The Abondance valley is part of the Chablais massif stretching from the south shores of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) across the border into Switzerland and is one of the valleys making up the Portes du Soleil ski region. The river Dranse, with it source in mountain above Chatel, runs the length of the valley carving its way to the Lac Leman and joining the mighty Rhone. It is an unspoilt and stunningly beautiful region offering fantastic walking holidays from the spring through to late autumn.
As you meander up from Thonon through the gorge at Biot you suddenly enter the wide open meadows of Vacheresse and Bonnevaux. The next village you enter is Abondance itself, which still has a stunning medieval Abbey at its centre. It is also the home of cheese making in the region. The local cows, named after the village, stay in their stables in the winter munching on hay and dreaming of the spring and summer when they can return to their mountain pastures. The cows are so precious in this region that they have their own ‘Fete’ called La Belle Dimanche in August when they are all decorated in flowers and those with the greatest yield are awarded medals – enormous bells – which are then hung around their necks! There are 40 farms in total in the valley which still produce cheese – and very good it is too!
The next village winding up the valley is La Chapelle d’Abondance, which is where La Ferme du Chateau is situated. La Chapelle, in the winter, is connected to the rest of the Portes du Soleil ski region but also has its own little ski area called Cret Beni, which is ideal in the busy school holiday weeks when the other larger resorts are packed. La Chapelle is also the centre for cross country skiing in the valley.
In the summer La Chapelle is at the heart of all the walking in the valley, whether you want a quiet stroll along the river or a hike up the mountains. Nestled between the Mont de Grange nature reserve and the mighty Cornettes de Bise it has something to offer everyone.
La Chapelle d’Abondance is an authentic French farming village with numerous working farms churning out the milk which goes to make the renowned Abondance cheese. La Chapelle d’ Abondance has a very French feel to it and is as vibrant in the summer as it is in the winter, so if you are looking to experience a little more of ‘La Vie Francaise’ on your holiday it is the perfect place for you. However for those who prefer the livelier atmosphere of a larger ski resort then Chatel is 5 minutes up the road – and we offer a transport service for après ski.
Finally 5 km up the road you reach Chatel which in the winter is the liveliest of the resorts and in the summer is a mecca to mountain bikers.
In 2003 the Abondance valley was awarded the ‘Land of Art and History’ medal from the minister of culture in recognition of its remarkable history (from medieval times to prisoner of war smuggling in WWII) and national treasures. This valley is unspoilt by tourism, still has a natural Gallic charm, savoyard tradition and is truly a valley for all seasons.