The three most important seasons for most men are on the horizon. The football has started, with much excitement and anticipation after a summer of new players and managers arriving throughout the premiership. Rugby clubs are back in training, with Martin Johnson announcing that he now has the strongest selection of England players he's ever had to choose from. And last but by no means least the winter season is finally approaching, holidays are being booked and new kit is starting to hit the shops.
So with all this in mind I set to thinking about how I'm going to combine my favourite sports for my holiday to Meribel. I'll be arriving in resort a couple of hours before the England v France match, a game not to be missed. Also with Champions League games on mid week throughout the season, Monday night football back on Sky and those Premiership games on Sundays, I decided to compile a list of my top bars to watch the match on holiday.
What Makes a Top Venue?
Despite what people may think when it comes to watching football and rugby size doesn't necessarily matter. The important factors are: atmosphere, screens, beer, bar staff and the locals.
Atmosphere is always a biggie, whether the bar fits 50 or 500 people you want somewhere full of passionate fans, singing and of course the commentary. The only thing worse than listening to Brian Moore during the six nations, is well... not listening to him. I hate it when bars play music, we want to hear the commentary and the noise in the stadiums.
Screens are obviously paramount to watching the game. Now size here is important, but isn't the be all and end all. I would rather be in a pub with plenty of LCDs throughout the venue that you can see compared to one with an old projector or low quality screens. Obviously in the perfect world there would be an HD projector and a a handful for 32" HD TVs.
Beer, bar staff and locals are again essential. When in the Three Valleys or Val if you pop into the wrong bar you can find yourself paying €9 a pint. Also you are looking for a venue with friendly and welcoming staff and locals. There's nothing worse than being in a bar and feeling like you're not wanted.
Pub Le Skilodge, La Tania. Now the Skilodge may not be the largest pub in the Alps but it has to be my favourite place to watch the England v France Six Nations matches. Tim the owner is English and Tristan his right hand man is a Frenchie (well sort of). Cue lots of banter, drinking and an over exuberant set of celebrations when England win, and pretty much the same if they lose!
Pacific Bar, Val d'Isere. Again not one of the largest bars in the Alps but probably one of the most renowned for the footie. The mantra here is as many screens as possible. You'll find this place packed full of seasonaires and holiday makers alike cheering on their teams every week.
The Doron (The Pub), Meribel. As well as being a great venue for watching live music five nights a week the Doron is Meribel's best football bar. One of the largest in the list, the combination of the huge projector, countless screens and post-football bands makes for a great Champions League venue.
The Frog, Val Thorens. The Frog is a real local's pub. The owners are real characters, Duncan may not know a huge amount about either sport, but since they play rugby in Cornwall he's a big fan. The Six Nations are always a raucous affair, full of great banter and drinking, and the locals make the frog a great football pub. The highest pub in Europe definitely has one of the top atmospheres you'll find.
Scotty's, St. Anton. Located beneath the Chalet Hotel Rosanna is St. Anton's main British pub. The bar is an ex-pat haven, so expect big crowds for all the British football and rugby teams. Great atmosphere and cheap(ish) beer.
So there's my top five alpine bars to watch the match but wherever you're heading this winter there is bound to be a great bar showing your favourite team. Here are a few great venues that didn't quite make the list but are worth a mention.
- Scotty's Bar, Tignes. Little brother of Scotty's in St. Anton.
- The Cavern, Morzine. The Alps best bar for the England v Wales Six Nations match and a great party atmosphere.
- Sharky's, Alpe D'Huez. A more chilled out, yet fantastic venue with post football karaoke.
- Rockies, Courchevel 1650. Reasonable priced drinks and friendly locals.
- Mont Blanc Bar, Peisey Vallandry. According to our Les Arc expert Nick, it has a great atmosphere and attractive Aussie barmaids.
- The Red Hot Saloon, Les Arc (1800). Busy, seasonaires favourite.
- Pub Mont Fort, Verbier. Lively football, music and locals, oh and great burgers.
- Scotland Yard, Mayrhofen. A randomly named Irish bar.
- O'Flannigans, Kitzbuhel. Typical Irish ex-pat bar for of Brits, great for the football.
- Dusty's, Whistler. Great place the watch the hockey with a bucket of ribs & wings
- No Name Saloon, Park City. Buffulo Burgers and silly American sports.
If you have any other favourite venues or hidden gems drop me a message in the comments below, or post a comment on our Facebook or Twitter pages