Villars

For years Villars has been on the map as a classic Swiss village to take a winter holiday. Located in the heart of the Vaud Alps on a sunny natural balcony, Villars may be one of the best kept secrets in the Swiss Alps.

In 1997 a horizontal chairlift was put in to link Villars with les Diablerets, giving access to the Villars-Gryon-Diablerets Glacier 3000 and making it possible to ski 125km of trails without having 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, making this varied and picturesque ski terrain some of the best in Europe.

Unlike some of the larger resorts, Villars has retained its chocolate box charm. Expect a relaxing and traditional resort atmosphere that attracts both locals and international travelers. As a stop on the Orient Express many years ago, it is one of the few resorts that is easily accessible by train. Teamed with a stunning mountain backdrop, Villars is a highly attractive holiday destination.

Get an insider’s guide to Villars or learn about our favourite spots in resort.

Find the lesson that suits you with our Villars Ski School.

Villars Resort Information

Villars Key Facts

  • 120km of pistes, served by 46 lifts
  • Part of the Alpes Vaudoises
  • Home to the Alpine Coaster, the world’s highest bob sleigh track where you can have a go
  • 28 blue runs
  • 46 red runs
  • 8 black runs

Villars Piste Map

Villars piste map

Recent Villars Blog Posts

Skiing in Villars

Best runs in Villars – our pick of the bunch

The skiing in Villars is extensive and varied making it an ideal resort for families or groups of friends with a mix of abilities. With 125km of runs there will be more than enough to keep you entertained, set yourself the challenge to cover the Villars, Gryon and Diablerets ski areas in a day! Then you can head up to the glacier for some cruisey blues a long black to get the thighs burning and epic views. And for the little ones, kids ages 9 and under ski free. Hard to beat that!

For Beginners:

There is a beginner ski area down in the town but it’s far more interesting to come up the mountain at Bretaye where there is a perfect flat section as soon as you step off of the train. Then it’s onto the magic carpet followed by a very beginner friendly button lift and a super gentle blue run. You don’t even need a lift pass for these, just a ticket for the train!

For Intermediates:

With 40% of blue runs, you are free to explore much of the mountain as an intermediate skier. One of our favourites is a great blue run all the way down the mountain to the bottom of the Roc d’Orsay bubble where conveniently you can reward yourself with a burger from Tom’s Gourmet burger bar! Alternatively, you race the train on a blue all the way down to Chalet Roy ’Alp and stop for a drink or catch the train back up!

For Advanced:

Head over to Gryon to Croix des Chaux for some steeper terrain and black runs. This is usually where you can expect to see some bumps and if you are really lucky the New Gen training team will have made an ugly great rut line for you to have a go at! For those wanting to ski some off piste there is tons of great tree lines just to the side of the pistes in Diablerets and off of the Petit Chamossaire chair in Villars.

Villars Restaurants

Whatever your budget there is a great range of restaurants to choose from in Villars, up and down the mountain.

Here are just a few of our favourites.

Best Cheap Eats:

  • Cookie Café – A really popular spot up at Bretaye, serves the best coffee and cookies in town as well as great sandwiches and burgers for a really reasonable price. (You can also visit Cookie deli down in the town).
  • The Panoramic Snack Bar – Situated at the top of the Roc D’Orsay telecabine offers sandwiches and fries etc. for a quick lunch.
  • La Cabane – On the beautiful terrace of Hotel du Lac they serve snacks, hot dogs and soup.
  • Papaya Thai Shop –  Situated between Villars and Chesieres serves delicious Thai takeaway that is reasonably priced, or eat in.

(There are also picnic rooms in Villars, Gryon and Diablerets should you wish to bring up your own lunch.)

Mid-Range:

  • Tom’s Gourmet Burger Bar – situated at the bottom of the telecabine, Tom’s is the perfect spot for a burger and a beer after a hard day on the slopes.
  • Auberge Col de Soud – ski in or take the train for some excellent homemade specialities such as rosti and of course fondue. Just make sure you are hungry, the portions are pretty hearty!
  • Le Francis – Traditional pizzeria and creperie in the centre of town.
  • Hotel Ecureuil – Located in the centre of Villars has an incredible sushi bar despite being in the mountains the fish is fresh and the quality is high.
  • Cookie Restaurant – Cookie Café’s sister restaurant located in Gryon. With a varied menu and delicious food, they offer a change to traditional Swiss cuisine.

