Crans-Montana

Ski Resort in Switzerland

Introduction

Crans-Montana is a town in Canton Valais, Switzerland. Although everyone knows the name Crans Montana, the area is actually made up of three communes - Crans, Montana and Aminona.

The sunniest ski resort in Switzerland, Crans-Montana is an all year round resort with 140km of skiing, more than 150 shops and 70 restaurants, a championship 18-hole golf course and numerous popular events.

Crans-Montana has 140km of well groomed pistes, good off-piste and a wide range of other snowsports including cross-country skiing, ski touring, snowshoeing, ice-skating and curling. Around 50% of winter guests come to Crans-Montana for reasons other than skiing and boarding. That's because so many guests are property owners who come to enjoy the 63km of paths for walking (280km in summer), and to relax in the mountains amid stunning scenery, enjoy more than 150 shops and boutiques for retail therapy and choose from over 70 restaurants for dining out among friends. There's also a casino and a cinema.

Crans-Montana info card

Resort Altitude1500m
Highest Lift3000m
Total Piste140km
Longest Run12km
Directions of SlopesSouth
Total Lifts28
Gondolas/Cable cars6
Chairlifts6
Drag Lifts15
Snow Parks1


Best time to visit Crans Montana

Crans Montana is known for its sunshine, and with most of the slopes being south facing, the best time to ski is earlier in the season throughout January and February. Snow tends to hold out well here, with top heights of 3000m. One third of the slopes have artificial snowmaking, which makes sure there’s good coverage at the beginning of the season if there hasn’t been enough natural snowfall.


Crans Montana Ski Resort

Crans Montana is formed of two towns - Crans-sur-Sierre and Montana - which were merged in the 60s to form the ski resort we know today. Crans is the more fashionable, with shops like Cartier and Gucci lining the streets while with a more down-to-earth vibe, Montana has livelier après ski and cheaper places to eat.

The resort itself is less Swiss chocolate box and more a mix of different architecture but once you’re out on the mountain you’ll enjoy some incredible scenery: high up on a sun-drenched plateau in the Valais region, you have a 200km vista stretching from the Matterhorn to Mont Blanc and up the Rhône Valley.

Staying here means you get all the advantages of a small resort combined with the cultural activities, shopping, gastronomic variety and international events of a big ski town. Highlights on the calendar include the Caprices Festival (one of the largest music festivals in Switzerland), the Omega European Masters and World Cup events.

Yes, Bond-legend Roger Moore had a house here but there’s a lot more to this place than its famous frequenters, including some fascinating history.

Had you been a patient of Dr Theodore Stephani in the 1890s, your road to recovery would have started here for the healing powers of the fresh mountain air, which is how the area started attracting tourists. Golf also has an important role to play, with the first Swiss Open hosted here in 1939.

This is one of the oldest Alpine resorts and has a longstanding place in the history of skiing. The famous Lunn family (who founded the Kandahar Ski Club) organised races here as far back as 1911. Today the resort hosts a roster of World Cup and European Championship events, and has become a centre for important downhill events.

It’s also super sunny – the southern facing orientation means on average it sees more than 300 days of sunshine each year.

If you’re not tempted by the skiing, shopping or sunshine, visit for the food. Thanks to the warm climate and fertile earth, agriculture is a big thing here and everything starts with local produce. Traditional delicacies still account for much of the cuisine like Raclette, traditional fondues and Valais wine.


Skiing in Crans Montana

The four main lifts that take you up to the different parts of the mountain are accessible via the local ski bus.

Children and complete novices will learn the basics in the ‘Snow Island’ area – which serves as the golf course in the summer months and has some lovely gentle nursery slopes. The magic carpet here is perfect for little children, and much easier to use than a drag lift if you are a total novice. The Discovery area has a beginners only ‘Secure’ run near the Verdets lift, and there’s also a fun area by the Merignou lift that has small jumps and an easy ski cross.

With 17 blues, there are some pleasant easy cruisers all over the area. From the Cry d’Er area above Crans, you’ll find 3 blues served by drag lifts, the two Mérignou runs and the longer Chetzeron, which has a lovely mountain restaurant at the bottom.

More confident skiers/boarders have a network of 20 reds, including a fabulous long one from the Plaine Morte glacier (at 3000m the views are incredible).

There are 4 blacks, including Col du pochet from Bellalul (2543m). The red Nationale which goes down from the Cry d’Er area is a must ski as it has hosted the World Cup men’s downhill. There’s also quite a lot of off-piste, including itinerary routes - a guide will be able to take you down some awesome routes on the glacier and around Chetzeron.

Freestylers can while away the week in the ‘Adrenaline’ area (access via the Crans gondola) which has a halfpipe, ski/boarder cross and not one but two snowparks – one for beginners and the other one of the biggest in Switzerland, covering 100,000 square metres.

Torch lit descents and night skiing often take place throughout the season if you want to have some slope time after hours – check with the tourist office or ski schools for specific days and times.

This is probably one of the best places in Switzerland for cross country (or Nordic) skiing. As it is based on a plateau there are plenty of flat sections, and there are several lakes surrounding the resort to circumnavigate such as Lac Moubra. The scenery from the track on the Piste Briesses is stunning, and this circuit links up with the one on the golf course.


Off the slopes and apres ski

Crans-Montana is a popular year-round conference destination, so the resort has plenty of off-slope amenities and non-ski activities to offer. It's a sizeable place, with sprawling suburbs covering much of the broad plateau on which it sits; the mostly flat ground around the main parts of the town make it a pleasant place to stroll and there are more than 60km of way-marked walking paths and snowshoeing trails in the surrounding area.

