A Perfect Family Winter Resort in Switzerland – Villars-Gryon – Les Diablerets
As we are lucky enough to live in a ski resort in Switzerland, we’re always a bit hesitant to try other ski resorts. Simply, because let’s face it, there is a fair share of gear that needs to be packed up for a winter break with the family.
But on the other hand, having some perfect family winter resorts in very close proximity to where we live, it would be a shame not to make the effort and check them out.
And this is exactly what we did. When Villars-Gryon - Les Diablerets - Bex asked us if we would be interested in visiting and trying their Perfect Family Winter Resort in Villars-Gryon & Les Diablerets, we did not need to think twice.
Family Winter Resort Villars-Gryon & Les Diablerets
The whole domain is hugging the Vaudois mountain range and is interconnected for skiing throughout the 3 villages. Gryon is situated on the far right, Villars in the middle and around the corner is Les Diablerets.
If you are based in Villars, like we were, and want to visit all three villages whilst not skiing you have to count for a good 50 min drive from the winter resort Villars-Gryon down to the valley direction Aigle, then ascend again to Les Diablerets and Glacier 3000. Don’t be put off by the drive, it is well worth it and super pretty. On top of that you will be spending the whole day in Les Diablerets anyway as there is a lot to do. In addition to some great skiing there is the 7km family sledge run, fun play park, beginners ski area, and amazing winter walks. To give you a better understanding of the whole layout, check out the Villars-Gryon - Les Diablerets Interactive Ski Map below.
- What to expect from a family winter resort in Switzerland
- Non Skiing activities on offer
- Where to stay in Villars-Gryon - Les Diablerets
What to expect from a Family Winter Resort in Switzerland
Most people assosciate a winter resort with skiing. And probably most of us come to ski, right?
But what we found in Villars-Gryon & Les Diablerets is that there is so much more than skiing on offer and amazingly we saw that a lot of families actually did not ski, but used all the other winter facilities the resort has to offer to the fullest. I have listed non-skiing activities further down this page.
And if you are not YET a skiing family, but are considering taking the whole family on a “learn how to ski holiday”, then this is the perfect family winter resort in Switzerland.
For a more visual feeling, head over to our Instagram account and check out our VILLARS highlights!
You will find….
Beginners & Family Area
You will find several beginners’ areas, combined with fun play parks and sledge runs. I believe there are 5 in total. Some are accessible free of charge, where as some can be reached by a cable car and the ride up needs to be paid.
But be honest, how much do we as parents appreciate free facilities?
We all know when travelling with kids, especially smaller kids, we never really know how long they will be happy outside, how is their enthusiasm to try new things and actually wanting to stay and learn a new sport.
So, to just walk in, try it and not waste money is amazing.
And this is why one of the perfect family winter resorts in Switzerland just has to be Villars-Gryon & Les Diablerets.
Frience- Our favourite beginners’ area in Gryon
We started our visit to the perfect family winter resort in Switzerland – Villars-Gryon & Les Diablerets, in an area called Frience.
We quickly saw that this place is amazing and seriously every ski station should have a “Frience”. And guess what! All the facilities are free of charge!! You just need to rent your equipment if you don’t already have some. Honestly even if they would charge a small amount per family, I would still totally use it!
There is plenty of parking available right at the foot of the area and more along the upper road.
I have never seen such a long magic carpet and it was covered with a nice wooden structure. There are several ski slopes all with a different grading and quite long for a beginner’s area. Perfect really!
Furthermore, you will find two separate sledge runs, a blue and a red run. Sledge rental is available on site, should you not have your own. For refreshments there is a snack bar.
Adjacent to the skiing area, activities such as the Ski-Jöring, Cross Country Skiing & Biathlon take place.
Also a very nice place to go for a winter walk.
