From a young age (6 if we are being exact) I have been incredibly fortunate and I have been able to spend every possible winter holiday skiing. From the age of 12 my parents decided to buy an amazing second home in the Swiss Alps, meaning I now consider myself a bit of an expert on the area and a ‘British Local’. I know the best pistes, where to get the kit and most importantly where to buy the best hot chocolate.
I want to preface this by saying I know I am so incredibly lucky to be able to do this.
Where in Switzerland?
Our place is based in a small town called Les Collons which is in Thyon, a part of the skiing region called Les 4 Vallées. Les 4 Vallées includes Thyon, Veysonnaz, Nendaz, and Verbier. It’s a 2 hour drive or a 3 hour bus and train ride from Geneva Airport. So all in all, a pretty fantastic location.
So in Thyon there is one stand-out shop to hire ski kit. The Intersport in Les Collons 1850. You can pre-book all your skis so all you need to do when you arrive is pick them up. Check out there website here. They have the best service and amazing English skills, which I hate to admit it, but it is very necessary!
There are three main places where you can get lift passes from: the ALM offices in Les Masses, the bottom of the Trabanta Lift at Les Collons 1800 or the Bottom of the La Joc Lift at Les Collons 1850. Depending on where you want to go/explore, depends on the lift pass I’d recommend.
The main decision will be whether to stick to a specific area, in our case Thyon (so getting the Printse pass) or whether you want to explore further afield into Verbier or Nendaz. Both of which are very doable (depending on the weather) but require 4 Vallées Lift Pass. Click here for all the prices and information as it can change year upon year.
The Beginner Slope
First off, the best beginner slope, hands down, goes to Piccolo; it is a very small blue run (in Switzerland blue is the easiest) at Thyon 2000. It has two button lifts at the bottom and the staff are always on hand to help. There is parking available there so a perfect place for beginners to start.
I have three slopes/itineraries which I absolutely adore so in reverse order.
3. Etherolla – Thyon
The best slope for all the non-beginners has to go to the resorts longest Black Run – Etherolla which is 2415m high. It’s a fun black with lots of space (when quiet) to practice some big carving turns as well as plenty of places to ski through trees. Beware, off piste can be quite high avalanche risk especially after high snowfall so either go with a guide or if in doubt don’t ski off piste!
2. Piste De L’Ours – Veysonnaz
Is home to one of the all time great pistes, well one of my all time great pistes. It is a long, steep and wide red called Piste De L’Ours (piste of the bears). When you ski it you understand why the Swiss ski team, and sometimes other countries, use it as their practice piste. It just fantastic!
1. Mont Fort – Sivez/Verbier
The view from the top of this itinerary is the best in the 4 Valleys. It takes your breath away every time you see it. Combine this with some of the most fun ski conditions both on the itinerary itself or the surrounding off piste areas and you simply can’t beat this run. It just has the WOW factor. Also at the height of 3300m its the highest place you can get to in the area without a helicopter. If you fancy the views and not the skiing then just get the lift up and down you won’t be disappointed.
Again I couldn’t choose just one so we have three.
1. Alpage – Best Traditional Food. Based in Thyon and with arguably the best view out of the three restaurants, you can’t go wrong. Food ranges from lobster pasta to fondue and bone marrow to sandwiches; there is food for everyone.
2. Les Chottes – Best Hot Chocolate. Based in between Thyon and Sivez in a very secluded area of the mountain, it is sometimes closed off due to loads of snow. However, it has an amazing atmosphere with a log burning fire in the centre of the restaurant and, if you are lucky, the hot tub will be open outside! But ultimately there is something about their hot chocolate which out performs everyone else’s. I think they just get the ratios perfect …
3. OffShore – Best Pancakes and Burgers. Based in Verbier with milkshakes, burgers, pancakes on the menu and surf boards on the wall. For a second, as you walk in, you feel you are in Hawaii and not the Swiss Alps. However the abundance of kit and ‘clomp clomp’ of ski boots soon brings you back to reality.
Skiing and the mountains are my happy place, so any excuse to come here I take. I hope you all enjoyed reading about the best bits of the resort and maybe see you on the pistes!