The Franco-Swiss Portes du Soleil ski area attracts legions of afficionados, thanks to a killer combination of near-limitless mileage, dazzling mountain scenery and short transfers from cheap flights into Geneva.
Despite having a choice of no fewer than twelve mostly traditional villages, most skiers from the UK will base themselves on the French side in high-altitude, high-rise Avoriaz, family-friendly Les Gets or Brit-magnet Morzine. Recently, however, an alternative, lower-profile choice has joined the party.
Skiers love the traditional village feel of Châtel
Châtel appeals to traditionalists, who adore its low-rise, chalet-style skyline, vibrant year-round community and a location at the head of a valley on the very outer limits of French soil. So why hasn’t it shown up on more skiers’ radar? Well, that was largely down to a shortage of the kind of spacious self-catering apartment accommodation favoured by today’s skiers and by volume tour operators.
Châtel attracts skiers looking for premium accommodation
The game-changer was Savoyard developer MGM’s three sell-out releases of premium 4-star apartments (followed by seven smaller chalet-style developments) just below the village at what is now the Résidence CGH Les Chalets d’Angèle. Cue French holiday giant Odalys, who responded by adding its own 4-star Les Fermes de Châtel in the heart of the village. Further developments are under way, as a result of which Châtel’s tourist capacity is now looking very healthy indeed.
Ambitious lift upgrades speed vital connections
Meanwhile, on the mountains ambitious lift upgrades have made getting around the Portes du Soleil ski area far simpler. Skiing over to Avoriaz and beyond used to involve a shuttle bus ride to alternative departure ponts along the valley, but now the Super Châtel gondola from the village centre up to Châtel’s local ski terrain also provides access to a blue-graded link piste (or a high-speed two-way chairlift ride) to the Lac de Vonnes. From here the Gabelou high-speed, two-way chairlift drops skiers onto a blue cruise down to another high-speed lift, the Linga chair. Perfect.
Skiing the Swiss terrain from Super-Châtel
Most of Super Châtel’s other lifts head straight into the Portes du Soleil’s Swiss terrain centred around Morgins, Torgon, Champoussin, Les Crosets and Champéry. There’s some great skiing on offer, and it’s currently less-widely appreciated than the French sector, although that might all change when MGM’s new development La Ferme de Suzanne at Petit-Châtel opens in 2020. We skied an all-too-quick taster session last season, joining the Petit-Châtel chairlift, transferring to the Barbossine chair and skiing off at 1913m among startling scenery. It’s a different world up there, with panoramic views and a wealth of possibilities, none of which we had time to follow up, but the red-graded descent which took us back, via the two-way Petit-Châtel chair to our starting point was enough to convince us that we really must return to ski a lot more of this intriguing sector which lies right on Châtel’s doorstep.
You can read our in-depth Châtel ski resort review with our unique insight, recommendations and things to do in our Practical Information section. You’ll also find links to the other Portes du Soleil ski resort reviews.
on our website. The official Châtel website offers you all the latest information, piste maps and webcams plus offers on ski-passes and loads more.
Book your ski holiday in Châtel
Award-winning French Alps specialist Peak Retreats offers self-catering luxury apartments in the lovely traditional-feel village of Châtel.
Résidence CGH Les Chalets d’Angèle
This 4* residence offers luxurious ski apartments, combining traditional architecture with high standard modern facilities. See our thoughts about the apartments where we’ve stayed on several occasions on our Châtel ski resort review.
The company also book the conveniently situated Les Fermes de Châtel
For more details and booking visit Peak Retreats
023 9283 9310