Chatel's location in the Abondance valley, surrounded by woodland and steep slopes, has affected the rate with which it can expand, meaning that the population has never been very large and growth has never been rapid.
The Abondance Valley was first settled by Burgundians fleeing the Huns in the fifth century. The sheep herding that had been their way of life was hampered by the woodland all around that had to be cleared. The main villages that grew up were Chapelle DíAbondance and Chatel, as well as the hamlets of Chastel,Mollie and Lessert. Both Chapelle DíAbondance and Chatel remained a part of the same parish till a dispute in 1590 regarding grazing rights, as well as complaints about difficulty for some locals in reaching the church in Chapelle DíAbondance, meant that a plan was drawn up to make Chatel a separate Parish in its own right. The separation occurred on 2nd July 1645 and Chatel gained the status of an independent parish in 1728.
A Growing Population
The first census of Chatel was in 1793 and recorded a population of six hundred and eighteen. The population dropped dramatically the next two times a census was taken - eighty eight in 1800 and two hundred and eighty two in 1806. It is hard to judge what caused this drop, but by the next census in 1822 the population had risen almost back to previous levels and five hundred and six residents were recorded. The population remained mostly stable, fluctuating slightly up and down till it was recorded at six hundred and ten in 1901. The rise in population from the start of the 1880s, when it was four hundred and seventy three, could be due to the start of the tourist industry in the area, helped by new roads and new links with the rest of France. Between 1911 and 1921 the population dropped from five hundred and sixty two to five hundred and eleven. This could have been a result of men going to fight in World War One, or possible the Flu Pandemic that followed.
The Effects Of The Ski Industry
Since skiing really began to take off the population has grown considerably. From five hundred and sixty three in 1954 it peaked at twelve hundred and fifty five in 1990 before dropping slightly. In 2014 it had mostly recovered and the population was recorded at twelve hundred and one.