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Crans-Montana trip around Christmas to New Year - advice please

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I am thinking about booking a ski trip to Crans-Montana over the period from Christmas to New Year. It’s likely to be the immediate family of four being 2 adults, 2 kids aged 13 & 8, various “intermediate” levels - but possibly with one older non-skier on top who is not up to walking much.

In the main I was wondering what the general conditions are that time of year:
• Is the snow generally reliable then? The area seems high plus a glacier so yes?
• If there is not much natural snow do they have good snow making ability – snowresort.info indicates that they have 35% slope coverage which seems a bit low? Or is that because they don’t need it (given answers to question above!)

Also of lesser importance, but good to know:
• Are there things for the non-skier to do see/do during the day? Can they access gondolas/on slope restaurants to meet up? Is Sierre at the bottom of the Funicular of any interest?
• Would a car be useful to have in C-M or is using the ski bus enough to get around - we will not be staying slope side and so be using the bus to access the uplifts (with kids/gear etc)
• Is the ski bus reliable/wide ranging and does it run all day? How does the non-skier access it?
• Can you store gear at the bottom of the Montana Gondola?
• If arriving by train are there taxis at the train station to get to accommodation?
• Is there any reasonable sized swimming pool complex that the public can access, even if in a hotel where you need to pay if not a guest.

We normally also do a city break from where we enter/exit the countr, Geneva seems the closest major city as far as I can work out but from one previous trip to the city there isn’t much to it (unless you like visiting the gates of secretive world sporting federations’ bunkers or Phil Collins’ mansion), so I was thinking maybe Zurich. Am I right in thinking Zurich has more to it than Geneva. If we go to Zurich I am thinking train to Crans-Montana rather than a long drive, if Geneva maybe car or train. Am I missing another interesting city nearby even if in another country that we could access C-M from?

Aspects I am not too worried about at this time are – area size, run levels/difficulties, lessons or costs (as yet, it’s not that we are made of money but may have a decent deal).

Any other things that would be good to now prior to booking?

Cheers all
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Geneva and Zurich are among the most boring cities on planet Earth. Unless you like dodgy finance, overpriced watches, and drivethru brothels.

Crans-Montana is a tiny ski area, the glacier has melted away, and it's well-known for low snowfall, too much sun, and boilerplate trails.

A better trip(s) is:

1. Milan-Zermatt.
2. Monaco-Zermatt.
3. Milan-St Moritz.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Spent 2 1/2 months there 2018/19. Not a great ski area but ok for a week for intermediate skiers. Some good off piste if conditions good, as they were. Ski bus is usually reliable and drops you at the base of stairs to the gondola. 1st stage of the gondola is free with a restaurant at the top so useful for non skiers to meet up with skiers. Good ice skating rink in the centre. Also a casino if that's your thing. There are lockers in the gondola station you can hire. Not sure of cost. There are taxi's at the top of the funicular. Sierre has nothing of note to recommend it. Not sure about a swimming pool. No need for a car as the twin villages are literally only 10 minutes walk center to centre. As Whitegold says neither Geneva (nearest), nor Zurich have much to offer. As always Swiss rail is exceptionally good. The main thing to know is just how expensive Switzerland really is now. A simple glass of wine or a beer at it;s cheapest will be in the region of 7 CH.
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Geneva is boring Zurich has loads to offer, particularly around Christmas. Are you hooked on CM? Somewhere like Wengen or Mürren is closer to ZH and Bern and easy to get down the mountain to Interlaken or into Bern and beyond for the day.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Whitegold, that's a rather stinging indictment of those Swiss cities & C-M but a good suggestion to look at Milan. It looks no longer by train, albeit Italian train rather than Swiss, to get to C-M than Zurich and likely to be a lot more interesting city to visit.

@Old Man Of Lech, good info, thanks. We have been known to skate, less so on casinos.

@Nadenoodlee, so maybe Zurich is a possible then (I would prefer to stay in one country if poss). If we decide on C-M will likely come down to the cost of getting to Zurich vs Milan as long as not hugely more than Geneva to get to. I am not tied to C-M but have wanted to go to Switzerland somewhere and I saw there are closer resorts to ZH but this C-M all in deal I came across looks the best way to do it without selling a kidney. And I think Valais2 speaks highly of it.

Any view on C-M for early snow in general or usual conditions around that time?
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Perhaps PM valais2? He's a real expert on the region.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Hurtle wrote:
Perhaps PM valais2? He's a real expert on the region.


Had done, just waiting on a reply but thought I would canvas wider opinion as well , especially on the city break.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Helluva long time since I've been there, but I remember Sion being a pretty town. I recall being entranced by a son et lumière there one evening. It's just down in the valley and it seems to have a splendid swimming pool www.schweizmobil.ch/en/hiking-in-switzerland/services/swim/swiming-0143.html
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@ster, Consider Lausanne and/or Montreux and it’s Christmas market if you want a city/town activity on the weekend you arrive. Both on the lake, good vibe before Xmas etc. On main rail link so don’t need a car. Crans doesn’t have the best reputation round here - lack of investment and South facing so very sun affected (although that may be less of an issue at Xmas). What about Zermatt?
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@Hurtle, thanks for that tip.

