Home > Tourist Guide > Table of contents > Bernese Oberland > The Pays d’Enhaut > Château d'oex
A family ski and sports resort located where the road from the Col des Mosses joins the valley, CHÂTEAU D’OEX (pronounced day) doesn’t have a great deal to offer, although it is nonetheless spectacularly sited. The wide, sloping valley bowl in which it sits generates exactly the right kinds of thermal air currents for perfect hot-air ballooning, and the town is acclaimed as one of the world centres for the sport. When Bertrand Piccard, from Lausanne, and the Briton Brian Jones made their record-breaking 45,000km round-the-world balloon flight in 1999, which ended on March 21 after 19 days, 21 hours and 55 minutes, the take-off point, and nerve centre of the whole operation, was Château d’Oex. Every January, the town hosts perhaps the most beautiful sports event in the Swiss calendar, the annual Hot-Air Ballooning Week, when eighty or more colourful giants catch the dawn thermals to float peaceably over the hills and valleys round about.
For speedier thrills, the town and its slopes are linked in to the Gstaad Super Ski Region: as well as easy and intermediate pistes all around the town, there are a few testing runs down from the La Braye cable-car, spanning the valley up to a height of 1630m.
There’s a campsite, Au Berceau (026/924 62 34), on the riverside a ten-minute walk west of town, and an HI hostel a few minutes’ walk downhill from the centre (026/924 64 04, fax 924 58 43; a; closed Nov & Dec), with dorms from Fr.24 and bikes for rent. Of the hotels, the Buffet de la Gare beside the station (026/924 77 17, fax 924 79 52; a), as well as offering casual, uncomplicated meals in its café and restaurant, has a few shared-bath rooms. La Printanière, right beside the Catholic church (Phone & fax 026/924 61 13; a) is an old characterful house, with plain shared-bath rooms that are kept spotlessly clean. On the other side of the church is Richemont (026/924 52 52, fax 924 53 84; b), a big chunky weatherbeaten chalet with comfortable, old-style rooms. One kilometre further west, set in its own grounds, is the Bon Acceuil (026/924 63 20, fax 924 51 26; c), bargain of the region, a small, utterly charming hotel in a restored eighteenth-century light-wood chalet overlooking the valley; attention to detail – and spectacularly good lightly prepared cuisine in the atmospheric restaurant – mark it out as extra special.
Don't miss our exclusive photo-reportage 12,000 feet above the Swiss Alps in a hot-air balloon.
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