Fine Dining:

  • Chalet Roy ‘Alp – Boasts not one, not two, but three fine dining restaurants, all with their own individual style and menu. You can view the menu and make reservations on their website
  • Hotel du Lac – Conveniently situated next to a New Gen meeting point and serving excellent Gastro-pub cuisine and with an extensive Fine Wine Cellar, make sure you book!

Villars Après & Nightlife

If you’re looking for a fun après or a big night out, Villars has both.

  • P’tit Chalet – Perfect for après drinks, located right in the centre of town. This outdoor bar attracts locals, instructors and holidaymakers alike for drinks after a day of skiing.
  • Chez Jimmy – This is a great place for après on the slopes. With deckchairs, music, sunshine and fake palm trees…what more could you want?
  • Tom’s Burger Bar – If you’re peckish and want some grub to go along with those afternoon beers, this is where you’ll find most of the resort’s instructors catching the last of the sun at the end of the day. You might accidentally find yourself ordering a burger…occupational hazard.
  • Moon Boot Lounge – The most popular place in town if you’re looking for a big night out. Featuring live music and DJ nights it’s always happening.
  • Charlie’s Bar – For a cool atmosphere and some good music, then head to El Gringo situated just below where you can dance the night away!

A bit of history

The history of Villars dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries when the monks from the Abbey of Saint-Maurice set out to help the local peasants in clearing and making use of the mountain pastures.

Skiing in Villars had to wait until 1913 and the building of the cog train to Bretaye where the slopes were quickly identified as excellent for the sport. In 1932, there was still no means to transport skiers up to the slopes at Bretaye so lessons were given behind the Palace on the former golf course. Classes were made up of more than 50 people, by the time the last skier managed to put on his skis, the lesson was over!

In 1936, the first ski lift was built at the combe on Chaux Ronde. This was a first in Switzerland, a ski lift on which the skiers had to fasten themselves with a large leather belt to go back up the mountain! In 1938, Villars was classified as one of prime resorts in Europe and many Swiss ski clubs came to practice in the resort. Unfortunately, only nine months late war broke out leaving many hotels empty for the duration of the war.

Villars Village Map

Villars Village Map

Villars FAQ’s

Villars is one of the closest Swiss mountain resorts to Geneva (115 km, a 1 hour and 20 minute drive)access is easy, by car or by public transport.

Fly

If you are flying, you will probably fly into Geneva Airport, but alternative airports include Zurich, Sion, Basel and Milan.

Car Pro
Our partner’s at Car Pro offer 5* private airport transfers

Drive

It’s about an 8 hour drive from Calais to Villars, although the tolls can be quite pricey you have the advantage of no luggage restrictions, especially if you are travelling as a family!

110 km from Geneva (via Lausanne)

210 km from Zurich

220 km from Basel

550 km from Paris

Highway A9, exit Aigle (20 minutes from motorway)

Train

If you prefer to travel by train, Eurostar can take you from London to Paris where you change for Geneva in less than 7 hours.

Paris-Lausanne by TGV (3.50 hrs)

Lausanne-Villars-Gryon: via Aigle (1.10 hrs)

Geneva-Villars-Gryon: via Aigle (2 hrs)

Basel Airport-Villars-Gryon: via Aigle (4hrs)

Here are some of our favourite places to stay in Villars:

Alpe Fleurie Hotel & Residence
Warm & welcoming chalet with a great location for accessing the slopes.

Alpine Answers
Ski Holidays – from weekend to luxury chalets.

Altitude Holidays
Small, flexible, owner-run company.

Carrier
Luxury tour operator.

Chalet RoyAlp
Chic and casual, cosy and elegant 5* hotel. Enjoy relaxing moments in a unique setting.

Chalet Martin
An authentic Swiss Alps chalet that operates as a hostel. Friendly and helpful people who truly enjoy getting to know you.

Firefly Collection
Firefly Collection offers a cherry-picked selection of the finest luxury ski chalets, together with expert, impartial advice, and a complimentary concierge service.

Hotel du Lac
Luxury Hotel and restaurant directly on the slopes at 1,800 m. Ski lesson pick up directly from the Hotel. Restaurant has gastro pub style food and is all waiter service.

