Resort Profile: Verbier
|By adamrowden, 13 Dec '12 at 14:43
Verbier is one of the world’s most regarded ski resorts and is ranked by many experienced skiers in their top 10, or top 5, or even number one. The resort has it all; a huge ski area with a vast vertical, topped with a glacier ; an authentic Swiss village with chalet-style architecture and great mountain scenery above and action-packed night life with excellent off-slope facilities.
These combined attractions draw skiers from all over the world, but with a far better and wider international mix than many other international resorts with British, North American, German, French, Benelux, Dutch and Scandinavian guests all figuring prominently.
Verbier is something of a 'purpose-built' resort, although not in the way most people think today. Before 1925 there were no skiers here, and very few people, what is now the ski area only being used as summer pasture for cattle. The first hotel was built and ski lessons were given two years later and in 1928 Verbier's first baby was born and the resort's population reached three.
By the end of World War II, the year-round population was still only 27. Then Government experts declared that Verbier's south-west facing plateau location in the French speaking part of the country was ...one of the sunniest in Switzerland, its climate is dry, with hardly any fog and of great biological and therapeutic value.
The first lift, in 1946, was a rather dangerous mechanised sledge-on-a-rope and the resort didn't finally explode onto the international scene until ten years after that. The famous church with its 40 metre (130 foot ) spire that dominates the resort to this day was completed in 1962 and the resort was one of the first to offer a skier uplift of 10,000 per hour by the mid '60s.
People who criticise the resort say that the slopes can be tricky to navigate. This is slightly down to poor signposting, however, you could also blame the large and varied area of terrain. The lift system is also a little bit frustrating, but all in all Verbier is perhaps too successful. And therefore it can become overcrowded.
If you are into your off-piste skiing and snowboarding and are a more experienced rider, then you will love Verbier. It has plenty of challenging backcountry runs that are sure to test you and leave you fully satisfied come the end of the day.
One of the main reasons that Verbier is so popular is the fact that it has an almost unrivalled amount of awesome après ski options. In Au Mignon and the Wax Bar, you have on the piste après bars with great terraces, however if you want the real après experience you will want to head down below the Medran Base Station.
There is the Pub Mont Fort which is near the Medran. This place is a well established bar that is ace for some après-ski beverages and is an essential stop on any respectable après session. They have happy hours, good food, and they stay open late. Then you also have some other cracking pubs nearby including the Big Ben pub, which is lively with a good outside area; Le Fer a Cheval has a great après vibe as does the fantastic Muphy’s Bar, which is another essential on a night out.
Once you get onto the mountain, you've got a huge area to ski. First try the Itineraire runs over Col des mines and down Vallon D'arby then...
Mont Gele - Try the couloirs up here for a real test of your nerve.
Attelas - Couloir Creblet....head left folowing the ridge above Lac des Vaux, chickens can drop right into Lac des Vaux. Left straight doun to Carrefour
Mont Fort - Backside, just climb the railing and head all the way down.....keep right at the reservoir and end at Siviez, this one's out there.
Gentianes - Stairway... Traverse left and climb the couloir, for Highway don't climb just keep traversing left, they both end at Tortin.
Living in Resort
Pathiers is where the locals live. After 10pm there is a noise restriction so watch out! Otherwise you're always pretty much cental apart from Savoyeres (20 mins' walk - and the buses finish at 7pm!). Pathiers is where the locals live. After 10pm there is a noise restriction so watch out! Otherwise you're always pretty much cental apart from Savoyeres (20 mins' walk - and the buses finish at 7pm!).
Bars and Clubs
Verbier comes into a class of its own as far for partying. Tour around our selection:
Le Pub Mont Fort - If you're not on the slopes you'll most likely be here! Although this bar has hardly changed in the past 20 years it is still the notorious place for chilling out with a whole mix of locals, seasonaires and holidaymakers. Start when you get off the slopes for a quick drink, a snack and a game of darts, then return to experience the infamous atmosphere, friendly staff and fantastic range of drinks. Just to give you an idea of quite how infamous Le pub is - it reputedly sells more beer than any other bar in Switzerland!!!!
