Crans Montana is a town in Canton Valais, Switzerland. Although everyone knows the name Crans Montana, the area is actually made up of three communes - Crans, Montana and Aminona. The British introduced skiing to the area and it is now famous for its winter sports, but Crans Montana is also a great place in summer, situated as it is on a sunny south-facing plateau. In September the resort is host to the European golf champioships, with courses designed by Severiano Ballesteros and Jack Nicklaus.
By public transport
The easiest way to Crans-Montana is to take the train to Sierre and from there take the funicular up (12 to 20 minutes). There is also a bus from either Sierre (35 minutes) or Sion (45 minutes).
Crans Montana can easily reached by car. Exit A9 motorway in Sierre and take the road up to Crans-Montana (15 kilometres).
There is a free bus service to get you around the resort (which runs on time and frequently, until about 11pm), but a lot of people still use their own cars. If you park on the street make sure you use a designated space, otherwise you risk a heavy fine. Spaces marked with blue lines can be used if you have a "macaron", which is a cardboard disc you may have in your car (most hire cars have them). If you set your arrival time on the disc and display it on the dashboard you then get 60-90 minutes parking for free, but only in the spaces which have the "macaron" sign.
The view of the mountains on the other side of the valley is spectacular. On a clear day you can see the Matterhorn and other peaks in the southern Alps.
Take a trip on the funicular. Sierre (at the bottom) has good shopping and a nice historic centre. In the resort you can be sporty (golf, hiking, swimming, crazy golf) or you can get a coffee, sit at a table in one the pavement cafés and watch the glitterati go by. There is some serious money here - who knows, you might see Roger Moore!
As well as skiing and snowboarding, there are also opportunities for sledging, the best being at Aminona. The run goes from the top of the gondola to the bottom and costs around Fr. 35 if you have a ski pass. Additionally, there is an outside ice rink in Montana and walking routes all around the towns, all of which are prepared and signposted in the winter months and offer some wonderful views. It is also possible to hire snow shoes and follow some trails, the best being at Plain-Morte, the highest peak in the area. The ski map shows all of the pistes, as well as winter wanderwegs and snow shoe trails and is available at the tourist office and cable car stations.
If you want to flash some cash, Crans Montana boasts that it has the best shopping in the area. There are plenty of designer shops, as well as specialist food emporia and watch shops. However, you don't have to be a millionaire - you can get reasonably priced souvenirs as well.
There is a huge variety of restaurants in the area, ranging from Swiss and Italian to Chinese and Argentinian. If you're there at the end of the summer, try "la chasse", which is when local hunters bring in their game and you can try locally shot-venison, chamois and wild boar, served with traditional trimmings.
- 1 Ristorante Giardino & Terrace, Route des Zirès 14, ☏ . Fine seasonal cuisine with Italian touch. “Reduced calories” menu in combination with SPA program.
Crans Montana is more sedate than some Alpine resorts, however contains a few clubs (for example, Pacha, in Crans), and plenty of aprés ski events including an outside bar and stage at the Barzettes gondola station as well as many bars and restaurants in Crans and Montana.
- 1 Guarda Golf Hotel Crans Montana, Route des Zirès 14, ☏ . The Guarda Golf Hotel Crans Montana is a five star superior resort directly on the fairway of the 9-hole golf course and close to the Crans Montana centre. Open all year round. With just 25 rooms, it offers a warm, intimate ambiance. Three restaurants and an ultra-modern Wellness & SPA.
- 2 LeCrans Hotel & Spa, Chemin du Mont-blanc 1, ☏ . From Fr. 550-9000.
From Crans Montana, take a trip to the other side of the valley, go up the Val d'Anniviers and you will see signs to Grimentz. This is a small village that seems fit everyone's Alpine ideal. There are old wooden chalets smothered in geraniums, a wooden waterwheel. Plus, cars are not allowed in the oldest part, and there's not a souvenir shop in sight.