There is something about the mountains, and I love it that they keep calling my name. This time around, after great experiences earlier in the year in Val d’Isere (France) and Verbier (Switzerland), it was a pleasure to head to Alpe d’Huez, in the French Alps, where I got the opportunity to begin the season in style.
We headed to Alpe d’Huez, following a quick flight to Lyon, a city I love, but sadly had no time to explore this time. In under two hours, we arrived at our VIP Ski chalet, appropriately named Chateau. It was an omen of the things to come. In true VIP style, we were taken to our rooms and we knew we had to have a quick turnaround – champagne and canapés were waiting, prepared by our lovely executive chef and chalet hosts.
We stayed in that night – how could we not? For me, personally, I love the concept of chalets where you actually don’t have to leave at all – except for skiing or the odd stroll around the town. I love knowing that I can go to bed anytime and the others can carry on the evening without me. Except I am never one of the first ones to go to sleep. But I was on this trip – I think it was the mountain air!
Up early and after a delicious breakfast, it was time go out and about – the mountains looked lovely (especially as we were there just after the resort opened for the season and before the first proper influx of tourists arrived for some pre-Christmas skiing). They were calling my name indeed and my private ESF ski instructor was waiting.
I love skiing, but in my own terms – for me, it is a very very individual activity. Every time I head to the mountains, I always have a teacher with me. I am a quite decent skier, but I do appreciate spending time with people who are qualified to look after me. And I would hate to see Mr. O or any of our friends waste a morning (or an afternoon) waiting for me, as well as the pressure to keep up with everyone. I have been doing this for almost 10 years – I don’t stop anyone from doing whatever they want, and I find my peace and quiet. It is a winner indeed.
After more than 3 hours skiing, it was time for lunch. And there is nothing like a lunch with a view. For this meal, we visited the newly-reopened Le Signal, which did not disappoint. At all. Stunning views, delicious food with a side of Orangina. What is not to like?
After lunch, the group carried on skiing. I did a bit of skiing – i.e. I skied down to our chalet and I took a nap. I love my post-ski naps – they are epic! I woke up when everyone else arrived and couldn’t resist a bit of cake. And profiteroles. And a cup of tea. I love this little post-ski treat that VIP Ski organises for all of their guests. And calories do not count when up in a mountain.
We had an exquisite three-course meal at the chalet (ok, with cheese at the end), and it was time for another early night. Because I really needed a clear head for what I was going to do in the morning…
I really do not know what led me to say yes to parapenting, I really don’t. But wow, what an experience. There is a video of while ‘I was up there’, and I haven’t got it yet – but surely that won’t be allowed to be broadcast due to the language I was using. It was terrifying, but calming at the same time. You do feel at the top of the world, but oh my. I thought we were going for a quick flight, but only while I was up there I realised it was a 20 minute flight, landing in the valley, and a 30 minute drive back to the resort. Landing on skis on the grass was also quite something. I am glad I did this and life will never be the same again.
After this, I needed champagne to calm my nerves. Or maybe a glass of rose. Either were good news and appropriate, as we were to have lunch at the Folie Douce, which was actually opening that day.
Being the first day, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – but it was an experience and a half. We had lunch at La Fruitiere, the gourmet restaurant and I had to have my staple item: the onion soup combo. If you go there, please try it – it is amazing. We enjoyed the ‘entertainment’ – Folie Douce’s own cabaret team and everybody else just getting on the tables and dancing. After a while, we left the restaurant and headed to the VIP area where we danced the afternoon away, watched the champagne spraying and, well, drank a bit of champagne.
Before the sun set (and the ski lifts closed), it was time to get back to the chalet, (take a little nap, of course), change and head out for a night on the town. Which was fab.
That and the late wake up call the following morning, and our own plane to get back to London (a disclaimer here: VIP’s first guests were arriving on that day and we took their empty plane back home from Grenoble to Gatwick).
Au revoir Alpe d’Huez, you were a lot of fun!
Disclaimer and Fact Box: I was a guest of VIP Ski, who, together with Alpe d’Duez and Folie Douce, put this trip together for Mr. O and myself.
The VIP SKI CLUB Chateau is located at the base of the slopes in Alpe d’Huez within a cluster of VIP SKI chalets. Prices start at £869, based on 2 people sharing. This includes 7 nights accommodation on a chalet board basis, return flights and airport transfers from Gatwick Airport. For further details and information click here. Upgrade to the VIP SKI Platinum Service and a private chef will prepare a menu of all your favourite foods, while a sommelier provides the very finest wines. An upgrade also includes a chauffeur to whisk you from the airport to your luxury chalet. A week’s trip to CLUB Chateau with VIP SKI Platinum Service starts from £1169. For more information click here.
Alpe d’Huez – A 6 day lift pass in Alpe d’Huez is £212 for adults and £170 for concession prices. One week’s equipment hire starts at £85 for skis and £28 for boots. For more information, visit the Alpe d’Huez tourist board website.
La Folie Douce – The lively après bar offers entertainment on the slopes throughout the winter season and features the exquisite restaurant, La Fruitière. For more information, visit its website.
Le Signal Restaurant – Following a complete refurbishment, Le Signal offers gourmet meals on the slopes with amazing views. For more information, visit its website.