The Lower-Alptitude Joy of Les Paccots

Reflections on the modest (yet fantastic) Les Paccots ski area.

I’ve been extremely lucky to ski so many great mountains here in Switzerland.  Most rest in extremely high elevations. Some like Zermatt and Saas-Fee sit on dramatic glaciers. Others like Verbier and Portes du Soleil bridge major valleys and once disconnected ski areas.  Grindelwald is flanked by the mighty Eiger. skirun2

But for this first of many Swiss ski area reviews, we’re going to start small.  Some might even consider this modest, lower elevation mountain range a set of “hills” by Switzerland standards. We’re talking about Les Paccots. This is where my kids learned to ski, and it’s only 15 minutes from our home in St-Legier.  Some of our very fondest memories were shaped on this time-warped ski area that until only recently still used the “pay as you go” punch-card tickets (which you can see dangling from my neck in this photo).

skipostersSituated in the valley of La Veveyse de Châtel, this modest hard to get lost family oriented ski area is flanked by a number of mountains including Dent de Lys (2,014M), Teysachaux (1,909 m), the Niremont (1,514 m), and Corbetta (1,401 m).  The village is part of the city of the Chatel St-Denis.

The ski area goes as far back to 1938 including the well regarded ski school.   You’d think that in this amount of time they would introduce at least one chair lift, but in fact all they have are t-bars and what my kids love to refer as “butt lifts.” But for one steep, arguably difficult run, the entire ski area is intermediate or beginner — just perfect for my 5-year old twins and a 3 year old to start their ski careers.

We skied here regularly for our first couple years before graduating up nearby (and somewhat higher, and bigger) Villars. Worth adding the the ski school here is excellent (and incredibly patient), and we owe a debt of gratitude to a few of the ski instructors for nurturing our kids love for the slopes. skimap

Aside from skiing, Les Paccots is well known for a fantastic outdoor skating rink, and a local restaurant, Le Tsale, that boasts perhaps the best fondue in Switzerland.

We’ve also enjoyed several “Full Moon” snow-shoeing hikes with friends, capped off by a great meal at the outstanding (and modestly priced) Les Rosalys hotel-restaurant.  We love this restaurant so much we celebrated Christmas lunch there one year.

From one of our “Full Moon” hikes. Thanks, Nils!

All in all, Les Paccots is a great place to put on your Swiss itinerary, whether for skiing, hiking, skating, tobogganing, eating fondue, or just plain old exploring.  Many great memories, and more to come.  Only a 15-20 minute drive from the Vevey/Montreux side of Lake Geneva. Very special place.