My Chalet Finder
A website specialising in self-catering chalets and apartments across the world’s top ski resorts.

Powder Beds
Ski accommodation specialists.

Ski Independence
Travel agent specialising in ski vacations.

Ski Solutions
Luxury ski resort travel and accommodation.

SNO
Ski deals and cheap holidays with the biggest tour operators in Villars.

Snowfinders
An up and coming ski agency who will find you exactly what you want! Best prices, best advice.

Swiss Chalets
A selection of self-catered accommodation.

Villars Chalets
Chalet Melchior is a ski in ski out luxury chalet available on a self-catered basis.

Villars Apartments
Self-catered apartments in Chalet Balthazar- central with a home from home feel.

Getting around resort is easy in Villars wherever you are staying, even in Gryon or Chesieres (either side of Villars). There are various free shuttle bus lines that run regularly throughout the day covering Arveyes, Chesieres and from the train station in the centre of Villars to the Roc D’Orsay telecabine.

The train (or tram) also runs regularly between Gryon and Villars should you not fancy the walk! The fare is covered by your lift pass. The train also runs to and from Bretaye (the main ski area and our meeting point) every 30 minutes and every 15 minutes during peak weeks.

Timetables can be found in the train station or from tourist information.

There are a number of ski hire shops in Villars. A few we recommend are:

Sporthouse

McBoard

Dätwyler

Happy skis

These can be found on the official Villars website.

Pretty much everything you could want to know about Villars-Gryon, including information on snow conditions, mountain transports, and advice on where to eat, drink and shop, can be found on the official Villars website.

Food Shopping

  • Supermarkets – There is a large Coop situated between Villars and Chesieres. There is also a more conveniently located Migros supermarket in town. Gryon also has a small supermarket located in the centre of the Village
  • Bakery – Tea-room La Chaumière de mon père is a bakery/patisserie/tea room/chocolaterie in the centre of town. Boulangerie Charlet situated in the nearby village of Barbolouse also offers delicious bread/pastries/chocolates etc
  • Butchers – Butchery Erard on Avenue Centrale or Butchery Nicollier comes to Villars Market in front of Petit Chalet every Tuesday and Saturday.

Other

In addition to ski clothing shops there are various high end clothes shops in resort, souvenir/gift shops as well as home shops to kit out your swanky new chalet…or just to take home as a gift.

Doctors – There are two doctors in Villars, Doctor Constantin Baraschi just off of the high street, on the way up to the sports centre, and Doctor Fabrizio Mencarelli on the main high st almost opposite Hotel du Golf.

Pharmacy – Pharmacy Fleury is located next to Cookie Deli on the main street.

Post Office – The post office is located right next to the train station in town.

Tourist Office – On the main street through Villars, lots of information to be found regarding events in town.

Tabac (Newsagents) – There is one located next to the train station/post office.

Hair Dressers – There are three hairdressers in town; Anne Coiffure, Coiffure Sonia Dias, and Salon Emeric – Hair Stylist Masculin-Féminin which is probably the most obvious one on the main street opposite the Beau de Soleil School.

Wellness – Serenity Spa offers manicures, pedicures, massages and other treatments.

Banks – There are various banks and cash points spread along the main street.

If you aren’t skiing this trip or just fancy a day out of your ski boots, there are lots of other things to keep you entertained in and around Villars.

If you are still in the mood for something active there are various winter hiking and snowshoeing trails (maps can be found on the Villars website) or you could check out the excellent Sports Centre in town complete with gym, sports hall and squash and tennis courts. Then your evening could be spent bowling, ice skating or even watch an ice hockey match! From December 2016 the newly refurbished Swimming pool will be open in the centre of Villars by the ice skating and bowling alley.

For those looking for something a little more relaxing, many of the hotels in resort, such as Hotel du Golf and Chalet Roy ‘Alp, have their own spa and wellness centres. Or you could visit the natural thermal baths in Lavey les Bains, only a 30 minute drive away. It’s definitely worth the visit, trust us!

There are contact details for a number of babysitters listed Preisen für die Liftpässe., as well as details of nurseries that children can join for the duration of your holiday.

Check out what our Villars Ski School has on offer

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