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Saturday January 13, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Our editor is doing what he loves most: roaming round the Alps visiting resorts he's barely heard of. Next stop Chandolin/St-Luc in the Swiss Alps.


Vercorin, SwitzerlandVercorin, Switzerland


I think it is fair to say I packed in a bit into the 24-hours I was in the resort of Vercorin in the Val d'Anniviers on Friday.  
Chandolin/St-Luc: here I come.  

It is just over the valley and I felt like I could almost touch it.

I'm not sure if a stone should be thrown or a crow flown to assess the distance, but basically it's not far. 

It is though hard to reach by public transport.

Vercorin to Chandolin/St-LucVercorin to Chandolin/St-Luc

The original plan devised was to take the cable car from Vercorin back down to the village of Chalais in the Rhone Valley, then a series of local buses: the 441, 451 and the 454. 

Journey time, from leaving my hotel in Vercorin to arriving in Chandolin was well over 2-hours.  

I skied with the local skier, Benoit Caloz, in Vercorin and he noticed my predicament.

"Fancy lift James as it isn't far out of my way," he said.

"Are you sure as I can take the bus," I mumbled with little enthusiasm.  I didn't offer again. 

Journey time - around half an hour. 

Now that is what I call a result and BIG thanks Benoit.

This is my next mode of transport:

Benoit, my saviour!Benoit - my saviour!

We arrived in Chandolin in, er, double quick time.

Now I have a confession to make.  

I have lied to you.  

I stated earlier I was visiting 3 ski areas that I'd not been to before and had barely heard of: Vercorin, Chandolin/St-Luc and Nax in the Valais in Switzerland. 

I was telling the truth about the first and third but not the second.  

I have been to Chandolin/St-Luc before.    

Many years ago lost in the mists of time and the memory bank?  

No, last year and it made an impression on me at the time even though I didn't stay in the resort.  
In my, er, defence I was just here on a day trip from nearby Zinal and we were ski touring in the remote backcountry rather than bashing the pistes.  

OK, pathetic excuse. 

I'm pleased to say even though the name escaped me the memories did not and the second I arrived I recognised the slopes.

And it was odd to look back across the valley to see Vercorin where I had been earlier.

 Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland Chandolin/St-Luc, to Vercorin,  Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland

Right, what about today?

We headed straight for the top.

For two very good reasons.

Firstly the huge quantities of snow at the top of the resort after the recent storms. 

 Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland

And secondly the high-altitude alpine views:  

And just I case you are wondering Mont Blanc is 4,808m - I really must try to remember next time.

And then we hit the powder with a few other skiers and snowboarders.

Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandChandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland

Next was the longest run in the resort - the Prilet that can be seen on the extreme right of the piste map.

Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandChandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland

It starts at just under 3,000m and drops to 1,655m. 

1,340m of thigh-burning pleasure.  

 Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland

And at the bottom I felt quite at home, I am on a road trip after all, as we needed to hop on a local post bus to get back into the lift system.

 Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland

The village of Chandolin sits on a sunny south-facing plateau at a height of 2,000m.

It is the highest village in Switzerland

Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandChandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland

And this was my home for two-nights, The Chandolin Boutique Hotel.  

Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandChandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland

If you want to stay in a hotel in Chandolin then it comes highly recommended by me.

It is the only hotel to stay in. Literally.

There isn't another one in the village Wink

See here for more details on the Chandolin Boutique Hotel.  

And as it is the only one it is rather popular:

Saturday night at the Chandolin Boutique HotelSaturday night at the Chandolin Boutique Hotel

And the speciality?

Swiss cheese of course.

30 different cheeses on offer30 different cheeses on offer

And the hotel produces its own.

"In a traditional barn close to Chandolin Boutique Hotel lives Titeuf, the hotel's cow, whose milk is used to produce an exclusive Alpine cheese. You can taste it at the hotel - once it's had time to age, that is," said the hotel director, Charlotte Renaud Boutilly, to me as we chatted over the cheese.

And here is Titeuf.          



Titeuf has been elected "Queen of the Year" in 2016 and 2017 for her milk production of 25 litres daily.   

Titeuf and CharlotteTiteuf and Charlotte 

So, what are my thoughts on the ski area of Chandolin and St-Luc?

Firstly the facts:

The combined area has 65kms of piste skiing and a snow park.  The is a funicular train, 2 chairlifts and 10 drag/button lifts.

Nothing spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, but that takes no account of vast expanses of off piste sking and freeride potential (the pistes are quite narrow and that means more powder).

Also most people would visit for a week rather than my single day and the lift pass is joined with nearby Grimentz, Zinal and Vercorin.

That makes a highly respectable 43 lifts with 220km of slopes.

But numbers rarely, if ever, tell the whole story.

With hand-on-heart I can say the Val d'Anniviers is one of the most under-rated and spectacular areas in the Alps. Period.

'Hidden gem' is a stupidly over-used phrase but this is the genuine article.  I love the place.

It has an old-fashioned mountain charm and oozes authenticity.

The slopes are steep & challenging, the people wonderful and it has that undefined quality that words cannot do justice to.  It just feels how a ski area should feel  and the scenery is nothing short of spectacular.

The rosti at the Bella Tolla mountain restaurant is OK too.


Yum, YumYum, Yum

I shall be back to Chandolin/St-Luc soon. 

And for much longer.

And after a day like today there was only one way to round it off.

A spot of laundry.

Life on the roadLife on the road

After all I wanted to be at my best for the next resort I am visiting: Nax.

I travel light and try to stay clean.

Nax is back over the other side of the valley, but sadly there is no Benoit around tomorrow.

It is a bus departing at 07.37, a change half-way down the mountain at Vissoie for another bus to take me to Sierre where I jump on a train to Sion.

At Sion I guess there will be another bus to take me up the mountain, but I haven't checked the timetable yet.

It all seems fairly straightforward - except the alarm going at 07.00. Cry

So what do I know about Nax? 

Absolutely nothing - except how to point to it from Chandolin.

Chandolin/St-Luc, Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandChandolin/St-Luc to Nax


Here is more information about the resorts in the Val d'Anniviers and here are the details about the resort of Nax.

For general information about Switzerland and the Swiss Travel Service that James has been using for his road and rail trip then check out the details on the Official Website of Switzerland Tourism. 

Flights were with SWISS and the journey was done with a special the 8 day rail ticket - see here for more details.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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