Crans Montana - introduction
Crans-Montana is actually two towns spread over a sunny south-facing plateau with stunning views across the Rhône Valley. Crans is more upmarket with designer shops, 5-star hotels and a Michelin-starred restaurant, while Montana caters for families and groups.
There is an efficient bus service connecting the towns – this is Switzerland, after all – but if you want ski-in/ski-out convenience you will have to stay at one of the small number of hotels that cluster round the main lift stations.
Surprisingly few British tourists come here, only 2.6% of total visitors, but this has its attractions against other Swiss resorts, like Verbier, that at times feel more like SW London. There’s a wide, international mix of visitors, including a rapidly growing Russian clientele.
The ski area is surprisingly large, with 140km of marked runs and 27 lifts, though experts and adrenaline junkies should look elsewhere.
The skiing starts in town at 1,500m and goes up to 3,000m at Plaine Morte. It has extensive snowmaking and Crans-Montana needs it, as pretty much all of the ski area is south-facing.
It's lovely for sunny days with plenty of fresh snow, but otherwise the suns beats down and it often gets slushy by the afternoon and icy in the morning.
The mountain restaurants are good with a few real gems and, despite its rather staid image, the resort has some good après-ski with places packed until the early hours.
It hosts the Caprices Music Festival towards the end of each winter and during that weekend the place is rocking.
And, in case you are wondering, they speak French in this part of Switzerland.
- Huge ski area
- Fabulous scenery
- Can’t be bettered on a blue sky day with fresh snow
- Excellent mountain restaurants
- It’s south-facing, which can cause afternoon slush
- The town is a little spread out
- It’s not especially challenging for experts – unless you go off-piste