up with the technology. Until such time, if your ski chalet owner or tour operator recommends a ski hire shop for you, don’t just dismiss it in favour of online booking, otherwise you may be disappointed.

Read more about ski hire in Chatel.

Chatel – A fantastic summer destination

Summer In Chatel
Summer In Chatel

If you are planning your next summer holiday look no further than the green mountain peaks of Chatel. Set in the picturesque Valley d’Abondance, Chatel has plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts and families looking for an alternative to the beach.

Chatel, a small village nestled in heart of the Portes du Soleil area between the picturesque lake Geneva and the high alpine range of Mont Blanc, provides an excellent choice of activities to keep the whole family entertained.

The village itself is a beautiful picture postcard alpine village surrounded by high peaks. In recent years Chatel has graduated to a three star flower rating and the floral displays throughout the village are spectacular and add colour and ambiance to the place.

Chatel’s facilities include its own outdoor pool, fishing lake, bob luge run, high flying “fantasticable” fly line, golf, archery and mini train. In order to make the most out of your holiday this summer there is now the offer of the Portes du Soleil “Multi Pass” which allows unlimited activities each day for just 1€ per person per day. This is great value for money and allows you to access many of the most popular attractions in the area.

The Multi pass allows access to the following for 1€ a day.

* 4 swimming pools and 2 lakes, the Les Gets swimming lake and the picturesque lake Montriond
* 25 mountain lifts for hikers
* 5 cultural sites, including the Abbey in St Jean D’Aulps, the Mechanical toy museum and the Abondance Abbey
* 9 tennis courts
* 2 ice rinks
* 3 tourist road trains
* The inter resort bus shuttle service
* 850km of foot paths.

The Multi Pass will allow you to make the most out of your stay in the fabulous Portes du Soleil.

Using the chair lifts as a pedestrian in summer allows you to reach the high peaks and provides a great starting point for some breathtaking views and challenging walks. Local walks are well sign posted and are easily followed using local maps. You can plan a day on the mountain to lead you to many of the local mountain refuges serving fabulous local food and drinks. There are plenty of walks for all abilities from little ones and those who may be a little unsteady to seasoned alpine hikers. The lifts allow you to explore and discover the Alps in a way that is accessible to all.

If you are looking for a more relaxing way to enjoy the mountains then there are delightful picnic spots by local rivers, lakes and waterfalls. Again most beauty spots are within easy walking distance and are well located on local maps. The local French markets up and down the valley provide a feast of delights to embellish your picnics serving local cheeses, meats and wine along with other local produce.

For a more thrill seeking adventure there are plenty of river sports located along the River Dranse; rafting, kayaking, hydrospeed and canyoning are just some of the sports on offer at the local white water sports adventure centres. Many of these centres also offer guide for rock climbing in the local area.

If it is a beach retreat you are looking for on your holiday then look no further than the sunny spots on lake Geneva, within a 40min drive from Chatel you can be sitting on a fabulous sandy or pebbly beach with all the amenities and activities you will find at a coastal resort. Boats and pedalos can be hired and many of the beach areas provide outdoor pools, playgrounds and restaurant facilities to make you day out fun for all the family.

The festivals, live music and outdoor events throughout the summer calendar provide an insight into the cultural and diverse community that is Chatel. The resort will leave you wanting to return to explore the undiscovered areas which are ready and waiting for your future visits.

Mountain biking in the Portes du Soleil

How often have you actually ridden your mountain bike down a mountain?

Mountain Biking in the Portes du Soleil
Mountain Biking in the Portes du Soleil

How often have you actually ridden your mountain bike down a mountain? If you mostly ride in the UK, then chances are you don’t do it very often. However, this sport that we all know and love is called “mountain biking” for a reason. If you sit at the top of a mountain pass in the French Alps, looking across towards the snow capped mountains and glaciers of the Mont Blanc range, with 1500m descent of twisty technical single track ahead of you; suddenly it all starts to make sense.

The Portes du Soleil region, in the northern French Alps, has become a Mecca for mountain biking and not without good reason. In winter the area is famous for being the largest linked ski area in the world, but during the summer months it is also easily the largest lift served mountain bike trail area in the world.