Ski domain Villars-Gryon & Les Diablerets
The ski domain Villars-Gryon - Les Diablerets in the heart of the Vaud Alps with 112 km of pistes, provides a wide variety of red and blue runs. The highest slope is up at the Glacier 3000 and guarantees snow from November to May. We have not been up to Glacier 3000 this time. We have been informed that you can find a fantastic snowpark and one of the hardest black runs in the area, the Combe d’Audon. Furthemore there is an astonishing 8Km long red run with an exceptional descent of more than 1,700 metres.
We mainly skied around Gryon and there was plenty of red and blue runs for us to discover.
The twins had an organised ski lesson with ESS-Gryon at the Les Chaux area. While up there you can marvel at the stunning views down the valley and up to the nearby Muveran mountain, just breathtaking.
To warm up, the kids did a few runs and jumps in the snow garden from ESS-Gryon which was equipped with a covered magic-carpet and some fun obstacles. Even though our kids are already good skiers, they really enjoyed the games and jumps in the snow garden.
But what they enjoyed even more was to do the jumps on the big slopes their teacher found for them. A very enjoyable lesson.
Tip. The area can get quite windy and one must have a good eye on the weather, as it is possible that the chairlifts or cable cars will close for safety reasons.
Eating on the Mountain in Villars-Gryon
After all this skiing and jumping we needed to fill our tummies. Restaurant L’Etable in the Sodoleuvre area -Gryon- is the place to be. It also has a small farm area with crazy pigs, geese, sheep and donkeys. The kids loved it!
L'Etable is a quirky, beautiful Swiss Alpine Restaurant with outstanding food and a service where a smile is guaranteed. This place gets booked out every day. Therefore, I highly recommend if this is your choice of restaurant to reserve a table. For lighter refreshments there is also an outdoor snack bar and an igloo to have a drink and warm up on colder days.
From the restaurant you can then head back up with the Croix des Chaux chairlift to stay in the Gryon ski domain. If you need to head back to Villars then take the Rasse-Chaux Ronde chairlift. (see interactive map above)
Other non-skiing activities on offer
Apart from having fun with your skis or snowboard, a perfect family winter resort in Switzerland like Villars-Gryon & Les Diablerets also has the following activities to fill your days.
On the map below you will find all places, activities, restaurants and accommodation mentioned in the article. This gives you a great overview and maybe even an idea of where you would like to stay.
7km Long Sledge Run – Les Diablerets
Although you can sledge pretty much all over the domain on dedicated areas, the main and probably the most fun descent is in Les Diablerets.
Take the Diablerets Express Cable-Car up to an area called Les Mazots at 1717m altitude. Have your video or camera ready as this ride up the mountain is stunning, especially if the trees are still covered in snow. Glacier 3000 will be behind you and you might see the cable car going up.
If you drive to Les Diablerets there are several parking options available, again free of charge. We love that!
Furthermore, you will find sledge rental shops and they also rent helmets -should you not bring your own. Remember never sledge without a helmet!
When you have reached Les Mazots you will probably want to just take in the jaw dropping vistas before heading to the sledge run start point. Just before the start you will find some information about the run and whether the run condition is either fast, medium or slow. When we visited it was perfect, not too fast and not too slushy.
I can honestly say that this IS a family friendly sledge run. We have seen and experienced different and so called ‘family friendly runs’ that have bordered on being dangerous. This one was pure fun in an incredible and safe setting.
If you are based in Les Diablerets then you should go night sledging! A cheese fondue up the mountain followed by a fun night sledge…. I would think that for families with older kids, this could be the highlight activity of your stay.
Beginners area in Les Diablerets
The whole area around the Diablerets Express Cable-Car, is another great family beginner’s area. With a dedicated snow garden from ESS-Les Diablerets and a separate beginner’s area with a drag lift for everyone to use.
The kids can also sledge there on their own. A cool carousel with inflatable tubes where the little ones can have a lot of fun is also available. Restaurants and toilets will make sure that this will be a comfortable day.
Furthermore, we noticed that a lot of people started their snowshoe and ski- touring adventures from there. I can only imagine that this place is a paradise for these activities.
