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Our friends at SnowAngel have put together a great blog looking at the top aprés ski bars for a 3pm beer. As a site dedicated to visiting, reviewing and sharing the best venues in the Alps and North America, they boast a pedigree of knowledge that even AJ, our Sales Director, would approve of. So, here are SnowAngel's best bars for a sunny 3pm beer...
We stumbled upon Pano Bar in Les Deux Alps accidentally about two years ago, just before we took the last run of the day, and believe us when we say there's no way you'll miss it. You might have to weave your way through a sea of boards and skis to get to it, but it's totally worth it. This is Ibiza-style après, expect two for one beers, a DJ, some serious raving and even the odd topless dancer. By 5pm you'll be locked and loaded and ready for your last run of the day — a black run — back down into resort! Our tip — get there for 3pm to get a table — you'll be dancing on top of it by 5! If you're feeling a bit shaky you can always slide your way back down to the resort.
Now, Austria has a firm place in our hearts for its après scene, and if you happen to be in Lech this season, then you should definitely head to the Balmalp. This place has panoramic views of the mountains, which you can enjoy from the huge sun terrace. Enjoy a Bombardier while you listen to the resident DJ spin the tunes until way after 7pm most days. If you don't mind a bit of night skiing then you can ski back to resort once you're all après-ed out. Leave late enough and the steady blue back into resort will have already been bashed, so it's as good as the first early bird run of the day — what's not to like about that! If you've indulged in a little too much glühwein, the owner will take you home on his skidoo — if you ask nicely!
A few of the Iglu team enjoying the Pano Bar in Les Deux Alps.
Now, if we think about Jack Wills, onesies and Jägerbombs, then the Mooserwirt in St Anton is never far from our minds. Attracting a mixed crowd, but definitely a firm favourite with the uni crowds, this place really needs no introduction. The music gets pumped through the speakers on to the sun terrace and it's as lively inside as it is out, on a blue sky day. The waiters carry impossible numbers of pints on trays around with them, so you can just grab one and pay, no queuing at the bar here — genius! And they'll bring you Jägerbombs if you ask nicely too. It's heaving here by three so, if you're in a group and want a table we recommend settling in from lunch time.
Meribel's has been firmly on the après map for as long as we can remember, with more and more Brits flocking here year on year. If you're heading here, do not leave without paying Le Rond Point a visit. The sun terrace is always jam packed and there's live music most days and the obligatory happy hour of course!
Tucked away on the main street in Morzine, Bar Robinson serves one beer, and one beer only. And it's no ordinary lager, this bad boy is 7.3%! The owners of the bar, two ladies and a gent all over 70, recommend you drink by the half pint. And you really should take heed, because this stuff is rocket fuel. Not that you'll have time to settle in until last orders, as the bar closes at 8pm.
If posh is your thing, then where else would you be heading this season but Verbier. It's refined here, but don't expect the après to be any less raucous. We'd recommend heading to Le Carrefour and the Wax bar, they're next to each other and you can ski back down into resort. It gets busy though, so get there early if you're looking for a table. If you're feeling flush order champagne on ice and a kangaroo steak.
The Folie Douce in Val d'Isere is a regular haunt of ours.
When angels ski, we are always in the market for a bit of sunshine, and with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, it's safe to say Serre Chevalier is pretty sun-sure. And if it's sunny then a huge terrace is always the order of the day. La Grotte in Villeneuve is the place to head straight from the slopes. You'll get the last rays of sunshine and there's a different happy hour every day. If you get a little bit too comfortable, then don't worry its just as busy later in the evening with theme nights, DJs, live music and games.
Pas de la Casa is probably more famed for its nightlife than it is for its skiing — they really know how to party here. At the hub of the action, the Milwaukee is the resort's largest bar with a two-for-one happy hour which kicks off when the slopes close. If you're a sports fan then there's a big screen and Sky Sports here too, as well as live music and pretty good food to boot.
Last, but by no means least, we couldn't talk about straight from the slopes après ski without mentioning La Folie Douce in Val d'Isere. This is possibly our favourite place in the world to après, DJs, a live sax player and champagne galore. There's nothing understated about this ski hut. Head here at about 3pm if you want to grab a table as by 4pm you won't get a look in. It really is the Rolls Royce of après ski!
Iglu's Sales Director and former ski instructor, AJ Johnson, gives us his top tips for skiers planning a holiday first time.
The number one ski resorts for beginner skiing in France are Les Gets, La Rosiere, Courchevel, Avoriaz, La Plagne, and especially Alpe d’Huez. These resorts are loaded with Green and easy Blue runs. Avoid Val d’Isére, Méribel, Les Arcs, Chamonix and Morzine as although these resorts offer brilliant skiing, there are no easy runs back into town or you have to use buses to get around. Buses are tough when you are just learning to carry your kit.