Shopping is the main attraction for the many non-skiing visitors; the greatest concentration of shops are clustered in the centre of Crans, with many stylish boutiques offering haute-couture brands, expensive jewellery and top-of-the-range Swiss watches.

There are over 60 restaurants, covering a wide range of international cuisine: traditional Swiss, French and Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Lebanese, amongst others; standards and prices are generally high.

Apres ski is sophisticated rather than rocking, which perfectly suits Crans-Montana's well-heeled primary clientele of couples and mature second-home owners who prefer to relax in one of the resort's cafés or tea rooms, and to have a quiet pre- and post-prandial drink in a stylish bar or a flutter on the roulette and card tables in the resort's casino.

There are however a number of more lively venues catering for younger and young-minded visitors too: the Zerodix next to the gondola base station in Crans is the go-to apres-ski joint at the end of the day, featuring resident DJs and an umbrella-bar party atmosphere; later on in the evenings, the Amadeus and Monk'is are two of the most popular haunts.

There are also a couple of small cabaret-style clubs, Cabaret Aux Noctambules and Harry's Club; plus two larger nightclubs, Xellent and Pacha.


Families in Crans Montana

Crans Montana's sunny climate, family orientated resort and extensive non-ski offerings make it an excellent place for families.

In winter the infamous golf course transforms into the Snow Island children's area, with snowtubing, sledding, gentle pistes and indoor shelter. The ‘Discovery Space' (accessed by the Grand-Signal gondola from Montana) is tailor made for families - beginners will want to hop off at the area by the Verdets lift, which is split into the snow garden and a secure run while more confident skiers can stay on the lift to reach the top, where you'll find some gentle jumps and a skicross. Teens will love the Adrenaline space which consists of a ski / boardercross, airbag and 2 snowparks, while the wider area is a network of fabulous blues, reds and a few blacks stretching from Crans over to Aminona.

Skiing aside, a fantastic 6km sled run (one of the longest and most scenic in the country) takes you all the way down to Aminona - there's a nice picnic spot at the top for a quick snack before you slide down. The tourist office usually arrange activities like treasure hunts around the resort and for bad weather days, indoor activities for families include bowling on Route du Rawyl and a 3D cinema.


Group Holidays Crans Montana

Crans Montana can be a fabulous ski resort for groups, especially if you're a mix of skiers and non-skiers. While the après doesn't yet rival the legendary scene in Verbier, there's plenty for groups after dark. As the lifts start to close, most ski down to the Cry d'Er base station for a drinks and snacks at Zerodix (their nacho, burger and chicken platter is always a group favourite). Later on, Amadeus below the Hotel Olympic have been hosting themed nights and dolling out buckets of Jäger bombs for the past twenty years and Monk'Is is always known to throw a good party.

The ski area is nice and varied for different abilities, from the beginner-only ‘Secure' run to off-piste itinerary routes beneath the Plaine Morte glacier and the World Cup men's downhill from Cry d'Er. Book a private group lesson if you're all learning together, or go all-out with a heliski trip - this area of the world has some astounding terrain to explore.

Activities aren't hard to come by - try snowscooting for something different, experience one of the best sled runs in the Alps above Aminona or head to the bowling alley and engage in a little healthy competition.

One of Crans Montana's best concessions to groups -- it's terrific for non-skiers: from shops (this is the Alps' biggest luxury shopping area) art galleries, museums and a cinema to fabulous spas and swimming pools, winter walks galore and access to the railways at Sion and Sierre.


Crans-Montana Villages

The ski resort of Crans-Montana is made up of three communities: Crans Sur Sierre, Montana and Aminona. Crans is upmarket, Montana is quieter and more family orientated, and Aminona is the proposed location for a major hotel and apartment complex, but by mid 2011, approval had yet to be given.

The neighbouring communities of Crans and Montana lie to the west and east respectively of the small Lac Grenon. The villages are quite spread out, with a ribbon-like development either side of the roads running between. And although there is a free bus service between Crans, Montana and Aminona, it runs only once every half hour, which is not really frequent enough. The real estate, shopping opportunities, hotel accommodation and village environment in Crans is generally more upmarket than neighbouring Montana, but both are attractive places to stay.

With the main access road running some two kilometres from Crans to Montana, at first it seems there is no focal point to the villages. In Crans in low season, many privately owned chalets and apartments are unoccupied, and in stark contrast to the impressive mountain views, when their window shutters are down the sequence of eight-storey chalet apartments that line the road is unattractive. On further investigation on foot, especially in Crans, as you walk south from the main road towards the Crans-sur-Sierre golf club, you will find the main focal point of town - a delightful arrangement of boutiques with shop windows glistening with expensive Swiss watches and designer fashion brand. There's also an ample selection of restaurants and bars as well as a few nightclubs.

Few ski resorts in Switzerland can match Crans-Montana for shopping. According to tourist office literature there are as many as 168 shops and the shopping in Crans is superb, with names such as Bulgari, Chanel, Hermes, Hublot, Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Prada represented, to name but a few.  In addition to shops owned by or selling major fashion brands the shops in the centre of Crans include upscale art galleries, the Bonvin cigar shop, a Chocolatier and Laiterrie de Crans "Le Terroir" cheese shop which also sells Swiss cow bells, the biggest of which will set you back 3,500 Swiss Francs. But if you fancy something bigger and even more expensive, Crans-Montana has as many as 34 estate agencies, most of them in Crans, where the best chalets and apartments cost several million francs.

