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Villars - Gryon - Ski Resort and Snow Summary
Skiing in Villars - Gryon
Villars - Gryon - Ski Resort in Glacier-Alpes Vaudoises, Swiss Alps - 100km of Piste (1200m to 2100m)
A pretty traditional Swiss resort on a sunny south-west facing plateau above the Rhone Valley. The large ski area reached by funnicular will suit most skiers, with a link to the glacier of Les Diablerets.
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Villars - Gryon
Villars - Gryon Ski Facts
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Villars - Gryon
The Swiss ski resort of Villars - Gryon is part of the Glacier-Alpes Vaudoises ski area and has direct access to 100km of downhill skiing, with 67 individual pistes, served by 16 ski lifts. In addition to the skiing in Villars - Gryon itself (100km of pisted ski runs), the appropriate ski Lift Pass will allow you to ski or snowboard in the other Glacier-Alpes Vaudoises ski resorts of Anzère, Les Diablerets and Leysin. Villars - Gryon is directly linked by Ski Lift to the ski areas of Anzère.
With skiing above 2000 metres, snow cover is generally reliable.
Snowmaking :- Villars - Gryon is able to augment natural snow, on 26km of ski runs, with 13 Snow Cannons.
Ski Lift Capacity :- The 16 Ski Lifts of Villars - Gryon are able to uplift 38,300 skiers / snowboarders per hour.
There are four Airports within two hours drive, so ski weekends, snowboard breaks and short ski holidays to Villars - Gryon are perfectly feasible. Geneva Airport and Sion Airport are just one hours drive away, in good driving conditions, so you can be on the piste quickly.
Skiing in Villars - Gryon
Since a horizontal chair lift linked the skiing of Villars to its near neighbour Les Diablerets in 1997, it has been possible to ski 120km (75miles) of trails without needing to take your skis off. The ski areas are concentrated on several separate mountain areas, above Gryon and Barboleuse, Villars itself and on Iseneau above Les Diablerets.
The longest journey possible, when the glacier lifts are open, is to take the chair rides over to Les Diablerets, cross the village, then take the lift up to Iseneau and the trail down to the road at Col du Pillon from where a series of cable-cars take you up to the Diablerets glacier and the long run of 14km (9 miles) down to the road and a bus ride back to les Diablerets to get the lift back over. A day should be allowed for this epic, lift-served touring but it can be done almost entirely on easy or intermediate level trails, with one short (100 yards?) unavoidable black stretch as you come down the glacier. More blacks can be added in to the route if you'd prefer more!
There is a mix of terrain both above and below the treeline, most of it being of intermediate standard (European red runs). The fastest way to reach the skiing is to take the gondola from the edge of the village up to the Roc, a key launch pad for lifts across the area. Experts have several black runs to enjoy including a long descent from the Roc d'Orsay to Villars and shorter runs from Chaux Ronde and Petit Chamossaire down to Bretaye. A further black run offers a route down from Croix des Chaux above Barboleuse and Gryon, down the edge of one of the Snowboard Parks in to the valley at La Rasse from where the chair returns over to Villars. There's also off piste opportunities all over the area with the ski school guides and other expert routes over at the glacier.
Intermediates have pretty well all the rest of the terrain suited to them and, as with experts, can double the available trails and lifts by purchasing the Alpes Vaudoises Pass, which covers 220km (125miles) of terrain at key resorts in the area, as well as the transportation between them in many cases. The pass covers the Diablerets glacier, Gryon Les Diablerets, Les Mosses and Leysin as well as Villars. Passes of 4 Days or more additionally entitle holders to unconditional use of the lifts of Château d'Oex ( La Lécherette ), Gstaad, Gsteig, Lauenen, Rougemont, Saanen, Saanenmöser, St Stephan, Schönried and Zweisimmen. Purchasers of passes of 6 days or more also entitle holders to a day on the lifts of Les Portes du Soleil, Les Márecottes, Ovronnaz, Crans Montana, Aminona, Vercorin, Grimentz, St Luc, Chandolin, Loèche-les-Bains or Anzère).
A second route into the skiing is to take the old mountain railway from the village centre up to Bretaye at 1800m (5900 feet) from where a network of chairs and surface lifts branch out in all directions. It's a 20 minute rail trip through wonderful scenery and is well worth doing even without the skiing waiting above. This makes Villars an excellent place to get started on skis - a traditional village base with good facilities, a hassle-free train ride up to a sunny but snow sure area of gentle slopes - all the ingredients are right. If snow is good at village level there are also nursery slopes just behind the railway station there.
There is a choice of two friendly ski schools (and an additional snowboarding one), one offering innovative learning techniques. The Modern Ski School is one of the few in the Alps to use the GLM(r) (Gradual Length Method) of tuition made famous as 'Ski Evolutif' in Les Arcs, France. This means that beginners start on skis a metre (3 feet, 4 inches) in length, perhaps half the length that they will eventually end up on, but far easier to turn when you're starting off. It also means you can progress straight to parallel turns without needing to spend time mastering the infamous 'snow plough' or 'pizza pie' technique. The next stage is to progress to 1.35m (4 foot, 6 inch) skis and then 160m (5 feet, 4 inches). The school offers a free trial lesson to anyone interested. The school also offers carving lessons on parabolic skis, and has its own rental and retail shop.
There are 44km of marked cross-country trails. A brochure detailing the route is on sale from the tourist office.
Snowboarding in Villars - Gryon
Villars is a good choice for 'boarders who benefit from both dedicated snowboarding schools and access to a number of created snow parks as well as boarder-friendly terrain and lifts. The Riderschool offers seven different classes including 'basic', master, Alpine, Freestyle and freeride. Both ski schools also offer snowboarding lessons. The snow parks are at Bretaye above Villars, and at the Glacier des Diablerets and at Isenau above les Diablerets. Regional, national and international competitions are staged regularly. A further park is normally open on the glacier when the glacier lifts are operational later in the season or when there is limited snow cover in the main ski area earlier in the winter.
Villars - Gryon Aprés Ski
Villars offers a range of varied bars, tea rooms, piano bars and restaurants. The Alchimiste and Charlies are usually busy and, along with the Hararnbee Cafe, are usually good choices for those looking for the livelier side of the resort. The Plaza el Gringo is one of the busiest night spots, with bar and discotheque.
Folklore evenings are staged regularly and there are sometimes ice hockey matches to watch at the rink.
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