All Systems Go in the French Alpine Resorts


In sharp contrast to last year’s slow start that saw prime events cancelled in December, this season has got off to a blistering start in the resorts of Courchevel and Val d’Isère

In the just-opened resort of Val d’Isère, the big news is that the green light has been given for one of the first major events of the season – the Men’s events for the 60th CRITÉRIUM DE LA PREMIÈRE NEIGE, which is taking place from the 11th to the 13th of December.

The Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) gave Val d’Isère the green light to go ahead with the running of the men’s events, much to the relief of the organisers, who saw last year’s big event cancelled due to lack of early snow.

Cold weather and snowfalls in recent weeks has allowed teams of pisteurs to prepare the Face de Bellevarde racecourse for this testing event of the Alpine Skiing World Cup. the scene is set for a great celebration of Alpine skiing.

Jean-Baptiste Grange on Bellevarde last Thursday morning

Jean-Baptiste Grange on Bellevarde last Thursday morning

Vincent Jay, the director of Val’s Club des Sports said: “We’re really happy about this good news. Since the start of November, everyone here has worked absolutely flat out to prepare the pistes.”

On Thursday, Jean–Baptiste Grange (pictured left courtesy of Yves Perret) and Julien Lizeroux inspected the quality of the snow on Bellevarde and were able to give their go-ahead.

“We’re going to have a great Critérium de la Première Neige and create a great spectacle not only on racecourse, but away from the slopes as well. For all of us, it’s a relief.”

The decision for the women’s events scheduled for December 16th to 19th will be made later. Meanwhile, check out the video below to get a flavour of what it’s all about:

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Over in Courchevel, there has been an equally good start for the winter season: With 30 cm of fresh snow in the resort and 1 metre (yes, really!) at the top of La Saulire, the season started well with a exceptional opening the 25th of November.

The season opens officially today and there are lots of new aspects of the super resort to enjoy, such as :

tarentaise beerA new beer!
Inspired by the resort and muse statue designed by artist David Cintract, a brand new blonde has been born and will hit the slopes in Courchevel this winter. the bubbly “Mademoiselle Courchevel” is described as smooth, elegant and cheeky. It’s brewed locally in the Tarentaise by the Alpine de Moûtiers brewery. The beer is allowed to age for an exceptionally long 4 months in a barrel to produce a Grand Cru that should go down well during après or intra-ski periods. It’s a pale ale measuring a very generous 5.5% on the alcohol scale, produced using fresh water from the 3 Vallées peaks and premium British and Czech hops. There’s an exclusivity about it too, with only 900 litres being produced, so it’s likely to run out long before the last snows have melted.

More Art
illuminationsCourchevel has always been avant-garde when it comes to artistic expression. As part of the International Year of Light, the resort is setting the benchmark with a mapping on Place du Rocher. The company VENDREDI 4 will illuminate the square to bring to life the bell tower and rock every half hour between 6pm and 10pm for ten days (December 20th – 30th). Illuminated murals and videos will be projected to highlight the bell tower and rock’s features and edges and showcase the square in all its glory. The 7 minute light show performs to a soft electro beat and whisks the audience to a fairy tale world.

Watch out, too, for the open-air art gallery that is present every year, with various pieces of art scattered around the resort.

New Food
Amongst the new arrivals at the resort this year, will be Angela Harnett in Cuccina Angelina. She’s a protégée of over-the-top-rude celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and her new Italian-style restaurant is located in the 4-star Le Portetta Hotel. The chef comes from the Michelin-starred Murano Restaurant in London and she promises “refined Italian cuisine with a dash of Savoie flair.”

Another piece of Italy is also due to open in the heart of the resort too, with La Casa Italia, which will offer Italian favourites from all the regions from €13 to €40.

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