Châtel and the wider Portes du Soleil area offer a plethora of activities, walks, rides, sports, games and sights of interest suitable for all ages and all moods. Surrounded by such stunning scenery even a simple picnic is transformed into an awe-inspiring experience.
Below are just some of the highlights of things to do in the area. Further information can be found on the links provided and Châtel or Portes du Soleil websites. Don’t forget destinations like Evian, Thonon, Geneva, Annecy and many more are easily accessible for day trips. “The Lake – for beaches and water sports - is only a short drive away.
Please note some of these activities are seasonal so only available during July and August.
World-class Downhill and Cross-Country Mountain Biking: Over 90km of marked runs in Châtel alone and, just like skiers do in the winter, you can take the lifts and ride over to other resorts in the Portes du Soleil (600km of trails). From gentle and beautiful cross-country runs right up to the reds and blacks in the bike parks, there is plenty to explore in and out of the bike parks!
Bike rental in Châtel ranges from €25 to €75 per day depending on type of bike.
Various events take place over the summer months including the very popular Passportes du Soleil – an 80km cross-country and downhill circuit event taking in 2 countries, 15 lifts and 8 refreshment points.
Hundreds of miles of breath-taking mountain roads, paths and circuits taking in the sights, the scenery and the towns and villages along the way. Riders come from far and wide to tackle, among many others, the Col de Corbier into Morzine, the iconic Col de Joux Plane (featured 11 times in the Tour de France) and the stunning Col de Bassachaux. Cycle paths criss-cross the mountain allowing cyclists to plan circuits that can take from just a few hours right up to the epic 685km, 10 day tour of Les Grandes Alpes, Mont Blanc, Chablais and Arvais.
Rock climbing in the area is well established and for the experienced there is plenty to discover. Guides are also available to show you the ropes, as it were! Châtel village offers 2 separate climbing centres for those seeking supervised climbs or lessons. There are also climbing walls for learning and practicing. Within a short distance, in and around neighbouring villages, there are numerous clubs, centres and climbing sites to cater for all ages and all abilities. Whether looking for a fun family day out or a competition climb you will not be disappointed.
For those with little or no climbing experience but who would still like to try climbing and minimise the risk, there is the Via Ferrata. Built by the Italians to cross the mountains unaided and unseen during the war, there are various sites in the area, each of a different standard that now allow climbers to clip onto a pre-installed cable and use the foot and hand holds to climb across sheer faces and up the mountain side. Equipment hire is only €16 per day and you can climb the Via Ferrata for free or hire a guide to supervise.
There are hundreds of marked and signposted walks in Châtel and the Portes du Soleil taking in the most interesting areas on the mountain. From quick jaunts to whole-day trips, enough to satisfy everyone! You’ll find wildlife aplenty as well as waterfalls, lakes, rivers, valleys, views and mountain pastures. Explore by yourself, follow one of the many themed trails or hire a guide to show you around. Whatever you choose make sure to take in the gastronomy available in the mountain refuges and restaurants.
RAFTING & RIVER-SPORTS
For the thrill seekers, white water rafting, kayaking, Hydrospeed, canyoning or canoeing down the river Drense are all within easy reach of the chalet. Or how about an altogether more serene afternoon enjoying a leisurely picnic by one of the many lakes on the mountain?
“Lake Geneva” is only short drive away and offers great sandy beaches, full range of water sports and beautiful lakeside villages (like this tiny medieval masterpiece) dotted around the coast.
There are 7 18-hole golf courses within 35km of Châtel including the championship standard Evian Masters Golf Club and the beautiful Villars Golf Club. Golf Des Gets is a full 18-hole course set amid the very peaks and slopes that serve the skiers in the winter. A great course, well maintained with the most interesting topography! A little further away and directly under the looming gaze of the mighty Mont Blanc, is the very popular Golf Club de Chamonix plus various other courses in both France and Switzerland.
Châtel Tennis Courts, Châtel centre, offers 8 tennis courts and volleyball in beautiful surroundings. This activity is covered by the Multipass scheme (so free to play if you have a Multipass). Lessons are available for adults and children, any level, and fun tournaments are organised in July and August. In neighbouring Morgins and Champery there are further centres and the courts in Val d’Illiez are in the same complex as the thermal baths so you can play a few sets and then relax in the hot spring water afterwards!
Additionally, just a short walk across the field from the chalet, there are 4 courts available that are usually free, just turn up and play. There may occasionally be a nominal fee but this is unusual.
Whether for sport or relaxation, Châtel and the nearby surrounding area offer everything you need to enjoy your fishing to the full. Choose the river, or any one of the many mountain lakes and bring your catch (likely to be trout from the lakes) back to the chalet to cook on the bar-b-que!