The area really does have something to offer all styles and levels of mountain biking. For cross country riders, there are plenty of demanding climbs to challenge your fitness. For downhill riders, there are well over 20 dedicated downhill tracks ranging from easy to insane. For free riders, the area really comes into its own with mile after mile of varied terrain including bike parks, technical forest single track, exposed steep faces and north shore style courses.

In response to the growing demand from mountain bikers from all disciplines, many of the resorts in the area have invested heavily in mountain bike infrastructure.

In Switzerland, the combined areas of Champéry, Val d’Illiez-Les Crosets-Champoussin & Morgins boast a four cross track, a north shore zone, a bike park, 3 downhill courses (including the infamous UCI world cup downhill course, and the UCI 15 km cross country loop.

In Les Gets over in the French side, there is a beginners’ downhill track at the Grand Cry Park and 2 beginners’ MTB parks; the Kid’Zone and Mini Jump Park. For the more experienced there is a dirt and freestyle jump park, a four cross track, a freeride zone in “Gibannaz Canyon”, 4 downhill courses, and 6 cross-country suitable for all riders.

Chatel, which is right at the centre of the area, has perhaps the biggest selection of purpose built MTB areas with 15 MTB tracks (14 of which are downhill profiled), 5 north shore zones, 1 four cross track, the infamous freeride “La Face” mountain style zone, 1 kid’s cross and a drop zone with jump pit, wall ride, quarter, step-ups and step-downs.

Despite having great trails for intermediate, advanced and crazy riders, the Portes du Soleil area is also a fantastic place to learn mountain biking, or to go riding with young families. There are lots of opportunities to get chairlifts up to the tops of the mountains, and then find your way around on 4×4 tracks which don’t tend to be too steep or challenging.

One of the reasons why the Portes du Soleil has become so popular for mountain biking is because the sheer vastness of the area results an incredible mix of varied terrain, and ensures that the trails never become too busy. Indeed, it is possible to ride all day and not see another person. Couple this with picturesque resorts, great value accommodation and the glorious back drop of the Dents du Midi and Dents Blanches mountains, and it is clear to see why the Portes du Soleil is one of the best mountain biking destinations in the world.

The Passportes du Soleil Mountain Bike Race

Passportes du Soleil
Passportes du Soleil

The Passportes du Soleil is an epic mountain bike race in the huge Portes du Soleil region of France & Switzerland which heralds the start of summer and the opening of the lift system. It takes place over the last weekend in June, and has evolved from an earlier event known as the “Freeraid”.

Most riders don’t really treat the Passportes as a race (although you do get a number for the front of your bike) but simply a great day’s mountain bike riding. The event is massive – 2 days, 3 courses (30, 45 & 75 km) and 3700 riders. The classic trek of 75 km includes 12 ski lifts, 6500 m of total downhill, 500 m of total uphill climb.

What makes this event unique is the fact that it attracts a wide range of participants – from lycra clad cross country riders to armour clad downhill riders, and from beginners to experts. Everyone gets involved and rides the same course. True, the cross country riders tend to beat the downhill riders on the climbs, and for the real keen peddlers, there is also optional climbing sections. And true the downhillers tend to overtake the cross country riders when it comes to descending, and there are a couple of optional “free ride” sections. But overall, the race is a fantastic melting pot of all mountain bike styles and standards.

As for the course itself – it has to be one of the best in the world! It takes in some amazing panoramas on the Morgins and Champoussin sections with views of the Dents du Midi, the Dents Blanch and even Mont Blanc. There is some excellent steep and twisty single track down through the woods in Torgon. There are dedicated downhill courses used at Chatel and Les Gets. There is an epic descent from the top of Linderets down to Morzine and there are some great meandering cross-country sections on relatively easy 4×4 tracks.

Another excellent feature of this event are the fantastic refreshment stands located at regular intervals throughout the course. Large tables offer up a wide range of snacks and drinks, from energy/nut bars to cheese and ham, from energy drinks to beer and wine. It is always interesting to see who feels fit to tuck into the alcoholic drinks at ten in the morning, and then avoid them if you see them on the course!

The Passporte du Soleil is really an event for everyone. It has become so massive that it now sells out months in advance. However, if you visit the Portes du Soleil later on in the summer, it is possible to get a map from the local tourist office and cycle pretty much the whole route.

