December 10, 2015

Val-d’Isère with Powder White

On Saturday 5th December I set off to Heathrow with a suitcase full of ski clothes, thermals, goggles (and an accidental hangover) to meet 5 other travel bloggers at the airport for a trip with Powder White to Val-d’Isère. On receiving the invite of course I screamed YES!! I love any sort of sense of adventure. What would I do? Who would I meet? Little did I know that I would have one of the best ski experiences I’ve ever ever had….

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The location

First things first: Val-d’Isère is paradise. According to good old Wikipedia, it has been cited as the “Most Beautiful Ski Area in the World” which does not surprise me one bit. I stopped at one point on the mountain and actually GASPED out loud to myself because w-o-o-o-w. I’d skiied off the chair lift and wasn’t prepared for the view I saw in front of me. Going from regularly having an armpit in my face on the London Underground to the tranquility of blue skies, the breath-taking mountains – it just didn’t look real. I felt like I was in Santa’s *actual* grotto the entire week. It was bliss. All the bars and shops are clustered together along a beautiful high street with chalets and apartments surrounding it. You can ski straight down into the town from the slopes. The ski hire shops are well-placed, with everything being very easy to get to once you come off the mountains. Booking with Powder White means they sort out all the moving parts of the holiday stress-free. You can also download the Val D’isere app which is launching soon – (we had a sneak preview and it really is incredible, including real-time live views of the slopes, weather update and restaurant recommendations – everything is at your finger tips.) This photo below, is what I could see from my balcony, with a cup of coffee in the mornings. I almost started to hate myself a bit it was so beautiful.

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The chalet food

We stayed in Chalet Marwari and it was spacious and cosy at the same time. I absolutely loved the modern decor while also giving a nod to the traditional wooden alpine chalet. Powder White lay on a very good food spread. Every night after a hard days skiing you are presented with champagne by the fire, with canapés and the comfiest sofas known to man. We reclined and chatted and I honestly was in HEAVEN. A FIRE PLACE! WARMTH! A COSY RUG! The two chalet cooks were insanely talented at laying on the perfect 3 course meal. The food was exactly the sort of thing we craved after an active day: starters consisted of delicious soups or caprese salad, followed by roast lamb, or beef bourguignon and pudding ranged from a warm crumble to a gooey chocolate pot. It was all delicious – and of course the red wine was flowing. The brilliant chalet girls put my cooking to absolute shame. Powder White have their own internal cook-books, and although you can’t currently buy them, it was great to get recipe inspiration from such talented chefs.

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The restaurants & cafés

Too words: MOUNTAIN FOOD! On the first day we went to La Grande Ourse and ate tartiflette with gooey Reblochon cheese – so good – with some epic mountain views. Then on the second day we headed to La Tête de Solaise which is half way up the Solaise chair lift and I ate a whole pizza and pretty much a whole charcuterie board. Sorry not sorry. Jess and I then skiied down a pretty hairy red run back to the chalet (again, full of cheese).

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Après-ski

I know you’re not meant to admit to being ALL ABOUT apres-ski and instead I should be painting the picture that I am a hardcore skiier but…there’s something about being up in the mountains armed with a warm alcoholic beverage that reeeeeeally suits me fine. It’s made even better by still wearing ski boots and having the smug feeling of having just sweated down a red run? #Winning. One of our favourites was a bar called Bananas which played retro music and served spicey mulled wine.

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The people

During the weekend everyone we came into contact with was just really brilliant. From our ski instructor from New Generation ski school called Xavier who taught me how to “carve” with my skis, to the guys who fitted out boots at Snowberry (who really take care in fitting your boots, I tried 3 pairs before they were happy with the fit), to the fact that two of the girls lost their phones and they were immediately found and contacted within minutes by the people who worked on the slopes. Our host Fraser made the whole experience thoroughly enjoyable and we had so much fun chatting about all things Powder White over dinner – I love meeting people who are passionate about the companies they run. The great thing about Powder White is that it offers a flexible holiday – every thing is tailor made to suit your needs – there are no strict deadlines for dinner or skiing or anything, you can totally unwind. Everything is taken care of. And I couldn’t forget to mention that the other bloggers on the trip were the BEST travel buddies I could have hoped for. You can follow them all here: Mollie, Laura, Zanna, Leyla, Rachel and Jess.

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The skiing

I have a love/hate relationship with skiing but it is mostly love. I got straight back into it, and after years of being totally anxious on skis, I relaxed and let my knees and legs do the work. My main worry when skiing is other people whizzing past me as I imagine them wiping me out, but we were VERY lucky on our trip, it was pretty quiet as December is right at the beginning of the season. I took my time and felt totally confident on my skis for the first time. I actually recommend going in December – it was ridiculously festive (fairy-lit Christmas trees lined the streets) and the slopes were pretty empty with amazing blue skies (although apparently it isn’t always). I learned that it’s called a “bluebird day”. I actually had a slightly sunburnt face – in DECEMBER! Had so much fun crunching through the snow in my Sorel moonboots – the comfiest things ever. Slipping my feet into these faux fur-lined boots after a day in stiff ski boots was pretty much orgasmic.

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The snow

Did you know they have a snow-making machine in Val-d’Isère ? We got taken around the inside of the snow-making factory and it was pretty fascinating – they can fill the equivalent of half a football stadium in a matter of a few HOURS. The guy who ran it had lots of screens, all set up to run automatically. He was like a Snowy James Bond. Val d’Isère is extremely popular and plus regularly hosts World Cup alpine events, so the quality of the snow is crucial to running the resort.

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The nightlife

Val-d’Isère is quite the party town. I have been a couple of times before but the last time I went “out” in Val-d’Isère I was dressed as a smurf. But this trip was, let’s just say, slightly more “grown up”. BUT, that didn’t stop us hitting up the local bars on the our last night (which made the plane journey home just delightful). We went to Le Petit Danois followed by Dick’s Tea Bar. The young’ns that work in the resort normally stay out partying til 5am and then clear the hangover away with a full day’s skiing the next day. Cray.

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A massive thank you to Powder White and Jess for organising a totally dreamy trip and the best experience I’ve ever had skiing. I used to find skiing often a little stressful, but the guys at Powder White smooth out all the fiddly bits that are often involved in planning a ski trip. Offering a variety of accommodation, food, equipment, ski passes, these guys sort it all out for you and make sure you have a flexible, enjoyable trip.

I want to do it all over again.

More on Powder White here and follow their brilliant Instagram feed here.

xox

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