Nelson - Popular worker's bar
Offshore - Start here early - its one of the few places that serves a good old traditional British fry up for breakfast. Throughout the day this place is always bustling; possibly due to their friendly staff and their wicked fresh filled baguettes - a full ranging menu to cure any hangover or refuel your energy. Offshore is also the closest après ski bar to the Medran lifts - so if your desperate for that first drink fresh from the slopes this is definitely the place to you'll end up.
The Farinet - This place kicks off from about 4.30pm till 10pm and is known to be the best live après ski entertainment. The live bands as well as their lethal shakers sets the scene for the rest of the night ahead.
Fer de Cheval - The place to hang out at no matter what time of day! Its great atmosphere, quaint nature, staff and happy customers makes Fer a Cheval the obvious choice for coffee, lunch or dinner as well as a well deserved après ski drink (but get there as soon as you get of the slopes - it's a popular little place).
Kings Bar - Make sure you have a 'Great Martini' at the Kings Bar. If a few cheeky cocktails are your thing this is the place for you.
Le Croc - The relaxed and chilled out atmosphere gives a great settling for nights of live music and wicked drinks. To fully enjoy the vibe, stake your claim on one of the sofas - but be warned, get there early, as the sofas are very prized places!
The Farm - Le Farm has had a few minor nips and tucks over the past year to keep it living up it up to its reputation for being 'the place to see and be seen! Of course c'est tres tres cher, but you've got to check it out.
Marshall's - Right in the hub of the town, Marshals is an obvious choice of club to head for when the bars shut. This basement style club has some serious attitude that sets the scene for some heavy partying. Check out the place when you first get here to get the low down for the special nights - Drum and bass, hip-hop etc.
Taratatas - The bar starts getting packed at around 1.30am. The best way to do Tara's is to buy your own personal bottle of spirit and party the night away with whatever mixers you want. Go with mates and party to the tunes - you'll be transported back to British music at its best.
Harold's Burger and Internet café - Open from 10am -2am, Harold's is the place to email your mates and make them jealous that they're not here in Verbier! The staff will always be pleased to see you to catch up with your gossip and of course serve you some fab food and a drink. Not only is it a great place to chill out with mates but it also shows a range of the big sporting events on sky, so you won't miss out on the big games!!!
Sarah Ferguson (Fergie) once worked a season here and returns every year. Jacques Villeneuve is occasionally sighted. Diana Ross has an apartment. Plus everyone else who rolls into town for the Red Bull Xtreme
With Lake Geneva and a good train system on your doorstep you are truly spoiled in Verbier. If you don't have a car, hitch or take the gondola down to Le Chable where you can catch the train.
Within 20 minutes you can be in Martigny's Roman ruins and art gallery, within forty, on the peaceful shores of the lake itself.
Take a look at the Byronesque Chateau de Chillon in Montreux, charming Vevey or the Olympic town of Lausanne. Pointless trivia - Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn, Frida (the dark haired one from Abba) all ended up living in this area.
Then there's Geneva, Zermatt, Evian, the Portes du Soleil. Italy is over the St Bernard, plus through the tunnel with Pila 1 hour, La Thule 1.5 and Chamonix- just an hour away
Transfers to Verbier are a breeze compared to some resorts in the Alps. The journey to Geneva is dual carriageway from the valley floor and can take as little as 1.5 hrs. A real bonus of repping in this resort.
When flights are late you may find Geneva airport to be on the expensive side. If you are there for a while DO go to the 'staff only' restaurant in the charter terminal. This is a great place to gossip with other reps, you can get reasonable priced food AND the Billys can't get in there. You also get a good view of the punters being delivered by bus to the baggage lounge. This means you can maximise your 'sitting in the warmth' time and only go 'front of house' when it's absolutely necessary.
Loads of options in Verbier and the punters tend to have money to burn. The Pub Crawl up towards the Mont Fort, or down from if you can escape, is popular.
- Some of the best après-ski bars in the Alps
- Vast array of terrain
- Fantastic backcountry terrain
- Great glacier skiing
- One of the world’s most highly regarded resorts
- Easily accessible
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