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Service? not in France

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Well I just returned from Alpe d’Huez and give you these thoughts & observations.

The ski area is excellent and I managed to do just about all the runs except the Tunnel (as I said before I like my legs the shape they are)

But the standard of service was appalling and the cost of booze and food was indefensible.
A packet of Walkers crisps €2.00
Bacardi & coke, Vodka and coke and a pint of Guinness €17.50.

Now I don’t mind paying premium prices (in London I stay at the Langham) but when everything is just thrown at you, long queues, surly staff, rubbish food and the whole place needing a good clean and a coat of paint, I for one object.
I nearly came to blows when having spent €60 on soup, pizza and beer for two, I then pop down to the loo before going out for the afternoon to have to stump up 40cents for the privilege, & when I enquire why I was told that it was so they could keep the toilets clean!!!!
They must be joking.
And for the ladies the 40cents allowed them to wait the best part of 20 minutes in a stinking basement.

They even don’t bother to clear the snow from the entrance steps so that you need crampons to get in and the ability to ski a narrow black to get out!

France needs to take a good look at what they offer to the skiing public, as having skied in Austria this year I could not fault it.

Am I the only one that finds this complete lack of service, value and hygiene unacceptable?

Rant over
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I try to avoid resorts where larger lout tour operators ship their clients to. Just got back from the 4th largest linked ski area in France (I'm not counting Paradiski as I don't call a cable car at the bottom of a valley a linked ski area). Hotel room was 19 Euros per night, beer in the local bar 2 Euros. Vin Chaud 1E80. No Walkers crisps mind.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Slowplough, I know where you mean! 40 cents for a P! My friend Sue refused to pay and the guy banged on her cubicle door then chased her after she came out. She still went in again, later in the week. Luckily it was a different person on the door Blush
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Remind me not to go there!!! I was worried going to Austria this year after only Ski=ing in Andorra before. I was pleasantly suprised..... Nothing was extortionate and ALL the locals/ staff in the town and on the slopes couldn't do enough for you! I've never enjoyed taxi rides so much rolling eyes
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Well it must be the french, never had similar problems in Switzerland though prices there can be expensive normally I'd expect to pay about £10 for lunch with a 0.5 litre soft drink (beer is about the same price but I don't drink beer) And I can't recall ever having to pay to use the toilets in the Jungfrau Mountains though there are a couple of places in Interlaken, toilets are all kept clean and tidy, in fact the toilet block at kline schidegg was replaced this year with a brand new building with plenty of facilities, likewise I've never paid to use a toilet in a Swiss restaurant, I begin to suspect that many places in France may actually be more expensive to ski than Switzerland
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Snowplough,

One wouldn't want to generalise would one.

Surely the thread would be better entitled Alpe D'Huez. I was less than 15 miles from there last weekend and had a fantastic time in the company of some marevellous, generous natives and enjoyed great meals for less than 20€ a head.

We would be a little upset if the whole of the UK was written off following a vist by a french person to Alton Towers.
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Swiss prices do vary, I was at Chateau d'Oex the other day and it was cheap there as are our local stations in the Gruyere region. One of my local favorites is round the Gstaad area which is pretty expensive.

The season passes are cheaper in some places in France so all round I ski a lot out of the Grand Massif where we have a flat, it's way cheaper to eat out round there than in Gstaad or Verbier for example.
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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!
Maybe we should work out where the best value for money places are to ski

e.g price of a beer and a local maincourse for lunch i.e sausage and rosti or similar

price of a six day ski pass and a thirteen day one

cost of ski hire fore the same period as above with good but not special skis

cost of hotel room with dinner per night

Anyone else think that a good idea ?
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Not everywhere in France is like that, you can find resorts that are clean, welcoming and you don't have to leave your wallet at the door. Just don't go the mega stations. I've just returned from a week in La Rosiere and all of the guests in our chalet who had never heard of it, said it was the best holiday they had ever had. You should try some of the smaller French resorts, they're usually pleased to see us, they haven't been exposed to Lager Lout and his mates and they don't operate with two sets of prices.
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Good point, Steve Sparks, . I had a superb week in 3 Vallees recently and found everyone friendly and helpful. Agreed, cheap it aint, but even at Courcheval 1850 you can still pick value items from the menu and lunch without a second mortgage being required.

OK, Austria is better value, but if you want the quality of French skiing then I suppose you have to pay for it.
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ANY ONE KNOW HOW MUCH BEERS ARE IN LAPLAGNE, IM INTENDING ON GETTING ABSOLUTLEY SH+T FACED EACH NIGHT WITH MY BAND OF MERRY MEN, IN SERRE CHEVALIER WE FOUND A REALLY QUALITY BAR WHICH WAS NOT AT ALL TOURISTY - IT WAS CALLED LE FROG! AND SOLD CHEAP STINES OF LAGER - I NEED A SIMILAR QUALITY DRINKING VENUE TO BE RECCOMMENDED IN LA PLAGNE - ANY ADVICE TEAM???

