Les Chardons is a sweet little family hotel in one of the best positions in Val d’Isère, that we run as a YSE chalet. It is probably the best-loved and fastest re-booked chalet in the whole of Val d’Isère.
Why? Well it’s not the fabric of the building. This is a former 0-star hotel, and is on the basic side. The rooms range from simple to comfortable, and when we come out from the UK we are always delighted to stay in them, but they are not plush. If luxury bathroom fittings or distressed timber wardrobes are important to you, you’d probably be better looking at some of our really smart chalets!
So what is the appeal of Les Chardons? First, it is in just about the best position in Val d’Isère, ten seconds’ walk from the church, at the very heart of Val d’Isère’s quaint and quiet old village, and mere metres from the snow square, nursery slopes, drag lifts, ski schools, bus stops and all the shops. Guests here spend more time skiing, eating and drinking and less time travelling around than anyone else in Val d’Isère.
Secondly, its food is famous. Our top chef Murray leads a team in the professional kitchen, aiming not just to match the food in our smaller chalets, but to surpass it. Eating well may not be your main motivation for coming to Val d’Isère, but breakfast cooked to order before your eyes and fresh cake when you get home are very pleasant. And it’s good to know that dinner in the charming dining room will provide the perfect ending to a day when all has gone well on the slopes or the antidote to the day when you kept falling over.
Thirdly, Les Chardons seems to generate an atmosphere of benevolent bonhomie. Don’t worry: we’re not going to rope you into pop quizzes or funny hats nights. The ambience depends entirely on you. We have a large French family, based all over the world, who meet up every year here for Christmas, and sip their wine and play games and refuse to try plum pudding. We have crowds of doctors on conferences discussing cirrhosis while trying to develop it, and families during school holidays amazed to hear their young actually complete a sentence. We have large groups of friends on long dining tables, and honeymoon couples at their own table. We even have couples who come regularly and have their own little table in the sitting room where they can eat in peace and quiet. The smiley young staff are carefully supervised by Murray’s Teutonically competent wife Christina.
Fourthly (is that a word?), Les Chardons has eleven single rooms for people who don’t want to share, and for which we do not charge a supplement. You may need to read that again! As well as having space for 32 guests in pairs or couples, Les Chardons has eleven rooms for people travelling alone, who are normally faced with the choice of sharing with a stranger or paying to keep the other bed empty. The singles actually comprise six twin and five double rooms, but we treat them as singles because they don’t have the same facilities as the other rooms. Five have showers and basins, five have bidets and basins and one has just a basin. There are three communal showers and three wcs on the landings. The question is whether you’d rather have a loo and share your bedroom, or have your own room but share a loo! (Seldom with more than three other guests.) Better still, during school holidays or when a single group books the whole chalet, a second person (must be a child during school holidays) can stay in these single rooms half-price. We can’t promise this extra person a flight, but with a saving of up to £700 someone in the party probably won’t mind booking a seat on easyJet or Jet2!
The twin and double bedrooms aren’t huge, but they’re comfortable, with modern bathrooms, good lighting and handmade curtains. Some have balconies, and all the rooms’ views range from good to fabulous. If views don’t do it for you, eight bedrooms (2, 3, 4, 5, 14, 15, 16 and 17) also have little flat-screen TVs with British Freeview.
Ten rooms have en-suite showers and loos (actually, some of them are baths, but those short ‘sit-in’ baths, so most people treat them as showers).
Six more bedrooms are in sweet, almost fully en-suite pairs, each room having its own shower-room and basin, but with one loo for both rooms on the landing between them. To some people it is very important to have their wc in their bathroom. Others however, particularly of the long-suffering wife variety, are quite glad not to! Anyway, for having to share a loo we give the four guests in each of these ‘suites’ quite a generous discount.
If you wonder why you’ve never noticed Les Chardons, it is next to the Hôtel Les Cinq Frères (which you’ve probably never noticed either) on that little lane leading from the Tourist Office roundabout to the church. The proper name of this little alley is the Rue Nicolas Bazile, though the locals tend to call it the Montée de l’Église. Very few people and even fewer vehicles use this road, and it really is astonishingly silent. Even the church clock doesn’t chime at night.
We do not run a bar, but guests keep their own drinks in a fridge in the sitting room, and we can buy drinks in for you if you tell us in advance what you’d like. It’s all at supermarket prices and there is no cheaper or more convenient way in the Alps to imbibe.
And there’s a snug, a second sitting area with HD Sky+ and BT for those of you who don’t want to miss the Test Match/News/America’s Next Top Model or whatever.
There’s a ski/snowboard locker and a room containing nothing but boot-warmers and glove-warmers. If you are accustomed to the pleasure of slipping your feet into warm, dry boots, wait until you put on warm, dry gloves!
Chalet Les Chardons is unique in Val d’Isère: a large chalet for keen skiers who are also keen foodies, and it sells out very quickly.
We think the following, received from one of our guests last season, describes Les Chardons perfectly:
We have just enjoyed a fantastic week in Les Chardons. This is truly a skiers’ set up, with a great family atmosphere created by Murray and Christina with baby Leon and dog Sky, who make it feel like a real home from home. The team spirit is great and we enjoyed getting to know all our staff who looked after us brilliantly and always responded to our endless questions and requests with a smile! We enjoyed the guest appearance from JYS and trading stories of Val d’Isère in the 1980s!, as well as getting to know other guests.
The food was an unexpected surprise – this was not run of the mill skiers grub, but creative and delicious home cooking at its best with highlights too many to mention but including the homemade hummus, roast duck and tasting menu of puddings.
All this within a few minutes of the main lift and staggering distance from the nightlife – yet with blissfully peaceful bedrooms. What more could real skiers want?!