Swiss event organiser Tête-à-tête recently promoted a pop up restaurant event, for 1 day only on February 25th 2016, where they took over a 60 ski gondola’s and turned them into little restaurant booths, with seats, tables, hot fondue and wine! Swiss Mountain bought 8 tickets, and gave away 2 in a social media competition.
With our spare tickets we decided to make the most of the event, and not miss the opportunity to have a fun day skiing Villars and finishing the night eating fondue in a moving ski gondola!
We set out from Lausanne around 8:30 am, and travelled the scenic autoroute along the lake, until the turn off for Aigle. We followed the signs which are very clear and easy to take the winding mountain road to Villars. Once we arrived, we found parking was also easy in Villar’s village underground spiral car park.
The views from the village of Villars itself, before you are even up the slopes are incredible.
Here is a quick snap after getting our boots on, just at the exit of the parking!
From the parking it was a short walk across the road to the train station, where we could take the historic gauge rack railway up the mountain to ski!
Ski tickets and train tickets can both be bought at the train station.
We had ski passes for Diablerets-Villars-Gryon area(the area in the pink and orange boxes) which include all the ski lifts and the train going up to Bretaye.
There are tickets available that are slightly more expensive that do include the Glacier 3000 ski pistes, but we didn’t take this option as we arrived “a bit late” around 10am, and to really make use of the connection to the glacier, we were advised by the ticket lady that we should have been going up the mountain at 8am! The add-on would definitely be a great option for anyone staying in Villars for more than 1 day, as the Tissot Peak to Peak bridge at Glacier 3000 is incredible and worth the visit!
Regular train tickets for non-skiers were also sold at the train station as well as a ticket called the “Liberty Pass” for 25CHF, that allows you all day access up and down the train, on the major tele-cabins (such as Roc D’Orsay” and “Les Chaux” gondolas in Gryon), and also give access to the Villars Fitness centre with ice skating rink in town. It’s the best ticket to buy if you want to get to the top of the mountain for the incredible views, eat at a panoramic terrace, or try out the sledding pistes, as you can easily get off the train at stop “Col de Soud” , walk a short distance to the sledding trail, whiz down on your sled for 3kms, and arrive at the train stop Roches Grises (opposite the Chalet RoyAlp 5 star hotel). A small walk with your sled, and you can board the next train going back up to “Col de Sud” and start your sled adventures all over again! Not to be missed is the Auberge de Soud restaurant located at the Col de Soul train stop. It has in my opinion the BEST Rosti ( a Swiss dish of grated potato fried into a type of pancake. Served hot and usually enjoyed with options of cheese, ham and egg). I recommend the Goats cheese version!!
There’s also a lovely snow path that you can take to walk to the Golf Restaurant for some more incredible views.
Today our focus was not on sledding (that’s another blog) , but enjoying the fresh snow for an exciting day of ski, so we passed by Col de Soud and Villars Golf stops: our destination was right at the top at Bretaye! We boarded the train with many other skiers, and put the skis in a rack next to the door and found a seat next to the panoramic windows. The train passes the mountain chalets, the hotels and enters into a forest before passing the golf course (now used as pistes!)
After a fresh snow on the mountain the day before, the forest trees were all covered in white, just gorgeous.
On arrival at Bretaye we began our tour of the mountain, enjoying the sunshine and well groomed pistes. We even took a little T-bar or “Tire-fesse” in French (literally “pull-buttocks”) to get up even higher for more spectacular views.
Finally we were ready to take the liaison chairlift direction: Diablerets. This was a very calm and quiet lift, mostly going horizontal instead of vertical, to go from Villar’s main area to Meillerets. It seems a bit long but the view through the forest and valleys is charming.
When we arrived in Diablerets, Wow!: we discovered a huge natural “bowl” shaped mountain side full of fresh off piste powder. We stayed in this same area, just enjoying the incredible off piste until lunch time.
Finally at about 1pm, we were all hungry and agreed it was surely lunchtime! To get down to the nearest restaurant, the boys decided to jump off the backside of the mountain and down through the forest, an off piste shortcut to “Les Mazot” restaurant, while the girls contingent opted for the groomed red piste down.
We found a table on the terrace with a nice view, the sunshine was lovely, but the food was not up to scratch. Everyone was hungry so we all ordered and ate, but each dish was lacking in flavour. I would not be recommending this snack bar to anyone.
We ski’d after lunch below the Les Mazots restaurant, but decided that we couldn’t wait to get back up to the pristine off piste playground we discovered earlier at Meilleret, so we went back up, and enjoyed a few more runs of off-piste bliss.
We realized we were running out of time, so we made our way back to the Villars area, and decided to stop off at Roc D’Orsay for a well deserved choco-baileys! They have sun loungers which was just perfect for resting tired legs!
Finally, one of the piste staff who close the pistes down at the end of the day approached us to let us know that he would be closing the piste down in a few moments. Where did the time go? We quickly finished our drinks, and got back on our skis to make our way down, and discovered nobody else on the piste except the huge piste grooming machines which were already grooming the pistes for the next morning. We felt a bit guilty about leaving our new tracks in the fresh groomed pistes, but we quickly overtook them and continued on the piste that runs all the way down to the village just as the sun was setting.
Time to get back to the car and ready for Fondue Dinner!!
2 of the guys had prior commitments and couldn’t stay for dinner, so we were joined by another two friends who came up from Geneva to join us for our fondue in the sky cabin experience. Apero drinks were served to the group while we waited for the cabins to arrive, and shortly after our cabin (number 17) was called: All Aboard!
As mentioned at the top of this post, each ski cabin was set up with seats and table in a booth style for 6 people with 2 huge fondue pots ready-to-go in the middle. We had to set up the fire under the fondue ourselves, but it was very simple and self explanatory, so we had our fondue’s melting in no time, while we enjoyed some charcuterie (cold meats) and the wine. We poured extra white wine into our fondue, as we knew we wouldn’t drink all 3 bottles on the table. The ski cabins made 2 very slow trips up and down the mountain (2 hrs), and whilst it was a very enjoyable experience, we did all start to feel the cold by the second trip up, and felt the cabin ride was going too slowly as we had already finished the fondue well before and needed to stretch legs and warm up! Overall though, it was very memorable and a great way to end our super fun day of skiing.
As part of our “What’s YOUR Après ski style?” promotion, Swiss Mountain Experience made a giveaway event which included 2 ski passes to Villars, and 2 tickets to “Fondue in the Sky” event.
We met up with the winner: Monica Moreira from Portugal. She has posted on her instagram account photos of her fun day, which you can see here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRAxEgND-lY/?taken-by=monicacgmoreira