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Rider: Christopher Baud

Photo: Johan Wildhagen

LIVE TO PLAY ANOTHER DAY

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Who Are Cool Bus? The largest provider of private airport transfers in the Tarentaise Valley servicing the airports of Geneva, Lyon, Grenoble and Chambery and these resorts: Tignes - Val d’Isere - Les Arcs La Rosiere - Ste. Foy - La Plagne Courchevel - Meribel Les Menuires - Val Thorens We have been operating for 17 long years and run a fleet of 24 eye-catching Volkswagen Caravelles and 2 carbon emission free, Tesla Model X's. You can book your private transfers on our website www.thecoolbus.co.uk and pay on-line with instant confirmation. We also do fun stuff in the summer mainly involving bikes and road trips! Editor Rob Forbes Writers Rob Forbes, Lauren Little, Jemma Harrison. Design Ryan Mitson www.ryanmitson.com Advertising Sales Emilie Bussiere emiliebussiere@hotmail.fr Thanks to The Tourist Offices of Val d’Isere, Tignes, Les Arcs, La Plagne, La Rosiere, Ste. Foy, Courchevel Front Cover Les Arcs Freeski Academy Photo: Christophe Stramba-Badiali Summer Cover Photo by: Anthony Pease www.anthonypease.com Copyright SARL Cool Bus. All material in this magazine is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved by SARL Cool Bus. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of SARL Cool Bus IMPORTANT NOTICE Whilst we have done our best to ensure all the information presented in this magazine is correct at the time of going to print, we take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or omissions. If you do notice a mistake please let us know by emailing mag@thecoolbus.co.uk

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Les Gîtes du Turia 4 appartments to rent in winter & summer

N A TIRER : P20381 les crozets 02A Client : difco Date : 23/11/16

t et couleur de fond : 30x40 2f blanc té :

Le Gentiane 100m2 9-10 people

L'Ancolie 100m2 9-10 people

TSANTELEINA Pte DE LA GALISE

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L'Edelweiss 2 x 30m2 3-4 people

AIG. PERS SOURCES DE L’ISÈRE COL DE LA GALISE COL DE LA LOSA

L'Aster 25m2 duplex 2-3 people

SIGNAL DE L’ISERAN

Val d’Isère

Village du Fornet Restaurant Bar Terrasse Téléphérique du Fornet 73150 Val d’Isère Tél. 04 79 41 17 90

Chalet Gîte Le Turia

valdiserevillage@gmail.com

since 1975

COFFEE - BAR - KITCHEN

20 cm Tel. +33 (0)4 79 06 06 26 - www.valdiserevillage.com

Vacances aux Portes du Parc de la Vanoise


B

limey, is it really only a year since I was last sat here writing a magazine intro? So much has happened it feels more like 5!

12 months ago we started up the first regular, fully electric, airport transfer service between Geneva and the Tarentaise. Since then we‘ve clocked up 50,000km worth of passenger transport and in doing so, reduced the carbon emissions of our fleet by 5%. Off the back of that we had the great honour of winning the Travel Innovation category at the World Snow Awards in London in the autumn (see page 26)! In January I took a little trip to Japan (page 52) with our friends from Dragon Lodge (page 34) to see what all the fuss is about. While I was there, the very talented Simon Beck did us a huge CoolBus logo on a frozen lake in Les Arcs, which was a nice surprise! In February, some rather embarrassing photos featuring one of our vans with “cast” members of of reality TV show Geordie Shores appeared on the Sun’s website! April, as always, brought the Cool Bus end of season extravaganza, with a karting Grand Prix and gourmet barbecue followed by the mother of all parties in the woods. Last years was a cold one and it was actually snowing as we were setting up! May saw us providing transport for a Santa Cruz bike launch down in Sospel and June, as always, was mainly dominated by the Trans Provence mountain bike rally (video highlights here - vimeo.com/transprovence). Whilst the main crew spent July and August providing transport and bike uplifts in the Tarentaise, I managed to sneak off for a road trip round the Balkans (video highlights here vimeo.com/234198718). In September a couple of us decided to have a bash at climbing Mont Blanc which turned out to be considerably more difficult than we were expecting (summer section page 16)! Around the same time, news hit us that the best snowboard shop in the Tarentaise was closing its doors! We caught up with the owner Alain to get the full Tip-Top back story (page 16). Then in October we decided to build a mobile disco in one of our vans (summer section page 34) which we premiered at the Winter Film Festival in Bourg in November (page 15)! Phew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it! You can read about most of the above between these very pages plus a whole lot more. Hope you like it. Feel free to take a copy away with you, and pass it on to friends and family. We’ve got plenty! Hope you had a great year yourself and here’s to many more adventures to come over the next 12 months!

07 Les Arcs & BSM Resort Guide

15 Winter Film Festival

16 The Tip Top Story

22 Val d’Isere Resort Guide

26 Our Transfers Electric...

30 La Plagne Resort Guide

34 Dragon Lodge Snowboarding

38 Tignes Resort Guide

43 Taste Of The Tarentaise

46 La Rosiere Resort Guide

50 Sainte Foy Resort Guide

52 Japanuary

58 Trois Vallees Resort Guide


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Les Arcs & BSM Guide

Les Arcs & Bourg Saint Maurice

Les Arcs 1600 and 1800 were built in the 1970’s with Arc 2000 following in the early 80’s using a similar ‘unique’ style of

architecture! Consisting of multi storey buildings containing small apartments all clad in wood with curved sloping roofs they might not be the most attractive but they do blend in with the surroundings better than some of the concrete tower blocks you see in other resorts. The more recent village of Arc 1950 was completed just 10 years ago by Canadian company Intrawest and this influence is clearly seen in its architecture. Vallandry certainly wins the award for the most attractive village in the area and has a unique, central position in the heart of the Paradiski meaning its just as easy to head to La Plagne for a days skiing as it is to spend the day in Les Arcs. The smaller villages of Peisey-Nancroix and Villaroger

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have developed from farming hamlets and as such retain a charming traditional feel but lack some of the amenities of the larger villages. Then down in the valley, the hub town of Bourg St. Maurice links to Arc 1600 via a very efficient funicular railway which takes just 7 minutes to whisk you up the 800 metre climb! Bourg is more of regular town and as such has more amenities including several large supermarkets and chain stores, a 3 screen cinema, large indoor swimming pool, many nice bars and more great restaurants that you might expect from a place of its size! Its actually a great place to stay and a good deal cheaper than staying up in the ski area and you might even bump into a Cool Bus driver or two!

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Photo: Manu Reyboz

ollectively Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry, Villaroger and Bourg St. Maurice make up one half of the huge Paradiski area. The other half, made up of the various villages of La Plagne, is linked to it by the world’s first double-decker, 200 man cable car, the Vanoise Express. Les Arcs boasts one of Europe’s longest pistes (8km and over 2000m of vertical descent) from the top of the highest peak in resort, the Aiguille Rouge, to the hamlet of Villaroger all the way down at 1200m. It is also the local resort for most of the Cool Bus team so it goes without saying, we all love it!

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The area has a great mix of pistes for all abilities. Each village has its own nursery slopes but the best is probably in Arc 1800, accessed by the new Villards bubble lift which is part of the Mille 8 area. For beautiful treelined pistes head to Peisey-Vallandry and Arc 1600. Arc 1800 and 2000 have some great red and blue pistes for blasting down. Snowboarders and skiers looking for some good cruising runs with fun jumps off to the side won’t regret a few laps of the Derby and Grizzly chairlifts! There is an excellent Snowpark between Arc 1600 and 1800. No half-pipe but the kickers and other features are beautifully shaped and maintained by the snow park crew. There’s a line of blue jumps for beginners, red line for intermediates and a black line

afé Givré ivré

unge Bar







L

humerie - Lounge Bar

which really is only for advanced skiers and snowboarders. Additional features change from year to year but there’s likely to be a quarter pipe, hip jump, rails and boxes of varying degrees of difficulty, an air bag and the famous waterslide outside the Altiport restaurant! There is some incredible off-piste to be had in Les Arcs. Some of this is easy to access and very obvious from the piste and consequently gets tracked out very quickly. To get to the harder to find stuff we would absolutely recommend hiring a guide for the day. If there’s a group of you it can work out pretty cheap. Either way, if you are heading off the piste please make sure you are carrying an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe as an absolute bare minimum, and that you know how to use them.

oucheri B e a des Arcades

Local cheese and French cheese from the whole country, house made cream and yogurts. A big choice in local meat, skewers and delicatessen.