@BobinCH, they look like good options on the way from Geneva on the train, maybe even Sion which I see is also on the rail line (I would like a train ride as some part of the trip, could even get all the way to Geneva on the train!)? As I mentioned the deal I am looking at in C-M looks a good way to ski Switzerland on a budget, so I think it may be there or not its going to be Switzerland.
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I'll throw in my usual recommendations of the big thermal spa at the Bains de Saillon (https://www.bainsdesaillon.ch/en/ a short way along the valley towards Martigny, and the latter's Fondation Giannada (http://www.gianadda.ch/) for it's outstanding impressionist collection and outdoor modern sculpture park. You could try a day's skiing in Verbier - park at the free Le Chable base railway/télécabine station (or change at Martigny for a short hop on the train to Le Chable, see the timetable at https://www.sbb.ch/en).

I'm biased, but personally, if I was going to the Valais for a Big Trip I'd go to Verbier. It's the centre of about 400kms of pistes if you include all the Satellites of La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, Les Collons and Bruson. I'd admit that in reality, you probably have more like 250Kms or so of easily-accessible pistes if you're based in Verbier. But this is still somewhat more than the 140kms of Crans-Montana. The first time we went to Verbier was when the family were younger and we did a hotel package over the New Year. It was pricey but nowhere near as expensive per head as our trip to Vail.

Another alternative I've mentioned before on Snowheads for a mixed group is to base yourself in the valley at the thermal spa of the Bains de Saillon and then do skiing excursions to Verbier, Crans-Montana, and the lesser-known but picturesque areas like Zinal and Grimentz. Or just stay at a valley hotel if the spa thing isn't you're preference. You'd then easily hop on a train to Martigny for arty Fondation Giannada and Lausanne for the market and perhaps an excursion on the Belle Epoch paddle steamers that ply Lac Lémain (although this is more of a summer than a winter excursion). Sion has a pretty old centre and a market on Friday/Saturday and Christmas market. Personally (again) I wouldn't get too excited about the Christmas Market thing - they're nice if you're there anyway, or just want a day off, but not necessarily worth writing off a day of skiing for.

The Valais resorts - excepting Verbier - do a collective 'Magic Pass' (https://www.magicpass.ch/en/) that gives you access to 30 or so resorts including Crans-Montana. It may or may not be cost-effective but worth considering.


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Tue 16-07-19 22:27; edited 1 time in total
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@ster, have you heard of Swiss trains before? You can get anywhere by train and bus! Have a look on the SBB site for details and offers
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Also Lausanne is a good shout - Vevey also very lovely
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Nadenoodlee +1 - Yes, I forgot to mention that the SBB website does combined train/ski offers. As does the big Swiss official tourist website at https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/ with the winter section at https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/experiences/winter/
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
ster wrote:
@Hurtle, thanks for that tip.

@BobinCH, they look like good options on the way from Geneva on the train, maybe even Sion which I see is also on the rail line (I would like a train ride as some part of the trip, could even get all the way to Geneva on the train!)? As I mentioned the deal I am looking at in C-M looks a good way to ski Switzerland on a budget, so I think it may be there or not its going to be Switzerland./


The rail journey from Geneva into the Valais is very scenic (in good weather). Stay in Montreux 1 night (Swiss Majestic - opposite station really nice!), enjoy the traditional Xmas market, lake views, château de Chillon if you like your history. Then get back on the train to Sierre and up to Crans. It’s a decent enough resort so if you’ve got a good deal and don’t need hundreds of km’s of piste I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Swiss trains are the most overrated on planet Earth.

They are slow and wooden.

Takes forever to travel a few miles.

Soon gets old.

Rent a car.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Whitegold, You ever traveled on a Swiss express train?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Whitegold wrote:
Swiss trains are the most overrated on planet Earth.

They are slow and wooden.

Takes forever to travel a few miles.

Soon gets old.

Rent a car.


As someone who is sensitive to global warming and “dying glaciers” I would have thought you would advocate train travel over car travel.
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@BobinCH, sounds like thats a good way to go. At least there seem a decent amount of options of somewhere nice to stay for a day or two en route to C-M if we end up coming from Geneva.

We dont need a big km resort as we dont end up doing many miles and are happy doing the same runs a few times. In fact the kids like the routine sometimes of the same slopes and restaurants so we mainly go to small/medium resorts and dont look for day trips to others as a norm.

Thanks.

Now to see if it all works together!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Here’s a taster of the train journey...

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The Christmas market in Sion is small but good. Its normally on for about two weeks before Christmas, late afternoon through the evening.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

I'm biased, but personally, if I was going to the Valais for a Big Trip I'd go to Verbier. It's the centre of about 400kms of pistes if you include all the Satellites of La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, Les Collons and Bruson.

I would question that Verbier is at the centre. Siviez is probably at the centre and with the new Télécabine from Prarion to Plan du Fou, from Nendaz it is easy to reach either Verbier or Thion at the other end.
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