Clearly the main winter activities are geared towards snow-sports and skiing and boarding in particular. Les Portes du Soleil is the largest ski domain in the world with an incredible 650kms of pistes, miles and miles of off-piste skiing, numerous parks and acres of backcountry for the tourers out there.
But there are also many other fun, interesting and exhilarating experiences on offer. From flying the Fantasticable in your ski boots to snowshoeing your way to a mountain refuge for lunch to driving a Porsche on an ice-track! Below is some information to whet your appetite so please click the links or just ask if you want to know more.
DRIVING ON ICE
LA FERME DE GABBY
Châtel forms part of the vast Portes du Soleil ski domain - the largest in the world under a single ski pass - and offers plenty to suit any standard. Over 650kms of pistes, 200+ lifts with new ones built every year in 12 pretty village resorts spread over 2 countries so you could come back year after year and still find new ground to explore.
You'll find world class private instructors and ski schools to get you started or hone those skills, for the more advanced there is plenty of lift accessed off-piste, acres and acres of backcountry to explore and numerous parks to show off in!
Obviously snowboarders get to ski the same vast domain that the skiers do and boarders are welcomed in the Portes du Soleil with a healthy mix of both on the mountain. The Stash is a regular haunt for snowboarders (as with some skiers) and there are many boarder-cross runs, half-pipes and parks to play in.
As with the skiers, there are amazing private instructors and schools to hone those skills and loads of off-piste and backcountry to explore. Not to mention all the restaurants and bars dotted around the mountain but more on that later...
LIFT PASSES & INSURANCE
At Chalet Blanc we prearrange your passes so they are waiting for you on arrival and there is no time wasted on your first morning. You will automatically receive the cheapest option based on your age and requirements. Passes are payable by cash or card, at the chalet, before departure. Card payments carry a 2% fee.
Having appropriate insurance is a pre-requisite of your booking so if your own travel insurance does not specifically cover "Winter Sports" you should choose the SnowRisk insurance that you can get with your pass. SnowRisk costs only €3 per day and covers the difference between standard travel insurance and Winter Sports insurance. SnowRisk can be selected for in the Customer Portal.
LIFT PASS OPTIONS
Aside from insurance there are two main options to choose from when it comes to lift passes; Châtel Only or All Areas (Full PDS). The Châtel Only pass is more than enough for beginners and children and Full passes are not required to attend any of the schools or private lessons. For anyone confident on blues and easy reds the Full PDS pass is recommended so that you can really appreciate the vastness of the domain.
Click on the photos to the left to see a map that shows how much is covered by the "Espace Liberte" (Châtel Only) pass and another of the full Portes du Soleil.
Equipment hire at Chalet Blanc is in almost all cases covered by SkiHire2U. Again everything is prearranged so you have nothing to worry about when you arrive. They also come to the chalet to fit you out so there is no endless wait at the ski shop and you can even do it with your champers in hand!
Skis, snowboards, boots, poles, helmets, snowshoes and more are all available and there are various options within each category so that you can choose the equipment that most suits your standard and style. Chalet Blanc guests receive a 10% discount.
INSTRUCTORS & GUIDES
At Chalet Blanc we work closely with a number of fully qualified and highly recommended independent instructors and we're happy to arrange lessons or guiding days for you. With ski and snowboard specialists, a private lesson is a great way to improve, no matter your level.
Not only lessons, instructors make fantastic guides. Having spent decades in the area they have exceptional knowledge of the mountain and can guide on touring/splitboarding days in the backcountry or just on and off-piste in resort. A fantastic way to spend the day, take my word for it!
Whether with or without a guide (guide recommended!) the further reaches of the mountain are open to those that have the skill and stamina to tackle it. Peaks close by but away from resort include Le Mont de Grange overlooking Châtel and Les Dents du Midi descending the Col de Dent Jaune. Within the resort there are many open areas and peaks to climb. From the Chesery to Bassachaux to La Leche all in Châtel; there is plenty to explore.
If you don't fancy the climb you can complete an altogether different type of tour: The Tour of the PDS! From Pantiaz close to the chalet you can ski around the edge of the entire Portes du Soleil and back to where you started, but you've got to be quick! It's around 50kms from start to finish!
The Nordic/cross-country ski area mainly located in La Chapelle d'Abondance, very close to the chalet, and spreads out in both directions towards Châtel and Abondance.
A mix of paid and free tracks there are 41kms of green, blue, red and black tracks in our local fields with more in neighbouring villages. For the paid tracks prices start at €9 per adult per day, €4.70 for kids.
Lessons for children and adults available from ESF with English or French instructors.
ON THE MOUNTAIN
Snow Shoeing is a fantastic way to explore the mountain, take in the sights, the fresh air and the mountain restaurants and refuges. You can hire the equipment from SkiHire2U and follow any of the many marked routes locally and across the Portes du Soleil. Alternatively, you can hire a guide; we work closely with LiveBreatheHike who offer our guests bespoke hiking and snow-shoe tours. Half day or full day, including lunch if you wish they provide all equipment and collect you from the chalet to take you to the best walks around. You can even take the "Gizmo the Mountain Dog" with you!
Airboarding consists of a body-board shaped inflatable with grooves underneath and handles on top. You then take the lift up the mountain and slide back down, head-first, controlling the airboard by leaning left or right to steer and your feet to slow down. It's instinctive, safe and fun. Requires no practice or training so anyone can do it and takes place just after the lifts close to skiers so doesn't even interfere with the ski day. No equipment necessary though it is advised to dress the same as you would to ski - including the ski boots!
One decent at the end of the day is €23 per person. Half and full day freeride sessions also available.
Snake gliss is similar in a way to Airboarding, run by the same company, but now the whole group comes down together on a single articulated sled! Individual sleds clip together one behind the other allowing you to 'snake' down the mountain. Again, no experience necessary and is great fun for everyone involved. Suitable for practically anyone from young to not-so-young!
No equipment necessary either though ski gear - waterproof clothing, gloves, goggles etc - is recommended.
Prices from €22 per person, ski pass not included.
The Fantasticable in Châtel - just a couple of lifts up the mountain - is an exhilarating experience not to miss! Can be accessed directly from the slopes and they slide your skis after you so that you can ski away once you've finished.
Suspended from a cable fly at over 60mph from peak to peak 240m over the hamlet of Plaine Dranse. A total of over 2.5km on 2 cables for €35 or a “duet” flight for €72.
Experience the breath-taking views soaring through the sky on a tandem or solo flight. From only 4 years old, no experience required, discover the beauty of the mountain in exhilarating style!
Prices from €70 for a tandem flight. Add the “Acrobatic Option” for €20 and get a photo CD of your experience for another €20 with ESI Pro Flying.
Of course, experienced flyers have a raft of options to fly from many of the peaks in the area and schools in the area can train or retrain students at any level.
There are mountain restaurants and refuges dotted all over the Portes du Soleil. Chatel's Pleine Dranse area, at the top of the first lift houses several restaurants and being so close is a great place to meet up. Kids, beginners even non-skiers can easily make it.
Similarly, all of the 12 villages in the PDS have their own areas, there are mountain refuges, bars and restaurants directly on the pistes, not to mention the Goats Village (nothing but restaurants!) so finding the perfect venue for a spot of lunch, a morning coffee or an afternoon hot chocolate (or something stronger!) is always easy.
OFF THE MOUNTAIN
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