La Boucherie des Arcades, 15 rue Libération, 73700, Seez Phone:

+33(0)479062619

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Les Arcs & BSM Guide

worth bearing in mind that group lessons can often be large in number, especially during the peak weeks of the holidays. New Generation Ski & Snowboard School (www.skinewgen.com) in Vallandry is a British run, award winning (Snowvole Ski School of the Year 2013) school that provides group and private lessons for children and adults of all abilities. You can also choose an Adventure day to explore more of the Paradiski area or book a ‘Developer’ session if you’re at an intermediate or advanced level. These days, most French ski resorts have an Ecole du Ski Francais (ESF) and as opposed to years gone by, most have English speaking instructors. It is

Another French ski school growing in popularity in most resorts is Evolution 2. As with the ESF, Evo 2 (www.evolution2-lesarcs.com) go beyond the normal ski and snowboard lessons as they have fully qualified high mountain guides if you are looking for an off-piste, wilderness adventure. In Les Arcs you can find a branch of both ESF and Evo 2 in nearly all villages across the resort. Fancy a new challenge? Try learning to Telemark with the Ecole du Ski Internationale (www.arc-aventures.com).

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Part of the world’s 2nd largest inter-linked ski area

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Ski pass Les Arcs Adult - 60 euros/day or 299 euros/6 days

9

Nearest airport – Chambery (120km) but most popular Geneva (155km)

70% of all pistes above 2000m 6 ski in/ski out villages 425km of pistes 132 lifts Skiing from 1200m to 3250m Opens 16th December 2017 and closes 28th April 2018

04 57 37 63 56 OR 06 25 50 61 09 CHALET DES NEIGES ARC 2000 @WHISTLERS2000 You can find out more about us in all of these places :

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If you are staying up in 2000 then don’t miss Whistlers. As well as being a legendary bar they also have a great food menu (also available as take away or delivered) and live music. They stay open late into the night and its a great spot to catch that all important football match! Just down the road in Arc 1950, you’ll find the only Irish bar in Les Arcs - La Belle Pinte, which is a great spot for a social pint of Guinness. Nearby you’ll also find Le Club 1950 which is the place to head for drinking and dancing into the small hours. Bar King Mad or BKM as it’s become known, is the seasonnaire bar of choice in Arc 1800 (Place de Villards). Excellent food & cocktails, DJs and Shot Roulette… Say no more! Another favourite just next door to that is the Red Hot Saloon. At the other end of Arc 1800 is Chez Boubou’s, a popular and often rowdy little bar which attracts French locals and seasonnaires alike. The legendary Bar Mont Blanc

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can be found in Vallandry right next to the piste below the Grizzly lift. Whether it’s something on Sky Sports you just can not miss, a game of pool, an apres beer on the sun deck or live music you’re after, The Mont Blanc is where it’s at. If you are staying in the lower villages of Peisey-Nancroix make sure you pay a visit to Greg’s Bar, a cosy underground drinking spot with a friendly atmosphere. There are many good bars down in Bourg St. Maurice but don’t miss l’Entrinque, next door to the Kosy restaurant. Its a great little place with Brasserie du Mont Blanc ales on tap and an extensive wine menu and they frequently have a live band playing. Our other Bourg favourites include Le Central Bar (aka the Spot) and Le Tonneau but for an apres beer right next to the funicular head straight to Charly’s Factory who also have an excellent food menu. New on the scene this year we also have the Cherry Garden which is the nearest thing you can find in Bourg to an English pub garden! They have ale on tap and an excellent Thai food menu.


Les Arcs & BSM Guide

In Bourg St. Maurice we really are spoiled for restaurants and the variety of what’s on offer might surprise you… Morrocan: For a delicious tajine you can’t go wrong with l’Oasis. They have an extensive, authentic Moroccan menu including couscous, kebabs, sweet pastries, wines and teas. You can even take-away! Corsican: The Alta Rocca just around the corner offer delicious Corsican dishes including wines and beers from the island. They knock up some incredible pizzas with traditional Corsican ingredients that are also available to take-away. Thai: Don’t miss the Cherry Garden with its great Thai Fusion menu. When the weather’s good you can also eat out in the garden which is ideal if you’ve got kids in tow. We also love Charly’s Factory

next to the funicular, the cosy Montagnole, the Michelin starred Arssiban, and if you absolutely must have some cheesy Savoie goodness then you can’t go wrong with Le Refuge on the high street. Hotel Malgovert is a newly refurbished spot just out of town with a cosy bar, pizza/burger restaurant and a proper fancy restaurant upstairs. It's owned and run by well respected local butcher, Fred. Unsurprisingly, the quality of the meat dishes is off the scale! We’ve been a few times and it gets a big thumbs up from us! For the best coffee in Bourg, head to the new Pause Cafe on avenue du stade. They also serve delicious Kurtos which is a bit like a massive curly doughnut! Up in Arc 1800, BKM has made something of a name for itself thanks in particular to their gourmet burgers. The Mountain Cafe at the Charvet end of Arc 1800 is an excellent Tex-Mex style restaurant with a great

The first Specialty Coffee Shop in the Tarentaise Valley Specialty Coffee, Artisanal Pastries & Sandwiches 155 Avenue du Stade 73700 Bourg-Saint-Maurice (3 minutes from the train station of BSM) Free Parking

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Continued... with the locals. Brand new this winter is the Rosti which is at the Villards end of the village. Special mention also to the renowned l’Ancolie restaurant down in Nancroix below Peisey. If you’re looking for an incredible menu served in beautiful surroundings by friendly, welcoming staff then this is the place! Up in Arc 2000, Whistlers has a great menu that is also available to take away. The Kilimanjaro is popular for evening food and serves up local speciality dishes. Next door in Arc 1950 the Nonna Lisa offers traditional French and Savoyarde food in the Refuge du Montagnard including the local holy trinity of fondue, tartiflette and raclette! With an attractive wooden interior its a great spot for big groups and family meals. Brasserie Le 1950 is tipped for good food with a sleek and typical ‘brasserie’ interior, located within the Manoir Savoir residences. Chalet Luigi is popular with families and offers lots of pasta as the name

suggests. Situated on the Marmottes piste as you enter the village, it’s a good place for lunch or dinner. Up on the mountain, the Bulle Café is a great spot to grab a snack or a full blown fresh fish platter during the day. Situated underneath the Arcubulle chair lift in the Arc 2000 sector, it’s right on the piste and is a dome shaped structure which you can’t really miss unless you’re skiing with your eyes shut! If you’re after something quick to eat into Arc 1950 head to Meli-Snack. You can literally ski up to the door, wolf down an american sandwich and then ski off again! Le Sanglier qui Fume located underneath the Mont-Blanc chair lift, just out of Arc 1600 opened recently and has fast become the place to go for lunch and more sophisticated late afternoon/après drinks with tasty bites to choose from the menu to go with your well earned wine and beers at the end of a hard days skiing.

PIZZAS DELICATESSEN (FIGATELLI, COPPA, LONZU...)

CORSICA WINES AND BEERS CHEESE

40 AV E N U E D U STAD E B OUR G SA IN T M AU RICE

T. + 3 3 (0) 4 79 0 0 69 0 0

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Les Arcs & BSM Guide The Big Up And Down 2nd until 4th February Ski touring event featuring two French legends - Kilian Jornet and Enak Gavaggio. This event is the unmissable gathering for those that love ski-touring. Three very different tours on consecutive days and open to everyone.

