If you’re really missing skiing, how about this: skijoring (or, as the Norwegians call it, skikjøring)? The Ferme de l’Adroit offers it.
Val d’Isère News & Updates
As you may have heard, no ski lifts, restaurants or bars can open in French Ski Resorts until after the Christmas/New Year holiday period. Sadly YSE has had to cancel all confirmed December bookings, and we are making full refunds under our Coronavirus Guarantee.
We don’t know if the whole resort will open early in January or mid-January (when restaurants in France may open) but we will be ready whenever this is. We have staff waiting to go to Val d’Isère and our chalets are spruced up for your arrival.
There has been quite a bit of media coverage regarding chalet companies who are no longer operating, or who have decided to give this winter a miss, but we are looking forward to welcoming guests to YSE chalets very soon.
Following our news post of August 2018 announcing the arrival of a Lammergeyer chick, the pair of adult Lammergeyer who nest every year in the cliffs above La Daille have produced another one this year, their eleventh since they first succeeded in 2002. The via ferrata on that side of the gorges is closed, and paragliders are asked not to fly in the area. The photograph above isn’t the chick: it’s one of the parents. The egg was laid in mid-January and hatched in mid-March, and he/she is just trying a few timid first flights now!
Nutritional therapist Toto enjoyed a fabulous ski holiday with YSE and wrote about it on her blog, Totoly Nourished:
Wow, wow, WOW! What a beautiful week in Val d’Isère with YSE and the West family. Incredible weather and skiing, a gorgeous chalet of guests and the most delicious food. I’m feeling so energised, relaxed and full of life!
When friends/family asked me what I would be eating on a week’s skiing holiday, I have to admit I wasn’t sure! YSE were very accommodating and I paid a small supplement of £25 to cater for my dietary requirements. A few years ago I would have felt uncomfortable about being singled out or treated differently but after nearly 27 years of managing my condition, I’ve realised that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to feel your best at all times, particularly on holiday! These companies are there to make your holiday more enjoyable and YSE couldn’t have been more welcoming of my quirkiness!
Amelia (Mimi) Cheer was the most amazing chef and produced a stunning, three course meal each evening, which was gluten free and plant based. I asked Mimi if she would be happy for me to feature her ‘Toto friendly’ creations on here and I’m delighted to say that she said YES! More from Mimi shortly.
At the start of the week, Mimi and I had a good chat about more specific requests, for example breakfast options and canapé ideas. Each morning before a day on the slopes, I opted for two slices of gluten free toast with either smashed avocado or a selection of jams, usually with some fruit on the side. I wanted something which was easy to digest and more carbohydrate based to fuel the six hours of skiing that would follow. I brought protein bars with me and I enjoyed one with our mid-morning coffee up the mountain. Lunches were typically up the mountain and the most challenging. Luckily my French is fairly respectable (don’t worry if yours isn’t – they all speak English in ski resorts!) and I quickly worked out that simple was better when ordering in restaurants. I usually opted for a large salad, a soup or if nothing else was available, a big plate of chips! I found an amazing café in the centre of Val d’Isère – Arctic Juice & Café is the world’s first ‘mountain energy café’ and I was in complete heaven. Their superfood salad and green endurance juice left me feeling on top of the world!
After a boogie and a gin and tonic (or two…OK maybe three!) at après-ski, afternoon tea would be waiting for us at the chalet on our return. Mimi made me a beautiful ginger cake topped with fruit, as well as some delicious shortbread. Indulgent, yes but much needed after all that dancing!
So, the bit you’ve probably been waiting for. Here is one of the menus Mimi created and the recipes so that you can recreate them at home!
Starter: Moroccan spiced falafel with harissa chutney
- 2 red onions, sliced lengthways
- 2 tbsp of brown sugar
- 4 tsp harissa paste
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 cups of cooked chickpeas (keep the chickpea can water for the dessert recipe below!)
- 2 cups of frozen peas
- 8 shallots, finely diced
- 1 handful of fresh coriander, chopped
- 4 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to season
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Finely sliced orange and cooked beetroot to serve
- To make the chutney, in a saucepan fry off the red onion in a little oil until soft. Add the sugar and a little water and leave to simmer until the mixtures starts to become sticky. Add the harissa paste and continue to simmer until the mixture is lovely and soft and sticky. Add the vinegar, season to taste. and allow the chutney to cool before serving.
- For the falafel, in a large frying pan sweat off the shallots in a little oil for 5-10 mins until soft.
