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Lost bars and restaurants of Avoriaz

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
A self indulgent and probably historically inaccurate meander down memory lane in these troubled times, back to a day when a ski bum's life was as simple as scoring a few free beers and a good meal, whilst watching it dumping like crazy outside the window. Perhaps this belongs in the PdS thread, but Avoriaz is a popular destination and I'm wondering if the greater Snowheads collective memory can corroborate my often sketchy recollections.... Puzzled

Perhaps it's a feature of the churn of purpose built resorts, or just consolidation of the big players slowly choking the early independent start-ups, but a lot of the funky places I remember from my first seasons in the mid-80s are sadly no more. Starting at the top of town, what is now "The Place" live-music bar used to be "La Princesse d'Haroun" Moroccan cous-cous restaurant, which was completely un-remarkable other than the stunning but unassailable proprietors' teenage daughter, and the remarkable volumes of cocaine she dished out to the chosen ones at the legendary "Roc-Club" (more later). Most of the places on the main drag remain the same, but I miss the post-nightclub drinking club in the basement of the 24/7 "Marie Brioche" bakery, and "Le Traneau" restaurant, a tiny deli of a place with an amazing vacherin chaud. It was next to the original "Globetrotters" bar, which later moved down the street to below "The Place".

Opposite was the original "petit" "Le Choucas" bar, run by Jacques, a dead ringer for Obelix the Gaul and local legend. It expanded into the Snow building reception area, then much later moved into the Les Ruches complex, before fading away. Below was the underground "Le Manhattan" mafia-run nightclub (Swedes dancing in ski-boots at 4am Very Happy ), which became "Le Festival" in memory of the famous Avoriaz Horror&Fantasy film-festival, which died around the same time, having attracted the world's A-list celebs to the resort for the previous 20 years.

Down in the "Old Town", the lower part of town built in the 60's is the amazing Barberella inspired Dromonts hotel, and in those days it's legendary tiny "Roc-Club" in the lower basement, complete with natural waterfall rock-wall, 6" neon blue shag-pile carpeting, and lounge tables piled high with vodka bottles and cocaine. You were still very likely to be able to share a line with Serge Gainsbourg, Jonny H, Brigitte B or Grace Jones during Festival week... Across the street was the "Datcha Tabac", a plain tobacconist from the outside, but with a tiny secret bar out back built from a gypsy caravan and frequented by the rat-track drivers when they knocked-off at 3am. Opposite again was the old "Mama'z Pizzeria", with the resident "Travesti" transvestite live-show, compared by an enormous Jabba the Hutt-esque guy in (just) a tutu and full make-up...

Lower down in the basement of the Cédrat block was the lovely "Le Stopi" Indian restaurant with charismatic chef Faris, half-way down the Boulevard des Skieurs next to what is now Aquariaz was "Le Crepi", popular for reps to take groups of clients, now a private chalet. That brings us to the Place du Téléphérique, and the two restaurants below the cable-car station. In B1 the huge fish restaurant "Le Petit Vattel", complete with ginormous aquarium stocked from the trout-farm in the valley below, and even more hidden away in B2 the small "La Grignotte" restaurant run by a very eccentric couple, the husband (chef) being prone to locking his wife (mâitre d') in the broom cupboard if she got too excited!

I'm sure others have come and gone since (I moved down to Morzine in '93), but these are the ones I remember, which made the magic happen for me back when the French Alps were still the Wild West Shocked Toofy Grin . Anyone remember any of the above, or others I've forgotten?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I slid by in those days (90-93) but missed all the debauchery as I focused on staying upright on my skis and getting back to Chatel before last lift.

Sounds quite the place back in the day.

Off topic but hey, it’s Snowheads, I do recall the waitresses leather skirts over at the Sundance Bar in Les Crosets Toofy Grin
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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?
@shep, Yet more reasons why I should have started doing seasons earlier, and in Avoriaz. I must say, in the best possible taste, that I am amazed that your memory of the times is, errr, so good wink Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
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@shep, I think you're just showing off...
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Gainz wrote:
@shep, I think you're just showing off...


