Best of Val d’isere

Posted: 21 January, 2013 in Europa, holiday memory
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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There was magic in the air in Val d’isere. The suns rays reflecting in dry snow particles made a exclamaition sign of light this first day and then there were powder too.

Val d’isere is by far the very best skiresort I have done. Others would say Chamonix sheltered by Mount Blanc and a big city in itself, some would prefer San Sorlin, a tiny village with skiing in focus and not much more than a pub and shop de fromage but for me Val d’isere got it all – almost.

1) Val d’isere, France
2) Serre Chevalier, France
3) Åre/Kall, Sweden
4) Chamonix/Argentiere, France
5) Branäs, Sweden

100) Flaine, France

This are the criteria for the above list: combination of pist and off pist possibilities, entertainment, food culture and scenary. I think Val d’isere is built with love and loads of euros, the semi traditional architecture of stone houses with wood details attract me. Romantic, yes I am.

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The city also work with beautiful lightning and handmade snow sculptures. Outside one posh building hangs giant chandelers instead of regular lamps. I have heared people call Val d’isere Disneyland for the rich and famous. But I rather stay there than in depressing Flaine with brutalistic architecture from the 1960’s.

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When it comes to judging the pist and off pist I may not be and expert. But as for this past week I can’t imaging any other place having better snow conditions. There was fresh snow – and a lot too – every night except one. It was sunny and clear blue sky at least three out of seven days. Sure it was cold but when you can choose to ski in a low wooden area that day and leave the glaciar for another and still have good snow and not so much as ten companions in the slopes it makes you feel you are in powder heaven!
Flaine may get to much critic. I had the flue the week before and still had fever when I arrived. It was a brutal encounter for a romantic like me. Not even the warm sun, + 18 C, could melt my heart. For a Swedish wiking that is too hot for anything but sipping a coke in the valley. I was sweating in my padded ski uniform and big goggles while the chic french girls danced down the slope in tights and thin figure hugging jackets and sunglasses.

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I did like the pist Cascades though where the water made beautiful and showers in ice. It was like skiing in sorbet down that long lane – and actually all afternoons. Morning was fresh aired but slopes was pure ice!
I do like Argentiere. I did not see much more than the closest afterski pub but that was nice and close (neighbouring) to our Ucpa center. My great moniteur and mountain guide “Didi” was the best investment. He knew where to take us when it was raining. I cried when I stepped out from the cabel car at Les Grand Montets, you need an unlimited daypass to reach it. I prayed to both God and Saint Mary (have not done that before, or after, had to be a french fling) when I made my way down the steep steel steps in heavy wind and leaped forward on the narrow icey slopes between two mountain peaks. In that very moment it felt like I laid my life in his hand, not Gods but Didis. And you know what, I reached heaven on earth! It was calm, soft snow and had an amazing view over the bluegreen glaciar far away under us. The harsh wind didn’t reach us there it was only us in the group and silence.
You will never find anything like that in Sweden. Don’t miss understand me because it is beautiful nature but those places are not as easy to reach I imaging. It is usually more crowded
also in the more popular skiresorts. I am always suprised about how few it in The Alpes. In Val d’isere it was maximum five minutes waiting for the gondola and ski right in to other lifts.

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One of my fellow ucpa guests is a chef at a chic french restaurant called Napolyon in Stockholm. I take his word for it when I say there is some great food in Val d’isere. I did not have the time and knowledge to try. I was just too busy to do the afterski run almost every day; La Folie douce (ski in location at le telecabine, with a crazy vibe and a lot of young girls shaking there ass and drinking champagne from the bottle!), Café Face (hot, crowded and ageless), Petit Danois (Happy hour 2 for 1 until 10 pm), Victor (Ok I say, great according to others) and Pub Morris (big place and band with covers or jazzy vibe).
For those who love shopping Val d’isere can be both heaven and hell. All the big brands are featured here, all the big sports brand. I was already fully dressed so nothing there for me. I found a soft cashmere poncho but had to check again when saw the price tag – 3925 Euro! There were also some more affordable, still expensive, beautiful polo riding boots in the BWMpolo tour sponsor tent (next to the free champagne!). So, I ended up buying some bottles of nice red wine, champagne and local food to take home. The supermarket Spar in the heart of Val d’isere is a housewife’s wet dream, well organised, nice displayed but the lobster box was always empty by the time I skied from the afterski.
The best memory I take with me from Val d’isere is the scenic routes our Ucpa moniteur Stephan, just turned 24, showed us before delivering the ride of my life in pure powder. Finally he said the words I wanted to hear: “If you go to Les Arcs they have off pist groups on the confirme’ level. You are definitly at confirme level now”.

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