I recently spent one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long time in Val d’Isere, France. In the build up to the holiday, due to a number of reasons, I was slightly all over the place emotionally and not entirely sure if a week of apres and dancing on tables was what I was in the mood for. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There’s just nothing like kicking off your ski boots, after a day spent bombing down the slopes with friends, and heading to a bar on the slopes that makes everything fall into perspective and before you know it you’re back to loving life, (possibly too much for my phone, which took rather a battering.) We went with the company Ski Val who were fantastic, our catered chalet the stuff of dreams. Breakfast, tea,dinner and midnight snacks were all provided so we only had to think vaguely about where to spend a few hours in the sun for lunch. It’s a tough life being on holiday.
We ate pretty darn well on our holiday, possibly too well according to my salaptoes which were rather tiiiiight on leaving the holiday….Skiing, for some, is probably a very healthy affair full of fresh air and exercise. My holiday was full of both of those, but equally it was a holiday and a holiday where none of us had a care in the world so plenty of chips and alcohol were had, none of which was regretted.
I couldn’t recommend stopping for lunch or for a drink in the places below if you’re ever in Val d’Isere. Eating out for lunch is expensive but lunch with a view of the slopes can’t be beaten so it’s worth saving extra hard in the run up to your holiday!
Best place for a sun trap:Veuve Clicquot bar/ La Tete de Solaise, Solaise Express
Located at the top of the Solaise Express lift for easy access, the Veuve Clicquot bar is the dream spot from around 12pm when the sun hits the deck chairs lined up outside the bar. The VC bar and the restaurant ‘La Tete de Solaise’, are right next to each other which can be a tad confusing with different menus flying around; grab a bottle of rose – or Veuve Clicquot if you fancy going all out- settle into one of the deck chairs and lose yourself to a siesta with Kygo singing you to sleep.
Not a bad view to wake up to! Once you’ve mustered the energy to stir, go to La Tete for lunch, (or do as we did and plead the staff at La Tete to serve you the food to the Veuve Clicquot’s deckchairs. The dream combo.) Here you’ll find a decent menu with all the expected food such as fondus/tartiflette/steaks but also plenty of salads/veg options that can be dairy/gluten free is necessary.
Plenty of paleo dishes of chicken/fish and veg/salad with some of the best chips we had all week.
Come for lunch or come for a rose fuelled snooze; either way you’ll find it easier said than done to ski all afternoon once you’ve settled into the sun warmed deckcharis!
Best place for fish/healthy meals; l’Edelweiss, Le Fornet.
I know that most people don’t associate the mountains with fresh fish dishes, (as permusably any fresh fish has had to travel some pretty hefty miles given how far Val d’Isere is from the sea.) But the fish at l’Edelweiss tasted exceptionally fresh and it was probably my favourite spot for lunch. Not only does l’Edelweiss have a cracking menu it has one of the dreamiest settings in Val – no mean feat! To get here you ski through a path lined with pine trees that look like they’ve been dusted with icing sugar. Just check the view from the outside terrace.
Whatever you do, get a plate of chips for the table whilst you decide what to order. Hot, salty and utterly moreish these went down a treat after a morning’s ski.
At l’Edelweiss all of the dishes are interesting, with even classics such as a tuna nicoise salad having a makeover, setting l’Edelweiss apart from the majority of places up the mountains which serve traditional French ski food.
I had the smoked salmon salad, the sashimi exactly what I felt like after a few days of apres and increasingly tight salaptoes. I tried to ask, in my best French, for a gluten free substitute for the waffle that came with the dish, but my request was met with a seriously snooty raised eyebrow and in the end I gave up, vowing to take up French again.
The ‘revised’ tuna nicoise….move over tinned tuna and say hello to the real deal. We all got food envy from this dish which came with perfectly seared chunks of tuna and I would definitely recommend ordering this – be prepared to fend people off.
The only dish that didn’t quite live up to expectations was the vegetable tart of the day which seemed pretty small after a morning spent skiing – but if you’re craving something light and healthy then this could be the dish for you!
Best place for a cheaper lunch: Loop Bar, Tignes Le Lac
Let’s face it. Skiing is expensive. And lovely as it is to eat out on holiday, by the end of a week filled with plenty of fun, sometimes a lunch which doesn’t break the bank is exactly what the bank manager ordered. So should you be looking for a cheerful, simple lunch then ski over to Tignes and in Tignes Le Lac at the bottom of the Trolles slope, you’ll find Loop Bar.
A favourite with seasonaires due to it’s low prices, happy hour deals and loud music, Loop Bar won’t be the best food you’ll have on the slopes but it will leave you full and able to afford the next meal.
Expect baguettes which can be filled with just about any ingredient and which come with a large portion of chips.
Nachos, which again come with just about any topping although these are definitely not a good idea if you have bad IBS as all the nachos dishes, regardless of the toppings chosen, seem to come smoothered in sour cream and cheese.
I had a mushroom and guac salad which wasn’t particularly memorable but it did the job. And with this as your view, a lunch at Loop Bar is all about kicking your ski boots off, watching the seasonaires flirt with each other and lazily deciding where to head to next.
Best place for traditional French restaurant: La Sachette, Tignes
I slightly judged myself, as much as the bar man judged us, when we stopped at La Sachette at 11.30 am and tried to order drinks; to which the reply was ‘We only serve alcohol beverages from midday.’ Possibly fair enough.
La Sachette is tucked just behind a beautiful old church down a sleepy street – you do have to walk along the road with your skis to get here, but once you’re sitting at one of the large tables on the terrace with the snowy mountains as your view, the walk in ski boots will become a distance memory. With plenty of large tables outside, the terrace is designed to host large parties of hungry skiers. The food here is very traditional and I really struggled to find a salad that didn’t have meat/dairy or gluten in it; but sometimes on holiday this is just the case. So for the first time in about two years, I ordered, shock horror, a dish with meat in it. I had a parma ham salad, asked for no cheese and croutons and throughly enjoyed the lunch.
Everyone else was equally as happy, dipping fresh baguettes into salty French butter and enjoying an array of salads and pizzas, all washed down with plenty of rose which was agreeably priced.
The best thing about all of our lunches whilst skiing wasn’t the food, although we did eat very well and I throughly enjoyed refuelling on all sorts of dishes – the best thing was getting to spend a week in the mountains surrounded by friends. Laughing so much rose comes out your nose whilst in a ‘no filter necessary’ setting is what a skiing holiday is all about. I tried to eat as sensibly as I could, but of course I did eat food that I knew my stomach wouldn’t agree with and so after eating some meals I probably looked like I was in my third trimester. But a few belly aching laughs later and a good ski, most discomfort was significantly eased. And eating food that I wouldn’t normally eat due to intolerances/physical reactions was SO worth it for the hours spent with the sun on my back, drink in hand, chilling on the side of a mountain laughing until the tears poured down my cheeks.
Ski Val were incredible when I told them about dietary requirements. There was not one sigh or a comment of ‘oh what can you eat then’. Instead there was always a cake at tea that was gluten and dairy free, with numerous options at meal times that accommodated everyone. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated this and it was such a relief to just to enjoy the meal and company and not feel awkward and conscious that you are that ‘difficult’ guest.
I can’t recommend a week’s skiing holiday enough. We went the last week of the season which meant we got a great package deal – it is a gamble with the weather and luckily we had the perfect conditions, but this could well have not been the case. But even if the weather is bad, a week breathing in mountain air makes you feel on top of the world – book a trip to the mountains and start deciding where you’re going to have your first lunch. Trust me, you won’t regret it.