Châtel is an essential destination for challenging downhill mountain-biking coupled with an authentic Alpine experience.
If you’re in the Haute Tarentaise in summer, perhaps based in Saint-Foy Tarentaise, Tignes or Val d’Isère, you’ll have access to a network of footpaths whose well-signed routes will take you into some truly magnificent mountain scenery.
The Sentier des Bords de Dranse is a family-friendly cycle trail along the banks of the River Dranse between Châtel and Abondance. Stop off in La Chapelle d’Abondance around midway for refreshments in the centre of the village. There’s a choice of restaurants in all three villages and a summer shuttle bus service to take you and your bikes back to your start point.
When our granddaughter turned three years old, we chose family friendly La Rosière for her first ski lessons with ESF.
The more southerly Alpine resorts are a revelation, so what things are like even further south? The answer is: “Better than you ever imagined…”.
MountainPassions.com Editor Roger Moss picks five of his favourite resorts for relaxed skiing in the French Alps.
Châtel was always stylish, and now it’s also very well-connected, thanks to major lift upgrades. We ski the Portes du Soleil from Châtel.
The 2109m Col de Vars, a classic climb in the Tour de France, replaced an earlier, even higher pass created by the military and abandoned as soon as its successor opened. Was it, I wondered, still possible to follow the Route du Parpaillon? Attempting it on a mountain bike seemed like the ideal way to find out.
Like all skiers, our pulses quicken when the snow begins to fall, but you can have too much of a good thing. Dont believe me? Try skiing in near-blizzard conditions, when you can’t read the surface of the piste you’re negotiating, thick mists have blotted out even long-familiar features and the wind is strengthening by the minute. When you get assailed by all three, then it’s time to do the unthinkable and head back down the mountain to sit out the storm.
The latter part of this month’s sustained snowfalls in the French Alps seem to have bypassed the Grand Massif, but there was more than enough to make our first couple of days’ skiing from Samoëns very enjoyable.