- In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, defrosted peas, cooked shallots, fresh coriander and spices. Pulse until roughly mixed – you want it to be still chunky and textured.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Shape into 8 evenly sized patties.
- In a frying pan on a medium heat, heat enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry the falafel on each side until golden brown.
- Serve the falafel with the harissa chutney, sliced, cooked beetroot and orange slices.
Main: Quinoa stuffed courgettes on a bed of puy lentils, with a pea purée, roasted potatoes and tomatoes
- 4 courgettes, sliced in half lengthways
- 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
- 2 cups of water
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 packet of cooked puy lentils (I use Merchant Gourmet)
- 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
- 2 tsp of smoked paprika
- 2 medium sized potatoes, washed and chopped into bite sized chunks
- 20 cherry tomatoes on the vine
- 2 cups of frozen peas
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/2 an avocado
- 1 clove of crushed garlic
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt and pepper to season
- Heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Half the courgettes lengthways and scoop out the seeds creating a shallow boat shape. In a bowl, toss the potatoes in a little oil, salt and pepper. Place the courgettes and potatoes on a lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.
- Whilst the courgettes are cooking, add the quinoa and 2 cups of water to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat right down, cover with a lid and simmer until all of the water has been absorbed. Add the juice of 1 lemon and stir through with a fork.
- Remove the courgettes and potatoes from the oven. Fill the courgette boats with the quinoa, add the vine tomatoes to the tray, sprinkled with salt, and return everything to the oven for a further 20 minutes until it is all completely cooked.
- For the lentils, sweat off the red onion in a little oil until softened. Add the chopped tomato, followed by the lentils. Add the smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mixture is nice and hot.
- For the pea purée, simply combine the defrosted peas, avocado, lemon juice, water and garlic in a food processor. Blend until almost smooth and season to taste.
Dessert: Vegan meringue with a berry coulis
(Makes 10-12 meringues)
- 1x 400g can’s worth of chickpea water (aquafaba!)
- 100g of golden caster sugar
- 3 cups of mixed berries (or whichever berry you prefer)
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup of water
- Sliced, fresh fruit to serve
- Preheat the oven to 110 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Using an electric whisk, beat the chickpea water until it forms soft peaks. Add the sugar a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes thick and glossy (this can take up to 10 minutes).
- Spoon or pipe the meringue mixture on to the baking tray in 8cm blobs. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes (I like to layer the meringue mixture during the cooking process to give it more height). Leave to cool completely.
- To make the coulis, simply combine the berries, orange zest, water, sugar and orange juice in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil and heat for 8-10 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat, purée with a blender and strain the mixture into a jar to remove the seeds. Allow to cool completely before serving.
- Serve the meringue with finely sliced, fresh fruit and a drizzle of coulis.
An enormous thank you to Mimi for sharing her talents on Totoly Nourished and for making my skiing holiday stress-free and beautifully satisfying. I also have to mention Miranda and Anna, our dream team chalet hosts for the week, who were always smiling, helpful and huge fun to be around.
If you are interested in hiring Mimi, an Orchards Cookery School trained chef, for private jobs, please contact Mimi directly at email@example.com
Top tips for a happy and healthy holiday:
- Don’t be afraid to ask – Travel companies and hotels are there to make your holiday as enjoyable as possible. Whether it’s dietary requirements, restaurant recommendations or simply asking for bigger/smaller portions, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
- Pack a snack – My protein bar was the perfect mid-morning boost and kept me going until lunch. It’s always nice to have something to enjoy whilst your ski buddies tuck into a Twix and a chocolat chaud up the mountain.
- Preparation is key – Similar to the above, if there are any ‘must haves’ which you can’t live without for the duration of your holiday, bring them with you! The supermarkets are fairly limited in ski resorts so make sure you pack your beloved granola, chia seeds or gluten free oats in your suitcase if you want them to hand during your stay.
- Hydrate – It sounds simple, but taking a water bottle with you in a rucksack is not only better for the environment (I dread to think how much plastic is consumed in ski resorts) but you can easily forget how much energy and hydration you need to fuel and recover from a big ski day. Keep it close to you during Après too; there’s nothing worse than a sore head before dinner!
- Stretch it out – Skiing can be hard on the body, particularly your knees, glutes and quadriceps. It is so important to stretch before and after you ski, particularly if you haven’t used those muscles in a while. I managed to squeeze my yoga mat into my suitcase and set my alarm a little earlier to do a quick flow before breakfast, with a quick roll around on the living room floor before tea. I also had a long soak in a hot bath every evening, which was an absolute saviour!
