Châtel is an old farming village steeped in tradition. Before skiing and tourism was a developed industry, agriculture was the main source of income for many of the locals and this tradition of farming is still present today.
The village was the birthplace of the now famous Portes du Soleil ski area. In Christmas of 1948 Roland Macchi, father of future ski champion Francoise, arrived in the area and set up the first ski school. In the 50’s the slopes at the bottom of the village started to be developed and, shortly after came the introduction of the first slope side hotel.
Châtel acts as the link between the French and Swiss areas of the Portes du Soleil and, in recent years, it has seen huge infrastructure improvements with new lifts and pistes which in turn has attracted a large amount of property development and investment.
The Portes du Soleil is spread over 12 villages and 650km of piste making it one of the largest and most varied ski areas in France. This, twinned with its easy accessibility (just an hour from Geneva) make it an attractive destination for all, particularly for weekend breaks. Since the recent infrastructure improvements in Châtel, accessing the rest of the ski area has become much easier and you can ski directly to Avoriaz above or neighbouring Morgins on the Swiss side before moving onto the rest of the domain.
In the summer Chatel is a popular destination, particularly as, by having a relatively large amount of year-round inhabitants, the lively atmosphere in the village continues right through until autumn. With a number of mountain activities, a new aquatic centre and arguably some of the finest mountain biking available in the Alps there is something for everyone to enjoy. The scenery is as beautiful in the summer as you would expect and the main square, with its restaurants, bars and shops, is buzzing with life.
Altitude: 900m – 2680m
Ski area: 650km
Nearest airport: Geneva (1hr 40m)
Nearest train station: Thonon (38km), serviced by SNCF
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