When I heard we will be doing Ski Jöring, I needed to ask our friend “Google” 🙂 what it is. Let me tell you.
Best described is that a skier is pulled by a horse, pony or apparently also a dog.
And yes, I hear you mentioning already that this is the section non skiing activities, you are right, but I feel this is something everyone even non skiers could try out.
I was not sure about it at the beginning. I had in mind a large wild horse pulling my kids through forests and up and down the mountain. Well let me assure you, it was not that. Quite the contrary, it was a super fun activity and the kids are still talking about it.
We met a cute pony and her owner from happy horses ch.
The kids had their skis and helmet in place and off they went, holding on to a bar which was attached to the pony. The pony pulled each one around the artificial lake in a very scenic setting. It looks so beautiful and the smile on their faces showed just how happy they were. They even got to do it twice.
The activity was held in the beginners & family section Frience. I mentioned this area in detail further up this blog.
Cross country & Biathlon
(Cross country ski + shooting = biathlon)
Whilst being up in Frience doing the Ski Jöring, we also saw some families having a try on the cross-county track round the lake and combining it with Biathlon. It looked like a lot of fun but as we all know; biathlon is very hard work.
In Gryon next to the cable car - Barboleuse - you will find a large parking area. In the same location is the small outdoor ice rink. They rent skates & helmets and have very useful aids/figures you can take on the ice to hold on to. We appreciated them very much!
We also saw that this is a place where they do après-ski with live music. So perfect if dad does not want to ice skate 🙂 . Although not sure if this will be an event held during the whole winter.
In Villars you will find a large indoor ice rink ( Patinoire de Villars ) by the sports centre. Rental of skates is also possible.
As a parent of smaller kids, I know how vital a playground is, at least with our kids. They will run far for a playground!! Whilst walking around Gryon we found a very large beautiful playground behind the outdoor ice rink. It has several amazing climbing obstacles, swings and other things that made our twins’ eyes shine!
I also saw a mini-golf and miniature railway in the same area, open during the summer months.
Swimming and Wellness, Les Bains de Villars
Swimming is always a highlight no matter if on holiday or just at home. Our kids absolutely love water and the kids’ section in the Public Swimming Pool in Villars is amazing. We even had a go on the water obstacle course in the large pool, but the twins opted for the shallow play area with slides, water jets and water toys. What we loved as parents were the beanbags scattered around the kids pool. They made observing the kids so much more enjoyable and comfortable. Simple but effective!
The wellness section is adjacent to the swimming pool but you need to pay extra to enter. Unfortunately, children under the age of 16 are NOT allowed into the wellness area and also not into the outdoor warm water pool with bubbles and jets. This was why my husband and I took turns to check out the wellness area.
The wellness area is also equipped with; two hammams with a temperature of 48 and 50 degrees Celsius. Two saunas (60 and 90 degrees Celsius). And to cool off, a cold-water pool if you are brave enough!
For more visual information visit Les Bain de Villars directly.
Bowling & Others
Also in the sports centre in Villars we saw they have a 10 pin-bowling hall. We did not try this activity but I know it’s a lot of fun. Check out the link above to get some more information on what else you can do.
Where to stay in – Villars-Gryon & Les Diablerets
As this was a hosted stay we got to stay in the Villars Mountain Lodge in Villars, a newly renovated hotel. Perfectly located only 2 min walk to the train station and village centre.
The hotel provides ski lockers at the station which means you do not need to take your car, but can make use of public transport. Which I am sure in high season is a great way to beat the crowds.
Would we stay there again as a family? Yes. It was simple, clean and had all we needed.
We had half-board which meant we were able to enjoy a great breakfast and a delicious set dinner, without having to drag the kids out to look for a restaurant. Family perfect!
I hope that the information provided here will prove itself useful when planning your Perfect Family Winter Resort in Switzerland, Villars-Gryon - Les Diablerets -Bex
If I have left anything out, please ask your questions in the comments below so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries also.