Catered Ski Chalets in Champery
Champery is a pretty resort with a very rustic and traditional Swiss feel to it. Located at just over 1035 metres, it offers wonderful access to the huge Portes de Soleil ski area, including the popular resorts of Les Gets, Morzine and Avoriaz in France, and makes for a great international holiday! Because of the low altitude there aren’t any runs back down to the resort, so getting home in the afternoon is by lift rather than piste.
The skiing in the local area is a good mix of reds and blues and there is also an excellent snow park at Les Crosets, with around 30 jumps, rails and boxes to enjoy. There are a few black pistes dotted around but, as with the rest of the Portes de Soleil, it is intermediate skiers and boarders who are best catered for. Avoriaz is quite easy to get to and offers much higher altitude skiing than Champery, and a superb range of slopes.
The town itself is a fairly quiet place with a few pubs, Mitchell’s for example, that get lively around 5pm. There’s one nightclub too, but overall it’s certainly not the place come for a big nightlife! Champery is far better suited to families and skiers looking for a more traditional Alpine experience. Champery is about an hour and half from Geneva airport by car and the route takes in beautiful vistas of Lake Geneva!
After a long day on the slopes of the huge Portes de Soleil area you will probably be in need of a few beers or a glass of wine and despite being a fairly quiet resort there are still some excellent places to let your hair down! The village is popular throughout the year so each of the bars has stood the test of time and is generally a bit less ski themed than many après bars in the Alps.
Mitchell’s is one of the most popular bars to head to when you back to the village with comfy sofas and an open fire. Live music is on throughout the season but not every night so it’s best to check in at the beginning of the week and pick up a programme of the weeks activities. Big events like Mardi Gras and St Patricks Day are celebrated in style with a fairly British twist so if you’re looking for a home from home in Switzerland you need look no further.
The Farinet shares its name with the famous après bar in Verbier but you will find this particular venue a little more subdued – and a lot kinder on the wallet! You can enjoy a few relaxed beers in the bar here before heading through for a reasonably priced pizza. There is often some live music on Friday and Saturday nights, creating a nice atmosphere. If you’re after something a bit more substantial than pizzas then you can grill your own meat on a hot stone in the middle of the table – a fun way to soak up a few beers.
La Crevasse is one of the more lively options in Champery throughout the season with theme and fancy dress nights, a DJ and dancing as well as some excellent live music. Open from 9pm until 4am this is somewhere for after dinner rather than after the slopes so if you find yourself in here you are probably in for the long haul!
Le Vieux Chalet is quite expensive but offers good food with an authentic Alpine atmosphere. The menu is traditional so you will find some rustic terrines, good quality meats, and lots of cheese and cream on offer. There is live music some nights, adding something a little bit different to the experience. - www.vieuxchaletchampery.ch/
Auberge du Grand Paradis is a traditional restaurant just 150m from the bottom of the Grand Paradis restaurant which makes it a perfect spot for lunch. Do make sure you make a reservation as there aren’t any other restaurants in this part of the mountain and once you’ve arrived here it is a bit of a trek to get to a different one! The menu consists of traditional dishes like fondue as well as superb seafood. A car park nearby makes it a great option for those who are meeting non-skiers. www.grandparadis.ch/gb/index.php
C21 is Michelin starred and not cheap but well worth the money!. It has an excellent reputation and serves very Swiss cuisine in a traditional chalet that is over 200 years old! The menu looks quite traditional but the flavours and presentation are all very modern and you won’t come out feeling as if you’ve eaten nothing but cream and cheese! If you want something a little lighter there is a tapas and wine bar which is perfect if you just want a little something before going out for a few drinks.
Le National is one of the older hotels in Champery and has an excellent restaurant with a classic range of pates, soups, roast meats, and fruit pies. Children pay half price and there are some excellent set menus available, making it a great choice for families and groups.
Mitchell’s is quite modern with a very European feel – it wouldn’t look out of place in London or Paris; if it wasn’t for the view, you would find it hard to believe you were in the mountains! The menu is firmly influenced by eastern ingredients so if you’re after something with an oriental flavour then this is the only place to go in Champery. Prices are fairly reasonable with main courses coming in at around £20 which isn’t so bad for Switzerland! - www.champery-mitchells.com/
Guided walks and hikes in the mountains are offered throughout the winter season for all ages and abilities. Champery is located at 1035m at the bottom of the valley so you can walk along the valley floor without expending too much energy! The tourist office organises guided walks throughout the season which take routes of varying difficulties which can help you learn a little more about the history of Champery and the rest of the Swiss Alps.
