Les Diablerets is a small, quiet resort set in the bottom of a valley in the Vaud Alps, about an hour from Montreux. It's a genuine hidden gem, and it's location is spectacular - one of the most under-rated settings we've come across. To be honest it almost seems a shame to have to include a review of Les Diablerets on the site - you know what it's like when you discover somewhere special and you feel like you should just keep it to yourself !
We've been to Les Diablerets a couple of times, once in winter and once in summer, and whilst it's not got the extreme 'olde-worlde' feel to it that some people are looking for when visiting Switzerland, such as Wengen and Murren, it does have one of the friendliest, relaxed and laid-back feels to it of any ski resort we've been to. You can often judge a resort by how friendly the staff are in the resort's restaurants, bars, shops, ski schools etc, and we found them all excellent. If you're after a relatively peaceful, friendly resort, suited to families and decent recreational skiing then definitely include Les Diablerets in your list of possibilities. You won't be disappointed.
The live images below of Les Diablerets : Glacier 3000 (2971m) are provided courtesy of Feratel Media Technologies AG
When it comes to scenery Les Diablerets is a real hidden gem. Set in the bottom of a valley high up in the mountains, one of the sides of the valley is a sweep of dramatic sheer-dropping cliff faces that provides a great panoramic view extending right round to the Col du Pillon and the mass of rock that the glaciers sit on top of. The other side of the valley is not as dramatic but most of the accommodation is built on the lower slopes of it anyway and face the other side of the valley. The village centre is also home to one of the best located football pitches anywhere in the world (down next to the conference centre), it has to be seen to be believed. Smashing home a last minute winner is great, but doing it on that ground must be extra special !
Information on the Swiss ski area Alpes Vaudoises, including links to the surrounding resorts, webcams, slope information and lift details.
The Isenau slopes are reached by taking the Diablerets-Isenau gondola from the resort centre up to 1763m. There are then 5 t-bar lifts available to give access to a number of red and blue slopes, including the long P14 blue that takes you back down to the gondola in town. The top range of the slopes at Isenau is 2109m, which you have to use the Floriettaz t-bar lift to get up to. There are then 2 reds that come down the mountain either side of the lift. The Isenau area is best suited to general recreational skiers and there are a couple of mountain restaurants and bars up there.
The slopes at Meilleret are good, mainly blues but with a smattering of more testing reds mingled in amongst them. There's a decent chairlift to take you from Vioz on the valley floor up to Mazots at 1720m. There are some really nice wooded runs up here - ski part way down the long Ruvine blue run (P26) and you can then get another chairlift up to the highest point of this area - Meilleret at 1948m. There are a couple of reds down from here as well as a blue. It's worth pointing out that there are blue runs from the top of Meilleret and Les Mazots right down to the bottom of the Vioz-Mazots chairlift and also to the foot of the Vers l'Eglise chairlift. Vers l'Eglise is a small village just down the road from Les Diablerets, so if you're staying there you can get direct access to the slopes of Meilleret from the chairlift that starts there.
One of the advantages of the Meilleret area is that it links into the resort of Villars which is on the opposite side of the mountain. However, be aware that the chairlift that gives access to it is pretty slow and can be quite exposed in bad weather. However, once you've got over there it does give you access to a whole host of other slopes, although they did seem a lot busier in comparison to Les Diablerets.
The slopes up at Glacier 3000 give Les Diablerets the chance to promote itself as a guaranteed snow resort, well at least for the early and late month's of the season when other resorts might have no slopes opened. You cant ski there all year round anymore because the of the reduction in the glacier, but it's handy nonetheless and gives the resort some extra options over it's nearby rivals. As with many glacier ski areas it's obviously not as easy to get to as the other ski areas in the resort - you need to get yourself up the road on the ski-bus to the giant cable-car station at the Col du Pillon, it's not far and the scenery really takes you by surprise - the mass of rock that looms above you is incredible. Anyway, take the cable car from the Col du Pillon up to Cabane and then get on another from there to the top glacier station (for anyone staying on the Gstaad side of the Col du Pillon you can get a cable-car from Reusch or a chairlift from Oldenalp and then join onto the final Cabane-Glacier leg). Once up on top at the glacier it's like a largish plateau. There are 3 blue's and a shortish red, although I've got to say the blue's are quite flat and will probably only be of real interest to beginners. Les Diablerets only has two black runs and one of them (Olden-Audon) goes right from the Scex Rouge cable car at 2970m round the back down to Oldenalp at 1840m - a vertical drop of 1130m and a great 10km run. If you get on the chairlift at the end of this black and travel up to Oldenegg you can then go down the other (shorter) black run down to Reusch. The main black has some quite steep sections and was really icy when I came down it - so be prepared ! Despite the blues being a bit too flat for my liking the scenery up their is genuinely incredible and definitely worth the trip. The cable-car ride is fantastic too - really dramatic stuff.
A list of piste-maps for Les Diablerets and the surrounding ski areas.
Webpage containing official Leysein-Les Mosses ski maps.
Downloadable pdf piste-map of the slopes around the ski resort of Leysin.
The 2016 Les Diablerets Film Festival will be the 47th running of one of Europe's largest events dedicated to films centred around the mountains. Centre piece of the festival is a giant screen showcasing the latest action from some of the world's top outdoor film directors, including some free-riding features. There also climbing walls and exhibition stands to visit.
When it comes to ballooning, the Swiss resort of Chateau-d'Oex is the Alpine capital, and this is the festival to celebrate it. The 2016 festival will be the 38th in the history of this renowned international event, and will feature about 100 balloons, including 10 special shaped ones, from over 20 different countries. The highlight for us though has to be the fantastically named event - "the David Niven Long Distance Hare and Hounds Competition" !
As the festival normally runs in the last week of January it's possible to combine a visit with a skiing holiday in the area - Chateau-d'Oex is situated in the Pays-d'Enhaut region (between Lausanne and Interlaken) and there are a number of other ski resorts close by, including Gstaad for the millionaires amongst you.
If you want some further information on Les Diablerets, then you might find these links to other sites useful...
Les Diablerets hotels and chalets.