9th Edition of the Festival de Cinema European des Arcs 16th to 23rd December The winter season has barely kicked off but possibly Les Arcs’ most important showcase is the European Cinema Festival for which Cool Bus are the official transport supplier! A week long event with films shown throughout the resort. Freeride Week 29th January until 4th February The week kicks off with a round of the Freeride Junior World Tour and ends with the Senior Freeride World Qualifier. Throughout this period there will be demo’s and tuition in avalanche safety and probably the odd soiree!

British Week 24th until 30th March Featuring all sorts of events including a ski race, football on snow and archery! Plus the odd boozy concert! Ski2Bike 21st April A relay competition that takes place as the ski lifts close on the final day of the season. Starting from the top of the Clocheret lift, competitors set off en-masse with a Le Mans style start before clipping into their skis and racing down to Arc 1600. Here they tag their team mate who then races down to Bourg on a mountain bike. We did it last year and highly recommend it! Here’s our video of the race so you can see what to expect vimeo.com/214579335

- Bio and gluten free products - English products - Italian Food - Goat Cheese - Summer Beaufort - Artisanal Jams - Wine cave OIGPGTCNUVQTG

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Les Arcs & BSM Guide The Rodeo Park is a 3km toboggan run at 2000m! It’s open to kids and adults over the age of 12 with a valid lift pass as it starts just below the top of the Transarc and Arcabulle lifts. There’s also a shorter but very fast toboggan run in the Mille 8 area, in Arc 1800, which finishes through a tunnel with strobing rainbow lights! They even play the music from Mario Karts so it feels a bit like being in a computer game! Other attractions at Mille 8 include a fun beginners piste with obstacles for the kids (which is also floodlit in the evenings), an easy skier-x course and several open sided chalets that are ideal for picnics and watching the sunset. Access is via the Villards bubble lift which runs until late and a you’ll also find a decent bar and restaurant at the top! A great off-snow activity to try is the Laser Game in 1800. You'll

Biomonde - L’Eau Vive Bourg saint Maurice, 153 Grande Rue -

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0479071708 Photo: Propaganda73.com

find it at the Charvet end of town, just down the stairs from Boubous bar. We’ve tried it and its great fun for kids and adults alike! Open every day from 4pm. The Grotte de Glace (120m long ice caves) at the top of the TransArc bubble is a cave full of icy sculptures and well worth a visit. There’s a restaurant nearby too. The Outdoor Ice Rink in Arc 2000 is chilly fun for the family. If all that sounds a bit cold then the brand new 3800m² Centre Aqualudique in Arc 1800 is an indoor pool with water fountains, spa area and a waterside for the kids!

biobourgsaintmaurice


village including a whole variety of stuff such as ski brands, artists, and other associations like the Freeride World Tour, local guiding companies and the language school. Workshops took place throughout the weekend, on subjects as diverse as safety and avalanche awareness, yoga and graffiti.

The 3rd edition of the Winter Film Festival took place in Bourg St. Maurice over the weekend of the 10th, 11th and 12th of November. The brainchild of two locals guys, Thibaud Duchosal and Jean Rochas, it has steadily expanded each year and this time screened no less than 70 winter sports movies from around the world. Entry for each session cost 6 euros and generally featured 2 or 3 short films and one longer one plus an intro and some chat from people involved in the film beforehand to give you a bit of the back story. Sessions tend to include a variety of films so you might see one freestyle ski film, one big mountain snowboard film and then a backcountry skiing movie for example. On top of that, outside the cinema they also set up an expo

And then, tucked away in the far corner was a big marquee which hosted 3 amazing bands over the weekend, some food stalls serving up good nosh right into the early hours, two bars and the Cool Bus FM mobile disco (see page 34 summer section)! We had an absolute blast churning out tunes all weekend along with the help of DJ’s 6ft Stereo, B-Burg and Panic. Despite the dismal weather, a hardy bunch of revellers partied under our awning (lent to us at the last minute by Charleys Factory thanks Christophe!) until 1 or 2 in the morning! It was a great friendly atmosphere with a good mixture of French and English and lots of bouncing smiley faces!

Prize Winners Grand Prix Award

In Gora

by Andy Collet & Picture Best Documentary Award:

Maewan Kuriles

by Bertrand Delapierre Best Short Film Award

Freeze

by Julien Eustache Best Cinematography Award

This is Home

by Faction Collective "Coup de Coeur" du Jury:

If you’re in the area next November we’d highly recommend dropping by. The plan is for further expansion again next time and we’ll be there again for sure playing louder and longer and with a bigger roster of DJ’s. Get involved!

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Getting the Shot by Faine Raisson

Young Jury Award:

This is Home

by Faction Collective

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15


With Alain Didierjean

F

or those that don’t know, Tip-Top is a snowboard shop in Bourg St. Maurice that in 2017, celebrated its 25th anniversary. Over the last quarter of a century it became something of an institution. People would travel long distances to shop there drawn in by its comprehensive range and the friendly, knowledgable and honest advice dished out by the owners and their amazing crew of staff.

I bought my first t-shirt there in 1992. A few years later I was back to buy a Burton Supermodel after the entire UK sold out. A few years later again I found myself in there buying my first helmet after suffering a mild concussion thanks to altercation with a rock hard snow bank. Then I moved to Bourg and it became my local shop. It wasn’t long before I heard some of Alain’s back story. Hints at a past

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that was very much intertwined with the establishment of snowboarding in the Alps. And so with such a huge anniversary due its seemed an ideal excuse to pin him down for a few hours and get the full story from the horses mouth. He didn’t disappoint! Sitting comfortably? Good. Your history lesson is about to begin… Cool Bus: OK, let’s start at the beginning! Did you grow up in the mountains? What first got you into skiing? Alain Didierjean: I was born in Alsace - Colmar. But then I lived until the age of eighteen in a place called La Bresse in the Vosges, which is a small ski resort. CB: Yes I know it. They’ve had some big mountain bike races there. AD: Yes that’s right. The final round of the of the downhill World Cup will be there next year (2018). So it’s a small place with quite a few lifts and small but steep mountains. I started to ski there when I was a little kid, maybe 3 or 4 years old. We had quite a lot of

skiing organised through our school and we did a bit of downhill skiing, some cross country and ski jumping too. A bit of everything! Then I raced with the local ski club, mainly slalom for, I don’t know, maybe 10 years. After that, to make a living from skiing it was quite difficult in the Vosges as it's quite small but I had an opportunity to work as a ski instructor in Switzerland with Club Med in St. Moritz when I was 19. So that was my first winter season! St. Moritz is a really fantastic place. A bit like Chamonix, its a big town with lots going on but on a lake too. Then the next summer I spent instructing in Tignes on the glacier again with Club Med. After that a winter in Sestriere, Italy then another summer in Tignes and then I settled in Arc 2000 for the winter of 1980. It was the first year they opened Arc 2000. Club Med was the only building up there! No Aiguille Rouge lift. We had a really big winter with a lot of snow and back then you were allowed to get up to ski the Rouge with a helicopter. It cost 90 francs per go.


The Tip-Top Story CB: 90 francs! So like, 13 euros or something?

the first time such a thing had been seen here.

AD: That’s right, really cheap! It was a big, big winter and we had a really great time! The next year I had to go off to do national service, which was obligatory at the time but as soon as that was done I was straight back to Les Arcs again. This time to a ski school in Arc 1800 and that was when I really got to know all the locals and also where I met my wife Isabelle.

CB: Were snowboards appearing in other resorts at that time?

