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Though chalet holidays are the bread and butter of British skiing, not everyone likes to go for the full catered holiday experience. Though many of us love to try the local cuisine, and count down the days until our week of cheese, meat and wine in France, or sausage, potato and Jägermeister in Austria, some people still pine for the food of home on their travels.
Surely the ultimate British dish on a ski holiday has to be the Sunday roast, it's warming, filling and is stacked with carbs, protein and veg — perfect for your body and mind. So where exactly are the best Sunday roasts in the Alps? Well I took to Twitter this week and bugged our expert sales team to find out where best to recommend for rosbif and Yorkshire pud.
My personal favourite for a Sunday roast in the Skilodge in La Tania. They only do a roast out of peak season (so not during the New Year holidays and Feb), but they combine a great British atmosphere, good portions and the all important lunch-time kick-off of Premiership football or Six Nations rugby. They also do a cracking Christmas Day roast, if you can get a table!
Another restaurant to get a few mentions in the Courchevel Valley is La Marmotte Rouge in Bozel. The venue was opened last winter by a British couple and is already developing a great reputation for their roast dinners with the locals, so much so, people will happily get the bus ride from Courchevel!
Evolution in Meribel, just across from the Chaudanne has also been getting a few tweets for their Sunday fare. The great thing about Evo, apart from the friendly staff and Jez's dog, is the food and location. Having not eaten in Evo for a couple years now, it's great to hear they are still getting rave reviews for their food and being just across from the slopes it makes for a great lunchtime or evening stop to indulge in a good old Sunday roast.
Another Courchevel restaurant that the Twittersphere recommended is l'Oeil de Boeuf, in Courchevel 1550 — I see a Three Valleys theme developing here! The restaurant is quite quaint, with a sun terrace at the bottom of the Tovets piste. The name says it all really, this is where a serving of rosbif will surely be at it's best.
Finally it is time to leave the Three Valleys and head to Tignes and the Clin d'Oeil. Rumour has it this place would have a Michelin star, but for not being open enough days of the year, and having eaten here, the food is exquisite. The restaurant is near to the Aeroski lift and the Tourist office and only has about 8 tables, offering an intimate experience to go with the fabulous food and attentive service.
Moving over to Les Arcs' village of Peisey Vallandry and the Bar Mont Blanc gets a shout from Crispin, one of our new ski experts. The roast usually consist of a choice of chicken or beef and if they don't take your fancy, they also do a mean burger. The ski in/out location and the great views across the valley all add to this stunning spot for a mountainside Sunday lunch.
Our last spot for France is Les Deux Alpes' renowned Tex-Mex bar, Smokey Joes. Robin, another of our ski tea, recommends this place due to its location, at the base of the Jandari Express and White Egg lifts, as well as the awesome food. I wonder if they do a roast dinner burrito?
Last, but by no means least is another Planetski recommendation, with the Clin d'Oeil being the first, the Chez Vrony in Zermatt. According to the friendly ski news specialist, the sun terrace has great views of the Matterhorn, as well as a decent Sunday roast.
So, here a few recommendations from Iglu and our Twitter followers, but I'm sure there are plenty of goose fat roast potatoes, perfect cooked pieces or meat and ample servings of veggies and gravy that we've yet to discover, so feel free to fill us in with anywhere we've missed at @igluski.
Back in the summer I wrote a piece about the festivals that were expected to hit the Alps this winter and with the season in full flow and most of the line-ups have been announced here is a update of what to look forward too.
Little World Festival
This Little World Festival debuted in Meribel last season and after a successful first attempt, festival organisers and performers The Feeling are back for more. The former Meribel après ski band have lined up some big acts and some great venues for the week. From 13th - 18th March Meribel will be the highlight of the Three Valleys.
Last years slope side gig next to the Ronnie.
As expected The Feeling are due to perform as is Sophie Ellis Bextor, who attended last year and also performed with them at the ski show. Freemason, Carl Barat and Ed Harcourt have all been confirmed among the headliners, with Squeeze, Fictionplane and Ben Howard among the other confirmed acts. With a free gig taking place outside the resorts biggest après bar, the Rond Point, on a huge stage and 40 other gigs in resort that week it will be awesome.
Snowbombing & The Altitude Festival
Snowbombing is renowned as the snowsports hedonists' festival and this year it becomes home to the Altitude Festival, a comedy festival that previously called Meribel home. Both festivals will bring some pretty big names into Mayrhofen and the biggest party of the winter season takes place from the 4th - 9th April.
This year Snowbombing has surpassed itself with the names on the line-up, so far The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim, Pendulum and 2manydjs are confirmed. The list goes on and on and on, other big names include Professor Green, Example, Chase and Status, DJ Yoda, Fake Blood, John Digweed, Ms Dynamite and the Cuban Brothers. The Altitude Festival, in its new home, boasts the likes of Marcus Brigstocke, Andrew Maxwell, Rufus Hound, Tony Woods, Craig Campbell, Mark Walker and Terry Alderton. So if a week of soft snow, hard partying and laughs are what you need then get yourself to Mayrhofen on 4th April for a week.
Andrew Maxwell at last year's Altitude Festival
The Big Snow Festival
The Big snow Festival is another newcomer, debuting in the Andorran resort of Arinsal in March 2010. This year they have upped their game in an attempt to complete with the infamous Snowbombing, boasting better snow (well you'd hope so in mid March) and an impressive line up.
