Skiing’s come a long way from flammable onesies and rubbery fondues. These days it can be just as much of a gastronomic adventure as a sporting one and nowhere offers a better luxury luge than snow sports mecca, Val d’Isère. Via Lusso’s extensive knowledge-gathering network we can reveal everything you should be getting up to when you’re not on the slopes.
Eat Top Notch Wintry Cuisine
L’Atelier d’Edmond. “We’re on top of the world”, says 2-Michelin star chef Benoit Vidal from the heady terrace of his restaurant and bistrot, overlooking the mountains and the old village of Le Fornet. Benoit’s cuisine is a mix of local notes and Mediterranean flavours; citrus and herbs bring a fresh touch to his inventive meals. The displays of farmers tools from years gone by; fixtures such as lamps, crockery, furniture and throws are all on sale if you know who to ask. Book yourself on a cookery course in Benoit’s panoramic kitchen (courses from €220) so you can take home the signature apron. Open lunch Wed-Sun, dinner Tues-Sun; Le Bistrot open for lunch only, closed Mondays. www.atelier-edmond.com.
The Ski Gallery & Fondue Factory. Smack-bang on the main Olympic Avenue, Dimitri Killy (nephew of Olympic legend Jean-Claude) has created a spectrum of modernity in the shape of his museum/bar/restaurant, designed by local architect Michel Coveral. “Kind people keep bringing me ski equipment that belonged to their family, many are on display here, the rest I’m keeping in my garage”, he says. Among the 1,000 pairs of skis are the Killy’s he was wearing when he won the World Championship at Portillo in 1966, and the Dynamic VR 17 downhill skis he used to take gold at seven world cups in 1967. Specialities by chef Cyril Benisse include fondues (from €19-€49) Rôtisserie du Jour, Tartiflette, Raclette and Chocolate Fondue to end on. Open 7/7. www.valdisere.com/ski-gallery-fondue-factory.
Maison Chevallot. In the heart of the old village on Olympic Avenue, Maison Chevallot is the best patisserie for delicacies that those with serious knowledge, probably refer to as ‘yum’. Val d’Isère-born Patrick Chevallot, talented artisan chocolate-maker and MOF-awardee to boot (the prestigious ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’, received in recognition of his craft). Be prepared for serious FOMO for whatever the guy in front of you just ordered – the Blackberry Tarts, La Pâte d’Ours and Petit Paul, named after his third child, are worth a mention. Also check out the dates of Chevallot’s cookery courses, usually on Thursday evenings from 5-7pm (€36). www.chevallot.com.
Stay In Luxe Hotels
Les Barmes de l’Ours. With 56 incredible rooms and 20 suites (Doubles from €295-€1530), Alain Lamaison heads the three restaurants (the gastronomic Table d’Ours has a Michelin star) and the Concerts and Cocktail bar. There’s also a two-lane bowling alley (book ahead) a billiards and kid’s club, and the Valmont Wellness Centre complete with Technogym, Formula 1 training machine, pool and hairdresser. In the pro-shop you can equip yourself with the latest ski gear and couture ski wear, meanwhile, down in Val village Crazy Barmes is the all day bistro offering chef Lamaison’s Barmes gluten-free baguettes with hot chocolate or vin chaud. www.hotellesbarmes.com.
Les Cinq Freres. The charismatic three-star boutique hotel (formerly Hôtel Bellevue) near the beautiful old church (1664) has been transformed by the local Mattis family, who are, as the name implies, five brothers. Like staying with friends, La Table d’Yvonne is the restaurant named in hommage to Yvonne Mattis, with dishes created by Laurent Hollender presented around a table loaded with local products and Beaufort cheese fondues; certainly not your average buffet. Doubles from €235-€405. les5freres.com.
Le Yule. The former Grand Paradis, Le Yule has 41 Scani-style rooms (from €382) and re-opened in December 2015. Positioned almost on the piste opposite Bellevarde and Solaise slopes, the hotel boasts a swimming pool and Nuxe spa as well as Jacuzzi with mountain views. Lunch on the sunny terrace, and dine by the fireplace in the brasserie Le Schuss on Savoyard specialities. www.leyule.fr.
L’Aigle des Neiges. The four-star, 109-room hotel (from €199-€759) in the old village was recently transformed by architect Gilles Leborgne and combines the best of local traditions with state-of-the-art modernity, headed up by Yann Margetyal. The USP this season was the chic Artic Room Beluga Ice Bar (although now shut since 16th January). With pool, ski-shop, two restaurants ‘La Table à Pierrade’ and Cinq Mondes by Deep Nature spa, this place should be on your radar. The experienced Aigle des Neiges team make a point of providing quality and personalised ski service. For the boarders, it’s well-stacked with the top-brand boards. www.hotelaigledesneiges.com.
Avenue Lodge. On Olympique Avenue Jean-Philippe Nuel has designed a sophisticated neo-Alpine style hotel with lots of contemporary touches to copy at home. 54 rooms and three suites (from €420-€855) with bistro chic, Institut Esthederm spa, pool, jacuzzi, sauna, hairdresser, fitness room and excellent Killy Pro Shop headed by Dylan, who really does know his stuff. www.avenuelodge.com.
La Mourra. Hotel Village La Mourra will be the new hotel complex at the top end of town, opening in 2017. Designed in the style of a typical Savoyard hamlet, owned and run by the team of the five-star Le Blizzard, the complex consists of four large chalets with five to seven bedrooms, home cinema, Clarins spa with pool, steam room, sauna and treatment rooms. It also has butlers, Apple TV’s, 24-hour room service and the possibility of heli-transfers, so basically everything a very high-net-worth client is after in a ski holiday – including chic bar and Japanese-inspired cuisine. Expect to pay in the region of €63,000 p/w for twelve people in the high season and circa €31,500 p/w low season. www.hotelblizzard.com.
Drive On Ice
If throwing yourself down a mountain isn’t enough of an adrenaline rush, you can also test your ice driving skills at the wheel of the latest BMW’s or in a simulator at the Circuit de Glace. www.valdisere-ice-driving.com.
Buy Local Produce
Know More Than The Locals
Surprisingly few people know that throughout the summer the lifts are free in Val d’Isère. The season runs from 2nd July through 28th August; ideal for walkers, hikers, bikers and paragliders.
Winter Golf Cup on ice Competitions run from March 29th – 3rd April. Forty Pro-Am teams test their skills on a nine-hole course in the Manchet Valley.
The 20th International Adventure & Discovery Film Festival runs from 18th – 21st April.
Spring Skiing takes place from 9th April – 1st May, when you can experience the Spring snow.
There’s a three-day Festival of Yoga from 29th April – 1st May, taking place in the Congress Centre and open to all levels, one day adult pass: €49, one day child pass: €39.50.
Get There With Ease
British Airways www.britishairways.com flies from Heathrow. Transfers are by bus, taxi, or shared minibus. Altibus altibus.com run a regular service from Geneva (€111 return), Chambéry (€53 return) and Lyon (€115 return). www.europetransfer.com offer private or shared drives. Private operators include Mountain Drop-offs mountaindropoffs.com, Alpine Cab alpinecab.com, and Private Driver www.private-driver.eu. Expect to pay about €740 for a return taxi from Geneva, and €650 from Chambéry.