Around this time, some new innovations were appearing like monoskiing and snowboarding. The main idea of this was to give more lift in powder and enjoy the really deep snow better. Some Winterstick snowboards had arrived in Les Arcs but they had no bindings, just foot straps. We all gave it a go but the equipment made it hard and there was no one to really show us what to do! I remember a few of us lived in the Croisette building in Les Arcs 1800, which is a big apartment block built on a hill where a lot of the workers lived. We would take the Wintersticks home in the evening, drink a few beers and then lap the slope next to the building using the interior lift! But the bindings were so hard to use it was mainly, straight-line down the hill, crash at the bottom then go again! It was good fun though and that’s pretty much how we learned to snowboard. CB: Was there anyone selling or hiring snowboarding equipment in the valley at that time? AD: No, not at all. CB: Where did these Winterstick snowboards come from? AD: Well in the early eighties, Les Arcs wanted to make a film to help promote the resort and this became the Apocalypse Snow movies. Their idea was to use what we called the “nouvelle glisse” the new way of riding - snowboarding and monoskiing. An Australian guy called Paul Loxton, brought over some Winterstick boards from the States which were used in the films. At the time Les Arcs was a very young resort. A lot of young, curious and open minded instructors were working there and a lot of people were really keen to try them out. It was

AD: Just a little. Paul left some snowboards in Chamonix and Tignes as well but it was mainly Les Arcs that really got on board. But then after that a few guys started shaping their own boards. Like Regis Rolland, Serge Dupraz and a few other people. Just because it was impossible or at least, very expensive to find imported boards in Europe. And that was the spirit, to shape boards, try new things, see which shapes work and which don’t. CB: So what were the first French brands? AD: DEA was one of the first, from Grenoble. It was like a real surfboard. You could use it on water if you wanted! At the time of the first Apocalypse movie Regis was already building his own boards so naturally he used the name Apocalypse. That was another of the first brands to appear. This was around 1984. After this we had one or two winters with not very much snow. The boards and bindings at that time only really worked in powder. So a few guys had the idea to use stiff boots, like touring ski boots with special bindings. That was different from the original spirit but you could use it on hard pack snow and suddenly snowboarding started to grow very quickly because you could snowboard anywhere and in any conditions. Skiers could very easily switch over to snowboarding with this new equipment. CB: Was there ever a time when they didn’t let people snowboard in Les Arcs or has it always been accepted? AD: In Les Arcs it was always fine but you needed to carry some mini skis with you to use the drag lifts! But it was funny because when we went to Squaw Valley in California to film Apocalypse 3 they had a screen in the main resort and it was showing the first Apocalypse movie. But when we spoke with the management of the resort to ask where we could do some filming they said you can’t snowboard in this resort, its forbidden! So we said to them, we

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big trips it must have been an expensive film to make. AD: Yes but we had big sponsors and a big budget so it was possible. If you look at all the films you can see that in every single shot we are on a completely untracked mountain side. That was very important to the producers. You will never see an old track in shot! You wouldn’t see that so much in films these days. CB: OK so that was 1986. What came after that? Back to instructing?

came all the way from France. We already made this movie that you are playing on your TV here! Eventually we spoke to the general manager and he allowed us to film as long as we were accompanied by the ski patrol and only went to places they said was ok! So yeah it was not so easy in the States! Snowboarding was forbidden in many resorts. But in France no, it was never a problem. Especially in Les Arcs. It was always a very open minded place. CB: What was your role in Apocalypse Snow 3?

AD: Yes. One day in particular I remember in Utah, when we wanted to film a jump over a freight train. Of course this was not something we could get permission for so we had to do it very unofficially. We met this local guy that said he knew the perfect spot. He took us there and we set up a nice kicker and did a few test jumps and it worked well. The guy that found the spot for us said he could backflip over it but he didn’t want to do a test jump.

AD: In Europe we filmed in Les Arcs and Ste. Foy. This was before Ste. Foy had any lifts though. We just used a helicopter! Some of the crew went to Japan but the big one was to the States. As well as California we also went to Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. It was 6 weeks altogether.

Then we had to wait for a train! It was really the wild west so no way to know when one would come along. After a couple of hours waiting we heard the train in the distance and got ready. Our first guy hit the jump and made a nice landing. Next this guy went for the backflip but he set off from much nearer to the jump. He didn’t have enough speed and the front of his skis hit the train. Myself and Regis were waiting above to drop in and we just saw him disappear. We thought there was a good chance he might be dead and so of course we stopped filming. In fact he fell clear and he was fine but the impact spilt his ski boots in two! That clip is in the film so you can see it for yourself.

CB: Some trip! There’s some pretty

CB: Wow, lucky guy! With all these

AD: Well you know everybody did a bit of everything. Sometimes you were a goodie, sometimes a baddie! I was mainly mono-skiing, a bit of skiing, some double mono-skiing and a bit of snowboarding but mainly monoskiing. CB: Where else did you go during the filming?

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incredible stuff in that film - big cliff drops, some very sketchy stunts.

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AD: In 1987 I was with a few guys from the Apocalypse team in Les Arcs doing promotions in the resort on piste. We all had special outfits and did demonstrations and shows on monoski’s, double monoskis and snowboards - a bit of everything. We would take people for an introduction on the double monoski’s. Even if we had someone who had never skied before we just clipped them into the front bindings and took them down the piste, doing all the work for them which could be quite funny sometimes! Also I did some work with Arc Aventures, organising an event called Le Raid Blanc. It was an idea from a guy called Thierry Sabine, the same guy responsible for the Paris-Dakar rally. He wanted to do something a bit


The Tip-Top Story similar in winter with skis. The first one started in Les Arcs at the top if the Aiguille Rouge. With some of the rest of the Apocalypse team we opened the course, skiing the route in front of the racers. We skied off the back of the Rouge and down to Villaroger, then hiked to Ste. Foy, then transfer to La Rosiere, then up the ski lifts and skied down to La Thuile, then another transfer to Entreves, then up the lift to the Punta Hellbronner and skied the Valley Blanche to Chamonix. CB: Wow, that sounds like an incredible race! All of that in one day? AD: Yes exactly! The next year we did another one which was Flaine to Les Arcs. From the top lift in Flaine we passed through the Dessert de Plate and then dropped down into the valley quite close to St Gervais which was really steep. For some of it you needed to go on a rope! Then a transfer to Chamonix and up the Aiguille du Midi cable car. From there we skied down to Entreves, then a transfer to La Thuile and up to the Col du Petit St. Bernard, ski down to Seez, transfer to Bourg and then up the cable car to the finish in Les Arcs. This was before they built the funiculaire! Then around the same time the same team also had the idea to do a summer event called Le Raid

Gaulloises. The first edition was in New Zealand and the idea was to race from one coast of the south island to the other - walking, running, rafting and some horse riding I think. It was really cool because I spent around 2 months in New Zealand doing all the planning and we had Jet boats and helicopters to use! After this when I came back in Les Arcs it was clear that snowboarding was really taking off. So with a few friends in winter 1990/91 we decided to try to start up a school which was just for snowboarding. We needed a name that was a bit different to the ski schools and we picked Tip-Top. So that’s how it started - as a snowboard school and it worked really well. We had up to 10 instructors working during February. CB: At that time could you get snowboard lessons with the ESF? AD: Yeah there was a couple of guys who could teach this but not a lot. The difficulty for us was to find good stuff to rent. So we said, let's try to open a shop and see what will happen. So the following winter - 1991/92 - we opened the shop. At first we thought to open it in Les Arcs but it was not so easy, then we thought, why not Bourg? It’s more central for a lot of resorts. And so it was born! The first shop was at the top of the High Street. We spent 3 winters there. CB: I remember coming into the shop in the summer of 1992! AD: Yes that would have been our first year! Back then we actually had a drag lift in Bourg! Just a little one for kids and beginners. CB: No way! Where was that?

