A little to the east of Verbier and on the north side of the Rhone valley; Crans-Montana is one of Switzerland’s largest Alpine resorts, with a south-facing situation at 1,500m which gives it one of the best sunshine records in the country. Originally two resorts that have now effectively sprawled into one, Crans and Montana do to some extent retain their separate identities; with Crans regarded as the more expensive of the two, whilst Montana is older and more modest in price.
An overall expansive natural landscape, panoramic views of the Valais Alps, a wide range of accommodation and extensive Alpine shopping combine to provide all of the comforts and beauty of a modern holiday resort.
Resort Altitude: 1,500m
Resort Skiing: 3,000m
Blue Runs: 55km
Red Runs: 70km
Black Runs: 15km
Cross Country: 40km
The ski area has 140km of pistes served by 40 lifts, from which skiers and boarders can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views stretching from Mont Blanc in the west to the Matterhorn in the east. Crans-Montana's skiing goes up to a height of 3,000m on the Plaine Morte glacier and the 11km run down from Plaine Morte is a long, steep red that is one of the most dramatic in the Alps.
This large ski area offers plenty of cruising opportunities for advanced intermediates, whilst there is some good off-piste to be had below La Tza or Chetzeron. The resort is home to the best snow park in French-speaking Switzerland, which spans over 100,000m and will thrill everyone from beginners to professionals.
Plenty of long red runs make the perfect cruising territory for boarders looking to work on their technique, whilst more advanced boarders will feel at home in the resort’s fantastic snowpark and the Plaine Morte Glacier off-piste area. Those who are completely new to the sport should be aware of the flat paths around resort and drag lifts which connect up some of the easier blue runs, as this may prove more complicated without experience.
A range of ski schools in resort offer skiing and boarding tuition to students of all ages and abilities. Some ski schools will offer a ‘happy hour’ session each day, during which time you can enjoy reduced lesson costs. Specialist programmes also offer freestyle and off piste classes, as well as paragliding flights and heli skiing. Crans Montana’s fantastic off piste terrain around the Les Faverges area is best explored with a mountain guide.
Crans Montana’s ‘snow garden’ is situated on a great flat area of land which is used in summer as a golf course. Children from the age of 3 upwards are welcomed to master the basics with the help of the area’s specialist instructors. For the youngest children, a programme of 50% skiing and 50% playtime is recommended, and then as their ages increase they will move towards more time spent skiing.
Crans Montana offers the choice of over 90 restaurants across a variety of mountain huts, cafes, tea rooms and snack-bars. Sample local Swiss fayre, sublime Japanese cuisine or more family-friendly Italian or French dining. The region produces a number of good-quality local wines. Notable establishments include Le Mayen which does an excellent fondue and raclette and L’Auberge de la Diligence which serves both Swiss and Lebanese food.
Families and couples will enjoy Crans Montana’s laid-back après ski scene, hosting three main nightclubs, a casino and over 25 bars to choose between. Visitors will enjoy the friendly atmosphere in this picturesque town, as you finish your evening meal with a visit to a piano bar, cabaret or cocktail lounge. Famous bars include the thriving Amadeus bar and New Pub for its pinball and large TV screens.
The resort is very well equipped with a wide range of activities to keep non-skiers entertained. Alongside the traditional selection of ice skating, dog sledding and tobogganing, there is a cinema and bowling alley in resort too, making it the ideal choice for families with young children. Shopping is also one of Crans Montana’s main attractions, with over 150 shops offering everything from designer boutiques to cheese, wine and Swiss watches.