High in the mountains, right next to the Swiss border, and not far away from Lake Geneva, lies a charming little Alpine ski village called Chatel. Thankfully, despite the tourist boom over the last few years, it retained its classic Alpine vibe. In Châtel, you won’t find many things to do, but those that the village can offer will leave you with great memories. From relaxing in traditional chalets and exploring charming village streets to admiring breathtaking views and being active on trails or slopes… Chatel for sure will please every traveler. Keep reading and discover the best things to do in Chatel, France.
Interesting fact: Châtel became a popular destination around the 50s’ when former Olympic ski champion, Roland Macchi, chose this then-unknown village as the place for a ski school. Not long after, in 1953, the first of many ski lifts in the area, Super Chatel, was installed.
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Chatel, France FAQ
Chatel is located in eastern France in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The village can be found in the Northern French Alps, right next to the Switzerland border, and in close proximity to Lake Geneva.
Chatel is famous for being a world-class ski resort as well as a beautiful village in the French Alps full of traditional charm and magnificent scenery.
Chatel sits on an altitude of 1053m a.s.l.
If you are a skiing enthusiast – you need to visit Châtel in winter. But if you prefer activities like hiking, mountain biking, or paragliding – warmer months will be much better.
Things to do in Chatel Village in France
Streets of Chatel, France
While in Châtel center, take a nice slow stroll around the village streets. There aren’t many of them, so it won’t take too much of your time. Admire traditional chalets and spectacular views over the Alps on every step, visit small craft shops, buy delicious Abondance cheese, and eat dinner in one of the cozy restaurants. There you’ll find places of interest like Old Customs House, Église Saint-Laurent de Châtel, or Chatel Tourist Information Center
Old Customs House
One of the cool things to do in Chatel is visit the Old Customs House, La Vieille Douane. Inside you’ll learn about the game of cat and mouse that happened between the smugglers and the customs officers (gabelous) across the border between France and Switzerland. All is very richly documented and presented in a friendly, illustrated way.
Entrance to La Vieille Douane costs €4.5 for adults and €3.5 for children (November 2023). The museum is closed on Saturdays and Mondays. For current prices and opening hours visit the chatel.com website.
Église Saint-Laurent de Châtel
If you’re a church person – you can also visit the village parish church, Église Saint-Laurent de Châtel. It dates back to 1908 and is classified as a Historical Monument. Right next to it, you’ll also find a cemetery with unique ornaments commemorating the dead.
Things to do in Châtel in the summer
In summer Chatel turns into a popular destination for biking, hiking, and paragliding enthusiasts.
Mountain biking MTB
Chatel’s Bike Park is dedicated to MTB lovers and is located in the Pre la Joux sector, accessible by the Pierre-Longue and Rochassons chairlifts. Park offers 20 tracks, adapted to all levels. There are also lifts for cyclists, open from June to September. On chatel.com you can check the details, as well as the pass prices.
Hiking in Chatel
Your other option to discover Chatel and the nearby areas is to try paragliding with qualified instructors. You can choose from 3 offers, which mostly vary by flight duration and altitude. To learn more about options and prices visit chatel.com website.
Another great thing to do in Chatel in summer is to try Fantasticable, a zipline that offers an unforgettable flight over Plaine-Dranse, at a height of about 240m, with a speed of almost 100 km/h. The Fantasticable operates all the summer, from +- the middle of July to the middle of September, and it’s available to anyone whose weight is between 35-120kg. It can be done alone or in a duo flight. To learn more about Fantasticable, its open hours, and prices visit chatel.com website.
Things to do in Chatel in winter
Skiing enthusiasts will love Chatel during winter. Since the 1970s Châtel has been part of Portes du Soleil – a very popular French-Swiss ski domain. Chatel ski resort extends across Super-Châtel / Barbossine and Linga / Pre la Joux / Plaine Dranse sectors linked together with Portes du Soleil and Gabelou chairlifts.
Chatel Ski Pass
In Chatel you can choose from two Ski Passes:
- Châtel Liberté Ski Passes, which covers slopes in Chatel (Barbossine, Super-Châtel, Linga, and Pre-la-Joux) and La Chapelle d’Abondance on the French side, and Torgon and some in Morgins in Switzerland. There is a total number of 82 slopes, 63 lifts, and about 130km of skiing.
