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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.
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.
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
Now this may no be everyone's cup of tea, but there isn't much that compares to spending a day flying off a kicker into fresh powder with your friends. Though this is a past time I enjoy I am far from an expert and don't profess to be one.
Cue Ryan Davis, the former Brits winner is renowned for finding killer spots, and styling out the huge kickers he builds. If anyone is qualified to offer up a few resorts it's him.
Freestyle skiing and snowboarding are both growing faster than ever. Gone are the days of purely schussing down the Hahnenkamm or the Face for our thrills, these days winter sports are taking adrenaline levels higher than ever. Though it's easier to head to the snowpark or slalom run, you can't beat a short hike to a secluded spot and hitting natural lines or building your own kicker. Us mere mortals will try and cram as much as possible into our few days on the slopes each year, but there are those who somehow get to do this for a living.
Ryan may not be gracing the front pages of Document Snowboard or Whitelines as often as he used to, but he's happy to share with us his top five resorts for powder kickers. Hey, we might not all be able to float through the air pulling tricks but most of us can still enjoy an afternoon riding white fluffy snow and enjoying the view!
So it's over to Davo.
Ok, so Davo's top powder kicker resorts. Basically a good powder kicker resort consists of two main ingredients. 1 - consistent powder, and 2 - good knowledge of the terrain.
I had to say Morzine is my all time top pow kicker resort because I know it better than any other resort and there are loads of great spots.
So here they are.
Written by Stephen Adam featuring Ryan Davis.
his September Dave Mills, Iglu's Head of Commercial, will be attempting the Conquer the Alps Cycling Challenge for Macmillan Cancer Support.
The Conquer the Alps Cycling Challenge takes place from the 15th - 19th September and involves three days of climbs made famous by the Tour de France, including the gruelling 21 bends to Alpe d'Huez. The event involves over 100km of riding per day and will take Dave from Bonneville to Bourg d'Oisans.
I asked Dave how he feels about the challenge, and after reading Lance Armstrong's Tour France tweets he was feeling positive, "I'm 99% terrified and 1% excited, but this could well be the other way round by the time it comes around..."
I've compiled a day-to-day guide of the epic ride, and we'll be keeping up-to-date with Dave once he's on his bike.
Luckily this part of the journey involves a flight to Geneva followed by a transfer to the French town of Bonneville, where the cyclists will stay overnight. Knowing what he has in front of him we'll let him off for not cycling to the start point.
The first challenge for Millsy will be the 60 miles from Bonneville to Albertville via the Col de Aravis and the Col Saisies. The first climb from Bonneville involves a 1km rise in altitude and a steady ride up to the 1487m summit of the relatively gentle Col de Aravis. After the first serious descent Dave will be taking on the Col des Saisies, which tops out at 1650m before the long sweeping descent into Albertville where he will spend the second night.
After the first, and a relatively easy day of cycling, the 64 mile route from Albertville to Valloire is going to burn. Heading out of Albertville the first climb of the day is the 25km ride to the Col de la Madeline, after this warm up the descent to La Chambre will be a welcome one.
The afternoon stretch of this journey involves taking on the Col de Telegraph, the 12km climb is shorter but steeper, gaining nearly 900m in height. After the most difficult of these two challenging climbs, it's down to Valloire to rest and recover from the second day's burn.
The route from Valloire to Alpe d'Huez will take Dave via the Col du Glabier. This section of the ride is full of hair-pin bends through the stunning mountains and passes the monument to Henri des Granges, the founder of the Tour de France.
The final climb is the most famous of them all, and possibly the most gruelling in the Alps, the 21 bend to Alpe d'Huez! The ride to the peak is the pinnacle of the challenge, and the bend after bend of cycling to the top is rewarded by the adrenaline fuelled ride back down to Bourg d'Oisans.
After three days, and 315km on his saddle Dave will make his way home. Hopefully his leg's wont seize up and he'll make it onto the flight home from Geneva having completing this feat, and raising money for a good cause.
This challenge is pretty full on and so far Dave has four months of training behind him, the Iglu team will be supporting him the whole way, and if you would like to support him visit his Just Giving page. Dave is hoping to raise £2000 for Macmillan Cancer Support and will be grateful for every donation.
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