We were so incredibly lucky to go to Verbier, Switzerland over the holidays for a ski trip. With everything so chaotic in the world at the moment, we weren’t really sure if a Christmas holiday would be possible. Even thinking about planning a trip brought on stress. But, as we started looking more into Switzerland as a potential holiday destination, things fell into place. Switzerland came to mind because we could drive, spend 12 days there and still get back with enough time to quarantine before Z had to be back at work (in Germany you have to quarantine for at least 5 days, and on the fifth day you can take a test and if it is negative, be released from quarantine. You can take either a PCR test, which is 24 hours or less for results, or a rapid antigen test, which is 20 minutes). We have a family friend who works in real estate over here, and she knew someone who was renting out their newly renovated chalet in Verbier. Because there aren’t really any international travellers coming into Europe right now, the chalet was available and we booked it for the holidays. Suddenly we had everything planned and booked with just two weeks to spare!
Verbier is a quintessential Swiss ski town. The road into Verbier is a windy mountain road that takes you higher and higher until you suddenly realize your surroundings are covered in a blanket of snow, and wooden chalets pepper the valley and gently sloping mountainside. Located in the south-western part of Switzerland, Verbier is considered the best ski resort in Switzerland and famous for their large off-piste areas. Its location means you’re pretty much guaranteed good snow conditions, and the sheer size of it means you will never bore. Located in the French-speaking part of the country, the French influence is keenly felt in Verbier and nowhere more so than the food. Oh, the food. Next to the skiing, it was my favourite part.
WHAT TO DO IN VERBIER
Well yes, obviously! This is the only reason we went to Verbier, and the skiing is truly incredible. Verbier’s location geographically means it’s prone to frequent snow storms, and we had multiple days in a row of fresh powder. There is endless fun to be had on both the designated runs and also the off-piste terrain which Verbier is famous for. I used to think off-piste in the Alps was only for advanced risk takers (which we are not!) but we had a ski guide explain to us that there are off-piste areas which are safe and accessible for all levels, and she pointed those areas out to us. We had endless fun on fresh powder days skiing off-piste, it was amazing!
I would recommend getting the 4Valles ski pass, which gives you access to all areas. That way also you don’t have to worry if you ski into another zone and can’t get on the chair lift because your pass isn’t valid. Another thing of note is that in the village, busses are free! This made it so easy for us to end the day skiing wherever we wanted, because we could just hop on the free bus to get back home.
We also took lessons for two mornings with European Snowsport. We both wanted to brush up on our technique, and we had 12 days there so thought why not! I definitely recommend European Snowsport if you want lessons or a guide to show you around the resort or off-piste areas.
Where to stay
We had such a great time at our chalet, I would highly recommend renting a chalet while you’re there. Having our own kitchen where we could make coffee and breakfast in the mornings and cook dinners in the evenings was wonderful. As much as we enjoyed eating out, Verbier is extremely expensive (as is everywhere in Switzerland) so having a place where you can prepare your own food, especially if you’re staying for more than a few days, I think is essential. Our chalet had a large terrace with the most beautiful view of the mountains. It was magical watching the sunrise and sunset each day from there. We also had a fireplace which we used daily. One of my favourite memories of our trip was waking up each morning and starting a fire. I would sit in the morning stillness, cozy in the flickering light, hearing the crackle of the fire and watch the beautiful sunrise paint the sky pink. Winding down each day next to the fire with a glass of wine after a full day of skiing wasn’t bad either.
Chalets come in all different sizes so you can find one that fits your needs. Ours was actually an apartment on the second floor of a chalet, and it was perfect for us.
Another option would be the W Hotel. This is a ski in/ski out hotel, located in the village right next to the main gondola. We never went inside, but I have only heard great things about this place and it would be my next suggestion for shorter weekend stays or if renting a chalet isn’t an option. They also apparently having a great spa.