The resort is steeped in ski history. It was back in 1911, on January 7, that the first "Roberts of Kandahar" Challenge Cup took place here - claimed to be the first official Alpine ski race in history. It was set up by Sir Henry Lunn, the celebrated promoter of British pre-war tourism in the Swiss Alps, whose son Arnold pioneered Alpine skiing. The centenary of this historic race was celebrated in April 2011 with a downhill race from the Plaine-Morte glacier. The skiers used long wooden vintage skis and wore period costumes.

1911 was also the year when Crans-Montana built its funicular - claimed to be the longest in Europe - to allow tourists, golfers and sanatorium patients to connect with Sierre, shortening the journey from four hours (by mule!) to 35 minutes, using two connecting funiculars.  The journey time was further cut to 12 minutes in 1997 with the construction of a new single funicular. Today the journey takes either 20 minutes (stopping at each stop en route) or 12 minutes direct. There are two funiculars an hour, one at a quarter past the hour, which stops on the way and the other at a quarter to the hour, which is direct.

Approximately 55% of Crans-Montana guests are Swiss, with around 10% coming from each of France and Italy (benefiting from fast rail connections from Paris and Milan or a relatively easy road journey), about 8% from each of Germany and the Benelux countries and around 3% from Britain.  A high proportion of guests are repeat visitors and the resort is keen to attract more visitors from Britain, both summer and winter.

Transportation - Get In

Crans Montana is easily reached in around two or three hours by car or train from Geneva airport (180km), with alternative easy transfers by road and rail from Bern airport in central Switzerland.

While the train journeys are easy, driving to Crans-Montana from Geneva or Bern airports is quicker than taking the train and no matter where in Crans-Montana you're staying having a car is very helpful for driving to the ski lifts and for travelling between Crans and Montana.


Nearest airports to Crans-Montana

The nearest international airport is Geneva with regular flights via SWISS and numerous other international airlines throughout the day. The regional airport at Sion is just 27km from Crans-Montana and offers a wonderfully quick   transfer to Crans-Montana. Snowjet.co.uk offer low cost flights from London Gatwick to Sion Distances and travelling times by road from the nearest airports to Crans-Montana are as follows:

Sion                                27km / 37 minutes
Geneva                          181km / 2 hours
Bern                              185km / 2 hours 10 mins
Basel                             276km / 2 hours 50 min
Zurich                            303km / 3 hours 10min
Milan Malpensa               206km / 3 hours 5 minutes


Airport transfers to Crans-Montana by public transport

It's an easy, scenic journey by train from Geneva to Crans-Montana via Sierre, with direct trains running from Geneva Airport to Sierre (and on to Brig) approximately every 30 minutes. It's about 2 hours 15 minutes to Sierre, then a five-minute Sierre Montana Crans shuttle bus or a 370m walk (follow the red line) to the funicular, which climbs from Sierre to Montana Gare in 12-20 minutes.

Alternatively, if you're flying to Bern, take the train to Visp where you can catch a train to Sierre. The total journey by rail from Bern time is around 1 hour and 20 minutes. Use the Swiss Travel System www.swissrailways.com to book an integrated all-in-one ticket (with additional benefits and discounts) including the funicular or bus from Sierre to Montana.

Travelling times to Crans-Montana by train from Swiss Airports:

Geneva              2 hours 40 minutes
Bern                  2 hours
Basel                 3 hours
Zurich                3 hours

For train timetables and to book online go to www.sbb.ch/en

From the railway station in Sierre it's a five-minute shuttle bus ride to the SMC Funicular, then a 12-20minute journey up the mountain by funicular to Montana Gare. Depending where you're staying, in Montana or up to two kilometres away in Crans, you'll need a hotel pick-up or a taxi to meet you on arrival in Montana. If you don't want to take the funicular, you can take a bus (45 minutes) from Sierre, or order a taxi, but the funicular is much quicker and easier with enjoyable views across the valley to Zinal.


Private taxi transfers to Crans-Montana

There are several taxi companies in Crans-Montan offering airport transfers in both directions, but taxi transfers from Geneva or Bern airports to Crans-Montana are quite costly so you would most likely be better off renting a car which will also come in handy for exploring Crans-Montana and getting to and from the ski lifts.


Driving to Crans-Montana

It's just 35 minutes (27km) by car from Sion regional airport to Crans-Montana, which is one of the shortest airport-to-resort transfers in the Alps. From Geneva Airport to Crans Montana it's about two hours (181km) by car, most of which is easy motorway driving (A9) to Sierre, then the last 14-km from Sierre to Crans-Montana is a winding mountain-road. Driving from Bern Airport (185km) to Crans-Montana also takes about two hours mostly by motorway via Montreux to Sierre, but Geneva airport offers many more flight options and flights to Geneva typically are cheaper. There is plenty of parking roadside in Crans-Montana, in hotels and in the main car parks next to the ski lift stations. If you're driving on Swiss motorways remember to buy a Swiss Motorway road tax vignette, which is valid for one year.

Distances and times to drive to Crans-Montana from major European cities are approximately as follows:

Paris             650km / 6 hours 40 minutes
Milan            245km / 3 hours
Brussels        850km / 7 hours 50 minutes
London       1,050km / 11 hours
Amsterdam 1,010km / 9 hours 45 minutes
Frankfurt       600km / 5 hours 40 minutes

Transportation - Get Around

There is a free bus service to get you around the resort (which runs on time and frequently, until about 11pm), but a lot of people still use their own cars. If you park on the street make sure you use a designated space, otherwise you risk a heavy fine. Spaces marked with blue lines can be used if you have a "macaron", which is a cardboard disc you may have in your car (most hire cars have them). If you set your arrival time on the disc and display it on the dashboard you then get 60-90 minutes parking for free, but only in the spaces which have the "macaron" sign.

