Crans-Montana: nowhere more peaceful or more beautiful

By | Category: Advertorial, Travel destinations

This is the life!

Last month CD-Traveller introduced you to CransMontana and their amazing 33 per cent off promotion, called ‘Golden Fever in Crans-Montana’, which has to be one of the bargains of the year. But Crans-Montana has much more to offer than discount prices.

Even among those fond of skiing, how many know how much their favourite sport owes to Crans-Montana and to Sir Arnold Lunn, a figure now barely remembered? In 1911, Lunn created the first alpine downhill ski run in the world, the ‘Roberts of Kandahar’s Challenge’. So Crans-Montana will forever hold a place in the history books. From that small event erupted one of the most popular winter sports.
The links – and the love affair – between the UK and Crans-Montana still survive. Next month, a major British event the ‘London City Ski Championship’ will be held in the resort from March 15-18 inclusive. 300 management members from City major financial offices will compete on the ski slopes, as well as enjoying festive activities such as concerts and parties. A direct Snow Jet flight will take them from Stansted to Sion. And, from there, it’s less than 25km to the resort.

Crans-Montana is probably the most famous mountain village for skiing in the Valais’ region of Switzerland In the beginning, Crans-sur Sierre and Montana were just small villages, twins on a long plateau separated by two small lakes. But as the visitors – and especially the British – came so the wooden chalets and the shops merged the two. Now the border is a blur. People just use to say they are going to Montana or to Crans when they move from the eastern side of the small Lake Grenon to the western side and vice versa.

snow as far as the eye can see

Crans-Montana nestles on a long, sunny plateau at an altitude of around 1,50om. That explains why the village itself is covered in snow all winter long yet, at the same time, often bathed in sunshine. The sight of the white snow-covered chalets’ roofs and trees, larches and firs, entices visitors for long easy walks through the whole resort. But what makes Crans-Montana an unforgettable place, is its exact position. The plateau is half way on the mountain flank, right at the foot of the ski slopes. It faces south, and that gives Crans-Montana the most enjoyable climate of the region. At your feet is the Rhone Valley and, in front of you, the endless panorama of the white line of mountains summits including the Zinalrothorn and the Weisshorn.

On the northern side of Crans-Montana, you have a direct view of the ski lifts and the ski slopes that start and end at the village border. With more than 140km  of ski runs, skiers have the choice between ski slopes ranging from green to black runs. The highest runs begin from the Haut-Plateau known as La Plaine Morte, at an altitude of 3000m, where the circular view over the Alps makes you feel as though you are on the top of the world.

Due to its altitude and its southerly aspect, Crans-Montana is probably the Swiss sunniest ski resort. Frequently in winter, the clouds stay underneath, covering the valley below in a white sea, while the sun lights up the plateau and the ski slopes from dawn to sunset. It’s very common during Christmas holidays to arise in the morning in sunshine and to keep it until 5pm. Down below, the villages stay all day long under clouds. But for skiers, the attraction is the strong snowfalls that the village of Crans-Montana gets keeping it covered by a beautiful, white coat. The locals are very proud of this particular microclimate. And this makes them very welcoming. You’ll be surprised by the number of people you pass who will greet you with a nice “bonjour” or “bonsoir” and a smile.

Here, you can practice all kinds of skiing activities: ski, snowboard, telemark, cross-country skiing or sledge. For those fond of snowboarding or freestyle, the ski lift to Cry d’Er at an altitude of 2300m. will give them access to the snowpark where tubes and half-pipes will excite them. Once in a while, a nightly sledge run is organised. You can rent snowshoes and go on your own or be part of a group going on a snowshoes tour. How about travelling with a professional monitor on a tandem paraglider and fly over the runs and the village? If you want to show off a little bit and, if the weather conditions permit it, ask your instructor, to land on the frozen Lake Grenon in the heart of the village. Watch the large number of spectators who will admire your arrival.
Many more activities could occupy any minute of your day. How about a paintball fight in a snow covered forest, or a horseback snow tour through white landscapes? How about curling and ice-skating? If you prefer indoors activities, a swimming pool and a bowling alley are available. Golfing here? A new golf performance centre allows high quality golf training 365 days a year.

Tired after a long day of downhill runs? Try some easier activities. The village boasts some great shopping. Look at the prestigious brands displayed in the windows stores or just relax in any number of bars or restaurants and enjoy a hot chocolate as you watch the world go by. By the way, my two preferred lounge-bars? The New Heaven, NH, in Crans is hidden inside the small and very chic Gant store, and offers an informal but very elegant atmosphere with its leather armchairs and in Montana, the Senso-Alto is larger and has a piano bar after 18.00 everyday. Many more restaurants have wonderful cuisines from ancestral Valaisan recipes, to international cooking. And the Valais wine, with more than 40 different grapes varieties, is not to be forgotten.
The choice of hotel accommodation is huge from luxury and five star hotels to economy hotels (two stars) and B&B. The luxury rated and famous Grand Hotel du Golf and Palace is centrally situated, on the side of the 18 hole golf course in central Crans. Two new smaller hotels, members of the Leading Small Hotels of the World, have opened recently, the Hotel Guarda Golf in Crans, and Le Crans Hotel and Spa in Plans Mayens, a wonderful plateau overlooking Crans. But they are quite expensive. Costing less, other options include the Hotel du Lac, (three stars) a smaller hotel that isn’t too big but which has the best central location in the resort. It stands on the lakeside, facing the two villages and the ski slopes whilst you can see, on the other side, the Rhone Valley and the panorama of the southern Alps.

Renting an apartment or even a chalet is easy through one of the numerous, 25 agencies. Among them, Interhome in Montana is the only one which specialises just in holiday rentals.

something for everyone

There are many ways to get to Crans: by car, train or plane. The direct flights from London Stansted to Sion are the fastest way to get there, but only one or two weekend flights are available during the winter season. Flying to Geneva offers a large choice of everyday flights by scheduled, charter and low cost carriers. Travelling by train to Lausanne is also a good option: you board the Eurostar in London St Pancras International and change in Paris to the TGV to Lausanne. Many direct trains link Geneve airport and Lausanne railways station to Sierre, where a 12 minute cable car journey gets you right into the heart of the resort.If you prefer to drive to Crans-Montana, it’s a seven hour journey from Paris to Crans-Montana and maybe nine from Calais.

The Crans-Montana tourism office will be happy to answer any questions you might have. They can be contacted at +41 27 485 0404 or by emailing information@crans-montana.ch

Take notice of a local. Roger Moore – yes, James Bond himself – lives in Crans-Montana and he says: “Nowhere in the world will you find a place more peaceful or more beautiful”.

 

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