ALSO GOT A BUDDY GOING SKIING WHO HAS CRAP KNEES ANYONE RECCOMMEND A STYLE OF SKIING THAT WILL SUIT HIS STUBBY LITTLE LEGS??????? snowHead snowHead
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Snowplough - I guess you simply hit a bad one.

Was in Les Arcs at Christmas (1600) and the locals couldn't have been better. Friendly, welcoming, cheerful - and although the mountain restaurants weren't cheap - they certainly weren't the rip-off have experienced elsewhere, or that you speak of.

12quid for sausage, chips and a bottle of sprite - Jakobshorn, Davos - was the worst seen yet. (restaurant at the top of the piste, on the right as you set off on the main slope - others on the slope are better).
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Kenners - no, but tell him to get a knee brace (Argos (!) do good ones cheap - get one with a hole in it for the kneecap).
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
We shouldn't generalise but... it's true that the prevailing service culture in many establishments, especially the large ones, runs more along the lines of : "it's a privilege to have me serve you...."! It's partly down to the fact that jobs are protected - it's pretty hard to give someone the sack over here.

That said, when you know where to go, the service, food, and general attitude to visitors - wherever they're from - are second to none.

And on the subject of costs - it's not just that the season is short, and transport costs to the resorts are high. France pays a price for a very high standard of public services, and employers' national insurance costs and related taxes for staff come close to doubling the salary entry on their books for an employee!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Strangely enough no problems with the Canadian service - or the price of food and beer snowHead snowHead
I know where I'm going next season

Stuart
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Which bit of La Plagne are you staying in Kenners? As far as your buddy goes I tore my cruciates 2 years ago and ski without any problem with a Donjoy knee brace that was fitted for me.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Snowplough -I have to agree. I've only skiied once in France (Courchevel) and the prices really were taking the p**s. Over £10 for 3 coffees plus service charge! - and that was five years ago. BTW, I'm not anti-France - I love France and I holiday there in the summer when I can, but I just think the skiing industry in France rips us off. Do I really want to pay for two or three blokes to check lift passes at each lift!
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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?
Meister Jager, how can you judge the entire French ski industry on one visit to one resort? Places like Courcheval 1850 and Megeve cater to an up market clientele. These resorts are no different from Zermatt, St Moritz, Gstaad or Verbier. Why do think the ski industy in France rips us off exactly? Do your homework and you can find good skiing at reasonable prices in France, try the resorts in the Portes de Soleil for example. You might not want to pay the pisteurs wages but you might be glad to see them if you were injured.
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I find that Geant prices are totally reasonable - that's why I actually enjoy self-catering. The cost of the lift pass you can't really avoid, but if you're willing to be careful, Courchevel, Val d'Isere and the like need not be significantly more expensive than other resorts.

If you go on a skiing holiday to a top resort and expect to be able to eat out for lunch and dinner every night and for it to come out at the cost of a week in Marbella, then think again! I love French cuisine, and if I want to eat out in France, I'll visit a nice restaurant in St Omer or similar, have a cracking meal for less than it would cost me here. When I'm on a skiing holiday, I want to ski and enjoy myself - I won't do that if I spend all my time worrying about how expensive that last lunch was. I'd much rather spend €70/hr for private lessons, which may mean I have to economise on other aspects - it may sound stingy, but I'll happily make my own baguettes for lunch and enjoy cooking in the evening if it means I can ski some of the best terrain Europe has to offer and get some quality lessons in.

I agree that service can sometimes be touch-and-go, but that's touristy France for you. The only way to change things is to vote with your feet. If mountainside restaurants weren't the complete ripoff they are, I'd be more inclined to use them. But instead of just complaining when you get back, decide whether you want to ski in France - if not, fine, but if you want to return, how can you do things differently to avoid the problems?
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As Courchevel was mentioned there is actually a pic-nic station at the start of the big Saulire gondola. They provide tables, chairs, sinks etc and it is heated. I haven't noticed one like it elsewhere though I'm sure there are many. I take a rucksack with baguettes and a bottle of drink up the mountain every day. It is not too much of a chore and I can eat exactly what i want. That means that if I'm feeling indulgent I can have smoked ham, good cheese and even foie gras for lunch in my own exclusive dining area off the side of the piste with my family and not get charged the earth for it. Alternatively a cheese baguette is also good and it's hugely satisfying to see people queueing for 1/2 hour in a crappy restaurant to pay 14 euros for a frankfurter and chips. It is perfectly possible to eat very well and have a great time without going near a mountain restaurant.
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Sorry David but I'm with Mr. Jager on this one...

