THE AREA: The Chatel Espace Liberté ski area includes Châtel, La Chapelle & Abondance, the Swiss resort of Torgon and the Corbeau sector of the Swiss resort of Morgins. / Portes du Soleil includes 12 Resorts – 8 French : Avoriaz 1800, Morzine-Avoriaz, Montriond, Les Gets, St Jean d’Aulps, Abondance, La Chapelle d’Abondance & Châtel & 4 Swiss resorts: Champéry, Torgon, Morgins, Val d’ Illiez Les Crosets Champoussin.
SEASON START & END: mid December – late April
SKI ALTITUDE IN METRES: Local resort 1,053–2,430 m / Vertical Drop – 1,300m // Connected Area 930m-2,466m / Vertical Drop – 1,500m
PISTES: Local resort of Chatel – 83 km /45 Pistes:(9 Green / 15 Blue / 15 Red / 6 Black) // The Chatel Espace Liberté ski area – 130km / 82 Pistes (14 Green / 29 Blue / 23 Red / 7 Black + Ski routes) // Portes du Soleil – 600km / 316 (34 Green / 119 Blue / 101 Red / 32 Black + Freestyle Zones)
LIFTS: Local resort of Chatel- 42 (Cable cars 2 / Chair lift 13 / Drag Lifts 24 and 3 other mountain lifts) // The Chatel Espace Liberté ski area – 63 (3 bubble lifts, 19 chair lifts, 37 drag lifts, 4 rope tows, 1 carpet) // Portes du Soleil: Total 208
SNOW: Local Resort: 320 snow cannons
LIFT TICKET 2021/22 Ski Pass: (online) Adult Local Resort Châtel Liberté: 44 Euros – 1 day / 209 Euros – 6 days // Adult Connected Area: 55.50 Euros – 1 day / 278 Euros – 6 days
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING: 49km trails
AIRPORT: Nearest airport is: Geneva 72.2km
TRAIN: Nearest railway stations are: Thonon–les–Bains (38.5km) in France / Aigle (29km) in Switzerland
SKI FACTS: Châtel is located on the French side of the Swiss/French border within the popular Portes du Soleil ski area. Châtel is great for beginner skiers and snowboarders but there is some superb terrain for both expert and intermediates.
Châtel is in the Haute-Savoie in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes; like many Alpine villages Châtel has its origins in mountain farming and to this day farming is still a big part of Châtel’s economy. The local cheese, known as Abondance, can still be bought directly from a handful of local farms and we even saw people queuing outside the local cheese shop, so it is safe to say that the local produce is pretty special. Skiing first came to the area in 1947 and in 1948 local legend Roland Macchi opened the first ski school which started to draw tourists to the area. The Macchi name became famous with Roland’s daughter, Françoise Macchi, who became one of France’s top Alpine skiers. To this day there is still a hotel bearing the name of the Macchi family. Due to the Alpine heritage the village of Châtel has a lovely feel with so many classic wood and stone chalets; and new buildings have to follow in a similar style.
There are two main areas to ski in Chatel, the nearest is Super Chatel Barbossine, the first section you reach is perfect for families and beginners with various drag lifts, short nursery slopes and restaurants, as soon as you venture higher out of this area the difficulty increases and you can travel quite far, all the way to La Chapelle d’Abondance. Alternatively one can take the TK Chalet Neuf frag lifts and make your way over to Morgins in Switzerland where there are a collection of lovely long rolling blues perfect for the next steps.
The second area is Linga Pré-La-Joux where you start to venture further in to the Portes du Soleil. The pistes here are big, long and mostly wide, more like the pistes of a mega resort, they are great fun but can be very popular, from here your adventure can continue on into Avoriaz and beyond. At the top of Des Rochassons chairlift there is a ‘cross valley’ Zip line. If you want to ride this, do not eat too much Tartiflette the night before, as I found when I stepped on the scales and came in at 96kg… but of course that was all just a mixture of the finest ski equipment and finely tuned muscle?!? It is good to know that they take their safety seriously though, too much wind on the day meant 90kg max for solo riders, so it was not to be sadly… an experience that I am sure is worth returning for.
For making your first tracks in the snow there are a good collection of green pites over in La Chapelle d’Abondance, not directly linked with the rest of the resort which means that it is mostly for beginners. The next steps for beginners takes place at the top of the Super Chatel gondola, a lovely bowl of blue pistes nestled amongst the trees.
The rest of the Chatel area will keep any intermediate satisfied. From travelling through the quiet tree runs over towards La Chapelle d’Abondance and over to Swiss Morgins or to the big open slopes of Linga Pré-La-Joux, there are so many different varieties of terrain and environment; they almost feel like totally different ski resorts. There is a reason that Chatel has its loyal fans who just keep coming back.
Dotted throughout Chatel are the odd the Black pistes, my favourite was Barbossine a very long piste with huge moguls at the top; once I passed the carnage of skiers at the top, the piste was mine and mine alone, huge bumps made my thighs burn, but eventually the piste opens out to a tree lined piste with no one in site, and then the sun came out… perfection.
In Chatel you are certainly not stuck for choice when it comes to food, on the mountain we recommend the tartiflette up at L’Escale. In town Le 1200 creates outstanding food, using the finest ingredients prepared in the best possible way, make sure you book your table so you do not miss out. We particularly liked the fresh Scallop Ceviche and the Pork Belly paired with local Haute-Savoie wine.
WHERE TO STAY
We recommend the 4 star Hotel Macchi of local legend Roland Macchi fame, with its great service and cosy rooms. With a lovely quaint spa, bar and restaurant on site it has everything one would need for a ski break and the staff are super friendly and helpful. They also run a very handy ski shuttle to the two main base lifts so you do not have to shelp with all your equipment through town.
For all of your ski equipment and rental needs head over to Vincent Sport in the town centre where they will look after you and get you slope ready.
ECOLOGY & SUSTAINABILITY FACTS:
-2012 Châtel is a world Geopark Unesco site.
-2015 Châtel awarded Flocon Vert (Green Snowflake) Certification guaranteeing the sustainable commitment of mountain tourist destination.
-Châtel is one of the 6 villages of the Abondance valley awarded “Pays d’Art et d’Histoire” for supporting architectural quality and the local environment.
-Chatel is currently renovating five local service buildings to reach 50% energy consumption by 2040.
For information visit online Chatel.