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Switzerland Options

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Sorry, I found it now, thanks for recommending Skiset, it is a bit cheaper than booking the ski gear direct with the ski hire shops.

Thanks for all the information, it's very helpful. I will get a map out and see where the areas/runs/lifts you mentioned are. I find it a bit difficult to read the piste map for Les 4 vallees though, compared with the piste maps for the big ski resorts in France.

A private guide for half a day would be great, but it doesn't sound cheap. We are currently considering whether we should send our 6 year old to ski school or not... my main concern is that the rest of us would be restricted in where we could ski while he was in ski school, as it only lasts for 2.5 hours per day. And we wouldn't want to put him in ski school for longer than that. I also can't decide whether we should buy the full Verbier lift passes for all 6 days, or only for 4 days out of 6....
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
LaForet wrote:
The café with the big windows is the Restaurant de Savoleyres in the Savoleyres gondola summit building - at the top, you walk straight out the gondola up from La Tzoumaz, towards the ESS hut, and it's to your right, past the ski stands. You'll see an outside terrace and the entrance is on the right of the terrace. You can usually eat your own stuff on the terrace without anyone complaining. The prices here are the cheapest you'll get up the mountain, in my experience, and the menu includes bowls of frites and usually a cheaper option like sausage+frites. The goulash and vegetable soups are usually another cheaper option and are pretty substantial.

We usually pack an 'emergency' supply of bread-and-cheese, and then at lunch just get a goulash/soup (potage) and have that with the soup. Or supplement it with a bowl of frites to share.

The building also has a picnic room in the basement for self-caterers. It's not bad, and we've used it with relatives who are trying to keep the costs down. Sometimes, it's actually less hassle to eat a packed lunch as opposed to a bunfight in the main café. The entrance is just by where the old gondola comes up from Verbier. But I'd caveat this in that I'm not sure if this is open in Covid times or not as I haven't been since February 2019.

If you look at the photo of Chez Simon, you'll see people sitting by the top and bottom end of the large building on the right - they usually put benches out there for people to picnic. Obviously, it's better in good weather. Just fYI, Chez Simon publish their menu with prices here which should give you an idea of costs. You'll see for example, that a ham sandwich is CHF 5.20 (£4.16) while their potage is CHF 8.50 (£6.80) or with cheese and bread, CHF 12.00 (£9.60) so you can see why we take our own baguette and cheese up with us ...


Thanks for the info, Chez Simon looks reasonable actually. The cafe with the big windows looks lovely too. Really looking forward to going la Tzoumaz in Feb and I hope the trip will go ahead as planned! (with none of us getting poorly, no new Covid restrictions, etc...)
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
And If you want a big superstore with reasonable prices and lots of choice, then I'd go to the Co-Op at Alleman, en route from Geneva. There's a scale map with the junction details in the Driving Guide. It's about half an hour out from the airport on the A9 around the lake. It's right by the autoroute along with a big Ikea you can see from the road. You park on the ground floor and the Co-Op is on the upper floor along with various other shops.

You'll need a CHF 1 or CHF 2 coin for the shopping trolley (chariot - I forget which denomination). You should be able to get a coin in some change on the aircraft. Worst case, you'll have to buy something at the airport or perhaps ask the car hire desk rep.

If you really, really want cheap, then there's al Aldi (or perhaps it's a Lidl) a but further off the Autoroute at Martigny. Again, it's in the Driving Guide. But personally, I'd go for the Co-Op as it's got much more choice and often has competitive special offers anyway.

The big supermarket in the village also contains a boulangerie - they cook fresh bread, croissants and rolls every morning and in peak season, in the afternoon as well. That's where one of us always goes to get the morning croissants and baguette or pain de seigle for emergency lunch. One thing I can recommend is the pain de seigle - this is a longer-lasting rye-type bread that shepherds used to take up to the pastures and which lasts a lot longer than the usual white bread. It's a good choice for snacks during the day with cheese for hungry teenagers and the emergency lunch I mentioned.

One thing I'd concede is that Swiss wines - while lovely - are pricey, because the steep terraces mean they have to be picked much more by hand than elsewhere. A lot of the wines in the supermarket are local. So if you want some more mainstream stuff, I'd suggest you look in the Co-Op for something that's not so pricey.