Race stats:

Classic trek – 75 Km
The classic circuit is for purists: a long tour of the Portes du Soleil about 75km
    * approximatively 75km – 12 lifts
    * 6500m of total downhill/ 500m of total uphill
    * 7 resorts to start from : Avoriaz, Châtel, Les Gets, Morzine, Champéry, Morgins et Torgon
    * 8 refreshments points

Intermediate trek – 45 km
45km with one aim in mind; having fun
    * approximatively 45km – 7 lifts
    * 4000m of total downhill /300m of total uphill.
    * 4 resorts to start from: Châtel, Champéry, Morgins et Torgon.
    * 4 refreshments points

Discovery trek – 30km
For those who are quite good at mountain biking, but out on The Portes du Soleil’s tracks for the first ime…an ideal “breaking in route”
    * approximatively 30km- 5 lifts
    * 2200m of total downhill/ 200m of total uphill
    * 3 resorts to start from: Avoriaz, Morzine et Les Gets
    * 3 refreshments points

For more information, visit the Passportes du Soleil website.

Skiing in a recession – how to keep costs down

Ways to save money when booking a ski holiday.

With the recession tightening its stranglehold on the UK economy, here are some useful tips to save money on a ski holiday.

First of all, why not consider a self catered holiday? In this day and age, self catering doesn’t automatically mean tiny studio apartment s with fold down beds and people sleeping in the lounge. There is now a wide selection of excellent large self catered chalets available online, often with hot tubs and saunas. Self catered holidays tend to work out very reasonable on a per head basis, as long as all the beds in a property are filled.

Driving to your ski holiday is another excellent way of saving money. Cross channel ferries keep their prices low in order to compete with the budget airlines, and if you have four people in a car it will cost a lot less to drive than to fly – especially over the main holiday weeks.

Another advantage to driving is that you can stock the car up with food and drink for the week in the UK. This will stop you from losing money in resort because of a poor exchange rate. If the exchange rate recovers, having a car will still save you money because it will allow you to shop at the larger (and cheaper) out of town supermarkets rather than the smaller more expensive ones in the centre of the resort.

Once in resort, you should consider buying a local area lift pass rather than the full wider area one. Most people tend to buy the most expensive lift pass which covers the greatest area. In reality, for 6 days skiing, the local area is often enough. It is also good to get to know the local area really well, rather than just skiing every piste once in the wider area.

Another mistake that many people make is that of pre-booking their ski hire online. Nine times out of ten, the prices are no cheaper than if you walk into a shop off the street, and the quality of the equipment is often dubious. Furthermore, once you have handed over your credit card details online you are also tied to that one particular shop. A better option is to talk to your tour operator and see what sort of deals they have for you in resort. Chances are they work with a particular shop because of the good service, good equipment and excellent pricing on offer.

In order to carry out the aforementioned tips, it is vital that you get your destination right. There is no point in planning to economise and then booking a holiday in Courchevel! Resorts such as Chatel, in the Portes du Soleil will help you save money for the following reasons;

1) The resort, although a major ski resort in the world’s biggest ski area, is actually very reasonably priced since it is still predominantly visited by the French – it is a bit of an undiscovered gem.

2) The resort is located in the Northern French Alps so is one of the first ones you can get to when driving from Calais.

3) Because all the accommodation is chalet style, there is a huge selection of well priced high quality self catered accommodation.

4) Although part of the massive Portes du Soleil ski area, the local Chatel pass covers some of the best skiing in the domain (namely Linga & Pre La Joux).

5) If you do decide to ski the whole area, the lift pass for the whole Portes du Soleil is a lot cheaper than some of the other big domains, namely the Trois Vallees or Verbier.

However, all of this doesn’t mean that Chatel is some kind of second class resort. It is a beautiful alpine resort with a highly sophisticated skiing infrastructure in place.

In summary, just because money is tight doesn’t mean that you have to put your annual ski pilgrimage on hold. You just have to choose your ski resort well.

Chatel – a great destination for family ski holidays

Chatel is a picturesque ski resort based at the heart of the Portes du Soleil – the largest linked ski area in the world. The resort caters for all the family which makes it an excellent choice for holidaying with children.