You'll soon go from skiing like this...
1: Have a lesson on an indoor slope here in the UK. It makes a huge difference to your first few hours if you already know how to put your kit on and stand on a green slope.
2: Go for a catered chalet or chalet hotel rather than a self-catered apartment. It is so much more enjoyable to be around other people who are also learning and to have all your food and cleaning taken care of. Apartments are a false economy. What you gain in initial outlay costs, you lose in resort shopping — especially wine which is free in chalets — damage deposit, cleaning time, expert in-house advice and the lack of social interaction with fellow UK skiers. Further to this, use the chalet operator's flights and transfers which are always included. Driving may sound like fun, but unless you have experience at driving in snowy conditions up steep slopes then don’t take the risk.
3: Pre-book your lessons with a reputable British ski school. There are plenty in France now. Do not even think about getting your friends to teach you — it will end your friendship and leave you miserable. It takes very specific training to teach skiing, some people think that because they are fit and can do football/rugby/windsurfing that they will be okay to learn without help. That is ridiculous and extraordinarily dangerous. I doubt your insurance will even consider the inevitable pay-out if you do something this silly.
4: Buy a nice comfortable and waterproof backpack. If you try to stuff your jacket with a water bottle, goggles and sunglass cases, a lunch roll, extra clothing in case of a cold snap, your piste map, lip balm, sun-cream, camera, mobile phone, and a single malt loaded hip flask, then you are going to look like the Michelin Man and lose all mobility. Get a pack with around 10 to 15 litre capacity, that has a waist belt so it doesn’t flap around. You don’t want anything too big.
5: Finally, borrow as much of the ski clothing as possible. Everyone has ski friends that are happy to loan out jackets and ski pants. You will need to buy yourself gloves, thermal underwear, nice thin ski socks (thick are the worst), and a warm hat. There’s too much perspiration going on to borrow these last items.
... to skiing like this.
Skiing is all about fun. You don’t have to ski every minute the lifts are open.
Finish early around 3pm and find yourself a lovely little après ski bar in the sun, or around a fire if the weather is harsh. Try a toffee vodka or two.
About the third ski day you will get muscle fatigue. There’s no disgrace in taking a day off and going for a swim or a massage. All resorts have awesome public spas, most of which are free with your lift pass.
Have a laugh and you will love it from your very first view of the mountains.
Many resorts claim to be the birthplace of skiing, including St. Moritz and St. Anton. Morgedal in Norway, has a pretty good claim too — and with skiing being a mode of transport during winter in parts of the country, I reckon it's a pretty good shout out. So, here's what they had to say on the matter.
Morgedal is the birthplace of skiing, or to be more correct, snow sport.
People have used skiing as a mode of transport for over 4000 years. However in the 1800s, downhill skiing as we know it today was influenced like never before by Sondre Norheim from Morgedal. A charismatic character who changed ski design and gave us the world's first carving ski and full heel binding. Where he lived and the terrain he grew up with inspired him to develop skis and new techniques — just for the rush of downhill skiing.
Jazz-lovers flock to New Orleans, Elvis fans congregate in Memphis, ski enthusiasts travel to the little mountain valley of Morgedal. What do they all have in common? The search for the original... Maybe it is time you took the skiers' pilgrimage to Morgedal — no flashy chairlifts, ritzy bars or designer ski wear, just the world's first slalom slopes and a valley where people have always loved to ski.
The Birthplace of Skiing
Sondre Norheim was a poor farm labourer. Born in Morgedal in 1825, in a part of Norway where in there is heavy snowfall during winter, skiing had always been an integral part of his daily life. Skis were traditionally used as the main form of transport and for hunting, collecting wood in the forests, social visits and for generally getting around on the steep, snow-covered slopes.
Sondre — a skilled craftsman and athletic figure — changed the way people saw skiing: He designed and made skis which enabled skiers to tackle the slopes in ways never seen before. He also used a new heel binding design which held the ski firmly to the foot. Skiing became playful and he demonstrated feats of skiing never seen before. Playful, charismatic and always out skiing — around him the ski culture in Morgedal developed in the 1860s, growing into a thing of legend.
It is from Morgedal that ambassadors would go out and start the world's first ski school in Oslo, before going on into America and Europe — taking their new skis and technique with them. From transport to sport, skis were now being used for the pure joy of the downhill, jumping and racing to the bottom of the snowy hills; it was the dawn of modern snow sport.
Here in Morgedal in this unassuming little valley you can rediscover this pure, original ski experience.
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