Whistler is about the most upmarket resort in N. America (with a few US exceptions), however they still don't feel the need to rip you off.
As you point out we need to pay the pisteurs a good wage, hence I don't resent paying the slightly higher prices of lift tickets in the US/Canada, you get exceptional service with it. I don't even mind paying for three guys to check my liftpass.
The service thing seems to vary in my limited experience, Val d'Isere was generally awful, Meribel was generally very good. The price thing was the same for both - ridiculously expensive.
Maybe it's wrong to make such a judgement, but I know where I'll be spending my pound (or should I say dollar)
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masopa, Seconded, have just come back from a flying (2 day) visit to the UK, first for years. I thought supermarket prices were higher, and the motorway service station 'restaurants' (no time for anything better) were disgusting - unsanitary, food diabolical. Didn't recognise 90% of the drinks in the racks of the self-service, multiple weird gassy strange sugared water combinations mostly, allegedly with some 'fruit' content. If you want to commit suicide, chocolate poisoning is an option, there's a thousand different ways of doing it, along with entire departments dedicated to crisps in the supermarket. I'd forgotten what it's like! Everything 'shouts' out at you, bright colours, silly names. What's wrong with selling real food? No wonder the obesity problem in kids is on the increase, it really was a culture shock going back home this time.
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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!
The French and the English have different priorities when it comes to life in general and food in particular. To a French person quality is much more important than price. We have got used to the idea that our food is produced to the lowest possible price and that is what is often most important to us. Much of what passes for food in England would not be acceptable in France. I’m thinking of pies and sausages in particular.

Another consideration is the whole culture of France and the majority of the EU in particular. As I see it, the ethos of the EU is to put some checks on the super-competitiveness of capitalism through means like the social compact and to try to prevent the kind of polarisation you can see in, for an example of capitalism gone mad, the FA Premiership. The idea is basically to give more people a stake in society and to protect people from going to the wall. That is why there are people checking lift-passes rather than machines. That is why there are thousands of tiny inefficient French farms.

The end result of this is that life for everyone is more relaxed in France. There is not the same pressure to perform/compete or face poverty. There is more employment protection, though for top people there is still plenty of opportunity to excel. There is also the political will to subsidise industries considered essential. Just look at where Renault are today compared with where poor old Rover.

What has this got to do with the state of the poorer mountain restaurants? Well my thesis is that because there is not the customer-driven competitive ethos in France prices are higher. Yes, it’s the sort of thing the governments of the 80s and 90s battled against in the UK, but the whole system may just produce a better life-style and a more relaxed regime. And isn’t that what we go to France for anyway?
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Not sure about that one. The French don't tend to drink beer like we do so maybe it's a sort of tourist tax. It's cheaper to drink wine.

Another point is the cost of toilets. I once read that it costs the same to put a toilet up a mountain as it does a lift. We cheerfully pay around £20 a day for the use of lifts. Maybe the drinks prices are paying for the toilets!

Premium resorts elsewhere (I go to Kitzbuhel) are not a lot cheaper than France.

That's odd. The post I was responding to has disappeared! Sad
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Chris Bish, Afraid it's a losing battle though - it's a global market, and the same trend is emerging as in the UK, just 20 or 30 years later. France can't insulate itself (legally) from the free market, and sooner or later the likes of the film industry will disappear... small shops are already suffering, hypermarkets are extending their grip, 'jobs for life' are under attack from the current regime who want to bring back longer working weeks, etc.
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err yes, sorry Chris - I thought it best not to fan the flames so I deleted it Little Angel
For the benefit of those who missed it's brief appearance. In summary it said why does beer/hot chocolate need to cost much more and why doesn't it (me generally generalising again) in the rest of France? Confused
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Chris Bish, missed the post you replied to ref. beer .... it's either been deleted by the poster, or perhaps it's been "moderated"?! On the subject of beer, all I know is last time I went to a Calais cash 'n carry a few years ago, you could buy a crate of Theakston's for much less than in a UK off licence...
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Have faith in French bloody-mindedness, Pete. It's worked so far! I still have faith that the EU can resist the crushing "market forces" that seem to be "dumbing down" everything we hold dear.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
stuarth, I looked at the accounts of a mountain restaurant in France once. Healthy, but no excessively profitable. Short season, high taxes, high employers' NI, transport costs, high maintenance costs (weather extremes etc). The guy who owned it by no means made a fortune, this depite it being well-placed, in a top resort. The big advantage was being able to shut it down and then disappear off for more than half the year!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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Monsieur Masopa definitely has the right idea. Why spend X amount of euros on a meal in a mountain restaurant, anywhere, and waste about 2 hours that you could have spent improving your skiing? Far better to take a baguette and a bottle of 1664 with you and find a quiet spot in the trees for a snack. I found Alpe d ok apart from the skiing which is a bit well, boring, once you have done the tunnel and the sarenne, longest black run in the Alpes? wake me up when its over!
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pistemeister, you go! In the US, that would be a PowerBar and some fruit-n-nuts on the chairlift ride!
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SSH ,oh I forgot to mention a bottle of 1664 and an oxygen mask after skiing back to the resort an hour after the pistes have closed.
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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?
I'd love to ski at/after sunset. Not in the US, ever (unless the lights are on, but that defeats the purpose!).
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sherman-maeir, Hey, don't knock Paradiski... a cable car from 1600m at Peisey to 1450 at Les Coches is hardly at the bottom of the valley! A mere 4 minutes to get across. That's what I call a linked domain! 425 kms of pistes, the biggest skiable area in the world (13,600 hectares compared to 11,800 ha for the 3V - not even close!). Paradiski wins hands down!
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
> Hey, don't knock Paradiski... a cable car from 1600m at Peisey to 1450 at Les Coches is hardly at the bottom of the valley!

