Thinking of heading to France this winter? This review of Portes du Soleil snowboarding holiday in Chatel and Les Gets should help to convince you. One ski area but two very different resorts!
Portes du Soleil is one of the closest ski regions to the UK and just a stones throw from Geneva Airport. On a good day it is only a 45 minute drive.
Not only that, Portes du Soleil is a vast ski area comprising of 13 ski resorts, totalling 307 pistes and 650km of slopes to explore. That should keep even the most hardened dog-eared snow hound busy! As a ski area it has something for everyone.
Our first stop was the wonderful resort of Les Gets, which is nestled next to it’s bigger and more lively sibling resort of Morzine. We stayed at the newly built and ultra-modern Chalet Coin Perdu for a few days before heading over to the quaint and delightful resort of Chatel, where we stayed at the traditional four star hotel Macchi.
I kick start my review of a Portes du Soleil snowboarding holiday at Les Gets. A hop, skip and jump away in the next valley from Morzine, Les Gets is a compact village with french charm and swagger.
When it comes to skiing or snowboarding it really is a village of two halves, with the isolated slopes of Mont Chery on one side and the local slopes that are linked to Morzine on the other. Access to the two areas is via a free ride on the ‘Petit train’, which wouldn’t look out of place in a theme park, that chugs across the short distance of the village.
Obviously praying to the snow gods worked, because as soon as we arrived the heavens opened with a down pour of glorious snow. To make the most of the conditions we decided to hit the slopes early and headed up Mont Chery.
After a rapid chair lift ride we found ourselves with the hard choices of hitting the black or red runs of untracked powder! For a warm up I lapped the reds for a few times, each one taking me down to the bottom of the chairlift. Snowboarding was effortless gliding on the white beautiful duvet of snow. At the sides of the piste was even more fun with deep inviting powder.
The best was yet to come! Dropping down on the other side from the top of the chair lift is a glorious black run. This was my best snowboarding action of the day as I surfed the soft white powdery waves of snow on a mainly deserted slope! I couldn’t believe how quiet Mont Chery was since it was a powder day.
We then headed over to the Morzine side of the valley which was not as quiet, but certainly not busy. It was late in the day and the runs were getting tracked out. It made the reds and black more challenging but still enjoyable.
Halfway up the mountain is the base centre. It is here that you will find the beginner slopes and where all the ski schools congregate. I really like it when ski schools are up on the mountain instead of at the bottom, as it gives beginners a glimpse and excitement of what the mountains are all about and a real taste of skiing and snowboarding.
This review of snowboarding holiday in Les Gets would not be complete without talking about off the slopes. There are a few decent bars in Les Gets including a customary Irish bar, but the resort is a lot quieter for Apres Ski than you’ll find on a Morzine snowboarding trips. Some may prefer this, especially families, and a couple of the bars had live music playing.
In Les Gets we stayed at the incredible Chalet Coin Perdu which was a short walk from the ski lifts and main hub of the village. The large ultra-modern chalet had everything from an American pool table to a cinema screen. It was beautifully designed with an immaculate eye for detail.
Les Gets is an ideal location for a snowboarding holiday for all abilities. You can find out more in this review of Les Gets snowboarding in Portes Du Soleil.
Chatel is a chocolate box style tiny village on the French side of the France and Switzerland border. There is not a lot to the actual village but it has a traditional French charm that is lacking in most resorts. Chatel’s crowning feature is that it is a hidden gem in the Portes du Soleil!
Throughout the night it had been snowing so I eagerly got ready for another powder day. I was joined by my guide Jerome who was eager to show me the best places to slide sideways.
The conditions were perfect and we found a little black run on the Swiss side of the border. There was so much snow I could not even tell where the piste ended at the sides. I had so much fun sliding across the soft powder – this is what snowboarding is all about.
Most of the lifts on the Swiss side of Portes Du Soleil near to Chatel were drag lifts and it did feel like I was caught in a time warp. Having said that resort does have a new fast 6-seater ski lift that takes you up in style and comfort.
What I love about Chatel is that it is so different from the bigger resorts of Portes du Soleil. You have access to some incredible runs and terrain that usually gets overlooked. The lift structure is mostly outdated but adds to the authentic quaintness of this charmingly traditional resort.
During the Chatel part of this this review of Portes du Soleil snowboarding holiday we stayed at the family run four star Hotel Macchi. A beautifully traditional french and charismatic hotel that has an aura of calm and tranquillity. Fitting in with village of Chatel, it is the perfect remedy to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The family history of the owners is magnificently celebrated with the Indian influenced spa and relaxation room. Inspired by adopted member of the family, the decor and styling takes your senses back in history to a distant continent.
Chatel should not be overlooked when considering a Portes du Soleil snowboarding holiday.
Should you take a snowboarding holiday in Chatel and Les Gets? Certainly! But what about if you have to choose between them… Not only are the two resorts on different sides of Portes du Soleil, they also seem worlds apart!
Les Gets is the quieter sibling compared to it’s neighbours of Morzine and Avoriaz, but it is certainly not lacking and that is what gives it an authentic charm. As mentioned before, it may not be a party town but there are plenty of bars and restaurants to enjoy and because it is a small village, everything is in easy reach.
Les Gets is ideal for a Portes Du Soleil snowboarding holiday! On one side of the village you have easy access to the slopes of Morzine and beyond, and on the other side of the village is the quieter and more technical slopes of Mont Chery.
It is an ideal base for snowboarders of all abilities. Advanced riders will love Mont Chery (especially on a powder day). You are also spoilt for choice with some kick-arse snow parks such as the famous Stash at Avoriaz.
For beginners you are only one gondola ride away from the schools and beginner slopes. Intermediate riders will be able to hone in on their skills but beware, there are a lot of flat sections where you will need to build up speed and make sure your boards are waxed!
On the other side of Portes du Soleil it feels like you are stepping back in time to a golden era with Chatel. Just a stones throw from Switzerland, Chatel could not be any more French if it tried. A real escapism from the commercialised juggernauts that are the big resorts, the micro village is a gateway to incredibly beautiful terrain and ideal for a Portes Du Soleil snowboarding holiday.
Probably best suited to advanced snowboarders, there are plenty of off-piste gems to find. Check out this review of freeride snowboarding in Portes Du Soleil for more info. Beginners may struggle with the technical runs and drag lifts on the Swiss side, but there is plenty of easy to access slopes closer to the Chatel for all levels.
Overall, both Les Gets and Chatel highlight the wonderful diversity of a Portes du Soleil snowboarding holiday, as each resort has it’s own unique character. The good news is you can stay in one and still ski the other as the amazing Portes Du Soleil is nicely linked with free buses and plenty of ski lifts.
I hope you found this Review of Portes du Soleil snowboarding holiday in Chatel and Les Gets useful. For more information visit the Portes du Soleil official tourism website