Accommodation & Hotels


Location “CHETZERON HOTEL” is situated within 2 km from the historic center of Montana. Hotel features The entire hotel is non-smoking.


Ski in Ski out resort Indoor and outdoor pools Three bedroom appartment Jacuzzi bathtubs with jacuzzi screens Fire place in all rooms Magnificient mountain view Vinotheque Cigar lounge Spa with sauna and Hammam Fine Dining.

  • GOOD TO KNOW
    • Great view
    • Friendly service
    • Professional service
    • Nice building
  • LECRANS HOTEL & SPA SUMMARY
    • This hotel has an excellent TrustScore of 95. Guests highly recommend it because of its service, rooms and food.

 


Stop at Hotel Helvetia Intergolf to discover the wonders of Crans Montana. The hotel offers a high standard of service and amenities to suit the individual needs of all travelers. Free Wi-Fi in all rooms, luggage storage, Wi-Fi in public areas, car park, room service are on the list of things guests can enjoy. Some of the well-appointed guestrooms feature television LCD/plasma screen, internet access – wireless, internet access – wireless (complimentary), non smoking rooms, heating. Take a break from a long day and make use of hot tub, sauna, golf course (within 3 km), indoor pool, massage. Discover all Crans Montana has to offer by making Hotel Helvetia Intergolf your base.

  • WHAT KIND OF HOTEL
    • Guests think this is a family-friendly hotel.
  • GOOD TO KNOW
    • Friendly service
    • Great reception
    • Clean rooms
    • Near city centre
  • HOTEL HELVETIA INTERGOLF SUMMARY
    • With an excellent TrustScore of 89, this hotel is one of the top 7% in its city. Guests highly recommend it because of its service, rooms and location.

 


The stylish Crans Ambassador features a spa area with indoor pool and panoramic views, a terrace with fireplace and a restaurant, located just 70 metres from the Cry d'Er Cable Car in Crans-Montana. Ski-to-door access is possible in winter.

  • WHAT KIND OF HOTEL
    • Guests recommend this as a luxury hotel.
    • Guests say the hotel is perfect for a romantic getaway.
    • Guests think this is a family-friendly hotel.
  • GOOD TO KNOW
    • Great concierge service
    • Rooms could be larger
    • Great view
    • Friendly atmosphere
  • CRANS AMBASSADOR SUMMARY
    • This hotel has an excellent TrustScore of 90. Guests highly recommend it because of its rooms, service and location.


  • WHAT KIND OF HOTEL
    • Guests think this is a family-friendly hotel.
    • Guests recommend this hotel for solo travelers.
  • GOOD TO KNOW
    • Friendly service
    • Great reception
    • Friendly atmosphere
    • Very quiet
  • HOTEL AD'ELDORADO SUMMARY
    • This hotel has an excellent TrustScore of 87. Guests highly recommend it because of its service, rooms and breakfast.


Hotel Central is located in Crans-Montana. Free WiFi access is available. Each room here will provide you with a TV, a minibar and an iPod dock. Featuring a shower, private bathroom also comes with a hairdryer and free toiletries.

  • WHAT KIND OF HOTEL
    • Guests recommend this for traveling with friends.
    • Guests recommend this hotel for solo travelers.
  • GOOD TO KNOW
    • Friendly service
    • Great reception
    • Great shopping
    • Spacious rooms
  • HOTEL CENTRAL SUMMARY
    • This hotel has a very good TrustScore of 86. Guests recommend it because of its service, location and comfort.


The domain and its ultramodern infrastructures spread over a plateau at an altitude of 1'500 m ; it houses among others the most beautiful golf courses, clear water mountain lakes and a glacier at an altitude of 3'000 m. The chalet style hotel just outside the resort centre enjoys a quiet situation near Lake Moubra, the tennis centre, the riding stables and the cross-country ski slopes. Your comfortable room disposes of a multilingual TV channel with teletext, radio and balcony. Enjoy the highspeed internet freespot available at any time. Fine cuisine is served in the dining room and "Le Chaudron" restaurant, both of which are spacious and luminous. The "Carnotzet" with its typical rustic setting of the Valais has a cosy ambiance. Enjoy your breakfast on one of our terraces, admiring the astounding panoramic view of the snow-covered summits. We also have a conference room with exposed beams, a homy bar, a lounge and a childrens playroom. Entertain yourself playing snookers, table tennis, table football and in summer playing bowls ("pétanque") or enjoying the sunny garden and its swimming pool

  • WHAT KIND OF HOTEL
    • Guests recommend this hotel for solo travelers.
  • GOOD TO KNOW
    • Friendly service
    • Great reception
    • Clean hotel facilities
    • Very quiet
  • HOTEL LA PRAIRIE SUMMARY
    • This hotel has a very good TrustScore of 86. Guests recommend it because of its service, rooms and food.


Property Location: With a stay at Hôtel de l'Etrier in Chermignon (Crans Montana), you'll be minutes from Crans-Cry d'Err and Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre. This 4-star hotel is within close proximity of Musee Valaisan de la Vigne et du Vin, Chateau de Villa and Montana - Cry d'Er Gondola.

Rooms: Make yourself at home in one of the 58 guestrooms featuring minibars and LCD televisions. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available to keep you connected. Private bathrooms have complimentary toiletries and hair dryers. Housekeeping is provided daily, and both cribs/infant beds (surcharge) and rollaway/extra beds (surcharge) are available on request.

