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Some people enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at Château d'Oex. But most serious skiers opt for a regional pass that covers 69 lifts and accesses 248 kilometers (155 miles) of groomed slopes across eight different resorts, including Gstaad, Saanemöser, and Schönried, as well as the glacier above Les Diablerets, which is skiable year round.

Perhaps the most exciting time to visit this resort is toward the end of January, when Château-d'Oex is home to one of the world's largest hot air balloon events. Only an hour and a half from Geneva, the resort is convenient for day trips to the lakeside Castle of Chillon (saluted by Lord Byron) and the cities of Montreux and Lausanne.

Inquire at the Château-d'Oex tourist office about visiting La Maison de L'Etivaz, a cheese-making cooperative. The cheese is made by individual farmers in the mountains in the summer, then brought to L'Etivaz to be stored and cured for up to three years. The tour is worthwhile.

For accommodations, Hostellerie Bon Accueil is one of our favorites, in an 18th century chalet.