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Crans-Montana is a premier winter destination for skiing and the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The two towns of Crans and Montana have their own distinct character, but both capture the ambiance of a typical Swiss mountain town. Most of the year, these towns are fairly peaceful and calm, except for the Caprices festival of electronic music in the spring and the Golf OMEGA tournament in August. The best time of year is during the winter season, when the towns come alive with skiers from all over the world drawn to world-class skiing and après ski activities.
The peak of the season for ski resorts in Switzerland tends to be around Christmas and New Year, so avoid those times. With that being said, if you like crowds for après ski parties, come for New Year’s Eve because there will be a beautiful fireworks display to ring in the New Year and the parties will be in full swing. However, the après ski bars are open and teeming with party goers once the ski stations close.
The local residents of the area speak a little bit of English, but it’s best to brush up on your French language skills. A little Bonjour! Ça va? Bien! Merci beaucoup! goes a long way! The funicular train takes you up from Sierre to Montana, otherwise you can take a bus up winding roads passing through Bluche village into Montana and Crans. During ski season, there are free shuttle buses that run the major roads between Montana and Crans as well as the ski stations.
The proximity of Les Roches to the ski stations in Crans-Montana allows for weekends filled with powder runs and après ski without having to miss the last funicular or bus down to Bluche village. This means that you don’t have to stay overnight in the area hotels which can be overbooked, overpriced, and inconvenient if you have to meet with your study group the next day (there are plenty of group projects at Les Roches!).
You can rent your ski equipment (or snowboard equipment) from any of the retailers in Montana or Crans. Plan to leave your shoes at the rental location and take your equipment to either the Crans ski station or Montana ski station. It is probably the most convenient to rent your equipment from the shop nearest either of these ski stations. Some of the rental shops offer a discount for Les Roches students, so remember to bring your student ID with you.
Ski the areas of Cry d’Er, Bella Lui and Violettes, then take the cable car up to the peak of Plaine Morte just before lunch time. It is highly recommended to go up before the lunch crowd settles in as there is a cozy bistro restaurant with beautiful views but limited seating.
Ski from the top of Plaine Morte down to any of the ski stations at the bottom of the mountain, and make stops along the way to take pictures of the beautiful Swiss Alps. Your friends and family will be so envious of the views and pictures you take, so don’t forget to post on social media with the hashtag: #lrbstudents
The perfect après ski dinner meal is a classic burger and fries washed down with beer. Burger Lounge in Crans is known for their gourmet burgers. They are a favorite among Les Roches students and open most of the year. Because of its popularity, I recommend booking a table at least a week in advance!
A good alternative is the new Montana Diner by the lake. Their burgers are made fresh to order and the owners love Les Roches students. The dining room is cozy with large floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lake. This is also a good brunch spot on the weekends.
After dinner, walk back up to Crans ski station for the après ski party at Zerodix. The DJs will already be turning up the volume and the party atmosphere will be alive with energy. The party ends around 9 pm.
There are a number of bars in Crans that are popular among visitors and residents as well as Les Roches students. Leo’s Bar, Le Pub, Pacha and Sky Club are all popular and the party will keep going until 4 or 5 am depending on the night of the week, so make sure to bring your dancing shoes.
If you don’t plan on skiing, there are also other activities in Crans and Montana that don’t involve downhill skiing. Some of the sports activities include ice skating, bowling, cross-country skiing, curling and dog sledding. Crans-Montana also offers a wonderful array of luxury retail shops and quirky boutiques. The big supermarket chains of Coop and Migros can be found both in Montana and Crans. Migros is slightly bigger and cheaper than Coop, but the Coop in Montana is a short 10-minute walk from the funicular. I highly recommend bringing an empty tote bag or backpack because plastic and paper bags are not free in Switzerland. My favorite weekend activity at Les Roches was shopping for groceries and cooking a meal for friends — nothing better than getting together for some good food, good conversations, and some wine with close friends crowded over a small cozy table.
More pics & travel info at Alaine’ blog: www.travelwithalaine.com
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