Myself, my husband and two of our good friends recently returned from a week’s skiing in Val Thorens.
We flew from Gatwick to Lyon as we managed to get a good deal on flights. The transfer from Lyon to the resort went smoothly and we were in the resort within 2 and half hours of setting off from Lyon.
We were staying at Le Hameau du Kashmir in one of their 2-bedroom 4* self-catered apartments with a view. Check-in was straightforward and we were soon exploring what would be our home for the next 7 nights. The décor of the apartment was fabulous – quite different from anything I’ve stayed in in the French Alps (or anywhere!) before. Inspired by the region of ‘Kashmir’ in North West India and fused with design elements from the local Savoie region. The view from our balcony was stunning and we benefited from the sunny hillside position. Conveniently our beds were made on arrival and we were supplied with towels (plus mid-week change), bathrobes etc.
View from Le Hameau du Kashmir Balcony
We arrived in plenty of time to go and collect our ski hire from the Sport 2000 shop a few minutes’ walk from the residence as well as do a recce on our restaurant for that evening and the meeting point for our private ski lesson the next morning. It was nice to get all sorted and unpacked and have time for a shower before heading out for dinner. We had pre-booked our restaurant for the first night as we knew we’d be tired from a day’s travelling and wouldn't want to have to make a decision on where to eat. We ate at a lovely restaurant called Au Mazot in the centre of the resort. It really was a wonderful restaurant and we all concluded at the end of the holiday that it had been our favourite. Even though it was right in the middle of a large resort, you wouldn't know it when you are inside. It’s very small (definitely worth booking) and looks like the inside of a genuine wooden mountain hut. The staff were really friendly and attentive and the food was delicious. We enjoyed a scrummy raclette which is my absolute favourite mountain dish.
Our first skiing day started with a private lesson in the morning. It was a short walk to the meeting point at the Rond Point des Pistes. This should have been event-free but our friend realised as we were leaving the ski locker room that he was missing a pole and after a hunt around, he realised he must have dropped it the day before. Luckily we had allowed plenty of time and he was able to drop by the ski hire shop en-route to sort it out and still make it to the meeting point by 9am. Our ESF instructor Calyan was lovely and the 3-hour lesson went by in a flash. It was well worth booking in a couple of private lessons on the first and second day in order to get us all back into the swing of things. On the second day, we were able to meet Calyan closer to our accommodation. Le Hameau du Kashmir is ski-in/ski-out and we found this exceptionally convenient.
View at top of 3 Vallees Gondola - overlooking Meribel & Courchevel
We were graced with great weather for the majority of the time we were away so the odd pit stop at a piste-side bar for a cold beer was obligatory. For lunches, we alternated between a packed lunch and mountain restaurants. There were a couple of cheaper options for mountain food. Our favourite was Chalet des Thorens which had various different food counters available all under one roof so we could all pick what we wanted. Of particular note is the noodle bar where you choose your noodles, meat (or vegetarian) and sauce. It was delicious and great value for money.
Lunch with a View
We certainly didn't go hungry over the course of the week. Breakfasts always consisted of bakery goods which we ordered from the residence reception each day for the following morning and delivered to our apartment. Croissants or scrambled egg baguettes were a particular favourite. Then we sometimes ordered extra in order to make cold meat baguettes for lunch. We ate out 5 of the 7 nights and had 2 meals at the apartment. The apartment was well equipped enough to have eaten in every night if we wanted to (there was even a full size oven!) but we were too tempted by the resort’s fantastic array of restaurants. We ate at a number of traditional places (for fondue, tartiflette etc) as well as La Paillote that served delicious pizzas as well as traditional dishes and a wonderful little restaurant called John’s that served the best burgers we’d had in a good while.
We near enough skied all day every day – what with there being so much to explore – so more often than not we were knackered by the time evening came. After dinner, we often shared a bottle of red wine in the apartment and played a board game. ‘Exploding Kittens’ and ‘Saboteur’ were a hit and often we forgot how tired we were once the competition heated up!
We did get the opportunity to try out a few bars while we were there. One day we did a mini apres ski bar crawl. We started at Le Monde where it was happy hour and got large beers for €4. The music was very loud and cheesy – in fact a bit too loud for us so we drank our beers outside. It was snowing and we huddled under the gazebo and sang along to the tunes. Next up was O’Connells, an Irish pub with great music and atmosphere. Then after that we headed to Saloon where there was live music on one floor and then pool tables on the basement level. 3 beers in 3 pubs was enough for us!
A trip to Val Thorens wouldn’t be complete without a trip up to the infamous La Folie Douce for us. We picked a stunning day to go and headed up on the Plein Sud chairlift. The atmosphere was amazing and somewhat surreal. It’s not the cheapest place in the resort for a beer but it was well worth it for the experience. Particular credit to the saxophonist who I think might be the coolest man I’ve ever seen! It’s an easy-ish blue down from La Folie Douce back to the resort. We left before the end so that the piste wasn’t too busy. And as a bonus, the run (called Plein Sud) leads straight to the door of Le Hameau du Kashmir.
Partying at La Folie Douce Val Thorens
The week really went by in a flash and we had such a fantastic time. We only purchased the Val Thorens (and Orelle) lift pass as there was plenty there (150km of pistes) but I would love to return to the area with a 3 Vallees lift pass and explore further.