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AD: Where the new gymnasium is in Bourg, next to the hospital. Back then it was just a field and we had a little drag lift there where we could teach snowboarding. Of course we didn’t always have snow there but in 1992 there was lot. I remember around Christmas/New Year we had more than one and a half metres of snow in Bourg, most of which came in one go. You can imagine, everything was blocked. People were stuck here, sleeping in the church, in the gymnasium, in the army barracks. Cars which were parked one day, were buried up to the roof the next! To get into the shop we had to dig down to find the door but that year was really great because we would teach people on the Bourg drag lift and then they could ride right back to the shop at the end of the lesson to drop off their equipment! CB: Amazing! Hard to imagine that these days! Were there any other snowboard shops in the valley at that time? AD: There was a shop in Tignes called Sweet Snow and there was a snowboard school there called Kebra too. Soon after that the Bazoom shop opened in Tignes as well. To begin with for us the school side was really the main business. People wanted to learn snowboarding but they weren’t ready to buy equipment so we were a bit early really. CB: OK but then I guess over the years the shop became the bigger side of the business? AD: Yeah we gave lessons for maybe 10 winters. We had a partner called Alain Ducloz. His

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sister was married to Jean Nerva, another famous pioneer of snowboarding in the valley and two times world champion who sadly died just two months ago. That was kind of our family in those days. After a while we split the shop and the school. It was getting complicated to run the school from Bourg. So Alain took the school side up to Les Arcs and we continued with the shop in Bourg. A bit later the school stopped altogether but Alain is still working as an independent instructor in the valley. CB: And it was at that point that you moved to the bigger shop? AD: That’s right. Snowboarding was really starting to explode then and we needed a lot more space. CB: Was Les Arcs one of the first open a snow park? AD: Yes in fact way back in the early nineties, they dug a halfpipe in the summer near to the top of what is now the Vagere lift. It wasn’t anything like the standard you see today but it worked and it was probably the first half pipe in France! Tignes has always been a freestyle resort as well so they were not far behind with developing that side. Then La Plagne also. CB: Do you think the snow conditions have changed a lot over the last 35 years? Or do you think we just see different cycles? AD: No, for sure we have less snow now. Yes it's warmer, that is absolutely sure and I would say it’s drier too. Of course there are good years and bad years. I remember one year in the mid-eighties when we had no snow at Christmas. When I say that I mean from Arc 1800 you could not see a single patch of

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snow on any of the mountains. The tennis courts were still open for example and the ground was not even frozen! No possibility for artificial snow then as well of course and it was like this until the middle of January. That would have to be the worst winter I have seen, so for sure we did have bad winters before. But also it was fairly common in the past to have winters when you could ride all the way down to Bourg for 6-8 weeks of the season but we haven’t seen that at all for many years. The most impressive though is Tignes, the glacier. I spent two summer in Tignes and both years it was possible to ride down to Val Claret until mid-July. CB: No way! That’s a huge difference! AD: Yeah I mean maybe you had to walk the last 100 metres at the bottom but basically it was fine to ride down. This is impossible to imagine now! The state of the glacier this summer is really incredible. It is tiny compared to what it was 10 years ago. The problem is, the smaller the glacier gets, the faster it melts because the surface area is bigger compared to the volume. So we will see it disappear very quickly now. Summer skiing will be a souvenir very shortly. Even if we have a big winter this year, it’s already too late. CB: And so sadly, we found out recently that after 25 years you have decided to close the doors of Tip-Top. What brought you to that decision? AD: Business is changing. All business. Mainly because of the internet. It's the same in all countries. All the small independent shops not only in sport or snowboarding, most of them are closing because it’s now an old business model. It’s not adapted to the new way of buying. I read

yesterday that the French post office delivered 35 million parcels last December from internet sales. It gives you an idea what is happening. And it’s grown hugely again this year. The other problem is our suppliers, Burton and in fact most of them, now have their own internet shops to sell directly to the customer. It’s easy to understand of course, much bigger margins. So they don’t need any small shops now. I am not convinced it is possible to continue as a small shop. Five or ten years from now I don’t think we will see any. Now have the big retailers who can stock a huge range at lower prices. CB: Like Blue Tomato? AD: Exactly. You look on their website and they have a stock of 1200 skateboard decks. So you have absolutely everything you can imagine. You pick one and its delivered to your home two days later. Really it’s not possible for a small shop to compete with that. Now you also have the company Snow Leader. They have small shops where you can go in for advice, try things for size, exchange items but they don’t carry much stock. You order in store and it is delivered to you. So that could be a good model for the next few years I think. After that who knows! Everything changes so quickly these days. CB: Of course, because that was


The Tip-Top Story the attraction of a small shop - to get advice and see things up close. They can bridge the gap. AD: Indeed. You know if you spent a day in our shop last winter I think you would be shocked how many people come in and try on things, then take a photo of the label and leave without buying anything. Of course they go away and buy the same product on the internet that evening from a big shop like Blue Tomato who can afford to offer lower prices. When you see this so much every day you say to yourself “What is any job now?” CB: You are selling for someone else! AD: Yes! So you have to think. We did 25 years running the shop and we did a good job, it was successful, we made great friends along the way. We always had a big base of regular customers coming in the shop, socialising and that was what made it a fun job. Steadily now that is changing. We decided it was the right time to close the book. Things have changed. We are not disappointed, we are just aware. Of course we could keep going but we know that it will just get harder each year and less enjoyable so the time is right to make a change. And also we wanted more time for ourselves! CB: So what will you do this winter? AD: This winter, yes back to doing some instructing. Not full time, just a bit you know. And have more time to enjoy being on the mountain without the pressure and responsibility of running a business. It will be cool I think!

What is A trilogy of snowboard movies filmed during the mid-eighties, mainly in Les Arcs. The star of the 3 films was Regis Rolland, one of the early pioneers of snowboarding in Europe, who went on to establish several well known snowboard brands. The film’s centre around the pursuit of Regis (on a sketchy snowboard with only footstrap bindings) by a host of bad guys who want to steal the secret of the ‘glisse’ from him. At the start of the first movie they are mainly riding monoskis but various other forms of snow sliding appear later including everything from whitewater rafts to zorbs, and almost all of the action is in deep powder snow. The bright coloured outfits are now so old that some of them have actually come back into fashion!

In places bizarre and in others ridiculous, there is however no denying that it was a groundbreaking series of movies. The standard of riding and skiing, the beautiful off-piste of Les Arcs and the imaginative stunts make them ‘must see’ films, so much so that they even made a modern follow up in 2008 called Apocalypse Le Retour, which premiered in the town square of Bourg St. Maurice much to the delight of all the locals that attended. You can find all of them on youtube. If you want to go further back, look up Ski Espace which was an earlier Les Arcs effort and the excellent Canon Surf 1 and 2 that were filmed in the late eighties. Want some ski or snowboard lessons with a local legend? You can reach Alain at the following email: alaindidierjean@sfr.fr

CB: Yeah good for you! AD: Indeed! We are very happy, you know. And then from that who knows! We shall see! CB: Awesome, a happy ending! Well thanks so much for giving us your time to talk through the last 35 odd years. It’s been really fascinating. Of course we’ll be sad to see Tip-Top disappear but it’s clear it’s happened for all the right reasons and we’ll look forward to seeing more of you and Isabelle up on the mountain! All photos courtesy of Alain Didierjean

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Val D’Isere Right at the very top of the Tarentaise valley, Val d’Isere is one of the most well-known ski resorts in the world. It has a reputation like no other for its world class accommodation, après-ski, fine restaurants and shops and, together with Tignes, makes up the huge Espace Killy skiing area It is one of the oldest and most attractive towns in the area. The local church dates to the late 17th century and skiing took off here way back in the 1930’s! Mainly consisting of free standing chalets built in traditional style and nestling in a stunning valley at the head of the Isere river, a holiday in Val does also carry a price tag, as it’s one of the most expensive for accommodation and food & drink.

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Despite being well known for its steep blacks, Val d'Isere still caters for the beginners out there! The Solaise area has a large beginners slope with plenty of space for veering off to one side and several green and blue runs, perfect for progression. As the name suggests, these runs catch the sun whenever it makes an appearance, so are great in January when temperatures can be low. The long pistes running from Toviere down to la Daille are a great way to rack up the miles and will have your legs burning by the end. The glacier at Le Fornet provides some of the best cruising runs, especially if you go from the top of the glacier, all the way down to the village in one go! Any time the visibility disappears, it's time to head over towards the forested areas of Laisinant and Le Fornet. There's always somewhere to ski/ride in the Espace Killy, no matter what the weather. Even on a clear day, the tree-lined runs between Val d'Isere and Le Fornet will offer some of the most fun pistes of your holiday, especially if the powder is stacked up! The Tour du Cugnai and Tour du Charvet are classic, famous off-piste routes in Val. Whilst they can get busy later in the day, the views and snow are amazing if you get there earlier. Guides are essential when going off-piste in Val d'Isere, due to the steep terrain, cliffs and avalanche danger. There are plenty of day touring routes also, with mountain huts positioned in the most beautiful locations. If you have good weather and can hire a guide, this is definitely worth a day of your trip and will allow you to explore the real off-piste of the Espace Killy.


