Sun and fun in the 3V

25th March 2010, by Chris Gill

Part of the ABTOF group on their way to Reberty on Tuesday

Part of the ABTOF group on their way to Reberty on Tuesday

This season has been dominated for me by wintery weather, but I have just spent two blue-sky days in the Three Valleys with daytime highs of around 15C at resort level, and the zero isotherm around 2500m.

The downside is that skiing conditions have been somewhat taxing. The pistes are essentially in good nick, with only the very occasional patch of brown; but with the exception of high, shady runs, the snow is either rock hard or slush, with bumps forming quickly in the latter. Hard work at the end of the day.

I’ve been travelling with a jolly group assembled by ABTOF, the Association of British Tour Operators to France, staying in comfortable apartments in Courchevel and Brides-les-Bains provided by Pierre & Vacances and Lagrange. Also in the group were guys from Ski Famille, Mountain Heaven and Peak Retreats - plus a small, select group of ski writers.

At the insistence of our hosts, the resorts of the Three Valleys, both days have involved long lunches. I’ve had only three terrace lunches this season, and two of them were this week – on Tuesday in glorious strong sunshine at the excellent Ferme, at Reberty (above Les Menuires); and on Wednesday in rather more marginal lunching conditions at the new Fruitière above Val Thorens.

The latter may sound familiar. It is a sort of replica of the original at Val d’Isère, complete with adjacent Folie Douce self-service restaurant and major après-ski terrace with DJ and live bands. (A bottle of Famous Grouse can be had here for a mere €95, should the need arise.)

The trip was happily timed to coincide with the Altitude Festival, the central feature of which is comedy provided by Marcus Brigstocke and friends. So we were able to avoid drinking too much on Wednesday evening by taking in two very enjoyable gigs at Méribel’s smart Auditorium. Professional Eastender Mickey Flanagan had us in stitches, and later on Brigstocke, Rufus Hound et al delivered an impressive improv session.

Then it was into the Alp-Line taxi down to Brides for our last night’s lodgings. Even without a trip to the casino it was approaching 1am when we got to bed, with a 6am start for the flight back from Grenoble. It’s a hard life.

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