News from the snow
An old Savoyard village with a long farming tradition and today a strong tourism infrastructure, Châtel is well placed on the Portes du Soleil circuit, arguably the world's biggest lift-linked ski area offering 650km (406 miles) of piste. It differs from other Portes du Soleil resorts in a variety of ways. Firstly, the often busy road through it comes in from Switzerland, with the border post at one end of town; it's easy to reach the other French (and Swiss) Portes du Soleil resorts by ski, but not so easy by road. Secondly, the Portes du Soleil circuit is broken by the village, with a fast and frequent bus service making the connection across the village. This is actually quite good news for those based in the village, as they can decide which sector they wish to ski each morning. Thirdly, the village offers a high number of relatively inexpensive small family hotels and chalets rather than having the usual 99% apartment accommodation that is on offer in most French resorts. Finally, despite its meteoric rise leading to more rapid expansion than most other Portes du Soleil resorts (although arguably Morzine's expansion is Avoriaz...), Châtel has managed to maintain most of its development in chalet style buildings in keeping with the natural ambience of the resort. At the same time the farming tradition remains strong with farm fresh produce on sale direct from various local outlets. The resort's own radio station, radio Chatel on 98.8, keeps you informed as to what's going on from day to day in the village.
An old Savoyard village with a long farming tradition and today a strong tourism infrastructure. Well placed on the Portes du Soleil circuit, arguably the world's biggest lift-linked ski area offering 650km of piste.
Indeed, with so many lifts dotted around, and Châtel's two gondolas linking in to two sections of the vast Portes du Soleil, it's a bit difficult to work out exactly where the extensive skiing the village claims as it own comes to an end and the next resort's territory begins. Rather than trying to work that out, most skiers and 'boarders will be admiring the picturesque scenery for which the area is renowned, with thickly forested slopes above the valley floor giving way to open snow fields and then the rocky pinnacles above and beyond.
Intermediates will enjoy Châtel's skiing and the vast range of opportunities in the Portes du Soleil beyond. For advanced skiers the Linga sector is the place to go initially where you'll find challenging runs beneath the gondola.
There are now six ski schools operating in the resort, including some small specialist snowboard and off-piste operations which will be able to locate more advanced terrain away from the crowds.
Children pay for lift passes from age 5 (The norm in France, but not very generous compared to many international resorts) and receive approximately a 20% discount, a less expensive Châtel Pass and about 30% off the Portes du Soleil Pass up to age 16. Six businesses in the village rent out equipment for babies and children should you have forgotten anything.
There are two crêperies, Chez Jojo and the Galettière, and Pinocchio and Flambée both have good pizza menus. Some of the best food available locally is served at the Fleur de Neige hotel, one of Châtel's top establishments.
The Tunnel Bar, owned by Scots, and the Pelican Bar, both have a vibrant feel and frequently stage live music. Another popular spot is l'avalanche, in the village centre on the road to Linga. L'isba is the local action video bar. Evening alternatives are the bowling alley and a cinema showing English and French films on various nights.
There's a good choice of 'boarding hire and sales shops and schools for tuition including Ski Surf Ecole International and l'Ecole de Ski Snow Ride.