With crowd pleasers Kissy Sell Out, Judge Jules, Westwood and Example + dj wire headlining, this year's festival should go off with a bang. Throw in a decent sized ski area, (hopefully) great mid March weather and pretty much duty free prices in resort and you are on to a winner.
The Brits is the British Snowsports Championships, but as you would expect it is just as much a party-filled, music-fuelled festival as it is the country's top snowsports event. Held in the resort of Flims Laax in Switzerland from the 20th - 27th March this is a week of top end riders, music and fun. From the Red Bull downhill to a Pendulum DJ set the Brits always go off with a bang.
This year the likes of Aime Fuller and Jamie Nicholls will be on the slopes showing us why they are two of the most up and coming riders in Europe in the day time followed by some awesome entertainment in the evenings. As mentioned Pendulum will be throwing down a DJ set and the week also includes The Correspondents, an '80s Chalet Party and a not-so-secret movie premier (though the films are still a secret). Add in world class skiing, the glacier and end of march sunshine and it looks like a belting week is going to happen.
Taking a look around the Alps there are a few more events worth attending if you are in town. The European Winter X Games will be taking place in Tignes from the 16th - 18th March, where the world's biggest skiers and snowboarders will be in town — hopefully with Jenny Jones retaining her gold. And you can be sure there will be some serious parties going down throughout the resort celebrating the many competition winners medals. The last week of the season in Ischgl is always worth a mention. The resort is renowned for its opening and closing parties with the likes of Kylie and Katy Perry among recent headliners, well their end of season party doesn't disappoint with The Killers confirmed on the slope side stage on April 30th.
There is so much to going on this year I'm struggling to decide where to go, though I have my favourite, do you?
Half term is just around the corner which only means one thing, busy mountains. The chalets, hotels, apartments, restaurants, slopes and lift queues will be busy in most resorts and packed in the most popular. This in no way means you can't have a fantastic holiday, though it does mean patience and careful planning are on the agenda.
There are only a limited few weeks of the season when familys, teachers and school can take get their yearly snow fix, and who can blame them. We all love the mountains, the snow, the skiing & snowboarding and most of us love the food (read meat & cheese) and wine. Rather than complain about the larger numbers of people in resort we should relish the opportunity of a fun filled holiday full of like minded people.
Top Tips for the Slopes
If you need ski school make sure you use local schools, when it is busy you'll find in France the ESF will be able to jump to the front of the queue, as will St. Anton's ski schools and many others. If you can't beat them join them. Ask your friends, reps or Google to who the main ski school in resort are. The better the rep the smaller the classes and the better their relationship with the liftie (hence the queue jumping).
Plan your route. If you're are heading out with one of the Tour Operators we work with then find out when their ski guiding days are. They will take you with skiers and snowboarders of similar levels to the best and quietest slopes. These guys are spending their mountain time with you so will often take you to the best spots, especially if bribed with lunch, that's only a couple of Euros each for a great day on the mountain involving a reasonable restaurant.
Take your skis and boards off in the lift queues. In Europe the lift queues can be mad, if you are using your own kit and don't want a few extra scratches, pop out of your bindings for as long as possible to save your kit, plus you can often get through the crowds quicker. Frenchies on hired skis won't worry about trampling all over your shiny new top sheet and pristine edges.
Top Tips in Resort
Again if you have a rep in resort use them, find out where the best restaurants are and book on the first day, I'd even book on the transfer coach if you dare! If you are travelling without young children go for a late table, around 9pm, the restaurant will be calmer (less kids) and they won't be desperate to get you out of the door to re-use your table, they are more likely to to look after you in the hope of selling you deserts, more wine and an after dinner drink or two — take full advantage of the hospitality, I do!
Après ski will more than likely be as busy as ever. After a day on the slopes with your own children, or other people's (school teachers and ski instructors) there is a good chance a post ski beer or vin chaud with some live music will go down well. Find out where the best bars and sun terraces are and get there first. The evenings will be quieter, but by 11pm the resort staff will be filling the bars and clubs after a hard day's work, so you'll just have to wait a little longer for the post dinner crowds and atmosphere to kick in.
Hire Shops and Lift Passes
Again let your rep sort out your lift pass, you should be paying the resort's standard rate, unless you pre-booked and enjoyed a decent exchange rate, and they will do the hard work for you, often delivering them to your accommodation. Same price less work, sounds good to me. As for ski hire, whether pre-booked or arranged in resort, get to the shop early — they will be busy and there is more kit to choose from the earlier you get there. So if you've been eyeing up some twin tips, or want comfortable feet be patient and join the queue.
Throughout the season there is always loads going on in resort, from après ski bands to dog sledding, but during school holidays the entertainment often steps up a notch. Most resorts will offer torch light descents for the children to watch, other resorts have ice-rink where an entertaining ice-hockey match could be on, and an afternoon ice skating could be fun, some even have heated outdoor pools or ice racing tracks. Without sounding like a bore ask early and book as soon as you can.
The outdoor Alpe d'Huez is included in your lift pass and is always popular with parents, especially those who prefer to watch with the warmth of a hot chocolate or vin chaud. Morzine, Megeve and Chamonix all have competitive ice hockey teams with the Morzine Penguins usually playing mid-week offering a fun evening after dinner.
Whether you are there for your first holiday or are a seasoned pro at this, half term can be fun for everyone, embrace the atmosphere, go with the flow and take it all in.
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