Villars


Villars is a lovely ski vacation resort perched on a wooded, sunny plateau above the Rhine Valley, about halfway between Martigny and the Chateau de Chillon end of Lake Geneva. Located in the heart of the Vaud Alps, this idyllic setting has lovely views towards the Portes du Soleil, and stretching from Lake Geneva to Mont Blanc. The neat, unpretentious little resort is linked to Bex, down in the valley, by a quaint Edwardian mountain railway and is a popular family ski vacation resort. The ski school and kindergarten at Villars are excellent.

Its well-manicured ski trails offer 52 runs of all levels of skill, adding up to 78 miles of skiing terrain. There is not much advanced skiing here, but experts will find good off-piste skiing at the glacier at Les Diablerets, about 13 miles from Villars accessed by the Perche-Conche lift. Others ski areas such as Leysin, with its famous revolving restaurant, Champery and the Four Valleys, offer more expert runs. There are four glaciers in the area available for heli-skiing. You may want to invest in a ‘Glacier – Alpes Vaudoises’ pass that allows you to ski on over 500km of pistes, including Gstaad and Chateau d’Oex.

A gondola from the edge of the village takes you up to the Roc d’Orsay, from where a long blue run takes you to the hub of the skiing at Bretaye, set in a broad bowl. One can also take the rack railway from Villars centre. Gentle red pistes abound, and from Barboleuse a gondola heads up to Les Chaux offering a long and rewarding blue run, as well as a long steep black down to Sodoleuvre. Bretaye and Les Chaux are great places for snowboarders.

Those in search of relaxation can enjoy the benefits of the thermal baths (Lavey-les-Bains). Après-ski is relatively quiet, with more emphasis on fine dining and romantic evenings by roaring log fires than a wild party scene, though the ski resort does have a handful of vibrant bars and discos. There are numerous shops, many of which are not normally associated with a ski resort. In addition to skiing, the Villars resort offers hiking, ice-skating, mono-skiing, heli-skiing, mountaineering, paragliding, sleigh riding and horseback riding.