Chatel is a small charming village in the middle of the Alps. This 2,000-inhabitant (called the Chatellans) city can be discovered as much in summer as in winter. You will be charmed by the lively heart of the centre, the traditional mountain architecture, the beauty of the landscapes and the immensity of the nature! In the atmosphere you will feel a pleasant combination of relaxed rhythm of life, friendliness and joy!
Chatel has managed to preserve its traditional way of life while it adapts well to the modern life. The local economy is mostly based on tourism; however traditional agriculture is also well present, as well as traditional handcraft work, such as wood handcraft, and pottery. Agricultural and traditional events, such as the Descente des Alpages (the descent of high mountain pasture), fishing competition, sculpture and local handcraft shows, give rise to big celebrations. To feel the village atmosphere you must not miss the Laurent’s Day (August the 2nd), which is the village’s patron saint. Chatel is definitely the best place to escape from your daily routine. In winter you will appreciate the 650km of ski slopes, and in summer you will be charmed by the beauty and the immensity of nature.
When you arrive into the Valley of Abondance from Thonon-les-Bains, as you go along you discover the charm of the place. You will be charmed by carved balconies of the traditional farmhouses which have been there for years, a century for some of them! High buildings are banished in Chatel, you will only find the typical chalets, and small residences that fit perfectly into the landscape. And it even goes further, as electric and phone cables have been buried as to respect the nature. Taking into account all these assets, you will not be surprised to learn that property prices in Chatel (€4,940 /sq m) are higher than the French average (€3,197 /sq m). However, Chatel can be an excellent buy-to-let investment as it gets very busy as much in summer as in winter. As an example, if you buy a 4 room apartment, during off peak season you will be able to rent it for €400 /week, and in peak season, for €700 /week in average (they are indicative figures, and prices vary according to the size, facilities, etc.)
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Chatel is a lovely Alpine village, settled in the middle on the mountains, where you can enjoy the amazing landscapes, and the ski resort. It is also a good place to be in summer, from where you can go hiking and be in contact with nature.
Renowned Abondance cheese: this famous cheese has been produced since the 14th century when the Abondance Abbey monks had selected a dairy cow race. We can even read about it in the description of the dishes displayed for the election of the Avignon Pope in 1381. Since 1990, the Abondance cheese has received an AOC (“controlled term of origin”, the French certification granted to certain French geographical agricultural produce). Nowadays, the Abondance cheese is still produced with the milk from the Haute Savoie mountains, by 65 farmers, in around 30 transformation and maturing workshops.
Tranquillity and scenery: the Chablais mountains, that surround Chatel, is one of the most beautiful places in the whole Alps area. Its distinctive peaks offer breathtaking panorama viewpoint from where you will have an incomparable sight over the Mont-Blanc and its Swiss mountain chains, and the peaceful Geneva Lake. Between pastures and forests the walker will never find the same landscape. The wildlife is also well preserved, thus, if you are lucky you might see a chamois running between the rocks! However you would better get up early if you fancy seeing this unique moment. Another way to take advantage of the nature is flying over the valley, and it is made possible by the Fantasticable! Comfortably installed in a harness, you will fly over the village of Plaine-Dranse, at a speed of 100km /hour and at a 240 m altitude. Be sure that from the sky nature takes a different dimension!
Ski activities: Chatel is located in the middle of the Franco-Swiss ski area called Portes du Soleil. It is one of the vastest in Europe, and gathers 12 linked ski resorts: 8 of them are French, and 6 are Swiss. There are 650km of ski slopes, and 194 ski lifts you can access thanks to a unique ski pass. From Chatel you can directly access to Avoriaz, Morgins and Torgon. The Chatel ski area is divided into two massifs: Barbossine/Super-Chatel and the Linga/Pre-la-Joux that range between 1,100m and 2,200 altitude. It offers 49 ski slopes and is 83km long. The all winter long there are many events in Chatel related to ski activities: the Grand Prix de Chatel, skicross international events, Alpinism ski race, etc., but also many activities organised each weeks for children and adults.
Traditional heritage: as many mountain villages, Chatel has managed to preserve its traditional heritage. Among others stand out the high mountain pasture, and the not-to-be-missed Fete de Saint Laurent. As mentioned, it is the celebration of the village’s patron saint. It gives rise for the Chatellans to bring back traditional activities and crafts of the old days. You will hear in the streets the folk music that accompanies the traditional parade.
Chalets: the Abondance Valley has the chance to house a unique type of chalet, that fascinates every single visitor that goes in the region. It has a gently-sloping roof that juts out of both sides of the house, allowing its residents to work, even during winter. The chalet is divided into the home and the stable. A covered courtyard with two doors links them; this way the residents could go from the kitchen to the stable without get wet in winter. The house comes with a cortna (courtyard), a kitchen and many bedrooms. Over the centuries, old chalets have embellished the landscape of the Abondance Valley, and some of them are more than 300 years old!
Balconies: in the Abondance Valley, all balconies have a history and a specific role. Indeed, under them farmers used to pile the wood up, so that it could slowly dry. Sheltered from wind and humidity, they used to put on the balcony garlic and onions to dry before eating them. In Chatel, chalets have usually 3 balconies, all used to dry or store diferent things. As far as the adornment is concerned, balconies were usually carved by the inhabitants themselves. Carving balusters was a very long and hard task, generally accomplished during winter. However, it was worth the effort as in most cases the baluster was then offered to the fiancee, a gift highly appreciated by the family-in-law. When there are more than one balcony on a chalet, you can be sure that the patterns are diferent. Do not miss the Abondance Chapel and Chatel le Vieux Four if you fancy seeing beautiful balconies!
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