When I first read this I assumed you knew shep and were having a friendly dig?

If that's not the case, then surely the OP is one of the least showy-off locals on here? He's clearly been living here a very long time and has some interesting history to share....what part exactly is showing off? Its hard to not show off in some respects just by living in the alps and posting here. And of course there are many snowheads who really do show off, not just locals posting videos, but everything from trip reports to how many days/trips per year, where you stayed / ate and so on.....it's not always clear where the boundaries lie between showing off and helpful information.

Anyway, rant over, I thought it was an interesting insight, sounded like it was a lot crazier than it is nowadays. My only stories from that era is that I came across some french guys who talked about the bitterness they felt when Avoriaz (and rest of PdS soon after) became so commercialized in the 80/90's. Some of them didn't exactly welcome the huge influx of foreigners, and I heard stories of fights breaking out in Les Gets bars, and one guy admitted taking the occasional swipe at foreigners with his ski poles as he overtook them.
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@polo, it is a friendly dig ctfd! We are all friends here (most of us anyway)

As I started snowboarding late, there was always someone saying how great it used to be and mentioned some wild partying in the mountains which I would have loved myself.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@DJL, I remember a couple of big nights out in Chatel too back in the day, but the valley towns are much more part of the "real world" somehow. Yes the Sundance was quite a spectacle, although us tour-op ski-guides were more attracted by the 10% cash-back on your group's spend than by the fishnet stockings!

@under a new name, seasons (particularly if you want to ski) are a luxury for the well-prepared, no sense regretting building a career to make them possible snowHead . I was always there to ski, for me that required holding down a job so I was mostly a lightweight on the partying! Twisted Evil

@polo, thanks, I was a bit unsure too, sometimes an emoji would go a long way... Blush. I've occasionally come up against that resentment from a few locals, but vastly outnumbered by a genuine welcome once people know you're here to contribute, not exploit.

@Wind of Change is one guy I know would remember some of my stories, being an ex Avoriaz restauranteur himself - perhaps he'll be along sooner or later. Meanwhile happy confinement everyone, and see you on the other side! Very Happy
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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!
Great Post @shep,
The ones I miss are Marco's (Datcha), the Crepi, the Choucas club that used to be in the basement of the apartment block. ( I was there for its last ever night of running - mainly behind the bar, helping to Ensure that Annie didn't have too much beer or spirits to write off at the closure )
Never really liked the Festival ( or whet ever its most recent incarnation was).
The Tav used to be good, before it had the mezzanine.
One thing though - If you go to the bakery - not immedialtey after the clubs kick out, but during normal hours, you'll see that it's "Mamie" and not "Marie". I'd been crawling in there for donkeys before I noticed that Smile
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@WindOfChange, which iteration of the Choucas was that - I don't recall one in a basement. Or was the "Choucas club" not the the same as the Choucas bar?
You're right, I always though it was Marie Brioche, I stand corrected...
Yup the Tav was great when Paul had it. I remember being huddled round his fax machine with all the reps on a Friday evening waiting for our guest manifests to be faxed through from London Laughing
Oh and I just remembered one more bar which I imagine is gone, the PMU bar in the Gallerie des Haute-Forts. Is that still in business?
Happy days!! snowHead
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Only been once in the late 90s. But I do remember much dancing on tables in the International Bar. Just anthem after anthem and repeat every night for a week. Fab.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@shep, The PMU bar was still going strong in 2009. It was popular at the time as it was the first to offer free wifi and most people would have a couple of beers while waiting on their laundry. From 2005 the Choucas was a club that only opened around 11:30 ( or whenever Glenn and Guido could be arsed). It was split level with a gallery above the dance floor. After the smoking ban came in it really hummed in there. When the 2nd cinema became the bowling alley there was a decent bar there ( run by Olive ), it had a few dart boards, pinballs, baby foot too. It would also stay open till 3 AM whereas the other bars closed at 2am.
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