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|Resort: Brides Les Bains
Domain: 3 Valleys
Date: 22 to 29 January 2005
Our holiday: We like to ski often so tend to choose cheaper, valley towns as a base to ski the more expensive resorts. This was our first time in Brides although we've skied the 3 valleys before. This time out it was just us two, tucked up in a cosy apartment...our first time self-catering too.
Website : www.brides-les-bains.com
Basics : Brides is just a few kms up the valley from Moutiers, very easy access by road. We flew EasyJet to Geneva and then drove a hire car down to resort, a very quick and easy journey.
Lift system : I don't really need to expand on the 3 valleys lift system....suffice it to say its huge! There is a bubble lift from Brides to Meribel but it takes about 30mins and is a bit of a trek away from the main lifts when you get there. It also closed at 17:00 which is a bit of a push for getting home if, like us, you're keen to get in every possible run in a day! Much better to drive up to Meribel...quicker, warmer and much more convenient! We used the covered parking right by the main lifts, only 2 euros a day, there's also plenty of free parking if you don't mind a bit of a walk. We only used the bubble lift on the day of heavy snow, better than fighting up the roads, but I wouldn't recommend it for everyday use to access the main resorts.
The terrain : Its the 3 valleys....need I say more? Everything for everyone and then some!
The snow : Heavy snow on the first day....deep deep deep! Cold and crisp and bright for the rest of the holiday. The avalanche risk was very high (a couple of people died while we were there!) so no off piste, on piste was excellent but becoming hard packed by the end of the holiday.
Off-piste : I'm sure it's amazing but it was off limits while we were there!
The resort : Brides is a quiet town, it has half a dozen restaurants and a couple of good bars. The Kubix seemed to attract the French drinker and The Parisienne was crowded with english. Both were nice places to drink but the Parisienne had the edge with a longer happy hour!! There's a great bread shop and a tiny Spa for shopping - we popped down to Moutiers for a biggish shop. There's also a Casino and a thermal spa if you want something a bit different to do. All in all a nice little resort....not for those who want amazing nighlife or door-to-door skiing but well worth a look if you want a cheap route into a great ski area.
Food : I'm a veggie which limits eating out choice when in France! In Brides I'd highly recommend the Kubix Restaurant, great food and pleasant service at a reasonable price. We also tried Les Thermalisme - I had a great pizza but Mr HH was very disappointed with his duck (which wasn't cheap!), we didn't go back but it might just have been an off day? We did actually go mad and "make" a meal in the appartment one night, which wasn't too shabby as the choice of ready meals down in the HyperChampion in Moutiers was rather good (I don't do cooking on holiday...if it can't be blizted or warmed in a pan I don't eat it!!). For veggies I'd also recommend the Chalet le Caron at the foot of the Caron bubble in Val Thorens....one of the few mountain restaurants that has a veggie option.
Accommodation : We stayed in Le Grand Chalet appartments and were pretty pleased with our choice. It's our first experience of self catering and I was expecting a cupboard with beds in! The studio was spacious and well equipped with rings, microwave, coffee maker and dishwasher! Mr HH complained about having to sleep in a drawer all week but what the hay...I had a proper bed! There was free covered parking just a few metres from the back door and each appartment had it's own private lockable ski storage.
Costs: Well, I may be sad, but I've got a little notebook of everything we spent all week! The cost for travel, accommodation and breakfasts/dinner with wine (the equivalent of half board) worked out at ¬£308 per person excluding passes. I reckon that's a pretty good value holiday for what is a very expensive part of the world.
Conclusion: If you like staying in out of the way places, don't want lively nightlife or hundreds of restaurants and bars to choose from Brides is worth considering. If you do, then definitely look into having a car available to make the journey to the slopes that bit more comfortable. We enjoyed it, but we're not party animals and are only there for the skiing and the odd beer!!
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