Val D’Isere Guide

Dicks Tea Bar dicksteabar.com is something of a Val d’Isere institution! The debauchery has run riot here since 1979 and the place is still as popular as ever. Expect the usual mix of booze, beats and bodypoppin’! Le Petit Danois lepetitdanois.com sells itself as the No.1 party bar in Val and lives up to that name by providing après-goers with live music or a DJ every night of the week, 2 happy hours a day and a free shot for every drink bought between 5-7pm… sounds dangerous!

Because of its influx of British holidaymakers in the winter, Val has a plethora of English speaking ski schools to choose from:

TDCski tdcski.com provides quality ski coaching for those who want something different to regular ski school. They offer small group coaching sessions with dedicated English speaking ski instructors so you can make lasting breakthroughs in your skiing performance. On and off-piste as well as private sessions are available. Leading Edge Ski School leadingedgeski.com is a new, British-run establishment and the guys there offer friendly tuition, aiming to give you the best experience on the mountain. Whether you’re a total beginner or you want to explore the nether

Café Face cafeface.com La Folie Douces' presence down in the village of Val is a well-priced spot, with chilled music to start après and getting livelier until closing at 2am. Regular DJ nights are on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Saloon Bar saloonbar.com underneath the Hotel Brussels is a popular bar on the snow front that you can ski straight to. If you’re so up for après that you don’t have time to drop your skis back at the chalet then no need to worry, the Saloon will take them in and look after them for you, rather like a cloak room in a nightclub back home. Handy!

The Doudonne doudouneclub.com has steadily made a name for itself over the last few years and has played host to some pretty big name DJ sets including the Freestylers, A-Skillz and Rudimental. We are certainly looking forward to see who they can bring in this winter!

Cocorico cocoricovaldisere.com is the Doudonne’s apres-ski bar and you can ski right up to the front door at the foot of the Face black piste at the centre of the Val. The huge sunny terrace has been extended over the summer so that even more people can dance on the tables in the sunshine!

regions of the Espace Killy, Liam or Chris can help.

New Generation Tignes skinewgen.com is a another British run ski school that offers high quality tuition. Probably the most well known amongst Brits is BASS - the British Alpine Ski & Snowboard School (bass-skischools.com). With 25 successful years teaching in the Alps, their school in Val offers individual lessons and courses to brush up freeride skills and more.

Progression Ski and Snowboard School (progressionski.com) is ‘Val d’Isere and Tignes’s leading ski & snowboard school’ and they offer the full range of lessons in both disciplines plus heli-skiing options, telemark instruction and corporate trips.

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A range of accommodation from budget apartments to some of the world’s most expensive chalets

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Skiing from 1500m up to 3450m

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15 green runs, 32 blue, 21 red, 13 black & 1 snowpark

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Opens 25th November 2017 and closes 1st May 2018

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Adult lift pass price - €57.00/day €285/6 days for the whole of Espace Killy

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Nearest airport – Chambery (145km) but most popular Geneva (180km)

146km of pistes in local area with 300km total in Espace Killy

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If, like us, your main priority after skiing is good grub then Val d’Isere is definitely the place to come. You cannot expect to pay ‘normal’ prices for food here because, well it is Val d’Isere after all, but that shouldn’t put you off because it is definitely possible to get your money’s worth. There are options for everyone – plenty of ‘snack shack’ style establishments, posh burgers that won’t break the bank all the way up to Michelin starred tastiness. L’Avancher (avancher.com) is a great place to go on chalet night off or for a treat, serving quality French bistro cuisine and local speciality dishes mainly involving lots of cheese. Located in the centre of Val in the Galerie des Cimes, there’s a really quirky eatery called Dans le Jardin des Alpes (danslejardindesalpes.com) where one could be fooled into thinking that they are dining a l’exterior because of the garden under the stars theme. You can pick up a tasty 900g sandwich called Le Hunger Breaker from the sandwich bar or grab something from the delicatessen for dinner. La Taverne d’Alsace located within the Kandahar Hotel (hotel-kandahar.com) is a local favourite even with Jean-Claude Killy, the legend of whom the resort L’Espace Killy is named after! If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us! La

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Taverne which translated means pub does definitely have that old pub feel and is warm, cosy and comfortable. Plus the food is a mix of French and German with the Alsace connection - think Duck Shepherds Pie, Veal Ribs or maybe Calf’s Head perhaps and Alsace specialities such as Sauerkraut with varying accompaniments. For food up on the mountain, the first and very obvious suggestion is La Folie Douce (lafoliedouce.com) which is pretty much world famous for its during/après-ski party on the piste. A large building with an even larger terrace includes two restaurants. The best (and most expensive) is La Fruiterie which takes inspiration from old mountain dairies and the second is called Nuvo Self which is probably one of the ‘trendiest’ self-service establishments in the Alps - it does have a DJ booth! La Folie Douce is the collective name for the restaurants and the bar/terrace which is just one big lively, happy place! It’s not the type of establishment you go to for a quick lunch or one drink really, it’s like a little trap of good food and lots of alcohol. You can eat from 12 noon and the bars stay open until 5pm (they only close because there is so much carnage that everyone has to be ushered off the mountain before the pisteurs can go home). In between there’s dancing on the tables and spraying of cham-

pagne guaranteed! La Folie Douce is located at the top of the Daille cable car and is also accessible for those who don’t ski, as you can buy a return pass for that lift alone for around 10 euros. Another few restaurants on the hill in Val worth visiting include La Peau de Vache (restaurant-lapeaudevache.com) which is half way down the famous La Face run above the town. Its burgers are something special and the place is also known for its welcoming, friendly host. You can’t miss Le Signal (lesignalvaldisere.com) as it’s a strange looking wooden cube-like building, so why not head there for lunch? Decorated with a freshness in comparison to most French mountain places, this great mountain top restaurant is right near the glacier and can be accessed by foot from the cable car. It’s pricey but worth it for the location, service and a varied, different menu. Les Tufs (lestufs.com) is a dining experience right on the slopes, located at the bottom of the Funival just a stroll up from the Telecabine de la Daille. The décor is clean in a ‘neutral chalet’ style and the terrace is a lovely spot for lunch when the sun’s out. Pizzas start at €14 and there is a reasonably priced ‘Tufs’ menu for €21.


Val D’Isere Guide

Criterium de la Premiere Neige December 8th-10th The opening event of the international ski racing calendar!

Aside from skiing there are plenty of other activities on offer in Val. Most non-skiers might like to head to the sofas and sun-loungers of the bars and restaurants overlooking the snow front but there’s certainly more to Val than that! As you come into the town itself, look out for the Val d’Isere Ice-Driving Experience (valdisere-ice-driving.com) on the right. It’s a specially made driving circuit (sponsored by BMW) where you get to slide and skid around in their 4x4 vehicles on

the snow. More recently they have also added electric KTM motocross bikes for you to try your hand at. There’s also Ice-Karting, a driving simulator and you can even have a go at driving a piste basher! The newly up-graded, indoor Aquasportif Centre (centre-aquasportif.com) in town, just next to the massive L’Olympique gondola lift is a really impressive building that includes all sorts of alternative activities for both adults and kids. You’ll find pools, spas and wellness areas and an incredible climbing wall. There’s also a gym and a weights room if you really want to beast yourself whilst on holiday! Try the golf simulator if you’re a fan.