If you are into riding public transportation systems rather than skiing it is interesting... but seriously, stringing a low lying cable car across a valley just so they can, in the words of the Observer hackette who was there for the opening "attract British Billy's who want to ski a different run everyday"[1] . Still I can see that those grass skis you told us about in another thread will come in handy early and late season. It is just a p*ss*ng competition AFAIKS.

[1]what she actually said was "sa vah attiray lez skiers britannicks kee aim bee-an skiaye des runs differents toot lez jweurs".... but I guessed what she meant. snowHead
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PG wrote:
and sooner or later the likes of the film industry will disappear...


Where will Hollywood get its ideas from with no European film industry? Okay not too many French based films this year but just look at the number of lousy retreads of British classics including... horror of horrors.. Nic Cage in the Wicker Man and the Lady Killers! Not to mention the dreadful Italian Job and Get Carter.
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sherman-maeir wrote:
I try to avoid resorts where larger lout tour operators ship their clients to. Just got back from the 4th largest linked ski area in France (I'm not counting Paradiski as I don't call a cable car at the bottom of a valley a linked ski area). Hotel room was 19 Euros per night, beer in the local bar 2 Euros. Vin Chaud 1E80. No Walkers crisps mind.


What's the 4th largest ski area and where were you staying? Sounds great!
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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!
I ski in Alpe d'Huez most weekends and see a totally differnent side of it. Admittedly I don't spend too much time in the resort itself, however a lot of the mountain restaurants are excellent - some of best I've been too for food and service; just avoid the mass market self service variety. All the ones I use have free toilets too.

90% of the lifters and pisterurs are friendly and always resond to a 'Bonjour'. Alpe d'Huez is a massive linked resort (5th largest in France) and has incredible scenery - skiing down the Sarenne gorge is beathtakingly beautiful. OK the town is rather ugly, but there are nicer places to stay - Oz, Vaujanay, Auris, or Huez.

Guinness and Walkers crisps are not made in France, so you will always pay a premium for these. And often the place that sell these are run by British people. If you want value try drinking the local drinks in local bars - expect to have to have to speak French though!

Vivre la France.
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sherman-maeir wrote:
PG wrote:
and sooner or later the likes of the film industry will disappear...


Where will Hollywood get its ideas from with no European film industry?


You misspelt it - you meant film$. The great majority of Hollywood productions are mass-market low-intellect junk aimed at the cinema-goer equivalent of Sun readers, with one aim in mind - raking it in for its overpaid investors, producers, actors. The French film-making industry produces mainly subtle, intelligent works, the kind of stuff that makes you think, and doesn't pander to the mass-market. Each to his own!
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sherman-maeir wrote:
> Hey, don't knock Paradiski... a cable car from 1600m at Peisey to 1450 at Les Coches is hardly at the bottom of the valley!

in the words of the Observer hackette who was there for the opening "attract British Billy's who want to ski a different run everyday"[1] . Still I can see that those grass skis you told us about in another thread will come in handy early and late season. It is just a p*ss*ng competition AFAIKS.

[1]what she actually said was "sa vah attiray lez skiers britannicks kee aim bee-an skiaye des runs differents toot lez jweurs".... but I guessed what she meant. snowHead


If the article you are referring to is http://observer.guardian.co.uk/travel/story/0,6903,1125389,00.html, then it barely mentions the British! If not, let's have the source....
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