Châtel has managed to maintain a good proportion of its development in chalet style buildings in keeping with the natural ambience of the resort, although some feel things have gone too far and it’s got a bit messy and over crowded. Be that as it may there’s a high number of relatively inexpensive small family hotels and chalets rather than having the usual 99% apartment accommodation that is on offer in most French resorts. So this means Châtel is a good choice for escaping British domination and plunging yourself in to French culture with the added benefits of a huge ski area on your doorstep.
Châtel is well placed on the Portes du Soleil circuit, arguably the world's biggest lift-linked ski area offering 650km (406 miles) of piste. The local skiing effectively breaks in to two huge sectors of the Portes du Soleil, with the Linga gondola at one end of town heading off towards Avoriaz, and on the other from Super Châtel side gondola going towards the Swiss resort of Torgon. In addition, there are no less than ten individual and unlinked drag lifts dotted around the valley floor, serving very easy or easy runs and used for beginners. Experts tend to head for Linga sector and on towards The Wall, perhaps the most famous run on the Circuit. It’s a vast steep straight black mogul field unofficially characterised as “A brown run”. Another good but less infamous mogul field is on Plaine Dranse. Intermediates may well enjoy the ‘Discovery Routes’ available around the whole Portes du Soleil – pre-selected trail itineraries marked on the trail map, taking in some of the best skiing and the best views.
There are excellent steep off-piste trails in the Pre-la-Joux and Linga sectors – so much of it indeed that if you’re planning to do much oof the beaten track, then hiring a guide is highly recommended by the area’s fans, not just an over cautious tourist office or a ski school keen to get your cash. Recommended routes include a descent of the Leiche Valley from the Tete de Linga and excursions through the woods beneath the Linga gondola.