Where to Eat
Cabane Mont-Fort: This was my very favourite restaurant on the mountain. Only accessible by skiing, I spotted this restaurant mid-way down a run and decided to pull over to check it out. A little stone hut with a beautiful terrace, this restaurant has a very rustic setting and one of the best views. It was a sunny day so we decided to sit outside and have some vin chaud, since it was still a little early for lunch. Then, we spotted the cheese fondue on the menu and couldn’t resists. I can’t recommend this enough – what an experience to have hot cheese fondue, outside in the sunshine, at the top of a mountain surrounded by the Alps. It was a bucket list dream I didn’t know I had, but you should definitely add it to yours. It was an experience I will never forget.
Le Dahu: Another mountain restaurant, Le Dahu was recommended to us by our ski instructor who spoke very highly of their pizza and told us the owner is a true Italian, so of course we had to check it out. We went back 3 times! And every single time had pizza. It was that good.
La Vache: Housed in an old ski station, La Vache is another mountain restaurant that we enjoyed. While the outside is pretty industrial looking (but they do have a large terrance that is bathed in sunlight on a clear day), the inside is lovely and characteristically swiss with fur throws and seat coverings. Eat from the regional part of the menu and you won’t be disappointed!
Le Caveau: If you want to have traditional raclette (why would you not?) go to Le Caveau. We came here for our Christmas Eve dinner and it was a memorable, special and delicious meal. I might even say it has swayed me on the debate over raclette vs. fondue….
L’Ecurie: Amazing French food in a small, cozy setting. If you see snails on menu, don’t hesitate to order the largest portion. We ordered 6 our first time and they were the best snails we’ve ever had, we went back a second time and ordered the whole 12.
Le Farinet: We went to the Le Farinet Lounge Bar three times while in Verbier. They make amazing cocktails, serve great sushi platters and have a very chic and cozy après-ski lounge.
La Grange: Excellent traditional French food. We came here for Christmas Day lunch and indulged ourselves in champagne and foie gras.
Le Rouge: Another great spot for an après-ski, but get there before the sun sets to enjoy their sunny terrace.
Le Fer à Cheval: To us this was a quintessential ski town bar / restaurant, that served elevated bar food and would make any cocktail you requested (like a mezcal old fashioned). It’s laid back, rustic and a lot of fun.
Make sure to book any restaurants in advance, as they fill up quickly. We were lucky with just the two of us, and during a particularly slow season, to get away with it most of the time, but we did have to wait 40 minutes one day for a seat at lunch at Dahu (yes, even the mountain restaurants need a reservation).
I didn’t have a chance to check out many of the spas because of the covid restrictions, but I did manage to book a massage at the Experimental Spa and can highly recommend them.
There are lots of places to rent skis, buy skis and shop in Verbier, as with any major ski resort. When we picked up our ski passses from the main Medran lift, we just rented skis from the nearest rental place. It’s not something you need to book ahead, you can just walk in.
The busses in the village are free, so you can hop on and hop off wherever you like, but they do stop running at 7pm. Our chalet was only a 20 minute walk from the village so this didn’t hinder us, and there are taxi services available although I’m not sure how many taxis there are or how long the wait time would be. Just something to keep in mind.
I loved our time in Verbier, not just for the world class skiing but for the respite from lockdown that it gave us, and I am so deeply grateful we were able to go (while of course making sure to follow all the rules in place on both sides to keep people safe – we double checked with both German and Swiss authorities before we left and again before we returned to make sure we were up to date on all the information/rules). Skiing is hands down my favourite sport in the world. It makes me so happy and is the closest thing you can get to feeling like you’re flying. All of this, combined with the fresh mountain air and endorphins from skiing everyday for 12 days, was really rejuvenating and something that I really needed. Travelling right now can be stressful, but this trip was so worth all of that.
If you have any additional questions about Verbier, let me know in the comments below or message me directly on Instagram and I’ll get back to you.