Ah….the allure of the French Alps. I don’t ski, but the romance of the French Alps called to me…
Brides-les-Bains is at the beginning of the Les Trois Valley (The Three Valleys). One road goes through the town and winds up one side of the mountain. Another road follows another valley up the other side of the mountain. The small town sits at the base offering less expensive lodging with a free shuttle up to the ski areas. As one climbs further up the mountain one goes through a number of small resorts. Courchevel is the oldest resort, established in 1946 with a number of ‘sub-resorts’ built over the years: Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650, Courchevel 1850. It was a little confusing at first until I realized that the number indicated the altitude, so think of it as a vertical resort built at different heights. The further up the mountain you travel the more expensive things became. Needless to say, Courchevel 1850 is where you find helicopter skiing, fine dining, and designer shops. Some day, Courchevel 1850, some day!
The appeal of this area for my ski friend was that Les Trois Vallees was skiable on one lift ticket, making this area the largest ski area in the world connected solely by ski lifts and slopes. It is geared toward skiers (very few people snowboarding ) and offers challenging runs.
What appealed to me was the 18 Michelin star restaurants in the area. I was able to have two great meals and will write about them at a later date.
The other appeal for me, and what made us decide on Brides-les-Bains, was the day spa. I am going to be honest, Brides-les-Bains is not the prettiest of towns. It offers affordable weekend studio apartments for your Average Joe skier without all of the glamour found further up the mountain. There are small pubs and eateries, but nothing fancy. The town is also home to mineral waters and has a beautiful spa right on the river. There is an abundance of treatments or one can just sit back and enjoy the waters. I did a little of both.
I can not say enough for the friendly, welcoming people that I met throughout my trip to this area. The French were open, out-going, and always seemed to have a smile on their face. Everyone spoke excellent English and went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I definitely want to visit again!