A number of rivers flow down the Abondance Valley: the Malève, the Edian and the Dranse of Abondance. And the lakes of les Plagnes, the Tavaneuse, and the Fontain, among many others, are all inviting you to relax and to cast your rod out to catch some of the many salmon and trout to be found in the rivers and lakes.
Recently opened, the Forme d’O aquatic centre offers a pool for children, a dedicated swimmers pool (with lanes) and an outdoor pool to enjoy the weather and the surroundings.
There are also various swimming lakes around the mountain. The most popular being at Lac Montriond just 45 minutes away. A great way to spend a day lounging around in the surrounding park or making use of the many activities in or around the lake itself.
SPAS & WELLNESS
Various Spas, Wellness Centres and Massage rooms are available locally and in surrounding areas. The pick of the bunch, all in Châtel centre:
Spa Océane at Châtels Forme d’O Aquatic Centre offers a full range of treatments and massages. Add the pools, saunas and hammams of the Wellness Centre your pampering options are complete.
The “Authentic Voyage” Spa at the Hotel Macchi in the centre of Châtel offers spa treatments and massage therapies along with a heated pool, steam room, Jacuzzi and sauna. Perfect for recharging the batteries!
La Fée Bien-être, situated in town, near Lac de Vonnes, offers massage therapies, hydro-pool, Sauna, Hammam and their brand new “Medy-Jet” – massage by water.
SHOPS, BARS & RESTAURANTS
The lively village centre houses an array of shops, restaurants and bars all set within traditional alpine architecture that gives Châtel its 'chocolate box’ feel. You’ll find a great selection of boutique and gift shops and artisanal delis selling local cheese, meats and wines as well as creperies, coffee shops, bars and restaurants to indulge in some of the Savoyard hospitality and cuisine. The atmosphere here is friendly and leisurely - enjoy a coffee on one of the many sun soaked terraces, wander around the little side streets and gift shops, experience the hum of the weekly market or relax in the pub at the end of a hard day.
Experience the breath-taking views soaring through the sky on a tendem 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 many fascinating sights of interest within a reasonable driving distance, enough to suit anybody! Beautiful mountain and lakeside villages, more well known destinations like Evian, Gruyere, Yvoire and Montreux - with its world famous Jazz Festival. Also vineyards and wineries, castles, chateaux, ruins, chocolate factories, monasteries, museums, even the CERN particle accelerator!
A little further afield but still well suited for a day trip (and totally worth it!) are destinations like Annecy, Geneva and Lausanne. Annecy in particular with its cobbled streets, winding canals and pastel-coloured houses is one of the most beautiful towns in the world
The lake, well known incorrectly as Lake Geneva is actually called Lac Lausanne in Switzerland and Lac Leman in France (the border runs through the middle of it) offers a long list of 'things to do'. Flanked by numerous fascinating and beautiful towns and villages the lake itself offers day trips on anything from a Pedalo to a yacht. There's also water-sports aplenty like waterskiing and wakeboarding, sailing, rowing, swimming, windsurfing, paddle-boarding and most of these are found on some of the many large sandy beaches.
LES BAINS DE LAVEY
The pools and tubs of Les Bains de Lavey are fed from the hottest springs in Switzerland - 62° to 70°! The massive main pool, covering 1600m2 in the full splendour of the surrounding mountains, is replete with whirlpools, massage jets, swan-necks, waterfalls, underwater currents and underwater massages. There are 4 hammams in the Oriental Space, a relaxation area in the Rest Pavilion and traditional and naturist saunas in the Nordic Pavilion. The Wellness Centre offers a full range of spa treatments and you’ll find fruit juices, drinks and bar food at the L’arc en Ciel Bar. A great day out from €27 per adult and €18 for children.
There are various options for horse-riding in the valley and close by. In Châtel there is Chalet Val D'Abondance. Throughout the summer you can join daily treks by horse or pony following a wide variety of routes through the beautiful valley extending from Châtel down to Abondance. They offer trips to suit all standards of riders.
Just over the border in Morgins (10 minutes away) there is MountainPlus. This from one of their recent clients: "The owner, Monica, speaks French, English and German fluently. They have several beautiful, well-trained horses and ponies to suit any size and riding ability, so you are in safe hands. Riding equipment can be borrowed from the yard so there is no worry if you don’t have your own hat."
FANTASTICABLE & ZIP-LINING
AccroBranche du Dahu in Champery is an adventure park for kids and adults of all ages. Zip-lines, suspended bridges, death-slides, swings, even disc golf! A play-park in the trees and a fantastic day out for the whole family.
The Fantasticable in Châtel - just a couple of lifts up the mountain - is another exhilarating experience not to miss! Suspended from a cable fly at 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.