Crans Montana
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Winter hiking path in Crans-Montana (©_OTV)

CRANS MONTANA is another of Switzerland’s big, world-famous ski resorts, occupying what is claimed to be the sunniest plateau in the Alps, facing south over the Rhône valley with a spectacular panorama of peaks yawning beyond. Along with Verbier and St Moritz, it’s also one of the glitziest, with what the tourist office like to call the finest shopping in the Alps.

The resort actually comprises three villages, Crans-sur-Sierre (pronounced crawh), Montana and, out on a limb, Aminona; the agglomeration sprawls for more than 2km between Crans, to the west, and Montana, to the east, with nothing to mark the shift from one to another. There’s no restriction on cars at all and traffic is permanently heavy; in high season village-to-village gridlock is not unknown. The skiing, “irretrievably intermediate” according to those in the know, takes second place to the round of wining and dining embarked upon by fashionable aficionados of Crans Montana’s affluent social life – although the resort does have the advantage of access to year-round skiing on the Plaine Morte glacier, way up above 3000m. Skiing aside, the place is best known for hosting the European Masters golf tournamentevery September, second only to the British Open for prestige and top names. Crans’s scenic course – “by far the most spectacular tournament site in the world” according to Greg Norman was redesigned in 1999 by Seve Ballesteros, and now boasts fiendishly complex upturned-saucer greens, which led one frustrated player to describe playing a round as “having eighteen teeth pulled one by one”.

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