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Crans-Montana Travel Guide - Travel S Helper


travel guide

Crans-Montana is a town in Switzerland’s Canton Valais. Although the name Crans Montana is well-known, the region is really made up of three communes: Crans, Montana, and Aminona.

Crans-Montana, Switzerland’s sunniest ski resort, is open all year and has 140 kilometers of slopes, more than 150 stores and 70 restaurants, a championship 18-hole golf course, and a variety of popular events.

Crans-Montana features 140 kilometers of well-groomed pistes, excellent off-piste, and a variety of other snowsports such as cross-country skiing, ski touring, snowshoeing, ice skating, and curling. Around half of Crans-winter Montana’s visitors come for purposes other than skiing and boarding. That’s because many of the visitors are property owners who come to enjoy the 63km of walking routes (280km in summer) and to relax in the mountains among breathtaking scenery, as well as the more than 150 stores and boutiques for retail therapy and over 70 restaurants for eating out with friends. There’s also a casino and a movie theater.

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Crans-Montana | Introduction

Crans-Montana info card

Resort Altitude 1500m
Highest Lift 3000m
Total Piste 140km
Longest Run 12km
Directions of Slopes South
Total Lifts 28
Gondolas/Cable cars 6
Chairlifts 6
Drag Lifts 15
Snow Parks 1

Best time to visit Crans Montana

Crans Montana is noted for its sunlight, and since the most of the slopes are south facing, the ideal time to ski is early in the season, around January and February. With top elevations of 3000m, snow usually lasts a long time. If there hasn’t been enough natural snowfall, one-third of the slopes have artificial snowmaking, which ensures sufficient covering at the start of the season if there hasn’t been enough natural snowfall.

Crans Montana Ski Resort

Crans Montana was developed by the merger of two villages, Crans-sur-Sierre and Montana, in the 1960s to produce the ski resort we know today. Crans is the more trendy, with Cartier and Gucci boutiques along the streets, whilst Montana has a more down-to-earth atmosphere, with livelier après ski and cheaper places to dine.

The resort itself is less Swiss chocolate box and more a mix of different architecture, but once on the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with 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.

When you stay here, you have all the benefits of a small resort as well as the cultural activities, shopping, gourmet diversity, and international events of a large ski town. The Caprices Festival (one of Switzerland’s greatest music festivals), the Omega European Masters, and World Cup tournaments are among the highlights on the calendar.

Yes, Bond icon Roger Moore lived here, but there’s much more to this home than its famous visitors, including some intriguing history.

If you had been a patient of Dr. Theodore Stephani in the 1890s, your path to recovery would have begun here because of the curative benefits of the pure mountain air, which is how the place began to draw visitors. Golf also plays a vital role, with the inaugural Swiss Open being held here in 1939.

This is one of the oldest Alpine resorts, and it has a long history in skiing. As early as 1911, the famed Lunn family (founders of the Kandahar Ski Club) organized races here. Today, the resort holds a number of World Cup and European Championship events, and it has established itself as a hub for key downhill competitions.

It’s also very bright, with more than 300 days of sunlight on average each year due to its southern aspect.

If the skiing, shopping, or sunlight don’t entice you, come for the cuisine. Agriculture is huge here because of the warm temperature and abundant land, and everything begins with local products. Classic delights like as Raclette, traditional fondues, and Valais wine continue to dominate the cuisine.

Skiing in Crans Montana

The local ski bus connects the four major lifts that carry you up to the various regions of the mountain.

Children and total beginners will learn the fundamentals at the ‘Snow Island’ area, which also functions as a golf course in the summer and has some nice mild nursery slopes. If you’re a complete beginner, the magic carpet here is ideal for little children and much simpler to operate than a drag lift. There’s a beginners-only ‘Secure’ course near the Verdets lift in the Discovery section, as well as a fun area near the Merignou lift with tiny jumps and an easy ski cross.

There are several delightful easy cruisers all across the region, including 17 blues. The three blues serviced by drag lifts from the Cry d’Er region above Crans are the two Mérignou runs and the longer Chetzeron, which has a nice mountain restaurant at the bottom.

More experienced skiers and boarders have access to a network of 20 reds, including a very long one from the Plaine Morte glacier (at 3000m the views are incredible).

There are four blacks, including Bellalul’s Col du Pochet (2543m). The red Nationale runs down from the Cry d’Er region and has held the World Cup men’s downhill. There’s also a lot of off-piste, including itinerary routes – a guide can lead you down some amazing lines on the glacier and surrounding Chetzeron.

Freestylers may spend the week at the ‘Adrenaline’ area (accessed via the Crans gondola), which has a halfpipe, ski/boarder cross, and not one, but two snowparks – one for novices and one of the largest in Switzerland, encompassing 100,000 square meters.

If you wish to spend some time on the slopes after hours, torch lit descents and night skiing are common throughout the season – check with the tourist office or ski schools for particular days and times.

This is most likely one of the top cross-country (or Nordic) skiing areas in Switzerland. There are lots of flat areas since it is built on a plateau, and there are various lakes to circuit around the resort, such as Lac Moubra. The vista from the Piste Briesses track is breathtaking, and this circuit connects with the one on the golf course.

Crans-Montana Villages

Crans-Montana ski resort is made up of three communities: Crans Sur Sierre, Montana, and Aminona. Crans is more upscale, Montana is calmer and more family-oriented, and Aminona is the intended site for a huge hotel and residential complex, although clearance had not been granted as of mid-2011.

