Champex Lac – Switzerland’s little Canada

Champex Lac has been welcoming weary travellers to relax on its shores for well over a century. The charming Swiss village is nestled amongst vast swathes of forest on the shore of a pristine Alpine Lake. From humble beginnings as a place that cows were kept, the beauty of Champex Lac began attracting tourists as early as 1892. Today, Champex Lac is a popular mountain resort, offering a host of activities in summer and winter.

The Valais

If you wander around Champex Lac, you will notice some buildings bearing a red and white flag with 13 stars. This is the coat of arms for the Canton of Valais. Switzerland is divided into 26 Cantons and Champex Lac lies in the Canton of Valais in the South West of Switzerland. The Valais flag has 13 stars because there it is composed of 13 districts. Valais is famous for the Matterhorn and the resort towns of Saas Fee, Verbier and Zermatt.

champex lac
There’s not many places better than Champex Lac to relax on a sunny day. Photo by Verbier Tourism

Development of Tourism in Champex Lac

The first hotel was built in 1892 and by 1907 there were nine hotels hosting up to 500 tourists. At this time, Champex (and Switzerland as a whole) was mainly visited in Summer. The most popular activities were boating, tennis and fishing.

Between 1920 and 1933, the Freudenberg family began creating a network of mountain trails above the lake and the area became popular with hikers. Today Champex Lac is one of the stages on the Tour du Mont Blanc and Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route trek.

Winter Tourism didn’t develop for a while in Switzerland. Mostly because heavy snow made travel difficult and also there was little to do. With the advent of winter sports, the Swiss wanted to encourage more tourists back in winter. In 1864, a local hotel owner began offering free accomodation to guests in summer if they promised to return in Winter. Guests enjoyed winter so much that word quickly spread. As a result, many Swiss tourist towns are now busier in winter than summer.

Winter Tourism was slower to develop in Champex Lac than many resort towns due to the Lack of lift access skiing. However, in the 1950s, the La Breya chairlift was built and winter tourism began in earnest.

Alpenwild guide Kate Hulme rowing on the Lake.

Things to do

In summer there’s not much better to do after a long day’s hike then go for a swim in the Lake or relax by the shore soaking up the sun. If you are feeling more energetic, you can rent pedalos and stand up paddle boards. There is also a beautiful botanical garden which is open in May to October each year.

In winter Champex Lac transforms into a winter wonderland. Sports enthusiasts can choose from down-hill or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating.

Learn about other places we stay in on the Haute Route

Top 5 things to do in Chamonix

Top 5 things to do in Zermatt

Cabane de Louvie

Grimentz Village

Jennifer Stretton
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