Where is Crans-Montana
Crans-Montana sits in the canton of the Valais in Switzerland. Located on a south-facing plateau above the Rhone Valley sitting at around 1500 metres, Crans-Montana has one of the most spectacular views of all the mountain resorts. The panorama stretches from East to West and includes some of the largest and most famous mountains of the Alps, such as the
Weisshorn at 4506m, Dent Blanche at 4357m, the Matterhorn at 4478m and of course the largest mountain in Europe the Mont Blanc at 4808m. The panorama has over 18 peaks that are over 4000 metres.
Crans-Montana’s south-facing location makes for an extremely sunny location, one can watch as cloudy fronts seem to travel along the valley but do not interfere with the resort. There are so many different habitats from the lowest altitude at 539m in the lower valley all the way up to 3000m at the Plaine Morte Glacier. With river planes in the valley, vineyards, lakes, forests, meadows and high Alpine mountain glaciers the area seems to have it all covered. The local language is French, but English is spoken in most places.
Where to stay in Crans-Montana
Crans-Montana is only 30km away from Sion International Airport and only 180km from Geneva-Cointrin , transfering to Crans-Montana is then fairly straightforward thanks to the road network and public transport services such as the train, funicular and local buses.
On this occasion, Cheeky and I drove down from the UK to Crans Montana in just one day, for the final leg we made our way up the winding Alpine road to our hotel LeCrans. Situated high up in the Alpine forest above Crans-Montana this has to be one of the most idyllic locations.
The hotel has one of the best viewing points in Crans Montana of the panoramic mountain scenery, the restaurant provided ‘dinner and a show’ every night with its huge windows and breathtaking views south. One evening we even sat out and watched the lightning storms in the mountains in the south, truly magical.
This is the location of the first hotel in Crans Montana, the original Hôtel du Parc in 1893 opened by local Louis Antille; in fact the family is still in the area, the granddaughter of Louis, Catherine Antille is a local mountain guide and wine professional with her own company Valais wine Tours.
What to do in Crans-Montana
We spent the day with Catherine, what better guide of the local area could you have than a local who knows all there is to know about wine. First we started with a test of our courage! We hiked along the Bisse du Ro, a hand built irrigation channel that winds its way around the mountain to help irrigate the local vineyards and crops, quite a feat of engineering.
The path is made up of many precarious walkways hanging from cliffs, this path then culminates with a long bouncy suspension bridge- the Passerelle du Bisse du Ro, Cheeky certainly had to dig deep to russel up the courage to cross this one, only to discover that she had to turn around and walk back, the promise of wine may have helped.
History & Art
Catherine then showed us some of the local history and eclectic architecture of the village of Lens, followed by lunch at the Opale museum. After a locally sourced lunch at the museum we then checked out the current exhibition INTERSTELLAR with sixty artworks created by contemporary Aboriginal and international artists. It was then off to a local vineyard for a wine tasting.
Vineyards of Crans-Montana
Collectively there are 320 Hectares of Vineyards in the area. We visited the Vineyard of Bagnoud Vins which is located just below Crans-Montana with vines growing over ten hectares between 500 and 800 metres producing a huge variation of flavours in the grapes. The father Nicolas and sons Régis & Simon obviously know what they are doing because we left with a box of Pinot Noir and Humagne Blanche, delicious.
When it comes to looking for something out of the ordinary in an Alpine resort, then make your way over to Etang Long in Crans, where a beach club has been constructed on the lake. Here one can soak up the beach vibe sipping cocktails on the sun loungers or at the bar or take part in some wakeboarding in the lake. Of course I had to give the wakeboarding a go, wakeboarding at 1455 metres, surrounded by mountain peaks whilst people hung out on the sandy beach, what a surreal mix of cultures.
Biking with E-bikes
The following day it was time to explore the area on E-bike. I swore that I would never E-bike with Cheeky again after the last time she threw herself off the side of the road on one. But we were in good hands with Luis, our guide from the ESS bike School.
We made our way out of Crans-Montana by road and started heading up, thank goodness for the ‘E’ part of the bike when things got steep. Eventually we headed off road and onto steep rough stoney tracks and made our way up to the dairy farm of Alpage de Prabaron.
At Alpage de Prabaron we met with the head cheese maker Tetyana Dyadechchko. Tetyana originates from Ukraine where she has a cheese factory, but sadly the production there stopped during the war, so she is in Crans-Montana making a variety of tantalising cheeses from the local Raclette cheese to Feta, smoked Tome and Mozzarella.
With bellies full of cheese and about a stone heavier it was time to head down to the Buvette Cave du Sex, no sniggering at the back! A lovely Alpine hut situated on the outskirts of Crans-Montana with rolling views and delightful food.
Where to play Golf
Back in 1906 the Englishman Sir Henry Lunn, famous for Alpine tourism and founder of Poly Lunn, once the largest travel agent in the UK, bought golf at Crans-Montana. By 1908 an 18 hole golf course had been built and it was the highest golf course in the world at that time.
Back in the early 1900s golf was exclusively the privilege of British Lords and Ladies, so it was only right that we went to see this Golf course, the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club and have a private lesson with Pache Valentin, a local golf instructor. As a young man I was never really that fond of golf, but I have to say if I had experienced golf in these surroundings, it may have been a different story. My rule now is that whenever I play golf it has to be whilst surrounded by mountains.
Crans-Montana has it all in summer
If you are looking for a summer holiday in the mountains, Crans-Montana has something for everyone; from Alpine culture, history and delicious cuisine, regular events and festivals to a variety of sports and outdoor recreational activities; not to mention go there just for the breathtaking views of some of the largest mountains in the Alps.
For more information please visit Crans-Montana