The neighboring settlements of Crans and Montana are located to the west and east of the little Lac Grenon, respectively. The communities are widely dispersed, with a ribbon-like development on each side of the highways that connect them. And, although there is a free bus service connecting Crans, Montana and Aminona, it only runs once every half hour, which is insufficient. Crans’ real estate, retail possibilities, hotel accommodations, and village atmosphere are often more upscale than neighboring Montana’s, yet both are appealing destinations to visit.

With the primary access route stretching two kilometers from Crans to Montana, it seems that there is no focal point for the towns at first. In low season, many privately owned chalets and apartments in Crans are empty, and in sharp contrast to the stunning mountain vistas, the series of eight-story chalet residences that flank the road appears unappealing when their window shutters are down. Walking south from the main road towards the Crans-sur-Sierre golf club, you will discover the major focal point of town – a wonderful arrangement of shops with store windows gleaming with pricey Swiss watches and luxury apparel brands. There are also several restaurants and pubs, as well as a few nightclubs.

Few Swiss ski resorts can compete with Crans-Montana in terms of retail. According to tourism office material, there are as many as 168 stores in Crans, and the shopping is excellent, with brands like Bulgari, Chanel, Hermes, Hublot, Louis Vuitton, Moncler, and Prada, to mention a few. Aside from businesses owned by or selling famous fashion labels, the shops in Crans’ center include expensive art galleries, the Bonvin cigar shop, a Chocolatier, and Laiterrie de Crans “Le Terroir” cheese shop, which also offers Swiss cow bells, the largest of which costs 3,500 Swiss Francs. If you want something larger and more costly, Crans-Montana has 34 estate agents, the most of which are in Crans, where the nicest chalets and apartments cost several million francs.

The resort has a rich ski history. On January 7, 1911, the inaugural “Roberts of Kandahar” Challenge Cup was held here, claiming to be the first legitimate Alpine ski race in history. Sir Henry Lunn, the famed promoter of British pre-war tourism in the Swiss Alps, founded it, and his son Arnold pioneered Alpine skiing. In April 2011, a downhill race from the Plaine-Morte glacier commemorated the centennial of this historic event. The skiers donned medieval clothes and utilized long wooden antique skis.

Crans-Montana also erected a funicular, which was touted to be the longest in Europe, in 1911 to link visitors, golfers, and sanatorium patients with Sierre, cutting the trip from four hours (by mule!) to 35 minutes by employing two connected funiculars. With the building of a new single funicular in 1997, the travel time was reduced to 12 minutes. The trip now takes either 20 minutes (stopping at each station along the way) or 12 minutes straight. There are two funiculars every hour, one at a quarter past the hour that stops along the route and one at a quarter to the hour that is direct.

Approximately 55 percent of Crans-Montana visitors are Swiss, with approximately 10 percent from France and Italy (who benefit from rapid train connections from Paris and Milan or a reasonably simple road trip), about 8 percent from Germany and the Benelux nations, and about 3 percent from the United Kingdom. A large number of tourists return, and the resort is eager to recruit additional visitors from the United Kingdom, both in the summer and winter.

Off the slopes and apres ski

Crans-Montana is a popular conference location all year, so the resort offers a plethora of off-slope services and non-ski activities to offer. It’s a large town, with spreading suburbs spanning most of the wide plateau on which it lies; the largely level topography around the major portions of town make it a lovely location to promenade, and the surrounding region has more than 60km of way-marked walking pathways and snowshoeing trails.

The major draw for non-skiing tourists is shopping; the biggest concentration of stores is concentrated in the center of Crans, with numerous fashionable boutiques providing haute-couture labels, pricey jewelry, and top-of-the-line Swiss timepieces.

There are approximately 60 restaurants serving a diverse variety of different cuisines, including classic Swiss, French, and Italian food, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Lebanese cuisine, among others; quality and pricing are often high.

Apres ski is sophisticated rather than rocking, which perfectly suits Crans-well-heeled Montana’s 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 resort’s roulette and card tables.

However, there are a number of more lively venues catering for younger and younger-minded visitors as well: 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 in the evenings, the Amadeus and Monk’is are two of the most popular haunts.

There are also two bigger nightclubs, Xellent and Pacha, as well as a number of tiny cabaret-style clubs, Cabaret Aux Noctambules and Harry’s Club.

Families in Crans Montana

Crans Montana’s warm environment, family-oriented resort, and varied non-ski offers make it an ideal family destination.

The iconic golf course converts into the Snow Island children’s playground in the winter, including snowtubing, sledding, moderate pistes, and inside shelter. The ‘Discovery Space’ (accessed via the Grand-Signal gondola from Montana) is designed for families; beginners should exit at the Verdets lift area, which is divided into a snow garden and a secure run, while more confident skiers can stay on the lift to reach the top, where there are some gentle jumps and a skicross. Teens will adore the Adrenaline area, which has a ski/boardercross, airbag, and two snowparks, while the rest of the region is a network of fantastic blues, reds, and a few blacks spanning from Crans to Aminona.

Aside from skiing, a magnificent 6km sled run (one of the country’s longest and most picturesque) takes you all the way down to Aminona – there’s a good picnic place at the top for a short bite before you slide down. On poor weather days, indoor diversions for families include bowling on Route du Rawyl and a 3D theater, which are frequently organized by the tourism office.



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