On a sunny shelf with awe-inspiring views
Villars is a smart town that has attracted tourists for 150 years. It has retained its authentic charm and has a strong family appeal with a chic twist. Home to four highly regarded international schools, it has a cosmopolitan air and offers some outstanding sporting facilities. Villars caters mainly for intermediate and beginner skiers on its peaceful slopes though advanced skiers can appreciate the back-country skiing. The shops, restaurants and bars offer a variety of cuisine and it is a thriving dual season resort.
Property for sale in Villars
What about ski chalets and apartments for sale in Villars? A large amount of property was built in the 1970s and 1980s in exclusive Domaine de la Résidence above the ski resort and Domaine de Rochegrise catering to foreign demand. The year-round nature of the resort with its international schools and permanent population of 7500 ensures a healthy amount of foreign-owned resale property that can be sold on to foreigners via local real estate agents. In order to absorb this supply, prices are adjusting. Villars is now enjoying a “second wind” of investment with, for example, the acquisition of long-empty Hotel Elite, as well as a new pool complex, Beau Soleil school extension and the new shops and two-to-five bedroom apartments in Le Centre.
A guide to Villars
Villars has been welcoming international visitors for 154 years. In 1901 the railway line up from Bex in the Rhône valley was completed and by 1913 a cog-rail extension led up to Bretaye at 1800 metres. In 1936 Switzerland’s first ski lift was installed here and the resort became a popular winter and summer destination leading to the building of some famous landmark hotels such as the Villars Palace Hotel and the art-deco Grand Hotel du Parc. A famous clientele followed and the resort became popular with a rich cast of movie stars and racing drivers.
Villars is also home to 4 private schools – Aiglon College, Collège Alpin International Beau Soleil, La Garenne (junior school) and Pré Fleuri (primary school). This extraordinary concentration of students and their support staff sustains a vibrant community year-round. When you consider its proximity to Geneva (1.5 hours) and Lac Léman, and its fabulous views over towards Mont Blanc, it is easy to understand why it is such a popular destination for visitors and home buyers alike.
Villars ski area
Villars is one of the resorts that has joined the Magic Pass grouping. The ski area consists of a total of 125km of ski pistes. From the centre of Villars a gondola and a mountain railway access 70km of ski pistes from Roc d’Orsay and Bretaye which connect over to Les Chaux. This is also served directly by a gondola from the village of Barboleusaz, a five-minute drive around the mountain.
The second area covered by the ski pass is Les Diablerets, which is connected to Villars by a two-way lift. The highlight here is skiing at Glacier 3000 which has a selection of easy blue runs at the top and a couple of interesting and long red descents. In general, the skiing in Villars is best suited to intermediates, though there is some good off-piste skiing for advanced skiers. There are also 50km of cross-country ski pistes and plenty of snowshoe walks.
Après ski in Villars
While Villars is not party-central it does have a good selection of après ski bars. The Moonboot Lounge in the centre of the village has great cocktails and cool tunes. Charlie’s Bar has live music and DJs and late-night revellers can party the night away at its associated nightclub venue El Gringos. For the older generation cigars and jazz are the specialities at the Villars Jazz Bar and live blues at L’After. The BeAR’s bar at the Royalp Hotel & Spa is famous for its cocktails.
Eating Out in Villars
Villars has a great choice of restaurants both on and off the mountain. Popular lunch spots are Crumbs and Hotel du Lac at Bretaye, the Restaurant du Lac des Chavonnes (fantastic rösti), Le Verneyre and the desserts at Restaurant du Col de Soud are to die for!
For restaurants in the resort itself try Vieux Villars for traditional mountain food, L’Alchimiste for seasonal dishes and for great pizza you will not do better than Mamma Lotta’s.
Summer in Villars
Summer is in many people’s opinion when Villars really comes into its own. The mountains around Villars offer 300km of walking trails and 130km of biking. The resort’s sporting facilities are among the best we have seen – an indoor and outdoor tennis centre, squash, volleyball, badminton and football. There are indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a wellness and spa area at the Bains de Villars as well as an ice-skating rink complex with indoor bowling and billiard lounge. The Villars Golf Club was established in 1922 and its 18-hole course at 1600 metres altitude provides a technical and physical challenge compensated for by a wonderful mountain backdrop.
Villars hosts 2 revered motoring events in the summer. The famous Alpine Challenge with a route of around 600km over 3 days is an event for any sports car over 30 years old. Villars is also home to the superb Ollon-Villars Historic Hillclimb. First run in 1953 and featuring up to 300 cars, bikes and sidecars from F1, F2 and other competitive classes, it gathers some top drivers and thousands of spectators.
Other Destinations in the Swiss Alps: