Villars Gryon Diablerets is a mid-size Swiss ski resort, on the Magic Pass. Gryon Villars is in the Vaudois Alps, overlooking the beautiful Rhône valley, near other great Swiss ski areas as well. At first, it has a confusing layout of skiing, three unique ski areas on 6 separate mountain peaks. The ski area of “Villars Gryon Diablerets” is also connected to Glacier 3000, via a 10-minute bus ride.
Everywhere you ski as you navigate around each – Villars and Gryon and Diablerets… the views of the Alps are astounding, often the peak of Mont Blanc is clearly visible. From each of the three villages, three base-to-mid-mountain gondolas flank the mountains. There is also a train from Gryon and Villars up the mountain to Bretaye which is the heart of the upper elevation terrain.
Villars mid-mountain (referred to as Bretaye), where the train arrives from Gryons and Villars, is the ski resort hub. Here you will find ski school, several lodges and restaurants, and a ski in ski out hotel – Hotel du Lac – where we dined on a delicious lunch. Next day, a sunny perfect powder day, we sat on the terrace at Bretaye 1808 and savored Swiss cheese fondue with a view!
From Bretaye in Villars is a network of ski lifts both modern and old-school – T-Bars and Pomas, plus quads, six-packs and an eight-passenger chair. Elevations are not high, just below 2000-meters (6,500’), so early and late snow can be marginal. The lifts and trails at Villars Gryon were designed in the late 1930’s and 40’s – more plentiful snow years, now much of the lower mountain terrain is not skiable in an average or lean snow year, and several lower mountain surface-lifts are now defunct.
Our favorite view was the scene from atop Grand Chamossaire, reached by a six pack from Bretaye. You can see Lake Geneva from the summit here at 2120-meters, and you have two prepared routes down, and a few off-piste opportunities through the trees.
Gryon has more great skiing from Chaux Ronde summit, and this area’s highest Crois des Chaux (look for the cross). Here you’ll find a few fun prepared trails, plus gently sloped pastures you can ski on a powder day, and a plateau learning area, plus a few chalets for snacks and lunch. More on Gryon and Barboleuse villages below.
Over in Diablerets is more fun ski terrain, and kids ski zones – reached by taking a long transfer lift back and forth from Villars called – Conche Mi Laouissalet. Diablerets has its own amazing views, and a fun trail all the way down to the base village. Diablerets’ views of the surrounding rock cliffs are stunning. Ride the Diableret Gondola to the first unload station offers a nice seperate trail to the base. Or take it to the summit for the other trail and connections back to Villars-Gryon. At the base of Diablerets is a small ski village, and here you catch the bus to transfer to Glacier 3000. Note the trail map is not to be relied upon, not to scale and not always accurate.
We stayed in Villars, a very cute Swiss village with lots of chalets for rent on the hillside just above the town. Arriving by day there’s paid parking by the gondola at Villars. Diablerets is more family-friendly with a learn to ski zone right at the base, hotels and apartments too. Gryon and Barboleuse are smaller, more local villages.
Glacier 3000 is often considered part of this ski region. This is the highest elevation, with separate terrain on a high plateau – which is a glacier – at 3000-meters (hence the name). Once you ride up Glacier 3000’s two connecting trams, the upper mountain is low angle snowfields served by T-Bars on the gorgeous glacial summit. Its spectacular. The Peak Walk atop Glacier 3000, new in 2021, is amazing – the highest suspension bridge in the world connecting two peaks. Walk it and see the wonder of engineering, and the wild drop below this wiggly bridge, admission is included with your ski pass. Glacier 3000 is also just a 20-minutes drive above the chic ski town of Gstaad. Gstaad like to claim it as part of their Gstaad Super Ski Region including Zweisimmen and Saanemoser.
On the other side of the Villars Gryon Diablerets resort, ski down to the village of Barboleuse, the fun trail comes to an abrupt end, after you cross over three streets. The trail map shows the trail ending at the gondola – but it does not. So you are warned, the trail map is not to be relied upon, not to scale and not always accurate. Its a 300-meter walk to the left on a sidewalk to the gondola “Telecabin Barboleuse – Les Chaux.” Or from the parking lot, you can walk to the right and catch the Train (check the schedule) which is included in your Pass to Villars where you switch trains to Col de Sud and Bretaye where you disembark to ski.
In Barboleuse, since we were between trains, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at La Terrace, where all the locals and tradespeople go. Funny that the electricians and contractors drink beer and wine at lunch. The prices are better here in town, the daily menu of lasagna with salad bar was excellent and under $20. You can catch the train or walk to the gondola up, ski down and ride the Rasse Chaux Ronde chair back to the main area of Villars.
Villars history dates to 1936 when the first ski lift was built at the ‘Combe’ on the Chaux Ronde. This was a first in Switzerland, and skiers had to fasten themselves on with a large leather belt for their “drag” uphill. In 1938, Villars was classified as one of the prime skiing resorts of Europe. Villars Golf Club, also very famous, and high altitude at over 5,000′ for golfing, opened here in 1922.
On a Swiss ski safari of this wine and ski resort rich Rhone valley, you can also ski nearby Anzere, Leukerbad, Ovronnaz, St Luc/Chandolin, Grimentz-Zinal, Télé Marécottes. Naz Mont Noble and more. All of these are on the Magic Pass in close proximity to each other, just 2 hours east of Geneva.
Villars Gryon Diablerets mountain stats
Elevation 1114 – 2120, 3,654′ – 6,955’
67 slopes with a total length of 84-kilometers