- Give yourself a break – A holiday is supposed to be enjoyable. For me, this has meant a lot of dancing, singing and the most gin (and Génépy…) I’ve had to drink, possibly ever! I don’t advocate alcohol in my nutrition clinic but what I do encourage is having fun. I never went overboard this week but I have definitely eaten less vegetables, more sugar and a lot more booze than I normally would do but do you know what, I feel surprisingly fantastic for it! A week isn’t going to make all of the wheels come off – enjoy yourself and remember that moderation is key!
Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.
Love and light,
Read the blog here:
As voted by the readers of Condé Nast Traveller this week. It’s been our guests’ favourite for years!
The annual transhumance has happened later than usual this year, because the snow took longer to melt. The 80 cows of one of Val d’Isère’s two dairy farms came up last week to the high pastures, where they’re being milked twice a day in mobile milking parlours. Because of their diet of wild flowers, the milk is considered to make wonderful cheese.
Here, lifted from the excellent radiovaldisere.com, is an understandably blurred image of the new baby lammergeyer – or bearded vulture – stretching its nine-foot wingspan high in the blue sky above Val d’Isère. It was spotted last week for the first time and caused huge excitement in the village because lammergeyers don’t often breed successfully. No-one then saw it for a week, but it’s been seen again today, learning its trade from its parents in the Grande Sassière valley, the next valley north of Val d’Isère.
We were very pleased to welcome The Times travel editor, Jane Knight, to YSE Chalet des Neiges last winter. She skied with John and Fiona who showed her their favourite routes around the ski area. Best of all, she came away realising that Val d’Isère is not just a mecca for good skiers, but is absolutely suitable for beginners and low-intermediates!
From chalet girl to chalet guest, avid skier Laura Pullman returns to Val d’Isere ten years on and finds there’s more to the resort than just good food and flirting.
Read the full article.
The French came late to ecology. Until recently they recognised just two species in nature, the çasemange and the çasemangepas (the youcaneatit and the youcanteatit). But they have now realised how much nature they have, and are looking after it with admirable dedication.
In the 1960s, Val d’Isère gave half its land to the nascent Parc de la Vanoise, on condition that it could replace ski lifts already on that land when the time came. But the law changed, and when the STVI wanted to build the new Cascade Express chairlift, it was only allowed on condition the Parc got a few thousand more acres.
More than 60% of Val d’Isère’s land is now given over to national parks and reserves. The ibex are back. The lammergeyer is back. The golden eagle is being more protected than ever (mostly against the lammergeyer!). The Olympic downhill was moved to protect a clump of granny’s nightcap, the World Championship slalom was moved to protect some melancholy thistles, and a snow cannon reservoir on Bellevarde has been held up for the past year because it was disturbing alpine campion – all flowers that grow like weeds around Val d’Isère, but are rare nationally. Work has finally been allowed to continue, on condition that Val d’Isère set up several other reserves for rare species.
Volunteers scoured the slopes of Solaise for rubbish this summer (they did Bellevarde last year) and picked up half a ton of litter, including ten thousand cigarette ends. The Tourist Office is trialling customised pocket poubelles, so that skiers can store their day’s detritus until they find a proper bin back at village level.
A study into Val d’Isère’s carbon footprint, designed to help the resort cut back its production of greenhouse gases, determined that most of the CO2 emissions are caused by skiers’ journeys to the resort, and that the best solution was to tell them not to come. So that one got the kibosh! Electric buses have been tried: they don’t like the cold. Trams have been considered: the rails would ice up. But 100 tons of salt per winter are no longer going into the Isère now that the village keeps its roads white. The energy consumption of all public buildings is being monitored and limited. And the days of the 4×4 driving zone on the back of Bellevarde seem to be numbered, while more tracks are being opened up to mountain bikes.
Rubbish is sorted into three categories before going in the moloks, the sunken dustbins. Most of it gets burnt in a modern, clean incinerator just below the dam. But a lot goes further down valley for more sorting and recycling. Cynics may wonder how much fossil fuel it takes to cart a load of glass down to Albertville in order to save a bit of sand, but at least the plan to heat the new sports-aquatic centre (swimming pool) with a log-burning boiler in order to save oil and, er, protect the forests was put on hold!
All in all, Val d’Isère is making vast efforts to protect its bit of heaven and preserve it for a few more generations.