Amenities: Relax at the full-service spa, where you can enjoy massages, body treatments, and facials. You're sure to appreciate the recreational amenities, including an outdoor pool, an indoor pool, and a fitness center. Additional features at this hotel include complimentary wireless Internet access, ski storage, and wedding services.

Dining: Grab a bite at one of the hotel's 3 restaurants, or stay in and take advantage of room service (during limited hours). Relax with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge or a poolside bar.

Business, Other Amenities: Featured amenities include a business center, complimentary newspapers in the lobby, and dry cleaning/laundry services. Planning an event in Chermignon? This hotel has facilities measuring 3013 square feet (280 square meters), including meeting rooms. Self parking (subject to charges) is available onsite.

  • WHAT KIND OF HOTEL
    • Guests recommend this hotel for solo travelers.
  • GOOD TO KNOW
    • Rooms in need of an update
    • Hotel could use some updating
    • Friendly atmosphere
    • Nice building
  • HOTEL ETRIER SUMMARY
    • This hotel has a very good TrustScore of 83. Guests recommend it because of its service, breakfast and location.


Property Location: Located in Crans-Montana (Crans Montana), Hotel Valaisia is minutes from Montana - Cry d'Er Gondola and Miniature Train Museum. This ski hotel is within close proximity of Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre and Violettes Express Gondola.

Rooms: Stay in one of 120 guestrooms featuring flat-screen televisions. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available to keep you connected. Amenities Spend the day on the slopes, or enjoy recreational amenities including an outdoor pool and a spa tub. This hotel also features complimentary wireless Internet access, an arcade/game room, and tour/ticket assistance.

Dining: Satisfy your appetite at the hotel's restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or grab a snack at a coffee shop/café. Quench your thirst with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge.

Business, Other Amenities: Featured amenities include multilingual staff and luggage storage. A train station pick-up service is provided at no charge, and self parking (subject to charges) is available onsite.

  • WHAT KIND OF HOTEL
    • Guests recommend this hotel for solo travelers.
  • GOOD TO KNOW
    • Bathroom could be optimized
    • Parking is rare
    • Great view
    • Great menu
  • HOTEL VALAISIA SUMMARY
    • This hotel has a very good TrustScore of 84. Guests recommend it because of its service, location and food.

Ski Area

Crans-Montana ski area is almost entirely south-facing with one of the best 360 degree panoramic views in the Alps - from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn.

Crans-Montana's is especially good for intermediates, and although there are relatively few difficult pistes there are good opportunities for skiing off-piste. The ski area includes 140km of marked pistes (15km black, 70km red, 55km blue), and at Aminona there's an impressive 50,000 m² snowpark with Boardercross, quarterpipes, big-air and rails, together with a bar and deckchairs in the middle of the snowpark. There's also free speed skiing at Cry d'Er, a free slalom course at the Pas du Loup sector and night skiing at Grand Signal, Cry d'Er.

Although predominantly south-facing, Crans-Montana's ski area - which stretches from the Glacier Plaine Morte at 3,000m down to village level at 1,500m - is mostly high enough to retain good snow conditions and cold enough to allow snow cannons to create artificial snow when needed. With the majority of Crans-Montana's guests busy devoting their time to other activities, the ski slopes are not overcrowded. Queuing for ski lifts is minimal except occasionally at the very busiest times.

Crans-Montana's ski area includes wide-open runs and significant off-piste for freeriding, with panoramic Alpine views above 2,000m and scenic tree-lined routes down from 2,000m to the base stations. Signposting leaves room for improvement, especially once you ski away from the main lift stations, and difficulties caused by inadequate signposting and an absence of numbered piste markers is not compensated for by the Crans-Montana ski map which is not as well-referenced as it might be for route finding, and can be confusing at times.

Crans-Montana is served by 27 ski lifts, with three more button lifts for beginners on the golf course. A free ski bus connects Crans, Montana and each of the four main lift stations in Crans, Montana, Violettes and Aminona. The ski bus is useful when you need to start or end your ski day far from where you are staying, but a more frequent bus service is needed. Presently the buses run only every half hour, which is too long to wait, especially when it's cold, and another reason why so many of Crans-Montana's guests prefer to come by car.

Although there's just one black piste marked on the ski map, snow conditions permitting, there are good opportunities for advanced and expert skiers to venture into deeper snow between the pistes and to ski off-piste at higher altitudes. But there are numerous cliffs which look good for extreme skiers, but dangerous if you venture off-piste unaware, so for safety's sake it's always best to hire a local mountain guide.

There's night skiing every Friday night (19:00-22:00) on four kilometres of floodlit pistes, 15km of snowshoeing paths and 65km designated for walking.  Crans-Montana also has one of Switzerland's best toboggan runs, a 6km descent from 2,400m down to 1,500m, which is popular in the evenings and customarily followed by a fondue.

There's 35km of cross-country skiing on the glacier and on trails at lower levels from Crans to Aminona. It's also quite common to encounter skiers with touring skis and skins working their way up the edge of some ski pistes - a good fitness work-out!


Crans-Montana Beginners

Crans-Montana’s family friendly ski area includes plenty of gentle terrain for beginners to gain confidence on wide uncrowded slopes with nearly 40 percent (55km) of Crans-Montana’s ski pistes classified blue.

Le Signal area is a good starting point for beginners, with the gentle terrain and wide, uncrowded pistes providing an opportunity to learn to ski or board without disruption. With plenty or restaurants nearby, this is Crans-Montana's best area for families with young children learning to ski - and ideal for skiers staying in Montana, with the Grand Signal gondola providing easy access to the area. However, with a free bus service available between the four gondolas at the base of the ski area, beginners can access Le Signal via Montana without needing to ski any trickier runs. It is worth the journey to allow beginners to take advantage of the area's peaceful environment.