From as early as age 3, children can start their skiing in Chatel at “Les Marmottons” Kindergarten, run by the Chatel ESF team. Les Marmottons is situated within the main part of the village and is accessible by a regular free ski bus. It has a club house for refreshments and indoor activities, and a range of skiing terrain to suit all first time skiers. They are also well staffed with English speaking ski instructors and assistants to help get the little ones on their skis.

Children can progress through all the various levels of skiing at Les Marmottons and can proudly return home as fully fledged skiers clutching their award medals. There are a number of ski lifts from small rope tows to Poma drag lifts which teaches the children the basics of getting up the mountain and the snow coverage on the nursery slopes is guaranteed as they also have added snow making facilities and their own piste bashers.

The other ski schools in the village, the ESSI and the ESF, also offer great group lessons or private lesson options for children as young as age 4 at the two main Chatel ski areas – Pre la Joux and Super Chatel.

The ESSI is a small independent operation with English speaking instructors, offering small class sizes and easy meeting points.

The ESF are able to offer fantastic value for money on their group and private lesson packages and offer meeting points at Super Chatel and Pre la Joux. Both ski areas are easily accessed by car or by the free village ski bus.

The Super Chatel ski area is reached by gondola from the centre of the village allowing parents with little children and even babies to go up the mountain and feel like they are part of the skiing action. There are sledging areas at the top of the gondola next to the nearby beginner slopes where the snow can be enjoyed by all.

At Pre la Joux the main four-man chair lift is accessible to pedestrians and skiers alike allowing families and non skiers to go up and down the mountain by chair lift for lunch in one of the restaurants or for a hot chocolate or vin chaud on one of the sun terraces.

Families visiting Chatel find that very quickly they are able to find their way round the resort, skiing a range of slopes to suit all levels and ensuring that all members of the family feel like they can make the most of the ski area whilst still sharing quality time together.

Chatel – the best kept secret in the French Alps

If you know a bit about skiing, and someone asks you what the largest ski area in the world is, you would probably say the Three Valleys. Similarly, if you were asked where the best “snow sure” ski areas are, you might mention some of the glacier resorts such as Tignes and Val Thorens.

In both cases you would be wrong!

Currently, the largest linked ski area in the world is the Portes du Soleil area in the Northern French and Swiss Alps. The area benefits from North facing slopes and the highest average snowfall in the Alps, meaning that Avoriaz and Chatel tend to get some of the best snow conditions in Europe from the start to the end of the season. In fact, the lifts of Avoriaz often stay open until the first weekend in May. Not bad for a resort with no glacier who’s lifts only go up to 2500 m!

Avoriaz is a striking purpose built resort built on an impressive cliff top at 1800 m. Its architecture evokes a mixed response. It is extremely convenient for skiing and is right at the centre of the Portes du Soleil.

Of course, purpose built resorts are not for everyone, and if you would prefer a more traditional chalet style resort, then Chatel might be for you.

Chatel is built on the side of a sunny south/west facing slope so visitors staying in the village get beautiful views up and down the picturesque Vallee d’Abondance. However, the strength of Chatel lies in its spectacular North facing ski slopes of Linga & Pre La Joux. These areas have some of the most exciting and interesting terrain in the whole of the Portes du Soleil, and two chairlifts will take you up to Avoriaz in about 10 minutes or so.

The area gets a phenomenal amount of snow on an annual basis, and because of its aspect, it keeps it well. The domain often gets slated for its low altitude (1200 – 2500 m) but those in the know have long since realised that a high altitude resort is no good if the area doesn’t generally get much snow!

Chatel itself is a beautiful place to stay. All the buildings are chalet style and there are a number of original old farms still full of cows to be found in and around the village centre. There isn’t just skiing to keep holidaymakers entertained – the village has two cinemas, an ice rink, a lake where you can go ice diving, lots of fantastic bars & restaurants, spa facilities in a number of hotels and a whole list of non-ski related activities such as dog sledding, snow shoeing and paragliding.

One of the best things about Chatel is that it is relatively undiscovered. It attracts “people in the know” who want to avoid the crowds and find the most extensive skiing in the best areas.

For more information on this beautiful resort, you can visit the Chatel Tourist Office site or About Chatel.

The village also makes a spectacular destination in summer, but that needs a separate article dedicating to summer in Chatel.