- Portes Du Soleil Ski Passes, which covers all of the 12 resorts of the Portes du Soleil ski area, in all 308 slopes, 209 lifts, and 600km of skiing
For more information and current Châtel Ski Pass prices visit the chatel.com website.
Portes du Soleil Multi Pass
The Portes du Soleil Multi Pass is a card that allows you to enjoy 60 activities in Chatel and Portes du Soleil free of charge or with great discounts. With the Multi Pass you’ll have access to ski lifts, and places like swimming pools, tennis courts, and many cultural sites. You can choose between Multi Pass Day (€12 per person per day) and Multi Pass Season (€80 per adult 26+ years old, or €60 for younger people 5-25 years old, for the entire summer and autumn season). To learn more visit chatel.com or skipass-chatel.com website.
How to get to Chatel, France?
Where to park in Chatel?
There’s a big underground parking lot located in the village center, right next to the church. It’s free from the end of April to the 28th of June and from the 1st of September to the start of the winter season in mid-December. To check current dates and information about other parking lots located a bit further visit mairie-chatel.com website.
Airports near Chatel
The closest airports to Châtel are in Geneva, Switzerland (100km away) and Lyon (230km away). Unfortunately, there are no direct connections from them to Chatel. To check available options please visit rome2rio.com website.
To Chatel by bus
To Chatel by train
Unfortunately, there is no train station in Châtel. The closest ones are located in towns located on Lake Geneva shores, like Evian-Les-Bains or Thonon-Les-Bains (about 40km away). Then you can take a bus from Thonon or a taxi from either of them to Chatel.
To Chatel by taxi
From any place in the area you can also arrive at Chatel by taxi. For example, a trip from Evian-Les-Bains will take 40min (€85-100) and only 15min from Abondance (€27-33). To check the connections that interest you please visit rome2rio.com website.
If you’re traveling by camper, L’Oustalet camping might interest you. It’s located on the outskirts of Chatel village.
Things To Do In Chatel, Alpine Ski Village In France – Summing up
Chatel is such a lovely tiny Alpine village, isn’t it? If you are an active, sports person you definitely won’t be disappointed with your visit. Just take your bike, ski, or hiking shoes and enjoy the area no matter the season. If you’re not up to practicing sports and just need a quiet and picturesque place to relax – you’ll be pleased with Châtel too.
Our opinion about Chatel, France
For us, a visit to Chatel was a day trip from Thonon-Les-Bains where we lived for a few weeks. Actually, we visited it after completing a hike in the nearest Abondance. We visited the village in late May and it was extremely sleepy and quiet back then. We came across only a few other tourists, maybe 10 at best?
Even if we didn’t spend much time there, around 3 hours in total, we really liked it. Beautiful surroundings, stunning views, cute Alpine buildings… We think that Châtel village is a great place to which we’ll come back one day with pleasure.
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Chatel?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Chatel:
Where to sleep in Chatel?
Fleur De Neige Hôtel
Fleur De Neige Hôtel is a charming mountain hotel located in the heart of Chatel, offering comfortable accommodations and warm hospitality. With its traditional alpine architecture and cozy rooms, guests can enjoy a peaceful and relaxing stay while taking advantage of nearby outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking.
Au Bois de Lune
Au Bois de Lune is a charming chalet-style hotel in Chatel, featuring cozy rooms with stunning mountain views and a relaxing sauna and hot tub area. The hotel also offers delicious regional cuisine in its restaurant, making it a great choice for a peaceful and authentic mountain getaway.
Le Castellan is a cozy and welcoming hotel located in the heart of Chatel, just a short walk from the ski lifts. With its charming decor and comfortable rooms, it's the perfect place to relax after a day on the slopes.
Hotel Le Kandahar
Hotel Le Kandahar is a cozy alpine hotel located in the heart of Chatel, offering easy access to the ski lifts and the town's restaurants and shops. The hotel features comfortable rooms, a restaurant serving delicious Savoyard cuisine, and a sauna and hot tub for relaxation after a day on the slopes.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com