The butcher is good quality but if all you want is minced beef for a bolognaise then again, I'd say get it in the Co-Op.
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The whole ski pass thing is definitely tricky. We now wait until we're out there and only buy a period pass if the weather is guaranteed to be reasonable. We now tend to buy just 1 or 2-day passes, perhaps 3 days at most, and for the first couple of days just the Savoleyres Sector rather than Savoleyres and Verbier, or the whole 4 Vallées. If the weather's bad, we then just don't get a pass for the day and go snowshoeing instead: saving a day's ski passes adds up to an evening out. And because we're older ( 67 and 68 ) we find we can't ski more than 3 days before we need a rest. But conversely, if the forecast is good, then we may just opt to save the hassle of buying every morning and get the whole shebang.

One important thing I'd recommend is to include assurance with the skipass. Yes, it's CHF 5 extra a day but as my wife discovered when she broke her arm in March 2019, it streamlines the whole heli-evac process: her helicopter was £100 a minute so if you think of the flight and hover time to/from Sion in the valley, plus the hover time while the medic got her ready, plus the charge for the helicopter medic and the pisterurs clsing off the slope etc. you're talking about £thousands. Yes, you're travel insurance will eventually cover it but you'll have to pay it out first and if the accident is bad, it's really not something you want to have to deal with at the time. So when you buy your ticket they'll ask "Avec assurance?" or you may need to say it yourself if they don't remember to ask.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
As for the lessons, I can see it's a tricky one. I'd say that the general standard of instruction from the ESS is a lot better than, for example, the ESF (École du ski Français) so the lessons should be value-for-money. But of course, there's nothing to stop you using the Baby-slope yourself. Conversely, I wonder if it's not possible for one of you to ski over to Verbier with the teenagers while the other hangs around to collect the toddler, and then you perhaps swap roles the next day? This would mean you could enjoy going over to Lac des Vaux/La Chaux without the time pressures to get back but the little one benefits from experienced instruction. Plus you're around if they throw any sort of wobbly (not that I'm saying your child is difficult, but it can happen). You can treat them to a leisurely hot chocolate at the Etablons Bar after the lesson, or just go home if they're exhausted and the others still get their ski. Or if they're up for it, meet the others at the Savoleyres for a late lunch when they return from the outer reaches of Verbier. Just a thought.
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You'll need to Register first of course.
@LaForet, thank you so much for all your valuable information! It's great to know where to find big supermarkets en route to La Tzoumaz and where to buy groceries, etc.

However, we just received an email from Expedia, that we booked the apartment through. They are saying that the booking has been cancelled (!) which is very disappointing and annoying, as we have already booked the flights now and cancelled the accommodation we previously had booked in France. I can't believe it took Expedia over a week after we booked the accommodation to tell us this!! I will call them later to ask if they can find us alternative accommodation, but I think it will be difficult, if not impossible, to find another apartment in this area for a similar price that we paid. I have looked at airbnb, VRBO, booking.com and all the big booking sites, with not much luck.

Do you happen to know of anyone in La Tzoumaz/Verbier who has available accommodation that is suitable for a family of 5, 19th-26th February 2022?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Motherofthree I'd recommend contacting the La Tzoumaz Tourist Office - they should have the contacts with all the rental agencies and also have some people on their books who rent direct. Email them at 'info@latzoumaz.ch'

You could also try direct to our rental agent, Carron Immobilier, as they have a fair range of small and medium-sized apartments on their books, plus apartments in the new Téléverbier complex right opposite the gondola.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
LaForet wrote:
@Motherofthree I'd recommend contacting the La Tzoumaz Tourist Office - they should have the contacts with all the rental agencies and also have some people on their books who rent direct. Email them at 'info@latzoumaz.ch'

You could also try direct to our rental agent, Carron Immobilier, as they have a fair range of small and medium-sized apartments on their books, plus apartments in the new Téléverbier complex right opposite the gondola.