Airstar Night Light December 31st then every Thursday night from the 11th January until the 8th March Night-time entertainment on the main street with jugglers, musicians, DJ’s, stilt walkers and dozens of illuminations. Alpine Skiing Europa Cup Giant Slalom 23rd January Classicaval Music Festival 29th – 31st January & 12th March The classical music festival’s 25th anniversary Wintergolf 22nd - 25th March Golf on snow! We assume they don’t use white balls for this otherwise they’ll probably still be playing in June! La Scara 3rd - 6th April Slalom and Giant Slalom competition for international junior racers between 12 and 15 years International Adventure Film Festival 16th – 19th April Exhibitions, first hand accounts and eleven adventure films to catch at the conference centre auditorium Yoga Festival 27th - 29th April Val D’Isere 6th yoga festival. 3 days of yoga and wellbeing with over 35 yoga, pilates and well-being lessons. For the most up-to-date details go to valdisere.com

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WO RLD SN O W AWA R DS 2017 T R AV E L I N N O VAT I O N W I N N E R

In December 2016 we became the first company in the Tarentaise valley to offer a regular, fully electric, airport transfer service from Geneva airport, using a Tesla Model X SUV. Over the course of the following winter season, we racked up 147 transfers over 45,000 carbon emission free kilometres. Our aim was always to use the car as much as possible, so while some of these customers paid extra for the VIP service via our ZEAT.vip website, or paid for an upgrade to their Cool Bus transfer, others simply got lucky and got the VIP treatment for nowt! These totals represent 5% of the cumulative distance covered by our fleet of 24 vehicles last winter, or to put that another way, by replacing one of our diesel fuelled minibuses with an electric car we reduced our CO2 emissions by 5%. We were the first airport transfer business in the French Alps to make the move in such a big way, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed and in October 2017 we won the Travel Innovation category at the prestigious World Snow Awards in London! We are understandably very proud of these achievements but back in autumn 2016 it represented a huge step into the unknown for us and a very expensive gamble! At the time of ordering there were no Model X’s available to test drive in Europe. They simply hadn’t made any at that point. All we had to go on was a test drive of a

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Model S and the information available on Tesla’s website. Their stats certainly suggested that the car had sufficient range to get from our base in Bourg St. Maurice, up to resorts such as Val d’Isere and then onwards to Geneva on one charge but what effect would a full load have on this? And driving up and down over 1500 metres of altitude? And sub-zero temperatures? Another uncertainty was carrying capacity. The Model X can be purchased as a 7 seater but would that leave ample space for luggage? Naturally we had Tesla’s figures to go from but until you physically try loading five large suitcases onboard there is always going to be some uncertainty. And was there any possibility of carrying ski’s? How well would the 4WD cope with snow and ice? And how easy would it be to drive downhill on snow with all the extra weight and momentum added by its batteries? All these questions hung in the balance as we anxiously handed over a huge cheque to Tesla Motors and took delivery back in November 2016. With that first winter season now safely behind us we are happy to be able to breath a sigh of relief and furnish you with the answers to these, and many other questions!

Got The Range? Without a doubt, the single most important factor to us was the effective range of the car and it

was with some trepidation that we set out on our first test run to Geneva. Tesla’s figures quote a range of 489 km but this is based on the standard industry NEDC test which is performed on a rolling road, indoors, and at a temperature of around 25 degrees celsius hardly the conditions we were going to ask it to perform in. External temperature has a significant effect on the range of this vehicle for two reasons. Everything you use in the car has a drain on the battery but for most of the ancillary equipment, the amount of power used is tiny when compared to the car’s motors. The one exception is heating and so straight away we knew that the car’s range was going to be reduced when driving at subzero temperatures. Anyone who’s tried using a mobile phone whilst out skiing will also know that the efficiency of the battery is hugely reduced in cold temperatures. This works the same on the somewhat larger lithium-ion batteries in an electric car but we soon found a way to improve on this thanks to the advice of some fellow Tesla owners (it turns out Tesla Supercharging stations offer a great opportunity for owners to hang out and swap tips and generally admire each others cars!). For optimum battery life, Tesla recommend you never leave your car parked with a full charge. As such you are able to set any limit for charging you wish and you can


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2016/17 stats

45,000 147 5% Carbon emission free KM’s

also adjust this remotely using the Tesla app on your smartphone. At our base in Bourg St. Maurice, our drivers always set the car to charge overnight but only to 90%. Then one hour before starting work a driver can log into his app from home and tell it to charge up the final 10%. When the driver starts work the car has just reached 100% and since it has just been charging, the battery is warm, thus improving the range! A win-win! One of the many display settings you can adjust on the car is how the available range is displayed. You can choose from ‘Rated’ or ‘Typical’. With a full charge the rated range is 489 km but it is telling to note that the typical range is 389. This also alters as the car learns how you drive and the sort of journeys you take. A key element we knew would have an effect on our own rated range was climbing hills. As you would expect, this dramatically reduces the predicted kilometres from one charge. Driving from Bourg to Tignes for example, you can expect to lose 90km of battery range over a 32 km journey, and that’s if you drive steady! With so much torque

transfers

under your right foot, the temptation to power out of every corner is hard to resist. On the flip side, while descending the car’s batteries are actually recharging through regenerative braking. As such, on the same journey in reverse you can expect the range of the car to increase by 10 km. The net range used therefore from Bourg to Tignes return is in the region of 80 km over a 56km journey which actually isn’t too bad at all. The power of the regenerative braking really is quite incredible. As soon as you take your foot off the accelerator the car begins to slow down as the motors put charge back into the battery. This effect increases the longer you ease off, to the point that the brake lights come on and the car eventually comes to a virtual standstill. As a result, you rarely need to use the brakes at all and controlling speed is more a case of feathering the throttle. All of this means that the way the car is driven has a massive effect on the range. We have found that on our standard Bourg-ValGeneva run of 225 km, when

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C02 REDUCTION

driving at average speeds we will arrive back at the Tesla Supercharging station (in Archamps just 15 km from the airport) with 25% charge remaining in the battery. If you drive hard it’s no problem to get that down to 0% (though Tesla recommend never allowing it to go below 10%) but conversely, if you drive conservatively you can bring that up to 40%! Topping the car up from 30 back to 100% takes around 1 hour using the Supercharger (naturally we verified in advance that the power used here comes 100% from renewable sources). It also gives our drivers the chance to have a coffee/clean the car interior/do some social media or just geek off with fellow Tesla owners!

Carrying Capacity The Model X was the first electric car to enter the market which adequately catered for our needs in terms of interior space. Marketed as an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle in case you didn’t know they do love an acronym on the other side of the Atlantic), it is intended to compete with the likes of the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover Sport. Our model

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came with seven seats in a 2 3 - 2 configuration. It is possible to order with 5 seats (2 - 3) of even 6 (2 - 2 - 2). The five seat configuration boasts the biggest carrying capacity of any SUV on the market. The six seat configuration free’s up space down the centre aisle of the middle row of seats which would allow for the carriage of skis but only with 3 passengers on board. Neither of these 3 was exactly ideal so we plumped for the 7 seat version to give us the most versatility. In practice it very quickly became apparent that the rear row of seats was not ideal for fully grown adults. Whilst there is sufficient space to sit in the back, the lack of legroom certainly wasn’t in line with the VIP level of service we were aiming for. With just the 4 passenger seats in use and the rear row folded down, the luggage space (which includes space under the bonnet of course as there’s no engine!) is more than ample for 5 large suitcases and additional hand luggage/boot bags etc. With just 3 passengers onboard it is perfectly feasible to carry ski’s inside by tipping one of the middle row seats forward. In order to carry 4 or more passengers and ski’s simultaneously we had to think outside the box a little. The most obvious solutions presented some issues. A conventional roof rack cannot be fitted due to the Falcon wing doors (like in Back To The Future but with an extra hinge to enable opening in tight spaces). A trailer would work but definitely cause issues with parking and manoeuvring in the restrictive spaces at Geneva airport. A tow bar mounted ski rack is available but only really useful for ski’s that are unpacked. After some research we found a workable solution in the Seasucker roof rack. They have been producing racks that work using suction cups for several years to help people with unsuitable cars to carry sports equipment. The roof bars are short enough to mean they can be used just on one half of the car. In this way we are able to lock off the Falcon wing door on one side and fit the roof rack. Passengers can still comfortably get into the car from one side and we have roof space for multiple sets of ski’s. Having tried and tested this system several times last winter we are happy to say it works!

