011 the way tip the mountain you drive through l.e l’raz (which is pretty but often below the snowlinc) and Courchevel 1650 (favoured by the British ski instructors for its cheap accommodation but with no direct lift access to the main resort) before reaching 1850. You bypass the village of 1550 altogether. which is why it retnains one of (‘ourchevel‘s hidden gems. From this location. you have access to a breathtaking range of snowlmarding or skiiing options. The Trois Vallees. in which (‘ourchevel is located. boasts 370 miles of pistes. and 200 lifts. which connect the multiple resorts within the valleys. Although much of it remains the domain of skiers. it’s nonetheless possible to acquaint yourself with the likes of Saulire and Les .\lcnuires. Méribel and Val 'l'borens without too mttch trouble. Most importantly for snowlmard novices. there’s a bubble lift from 1550 that starts running before 9am and doesn‘t close until 7pm. So you can easily get to the early morning snowboard lessons in 1850 and after a hard day on the piste have time to shower. change and get the bubble back up for a spot of window shopping. .'\s the two villages are only separated by a short. easy run the more adventurous. or inebriated. can even enjoy apres ski life in 1850 before carcering down to 1550 by board. The more foolhardy seasonal workers have even been known to go clttbbing and return via bin liner in the early hours of the morning btit that is probably not to be recommended.
There is in fact little need to seek out apres ski life elsewhere. 1550 has two fabulous. and more importantly. refreshingly cheap bars. Bar ()uf offers excellent inusic and an imaginative range of paninis. a perfect alternative to the ubiquitous plates of chips which are sold at extortionate prices in 1850 and beyond. The other bar. l.a'1‘avernc. is adored by regular visitors to 1550. lixternally it looks either charming or
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down at heel depending on your opinion. Personally I love the rickety external staircase and the ancient- looking wood-burning stove — and the people drinking here seem much more. well. human than some of the (iucci-clad perina-tan clients of the most expensive establishments up the hill. 1 could probably do without the dreadful Deacon Blue video dating from circa 1986 but find it strangely flattering that a bar in a remote village in France loves a Scottish band sufficiently to play them enthusiastically 16 years on. The huge advantage of La Taverne is that as the season progresses. the weather gets warmer and the sun gets higher in the sky. there are several tables outside which offer really great views and an opportunity for sunbathing which isn't possible in 1850 unless you have a platinum card handy.
As far as accommodation goes. 1-‘inlays. a Scottish based company. has six chalets in 1550. which are much cheaper than further up the mountain. With food. wine and transfer included chalet holidays mean there are no hidden extras and an extremely sociable atmosphere. There are even better bargains to be bad if you leave a chalet booking until the last minute but if you haven't got the nerve 1 would recommend the (‘lub Hotel which has studios for approximately £60 per person. 1 love driving out to (‘ourchevel but I admit it's a very long haul from Scotland and now that budget flights are available it is probably better to fly and hire a car or blag a space on one of the transfer coaches heading to Courchevel.
The main cost is always going to be the lift pass but if
you are saving hundreds in terms of accommodation. flights and refreshment in 1550 who is going to begrudge the £110 it costs to have access to a wonderful weeks snowlmarding in one of the best ski areas in the world'.’
Somehow. in this context. even Deacon Blue feels like a vital part of the experience.
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I Getting there Duo (www.duo.com) flies from Edinburgh to Geneva. Also check out www.ﬂightline.co.uk for charter ﬂights to Chambery, Lyon or Geneva Accommodation — Club Hotel 1550 www.maeva.fr or www.ﬂnlayski.com for chalet holidays. Only the truly hardcore will consider driving from Scotland. but unreconstructed petrolheads should check out the Rosyth- Zeebrugge ferry: www.rosythferry.co.uk. From Zeebrugge. it’s a simple ten- hour, 1000-kilometre romp through Belgium and the champagne region of France.
I Restaurants in 1550 La Cortona offers a great atmosphere and good value pizzas cooked in an open oven. Le Caveau provides traditional savoyarde fare of fondues and raciette. The best new restaurant in 1850 is La Via Ferrata. which offers good Italian food at comparatively good prices. If you want to blow a hole in your credit card the size of Antartica, head for Le Chabichou. a white wooden chalet near the heart of 1850, which has two Michelin stars and chef Michel Rochedy to entice you. And if that’s not enough to break the bank, spend the next night at 1850’s other Michelin two star restaurant. the dramatically- Iocated Bateau lvre.
I Clubs None wonh speaking of in 1550 but befriend one of the local bar owners and you might get a hair-raising drive up the mountain to visit the glitzy French favourite Les Caves or traditional Brit favourite Le Kalico. Bin bag for the return journey is optional.
I Snowboarding British instructors, Rob. Tom and Mark of RTM (www.rtmsnowboarding.com) have lived in Courchevel for years and specialise in ‘snowboard instruction from beginner to show off'. If you fancy one-to-one instruction. the British Alpine Ski and Snowboard School offers all- day classes. but they're pricey. www.britishskischool.com