Chalet des Neiges is on the top three floors of a large chalet built especially for YSE right on the slopes at la Daille, literally yards from the bottom of the OK, Orange, Diébold, Raye and Verte runs. The Funival and the La Daille bubble pass close by, while the Les Etroits chairlift goes practically overhead.
The location is so perfect that we not only signed a very long lease on these chalets, we also bought the shack next door to live in ourselves. Could we give a more sincere endorsement than that?
Being right on the pistes is great. Getting to the slopes is no longer a chore, and queueing for buses a thing of the past. To shed a layer of clothing, you just drop it off as you pass. And these aren’t just any pistes: they are World Cup Downhill pistes. Most people have their first run of the day on these runs, and some seldom leave them. They offer skiing for every standard, ultra-quick lifts back up and guaranteed snow from snow cannons top to bottom. And once the lifts close, they become lethal with tearaway toddlers on toboggans!
In the morning, you walk for a few seconds before stepping into your bindings to glide to the lift of your choice – probably the Funival, still the world’s fastest lift. At the end of the day, good skiers ski right back to the door and beginners stop where they started, thirty seconds’ walk away.
A few hundred metres up the slopes are the sunny terraces of the Folie Douce and Trifollet, where a therapeutic drink or two to music – live and loud at the Folie, more subdued at the Trif – set one up nicely for the final schuss home to a hot bath.
The only people who find the 20-minute walk from the main village less than ideal are those who spend more time in Dick’s Tea Bar than on the slopes, but the free bus runs until 2am, and the teenage sample we asked were enthusiastic: apparently, staying in La Daille gives time to chew on a mint or two on the way home, while being right on the pistes means even with a record hangover one can still be on the first lift. Parents will be reassured to hear that.
The owner of the chalets is a furniture maker, so they are as meticulously finished and furnished as his showrooms down the valley near Aime. There are acres of wood, much of it quite old.
More importantly, the chalets are very comfortable and well appointed. The bedrooms are not huge – predictably, since the real estate they occupy must be some of the most desirable in the world – but they are tastefully decorated and have underfloor heating, reasonable cupboards, safes, good lighting and gorgeous bathrooms. Even the beds are bigger and firmer than usual in France. Each bedroom has a private ski locker in the ski room, with individual boot dryers.
The sitting and dining rooms are magnificent. Tons of wood and stone, bottomless sofas, and fireplaces from the only man in the Savoie who knows how to make a chimney draw properly.
Chalet des Neiges has seven bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms. When a single party fills the chalet, it has space for fifteen guests, Room 3 having three beds. The fifteenth person pays 85% of the brochure price, but please note that a fifteenth flight seat cannot be guaranteed on all dates. If no transport is needed, the fifteenth person pays half price. See Extra/Empty Beds for further information.
The heart of the chalet is the dining room, with its long table and open-plan kitchen, where one of our top chefs and two assistants will be serving some of the best food in Val d’Isère (the proof of the pudding being the fact that des Neiges almost certainly has more regular customers than any other chalet in Val d’Isère). After eating or, Heaven forbid, drinking a little too much, it is a mercifully short stagger to the large L-shaped sitting room with its huge log fire, balconies, WiFi and dozens of satellite channels on the plasma-screen TV.