The cluster of blue runs down from La Toula, Les Violettes and the Petit Bonvin areas are well suited to improving beginners, and particularly good for those staying in Aminona and not wishing to use the bus. With slightly steeper terrain, this area will test whether beginners are ready to move on to more challenging pistes, as will the red runs which must be skied in order to navigate elsewhere on the mountain.

The Cry d'Er section provides a natural progression for beginners ready to move on to intermediate red runs. While the red slopes here are also quite wide and not too steep, this part of the ski area is busy with cruising intermediates. But beginners also have the alternative of a T-bar-served blue run down to Chetseron should the busier reds prove too demanding.


Crans-Monatana Intermediates

Crans-Montana ski area is an intermediates’ playground. If you’re feeling adventurous you can test yourself on the jumps in the snowpark and find plenty of opportunity to experience deeper snow between the pistes.

Your preferred skiing itinerary will largely be decided by where you are staying and your first lift up in the morning. But as a general rule ride the lifts and get high to grab the best snow and keep your eyes peeled for mountain huts.

If you're staying in Crans, take the gondola to Cry d'Er (2267m). Stay on and ride past the middle station at Merbe to Mont Lachaux (2140m) - or, if you're staying in Montana take the gondola to Arnouvaz/Cry d'Er. Confident intermediates and above can kick off by skiing National, then ride the super comfy six-seater Nationale Express chairlift back to Cry d'Er and ride the cable car to Bellalui (2543m). Ski down a short way and ride the Zabona button lift back up before skiing down to Les Violettes (2250m). From here you can take the Funitel up to Glacier Plaine Morte (3000m). From Plaine Morte there's a good red (and some interesting off-piste possibilities) to the bottom of the La Toula chairlift. Then check out the Cabane des Taules hut for a drink or house-speciality: raclette.

Be sure to ski over to the Aminona sector, ride the Teleski Ecole gondola from the bottom station to Petit Bonvin (2400m) and ski down to the snowpark - past it or through it, as you prefer. Maybe pause a while to see who's freestyling and boarding that day as you'll likely see some impressive performances. Head back to Les Violettes sector and check out the runs down to Barzettes-Violettes before making your way back to loop the Nationale Express chairlift and Piste Nationale a few times. Then ski back to Crans or Montana from Cry d'Er.


Crans-Montana Advanced

With most of Crans-Montana’s ski area designated red and just one fairly easy black run, the piste skiing in Crans-Montana is best suited to intermediates. Although advanced skiers are unlikely to find on-piste conditions very challenging, the marked runs are nonetheless very enjoyable and good for working on technique and there are good opportunities for skiing off-piste.

The Nationale is a fun red-run with a comfy and fast ride back up on the 6-seater Nationale Express chairlift. This allows time to spot interesting deeper snow possibilities on Pas de Loup, which holds good snow, skier's right of Nationale Piste, switching to skier's left below the middle station and cutting down in the gap between the forest below the chairlift.

In good snow conditions there are plenty of good off-piste itineraries for advanced and expert skiers in the upper reaches of the centre of the ski area - beneath the Glacier Plaine Morte 3000m down to Les Violettes 2,250m.

The glacier itself is flat, with 360° panoramic views, but below it, along Tubang (2826m), Mont Bonvin (2995m) and La Toula there are wide open pitches and opportunities to traverse high to find a steep line and the best available untracked snow.

The slopes off-piste below Bella Lui between Mont Lachaux, Col du Pochet and Les Violettes feature many ridges and cliffs, and it's tempting while riding the lifts to contemplate drop-off descents when the powder is fresh and deep enough.

Looking north from the ridge running between Plaine Morte to Mont Bonvin and Petit Bonvin (2400m), there are backcountry possibilities in the direction of Les Faverges (2968m) for ski touring with a guide. These include sections of the route followed by the demanding Defi des Faverges ski-mountaineering race (www.defidesfaverges.ch) held in Crans Montana every two years.

Less serious racing for most participants is the Crans-Montana Mont Lachaux Trophy open downhill ski race at the end of March each year. The downhill race from Bella Lui to Crans is open to all ages from 14-99 years with team races on Saturday and individual races on Sunday, 24 categories including snowboard, telemark, snowbike, fancy dress and according to age. The event concludes mid-Sunday afternoon with prize giving, entertainment, eating and drinking at Crans Cry d'Er cable car station.


Crans-Montana Boarding & Freestyle

Crans-Montana is widely regarded as a good destination for snowboarders of all abilities. There are few flats and lots of wide-open and mostly uncrowded intermediate red runs for carving - plus easy access to a reasonable amount of off-piste at higher altitude, and some good terrain jumps.

When snow conditions are favourable, Crans-Montana has excellent terrain for boarders and freestyle skiers alike, including boardercross, as well as rails, boxes, kickers and a wall ride. There's also night skiing and boarding every Friday 19:00 - 22:00 at Cry d'Er and Verdetts.

The lower runs that wind their way back down to resort level are true blue, but narrower than the higher reaches. And with early-stage skiers and boarders needing more time and space to make turns it, can be a little busy on the narrow home runs back to Crans-Montana.

The Snowpark, formerly at Aminona, was moved to Cry d'Er where snow is guaranteed thanks to snowmaking. Covering an area of 50,000 m², Crans-Montana's Snowpark includes a halfpipe, boardercross course, slope style for beginners, rails, jumps, a wallride, box, hip, C-rail and rainbow.