The Palladium sports centre in the centre of Champery - www.palladiumdechampery.ch is actually one of the Swiss national centres for ice sport and has some fantastic facilities for such a small town! You can watch ice hockey every other week during the winter and there is an annual tournament in the last week of March every year. As well as ice skating, ice karting and curling you can also enjoy indoor climbing, swimming, a gym and wellness facilities.
Cross country skiing is a great way to get fit and also an enjoyable way of getting away from the crowds and seeing the mountains from a different perspective. You do need special skis and boots to enjoy the sport and they can be hired from shops in the centre of town and lessons can be organised from the tourist office, although the basic technique does not take long to learn!
Snowshoeing is another fantastic way of seeing the mountains and there are a good number of easy to navigate tracks that wind their way around the valley. Lots of people enjoy getting the main lifts up and then walking between some of 90 mountain restaurants - excellent exercise and some delicious food!
Horse riding, or pony riding for the little ones, is available from CHF40 for an hour or CHF120 throughout the winter but only with prior booking via the tourist office. Pony walks are only CHF8 for 20 minutes, a perfect treat
for the children!
Parapenting is increasingly popular in the Alps as the amount of qualified tandem instructors has risen significantly. You can now take to the skies from the peaks around Champery for as little as £50 and see the stunning scenery from a vantage point that few ever experience! You don’t need any previous experience and all of the instructors are fully qualified and have the latest equipment. Do try and get in touch with an instructor as early as possible – flying times are limited by the weather and calling up on a sunny morning on the off chance there is a space available will result in disappointment – plan ahead.
Ice karting is a really fun afternoons activity and something that is actually quite hard to come across in Europe. It is more popular in Switzerland than in France so tourists from the French parts of the Portes de Soleil often ski or drive across to enjoy something a little bit different. Children need to be taller than 1m, 40cms and prices start at CHF20 for an 8 minute blast round the track of CHF50 for a lengthier session.
Thermal baths are a great way to relax after a hard day on the slopes so why not try the beautiful spa of Val d’illiez? A full range of treatments are available from massage to hot stone and aromatherapy so treat yourself or your partner to an afternoon of relaxation! - www.thermes-parc.com/en/spa/overview.html
Normally the preserve of Eskimos in the Arctic circle, you can actually go ice fishing in Champery throughout the winter months. The trout ponds are open to amateur anglers throughout the season and you can even take your catch home with you for the bargain price of CHF23 per kg!
Champery is in the huge area of the Portes de Soleil which covers both France and Switzerland with a massive amount of pistes to enjoy as well as some beautiful scenery and great prices. The area is renowned as being particularly family friendly with lots of wide, open slopes, excellent ski schools, a great snow record and being only an hour and a half from Geneva by coach or car.
The village itself is actually inhabited year-round and therefore has a lot of ‘genuine’ residents who are happy to provide babysitting service for a much lower price than you might expect from a private nanny. You can contact the local tourist office on 0033 479 2020 for a list of recommended babysitters and their prices.
The local Swiss ski school takes children from 3 years old if you would like them to start as early as possible and the rest of the local ski schools take them from 5 years. http://www.esschampery.ch/ The kids club starts at just under CHF500 for five days of activities and an introduction to skiing from 9.30-4.30pm with lunch included in the price.
The local railway goes right through Champery and offers a great day out for families who want to explore the local surroundings. The train goes through the mountains quite slowly so you can enjoy the spectacular views. Lake Geneva is not too far away from Champery and is absolutely spectacular when the sun is shining – if you wrap up warm then an afternoon boat trip on the lake can be something quite special.
Most Alpine resorts have a sports centre of one sort or the other but Champery has an amazing new facility called The Palladium which offers a huge number of child-friendly activities! You can enjoy ice skating, curling, swimming and tennis for a reduced rate when you present a weekly lift pass so if the weather closes in then head down for something a bit different. http://www.palladiumdechampery.ch/
If you’re looking for a resort with a few more child-friendly facilities, or for British nannies who can be hired by the week, then you might want to try the nearby resorts of Morzine and Les Gets which are more popular with British holiday operators and have all of the benefits that Champery can offer as well as the same ski area.