A local’s guide to Crans Montana

It’s easy to cast Crans-Montana as a resort for posing oligarchs. But with a snow-sure glacier, stellar snowpark and freeride-friendly chutes galore, it’s a skier’s resort at heart

With the pound not at its best, a trip to already pricey Switzerland is probably the last thing on your mind. Least of all one best known for golf, Sir Roger Moore (who has a chalet here) and a string of five-star hotels. But let us
try to sway you.

We’ll start with the weather (we are British after all): there are few resorts in the world that boast such a sunny position. Sat on a plateau above the Rhône valley, the villages of Crans-sur-Sierre and Montana are seriously
sun-soaked. While this would normally ring alarm bells in lean years (and we’ve certainly had a few of those recently) visitors to Crans-Montana need not fear; with the Plan Morte glacier at the top of the resort you can
work on your goggle tan while hunting down lofty lines.

A sun-soaked position and amazing views|PHOTO-GENIC.CH/ OLIVIER MAIRE)

Then there are the views. They really don’t get much better than this; the whole of Switzerland’s Valais region stretches out before you with iconic peaks like the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc making up the horizon.

So far so good: but what about the skiing? It might not be as extensive as Tignes or as steep as Chamonix, but it’s one of those rare resorts that will please just about everyone.

We’ve already mentioned the glacier, but that’s just the beginning of its cruisey terrain. The park is one
of the best in Switzerland, complete with a halfpipe and airbag. And as is so often the case in medium-sized, family-friendly resorts, there’s plenty of untouched off-piste to get stuck into. Perhaps Sir Roger Moore is onto something… We asked local ski coach Hector Victoria for some insider tips.

Best run for a warm-up

Head up to Bella Lui (2543m) on the first lift of the day, and then hoon it down the well-pitched red groomers all the way back down to the village 1000m below. Take it from me, the views over the Swiss Alps first thing in the morning are just amazing.

For freeride forays

The Col du Pochet, just behind the Bella Lui summit, is a great spot for backcountry skiing, with long descents between the snow-filled chutes. The ultimate summit trip is up to Grand Bovin, with stunning 360-degree views over the whole of the Valais region; well worth the hike.

Well worth the hike |PHOTO-GENIC.CH/ OLIVIER MAIRE

The best thing about living in Crans-Montana is…

The friendly people, beautiful landscape and endless activities that will keep you busy all year round.

Don’t leave without…

Ski mountaineering or snow-shoeing in the Grandeur Nature Park, at the Aminona end of Crans-Montana.
It’s a fabulous area of untouched nature, made up of alpine pastures and wild forests, and should not be missed.

The biggest misconception about Crans-Montana is…

People often think Crans-Montana is a destination only accessible for flashy, rich skiers, but in fact the resort
offers activities and events for everyone. In terms of skiing, there are plenty of accessible slopes for families, but we’ve also got freeride zones, backcountry options, plus one of the best snowparks (complete with mega halfpipe) in Switzerland. Off the slopes there’s a mix of classical concerts, festivals and good après-ski and even golf if that’s your thing. Everyone can find their happy place here.

A mega snowpark is part of the package|Ruedi Fluck

For a mountain bite

Do not miss out on raclette; it’s melted cheese dish typical of the region, and my favourite mid-ski pick-me-up. You’ll find a great one at the rustic Cabane des Taules. If you’re after something more refined consider Chetzeron, which has views to match its decadent menu.

For cheap eats in town

La Piccolina is where all the seasonnaires head, lured in by the excellent pizza. If you didn’t get your fill of pungent Swiss cheese at lunch then order the Valaisanne, which is topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, parma ham and raclette.

For a splash-out dinner

It might not be super-pricey, but with an amazing atmosphere and the best burgers in the region, the Burger Lounge is a must try; just remember to book! Chez Chico is also very special, offering Argentinian fare like empanadas and albóndigas (meatballs). 

For an après-ski tipple

Zérodix at the bottom of the Crans cable car is where it kicks off, with good music, great drinks and plenty of post-ski snacks to keep you going. After that it’s off to the Monk’is and Amadeus bars — that’s where seasonnaires and visitors alike head to party. If you’ve still got energy after the bars close at 2am head to Sky Club, home of big-name DJs and the most-dedicated of party-goers.