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Nendaz – the Hidden Jewel of Switzerland


Quick Overview

I’m no an adrenalin junky, take me anywhere near a bungee jump and I’ll run a mile. But I do enjoy skiing and should you fancy a change from Colorado, and if maybe you’ve ticked off America’s five best resorts like Jackson Hole in Wyoming and Snowbird and Alta in Utah, then Europe has so much to offer.

A couple of years back, I headed for Switzerland, the beautiful, landlocked country boarding France and Italy formed from 26 regions known as cantons. My base for the week was the scenic, yet little-known mountain-top town of Nendaz in the Canton of Valais.

Nendaz lies at the heart of a popular ski region which markets itself as The Four Valleys, and from here you can access 95 lifts, over 100 pistes and two snow parks designed specifically for burgeoning snowboarders.  

What’s even better is that skiing from Nendaz, compared to the de rigueur neighbouring resorts of Verbier and Lausanne, will come in at a fraction of the cost.

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Even the two-hour transfer from Geneva airport is an experience when you come skiing in Switzerland as the coach ascends the Rhone Valley’s mountain passes to offer spectacular, breath-taking views at almost every zigzag turn.


Soon enough you rise above the cloud-base and, at 1,400 metres and under azure skies, enter the rustic, yet charming town of Nendaz, complete with a baroque church that dates back to the 1500s.


Based here you have limitless access to skiing across the four valleys of Veysonnaz and Les Collons, Mayens de Riddes, Siviez and Verbier.


The most cost effective way of skiing here is to buy a four valleys pass and take the courtesy bus from the town centre to Sivier, four miles away, where the extensive ski lift network gives access to six ski regions.


From Sivier you can ski Mont-Fort, the region’s highest peak at 3,300m, and take in the views of the distinctive Matterhorn, which is only a few miles away to the south-east.


The Four Valleys boasts two snow parks to accommodate the would-be snowboarders, the best of which, the Burton Progression Park, offers air bag protection for those attempting new tricks.


By night, and if you’ve still the energy, Nendaz offers a wide variety of restaurants and bars the best of which, in my book at least, was La Lanterne et le Vieux-Chalet, a family-run gastro-pub  offering steaks of all proportions as well as traditional après-ski fare such as Swiss Raclette. Prices range from £16 to £56 per head, but it is popular, so best you book in advance.


Off-piste delights

Imagine arriving home one evening from a night out at your local bar. You immediately head for the top of the stairs carrying your largest dinner tray then, after turning off the lights, you hurtle down the stairs at breakneck speed aboard your tray.


You’d be mad to try it, of course, but if you’d enjoy the buzz of attempting something similar, then Nendaz offers a tobogganing by moonlight experience that allows you to sledge down a ski piste at midnight. Wearing a safety helmet with its own built-in headlight, it’s definitely one for the thrill seekers.


During my stay, we also experienced wine tasting Swiss style when, after being chauffeured to a mountainside chalet, you take in the views and sample a dozen Swiss cheeses washed down with a wide variety of local wines.   


Or, with a mountain guide to help, you can don snow shoes and head off-piste following mysterious animal tracks to wooded areas where the guide points out the indigenous flora and fauna. You may even bump into the creature that left behind its paw prints!


The children are catered for here too. There’s a heated swimming pool, an outdoor ski school that looks something akin to Legoland, as well as a snow park.


July 2, 2023


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