Thanks for the tips, I contacted both places without any luck, but found another apartment to rent in La Tzoumaz on Airbnb. Very happy that we found somewhere in La Tzoumaz and that our holiday is still going ahead. However, we cancelled the flights we had booked to Geneva, and will now be driving instead.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
LaForet wrote:

If you really, really want cheap, then there's al Aldi (or perhaps it's a Lidl) a but further off the Autoroute at Martigny. Again, it's in the Driving Guide. But personally, I'd go for the Co-Op as it's got much more choice and often has competitive special offers anyway.


There’s both an Aldi and Lidl (and a big Coop) just off the Villeneuve motorway exit (the one after Montreux). We use it for a weekly shop as the prices are significantly lower than Coop with no noticeable reduction in quality. As you say the choice and layout isn’t as good but I reckon you’ll save 1/3rd. Decent selection of wine as well.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
LaForet wrote:
Conversely, I wonder if it's not possible for one of you to ski over to Verbier with the teenagers while the other hangs around to collect the toddler, and then you perhaps swap roles the next day? This would mean you could enjoy going over to Lac des Vaux/La Chaux without the time pressures to get back but the little one benefits from experienced instruction.


Be careful of queues at half term week. Suspect La Chaux will be heaving!
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@Motherof three Glad that you managed to sort something else out. BobInCH lives in Verbier, so his advice is particularly useful. I didn't know about the Villeneuve shops so I'll add them to our Guide. As he says, it's going to be busier in school holidays, so in some ways, being in the Savoleyres sector may mean it's quieter (as long as all the Verbi-ites don't invade because Verbier is busy!). If we're going over, we tend to go out ASAP first thing to Verbier, then head back at lunchtime, and have a late lunch when the cafés are quieter anyway.

If you're now driving down, you'll see there's also a Guide to Driving from Calais to La Tzoumaz on the Laforêt35 website.

And the site also has a Self-drive to the Swiss Alps - Preparation Guide you may find useful too (it's a Blog piece).

We now do our supermarket shop the ATAC in Jougne, near the Swiss border on the route from Pontarlier to the border post at Creux. It's literally right on the main road and is small enough to easily get round but big enough to have a reasonable selection and the prices are what you'd expect for a small town store. We used to shop at the E. Léclerc off the autoroute at Reims but can't be bothered to divert off and do the massive superstore thing any more. The last couple of trips, we've also done our return shop at the ATAC for wine, cheese, beer and coffee (and coffee filters - why are they so much cheaper in France?) just because it's easy and quick and the wine selection is good enough for our needs.

We're planning to drive down next week and as things stand, we'll need to get test certification to get into France and Switzerland. The options are discussed in the SnowHeads thread Switzerland Rules - Summary at the end. At the moment, we're opting to get a fast-track PCR test for £99 locally, which will allow us 72 hours to get the test near home, upload the result (hopefully), sleep at home, get into France, stay overnight, and get into CH the next day all on the one test. But there are other options, such as getting an LFT in the UK and then another LFT in France. The 24h validity for an LFT currently looks to make it pretty difficult to get an LFT at home, and then get to CH border within 24h, unless perhaps you're driving through the night.

One tip about driving in Switzerland that's not in the blog piece: motorway junctions are not as consistent in their design as in the UK. There's a lot of variation. So it's useful for the passenger to be alert and help out the driver at autoroute junctions. They can be counter-intuitive for a UK driver sometimes. For example, the junction at Riddes onto the motorway needs you to cross to the fast lane and stop at the left-turn traffic lights even 'though the straight-on lights are green, and then potentially stop to get on the on-ramp as you have to give way to traffic on the right. No issue if you're alert but easy to miss if you're not. (There's a map of this particular junction on Page 13 of the GVA to La Tzoumaz Driving Guide). Oh, and CH autoroute directions are GREEN while local main road signs are blue, which can cause confusion if you have to make a snap decision. You'll need a Swiss motorway vignette (CHF 40) to use the autoroutes, which you can get at the border, petrol stations, and many shops. Swiss traffic cops are very hot on picking people up who don't have one, so don't be tempted to risk it. And at the end of 8½ hours of driving from Calais, the last thing you'll want is to add an extra 90+ minutes to the journey by trying to find the non-autoroute route to La Tzoumaz.
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