Ski lifts & pass

The Crans-Montana ski area breaks down into four sectors – Crans, Montana, Violettes and Aminona, each adequately served by a gondola, supporting chairlifts and button lifts. The new quad-chairlift replacing the Cry-d’Er cable car is reputedly 20% faster and moves more people per hour to the top of Bellalui.


Crans-Montana Ski Lifts

Crans-Montana has invested heavily in new lifts in recent years, along with improvements to many of its pistes. Four million Swiss francs have been injected into the modernisation of the Piste Nationale - used for the 2010 Women's World Cup races, slalom and GS races. A new quad-chairlift has replaced the Cry-d'Er cable car and the old T3 button lift, running to the top of Bellalui (2528m) with its stunning views of Mont Blanc and the Rhone Valley. The new lift is reputedly 20% faster and takes 2,400 people an hour over a distance of almost a mile.

The comfortable six-seater National Express chairlift, which opened in 2007/08, halved the time taken to ride back up to the top of the National piste. There are no pull-down hoods on chairlifts for protection in bad weather, arguably because hoods are seldom needed in this sunniest of Swiss resorts.

Each of the lifts is numbered and clearly marked on the map, and although the runs themselves are not numbered and are less well signposted away from the lift stations, it's easy enough to navigate your way around the ski area. Skiing or boarding in the forest is prohibited in order to protect trees, fauna and wildlife.

There are pay car parks close to the main lift stations in Crans, Montana and Violettes and free car parking next to the lift station in Aminona. If you do not have a car and you do not want to carry skis and wear ski boots between your hotel and the lifts, you can rent a ski locker for a week, two weeks or a longer period if necessary.


Crans-Montana Lift Pass

A hands-free electronic ski lift pass system is in operation for lift passes of more than two days duration, otherwise day tickets are issued if you're skiing for just a day or two. For hands-free cards, a photo is necessary and can be obtained at the lift ticket offices.

If you're skiing more than one resort in the Valais region you can buy a personal prepaid Valais Ski Card which is valid for up to two years in more than 40 Valais ski resorts. Day tickets are available at reduced prices for non-skiers wanting to access the lift system.

Free lift passes are available for children under six years old. A discount of 10% is available for families purchasing the same ski pass for three or more family members, staying at the same address in Crans-Montana.

Free lift passes are available for children under six years old. A discount of 10% is available for families purchasing the same ski pass for three or more family members, staying at the same address in Crans-Montana.

1 day adult - CHF68
1 day youth - CHF51
1 day child - CHF38
5 days adult - CHF318
5 days child - CHF239
5 days youth - CHF175

Activities & Things to do

Crans-Montana is a genuinely all-year round resort and a sophisticated one at that, with plenty of activities besides skiing. In fact, only 30% of guests come to Crans-Montana to ski, so the non-skier is especially well catered for.


Winter walking and snow shoeing in Crans-Montana

Besides 140km of alpine skiing, there are 63km of designated paths for walking, with varying degrees of difficulty, and five different snowshoe routes totalling 15km marked out on the golf course, in the forest and around the lakes.


Cross-country skiing in Crans-Montana

There's cross-country skiing on the Plaine Morte glacier where you can appreciate the amazing 360 degree views of the most beautiful 4000- metre peaks in the Alps while skiing.


Tobogganing and snow-tubing in Crans-Montana

There's also a six-kilometre sledging track which runs from an altitude of 2400m down to 1500 metres. It's open in the evening, and a good way to build up an appetite, followed by a fondue. There's snow-tubing on the golf-course.


Ice skating, swimming and wellness in Crans-Montana

Crans and Montana both have outdoor ice rinks for skating and curling. There are eight public indoor pools in hotels, a heated salt-water pool and nine wellness centres.


Superb shopping in Crans-Montana

Crans especially is packed with high-quality boutiques selling just about every brand of Swiss watch and designer fashion brand you can think of, and a few less well known but special brands too. Quality foods, including caviar and local dairy products, wines and interior furnishings, are exceptionally well presented - so if you can afford to splash the cash you'll find plenty to tempt you If not, it makes for good window shopping. Likewise, there are dozens of real- estate agents offering mostly upmarket chalets and apartments for sale. If you feel like taking it easy, there is a cinema in the centre of Crans, with a good variety of up-to-date films, and there's a casino too (+41 (0) 27 485 90 40 www.partouche-casino-crans-montana.ch. There are several internet cafes and a library of more than 30,000 books and CDs.


Summer activities in Crans-Montana

From May to October, there are many summer activities including walking, biking and especially golf. Crans is an important destination for golfers, and the hundred-year-old Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club hosts a number of important golf tournaments.


Walking and biking in Crans-Montana

In summer there's around 280km of walking paths in the mountains, forests and around the lakes, plus 170km of cross-country trails for biking, 40km of downhill bike trails, and a special bike park next to the Cry d'Er lift station in Crans, which is busy throughout the summer months and the car park is full of experienced bikers fully kitted out in protective clothing and helmets preparing to tackle the bike trails. There's also a climbing wall and 16 fitness centres (10 of which are in hotels).


