How well do you know Châtel? l Athena Advisers15 June
Châtel has been our most popular resort for French ski property over the last 12 months and it’s easy to see why. This traditional Alpine village, which ten years ago was somewhat idle and left-behind, has changed completely. It is now a vibrant resort that boasts many facilities, but these have all been introduced carefully, retaining the village’s authentic aesthetic.
In some ways Châtel is a contradiction. It is a small resort, but one that lies within a huge ski domain: the Portes du Soleil. Slopes link from La Chapelle d’Abondance resort to Super-Châtel, then to Linga resort (via the recently finished new lifts)and finally round to Pré-La-Joux. There are so many places to explore.
One of our very own here at Athena grew up in this timeless mountain resort and has seen the changes first hand. Here, our in-house ‘Châtelan’ gives you her own advice on leisure, sport and life in Châtel.
The ideal ski day
You would start in the Chapelle d’Abondance at 9:30am and reach the Torgon and Chalet Neuf slopes where you can access the snow and boarder parks in Super-Châtel for a bit of fun in the air. From this sub-resort you can now take the new link to Linga’s slopes and eat a traditional mountain meal at the Chalet Sur Les pistes restaurant or at La lèche (under the Linga’s cable car).
After a nice lunch under the sun you head off to the fabulous domain of Pré-La-Joux via the Echo Alpin chairlift. Depending on how much wine featured during lunch you can then choose the blue or red slope Combes slope. From this point, the Cornebois chairlift will take you to Plaine-Dranse home to the Chez Babeth restaurant. Take a coffee, hot chocolate or vin chaud here and enjoy the views and decorations (if you’re there during Christmas).
For the best slopes…
The sunniest ones are in Super-Châtel. The Chalet Neuf slopes are perfect for medium-level skiers. If you are looking for bigger thrills, take the Morclan chairlift and go straight to Barbossine for some challenging black-grade terrain.
There are also some very enjoyable off-piste areas around Châtel, that cater to all levels. The Happy Valley over on the Pré-La-Joux domain is the easy option for those whose legs aren’t accustomed to powder-bashing. It is located at the top of Cornebois chairlift. At the bottom of this track you will find a really good restaurant called Les Blatins.
For the best views…
At the top of the Combes chairlift you can take in amazing sights of the Plaine du Rhône, the Lac Leman and Dents du Midi mountains. Getting down from here can be tricky though. If you fancy views with an easier ski afterwards, head up the Morclan chairlift - in Super- Châtel – and enjoy the incredible views of Mont Blanc.
For peaceful “après-ski”
Enjoy delicious pancakes at Chez Robert in the centre of the village, a nice hot chocolate at Maki hostel (along with a spa session) or at the Hotel des Contrebandiers.
If you are looking to loosen the legs with a small (or large) drink the friendliness and warmth of the Chez Popeye and Nazca bars are a good choice, the favourite for locals too. The Avalanche bar is normally the place of choice for British, as is Le Fer Rouge, probably because it is also one of the best beer makers in the region.
For the best food
As with all authentic alpine resorts it’s hard not to find amazing traditional menus serving home-cooked fondues and tartiflettes, with good quality meats, a large choice of cheese and formidable wine menus. La Poya, Le Vieux Four and La Reserve are some of the Châtel’s best. They use local produce and a favoured for their friendly professional service.
Unlike bigger resorts where small shops tend to disappear, taken over by mini-supermarkets, you will notice that everyone in Châtel has their own speciality: from Tochet (the butcher) to Grillet (the baker) each one is a master in their field and very happy to share their passion with you. However the finest shop of traditional food (cheese and delicatessen) may well be La Cave à Sauce, where a vast array of regional products carry out a pleasurable assault on your senses.