Crans-Montana: the sunniest balcony of the Swiss Alps
Marina Moeller explores Crans-Montana with her family and finds it jammed packed with activities in all seasons.
The elegant resort of Crans-Montana is perched on a sun-soaked plateau in canton Valais, 1,500m above sea level. I've visited it several times both in summer and winter and I still can’t decide when Crans-Montana is at its finest. The area’s spellbinding 360-degree vistas reaching from Matterhorn to Mont Blanc are silver-screen perfect in any season. Dotted with beautiful chalets, designer boutiques, and chic restaurants and hotels, the resort consists of two neighboring towns, Crans and Montana. This place has attracted jet-set clientele for over a century, but nowadays there are accommodations and activities here for every budget.
Winter activities in Crans-Montana
Skiing and snowboarding are naturally big in winter with 140 km of marked pistes (half of them are for intermediate skiers) stretching from the majestic glacier Plaine Morte at 3,000m down to town level. The expert skiers can have their fun too with many off-piste possibilities and several black runs. The resort has even hosted FIS Alpine World Ski Championships several times, including the most recent one in 2017.
There are several ski schools and a fun “Snow Island” area for children and families that has extensive learning possibilities for beginners, including several lifts and a very affordable magic carpet lift right in the center of Montana. My kids and I have particularly enjoyed snow tubing rides at the Snow Island.
Every evening we pick a different sport activity to explore. There is a recently renovated Ycoor Center in Crans with an outdoor skating rink and a curling hall. We rented skates across the street and joined an enthusiastic crowd of novice and advanced skaters of all ages joyfully swirling around the big illuminated skating rink. Another evening, we went to the Moubra Center in the outskirts of Crans. The center has several indoor tennis courts, a squash court, and a climbing wall with different sections suitable for various ability levels. They provide equipment and instruction right on site. The Moubra Center is a great bad weather day alternative.
Summer activities in Crans-Montana
From late spring to early fall Crans-Montana is a real hiking paradise. We met hikers and walkers of every age there - from a 101-year-old man with a walking trolley blissfully gazing down the Rhone valley to a tiny toddler enthusiastically following her parents down a well-trodden forest path. There are walking routes for everyone.
Crans-Montana's biggest claim to fame in the summer months is its Golf Course Crans-sur-Sierre. Sprawling Crans-sur-Sierre includes 4 courses and is considered to be one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, hosting elite competitions, including the annual Omega European Masters.
My personal favorite warm weather activity in the area is “Fun Forest” Adventure Park where one gets to glide through the air in style. It features 6 different courses with rope bridges, zip cables, and all kinds of obstacles suspended on wires. The Fun Forest is located right next to the Moubra Center that has six outdoor tennis courts available in summer in addition to the indoor courts used year round. They also offer very popular group and individual tennis classes for adults and children.
In addition to its soaring peaks, Crans-Montana is sprinkled with glistering lakes, several of which are popular for swimming and paddling. Etang Long Lake in Montana even boasts a golden sand beach, luxury deck chairs, and volleyball courts every summer season.
For art lovers, there is the Pierre Arnaud Foundation’s Art Center located in a stunning mirrored façade building with changing expositions, promoting Swiss painting in particular.
In short, there is something for everyone in this sunniest resort in the Swiss Alps: skiing, snowboarding, and skating in spring and winter; hiking, golfing, and swimming in summer and fall; and shopping, dining out, and enjoying nature all year around!
Marina Moeller is a freelance journalist, who grew up around the world, earned four university degrees in economics, French poetry, accounting, and journalism, worked in America, England, Italy and Germany before finally settling down in Zurich. Marina is also very passionate about Italian art, culture and Venetian glass. She represents one of the top Italian glass companies in Switzerland- Arte di Murano and would be delighted to advise you on their beautiful products!