Golf in Crans-Montana

Crans-Montana is a great destination for golf. How many other ski resorts have four golf courses? The Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club is home to the Swiss Open and in September each year is home to the Omega European Masters, the second most prestigious PGA event in Europe after the British Open. The highly regarded 18-hole Severiano Ballesteros golf course was described by Greg Norman as one of the most spectacular tournament sites in the word. There's also a nine-hole Jack Nicklaus course and the Super-Crans and Noas courses are open to beginners (no handicap necessary). The golf courses are open from May to October. The resort also has Europe's first high-altitude year-round golf Performance Centre, replacing the old driving range with an indoor putting green. Recognized by the European Your, it specializes in bio-mechanics coaching and has a simulator, a driving swing analyser and video.  www.golfcrans.ch


Tennis and horse-riding in Crans-Montana

For tennis lovers, Crans boasts two tennis halls, 20 outdoor courts and seven indoor courts, and is now the only ski resort in Europe to host an ATP Tour Event. If you are with the family and looking to entertain your children there, is year-round horse-riding at Le Centre Equestre de Montana (a short bus ride away) with private tuition and a Shetland mini club for children. Or an archery programme for adults and children over 10.

Restaurants & Nightlife

Crans-Montana apres ski is laid back and quiet in comparison to some resorts but with over 70 restaurants and 25 bars, pubs and nightclubs, six cafes and four tear rooms there’s plenty of entertainment on offer.


Crans-Montana Apres Ski

The apres ski in Crans Montana is laid back rather than lively, but that suits Crans-Montana's regular clientele, mainly families and couples, who are content to return to their hotel or apartment for wellness or to indulge in a few hours retail therapy before dinner.

Crans-Montana may not be buzzing between 4pm and 9pm, but with 168 shops, more than 70 restaurants, 25 bars, six cafes, four tea rooms, a cinema and a casino it's not dull either. There's plenty happening in Crans-Montana, more than in most ski resorts, but it's definitely not Club 18-30 and pleased to remain that way. Zerodix next to the Cry d'Er gondola base station in Crans and Senso bar in central Montana are welcome additions and worth visiting.

There are three discotheques in Crans-Montana and a casino next to the ice hockey stadium in Montana, so if you fancy a flutter after dinner, head over there for a game of roulette, black jack or poker, or try your luck on the fruit machines.


Crans-Montana Restaurants

According to tourist office literature, there are over 100 eating and drinking establishments of one kind or another in Crans-Montana - including restaurants, mountain restaurants, seven cafes, 25 bars, snack-bars and four tea rooms.

For fine dining off the mountain, there are more than 70 restaurants offering dishes ranging from traditional Swiss dishes to Argentine, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, French, Italian, Lebanese, Portuguese and Spanish. It's best to explore Crans-Montana on foot to find them. Standards and prices are high so it's by no means the cheapest of ski resorts for dining out, but most restaurant menus are displayed outside so you check whether the menu suits your tastes and budget or not.

The Restaurant Giardino and Restaurants des Alpes, both within the Hotel Guarda Golf, Restaurant Le Mont Blanc at Le Crans Hotel and Le Relais at Grand Hotel du Golf & Palace are recommended for fine dining.  Three restaurants in Crans-Montana are listed in the Swiss edition of the Gault Millau guide. The Cafe Cher-Mignon has 13 points, and specialises in "bistronomy" - a fusion of bistrot and gastronomy. The restaurant at the Pas de l'Ours has 17 points and the Le Mont Blanc restaurant at Le Crans has 15 points.

Wine lists in restaurants and bars include selections of good-quality local wines. The region produces a number of famous Valais wines, including Johannisberg, Petite Arvine, Amigne, Humagne and Cornalin - few of which get the chance to be exported as the majority of wine output is consumed locally within Valais. There are also plenty of classic wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and new-world wines on offer.

Pick up a copy of Guide des Restaurants (French language only), distributed freely in most hotels and available at Crans-Montana Tourist Offices.


Crans-Montana Mountain Restaurants

Crans-Montana has 18 mountain restaurants ranging from hidden away mountain huts to self-service eateries. Some of them have limited seating indoors and are reliant on good weather to pack the sun terraces. Luckily Crans-Montana genuinely gets a great deal of sunshine!

South-facing Crans-Montana is one of the sunniest resorts in Europe, with spectacular views south from town and especially higher up on mountain. That said, mountain restaurants in Crans-Montana are arguably not as good as some other Swiss resorts, and not on a par with the restaurants in town; but it's still worth heading up the mountain for lunch and to appreciate the views. Non-skiers can buy a reduced-price lift ticket to meet family and friends for lunch at the Arnouva restaurant above Crans, Merbe above Montana or La Cure in Aminona.

The ruins from Bellalui down to Chetzeron, and from the Plaine Morte glacier to Violettes, via the World Cup Nationale run - in the heart of the ski area - are dotted with good restaurants. The Cabanes Taules, a little hut with a corrugated iron roof to the left of the La Toula chairlift, with the bowler-hatted proprietor preparing raclette dishes outside, is a fun place to stop for a drink or lunch, but with a limited menu. The house speciality - "as much raclette and potato as you can eat" - is good.  Bellalui is worth it just for the view.

The Buvette Pepinet is also worth a visit, if you can find it. It's perfectly visible on the map, but when you're  skiing down the blue run from Les Violettes lift it's easily missed, in spite of a small signpost which appears to point in the direction of the piste but actually means to say turn sharp right away from the piste. It's worth riding the Colorado gondola back to Les Violettes and skiing down the red run on the other side, skier's right, as the restaurant is visible below on the left from this run.

Dutch owned and named after the Rotterdam 010 dialling code, Zerodix is a stylish new bar restaurant conveniently located next to the Cry d'Er gondola base station and worth visiting for lunch and/or apres ski. The attractive south-facing sun deck includes huge red umbrellas and heaters when needed, tables and seating for around 50 covers outside and a similar number inside including one large table for 12 people.

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