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Our transfers, Electric... Everything Else We’ve said it before but aside from the whole eco thing, what really sets this vehicle apart from all other luxury SUV’s on the market is the ride. The combination of the lack of engine noise and smart air suspension makes a journey in the Model X feel more like a ride in a space ship. The lack of roll as you corner and the gentle humming of the tyres gives you the sensation of hovering just above the road. It really does have to be tried to be believed. Naturally we fitted snow tyres to the 22 inch alloy wheels that were specced on our model. These coped admirably in all types of snow. Thanks to the electronically controlled traction assist, there was never even a hint of wheel spin no matter how steep the slope or how deep the snow. The effect of regenerative braking on the vehicle while descending on snow takes a little getting used to but this can be altered in the vehicle settings if necessary but in all honesty, the car’s ‘brain’ is able to sense any loss of traction and adjust the power or braking to each wheel individually to counteract. Its fair to say that the media player wasn’t anywhere near the top of the list when we were considering the Model X. Sure, we noticed in passing that it said something about Spotify and phone connectivity but we certainly didn’t investigate any further. What a surprise it was then to discover the joy of being able to pick any song or album by any band in history to listen to whilst driving! Or any podcast you can imagine. You can even stream live radio stations from around the world via TuneIn. Its hard to put into words how much pleasure this brings. Our drivers tell us they have discovered a ton of new music over the 2016/17 winter season - and they call it work!

Just to be clear, the car comes with its own 3G internet connection so none of the above uses data from your phone and it continues to work seamlessly no matter what country you are in. The car also uses this connection to download updates to its operating system when its parked.

road every day and thereby reduce our CO2 emissions even further. You can guarantee travel in one of these incredible vehicles by booking a VIP transfer through our ZEAT.vip website. Every week we will also offer upgrades to selected Cool Bus customers as we did last season.

Panoramic windscreens always come across as something of a gimmick. That is until you’ve been a passenger in a Model X driving through the Alps! No longer restricted to a sideways view of the mountains, you can see all the way to the summits and beyond even while driving along the valley floor. Again, its something you didn’t realise you were missing until you try it.

ZEAT transfers are priced at 495 euros each way from Geneva and 395 euros each way from Chambery, to any resort in the Tarentaise valley. Train transfers from Bourg St. Maurice cost 125 euros each way to the resorts of Tignes, Val d’Isere, Les Arcs and La Rosiere. These prices include carriage of up to 4 passengers with luggage. We can take up to 6 passengers (for the same price) but please do bear in mind that as mentioned above, the rearmost row of seats does have limited legroom.

As far as Falcon wing doors go, we think the jury is still out. Yes they do allow unparalleled access to the rear seats and do so even in tight parking spots. A conventional door would not tick both of these boxes simultaneously. A sliding door would but that was never going to satisfy the designers at Tesla. There’s no doubt they turn heads but for that reason, they can make you feel slightly self conscious when entering or exiting the vehicle!

Conclusion Make no mistake, we are over the moon with our new car and how it has performed over the last year. Our drivers have absolutely loved piloting it around the Alps and the lucky customers that have had the experience are overflowing with compliments, so much so that it wasn’t a hard decision to take the plunge and order a second Model X! This season our fleet will consist of 22 diesel powered VW Caravelles and 2 fully electric Tesla Model X’s. As we did last year, we will aim to have the Tesla’s on the

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If this pushes your ski holiday over budget then you could book a regular Cool Bus transfer and be one of the lucky few offered an upgrade for just 95 euros (or even luckier and get a free upgrade!). Even if you end up travelling in one of our T6 VW Caravelles (still the best 9 seat vehicle on the market!) you can take comfort from the fact that when you book with Cool Bus some of your money goes towards our plan to continue steadily moving our fleet over to electric power. In this small way you are helping us to reduce our collective carbon footprint in a much more legitimate way than any carbon offsetting scheme can offer. Our very realistic aim for 2017/18 is to increase the emission free share of our fleet’s kilometres to 10%. We’d love to continue increasing this every year from now on and with your help we’re sure we can! www.zeat.vip

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La Plagne Did you know that based on ski pass sales La Plagne is the most popular ski resort in the world? True fact! It’s linked to Les Arcs via the Vanoise Express double decker cable car (the biggest of its kind in the world) and combined they make up the Paradiski, one of the largest linked ski areas in the world (435km of pistes in total). Blimey, someone phone Norris McWhirter! The resort of La Plagne

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is made up of a number of high altitude, purpose built, ski in/ski out villages and a few smaller, traditional farming villages including Champagny-en-Vanoise, Montchavin-Les Coches and Montalbert. All of these provide us with hundreds of kilometres of on and off-piste skiing, some great restaurants and bars and loads of off-the-slope activities. What more could you ask for?

Photo: T Shu


La Plagne Guide

Photo: T Shu

The lower villages have an abundance of beautiful tree-lined pistes ranging from nursery slopes to roller coaster reds! The greatest concentration of these would have to be over in the Montchavin-Les Coches sector. Throughout the central La Plagne areas and further afield towards Champagny you will find a host of fun, undulating blues and reds that criss-cross each other giving the opportunity to switch between runs at will. Wider, motorway style pistes can be found up at the higher altitudes

around Plagne Bellecote and Belle Plagne which are great for charging and carving huge turns. Whilst similar to neighbouring Les Arcs in terms of the total length of pistes, La Plagne is actually much larger in square kilometres. What this means is there’s tons of terrain for the more adventurous to explore between the pistes. The ultimate backcountry playground in La Plagne has to be that found from the top of the highest mountain in the area - the Bellecote. If you wish to explore up here a guide is not just advisable it is absolutely essential as is a full compliment of avalanche safety equipment and the knowledge of how to use it. There have been numerous fatalities up here over the years involving even the most experienced of locals who have been caught in freak avalanches. Of course it goes without saying that all the villages have their own nursery slopes as well and there is a good selection of green pistes and easier blues to take your skiing or riding to the next level.

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A large resort linked to Les Arcs by the one-of-a-kind Vanoise Express

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Over 50,000 beds in resort

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Adult lift pass price - €52/day or €265 for 6 days (La Plagne only)

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Nearest airport – Chambery (120km) but most popular Geneva (150km)

130 pistes – 10 green, 69 blue, 33 red and 18 black Snow-sure, high altitude villages Skiing from 1250m to 3250m Opens 16th December 2017 and closes 28th April 2018

ESF www.esf-plagne.com is the largest ski school provider in La Plagne. Oxygene Ski School www.oxygene-ski.com is also a favourite in these parts too. Olivier at Evolution 2 evolution2-montchavin.com in Montchavin-Les Coches speaks excellent English and will provide some great off-piste guided adventures should you so wish. El Pro elpro.fr is a small independent school in Belle Plagne which has been established for 20 years.

chool.com have a great reputation and guarantee no more than eight people per group. They are also number 1 on Trip Advisor!

Julien Gaidet

La Plagne has, for some reason, gained a reputation as a resort for intermediate skiers which is best avoided by snowboarders unless you like unclipping and walking a lot! Well we reckon this is far from the truth and to be honest, we love the place! There are some flatter linking pistes where you can run out of steam but as long as you look far ahead enough you can usually charge through these and there is more than enough terrain to keep advanced skiers and snowboarders happy if you know where to look.

British run outfit New Generation skinewgen.com have a team of fully qualified, English speaking instructors on hand for group lessons for the kids, a technique refresher, and anything in-between and have the local knowledge and skills to help you get the most out of your skiing holiday.

Local outfit, Reflex Ski School www.reflex-skis-

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Up in Plagne Soleil the best restaurant in the whole resort in a lot of peoples opinion is Au Coin du Feu. Expect a traditional French menu including snails, duck, gratins and roasted bone marrow! In most French ski resorts there seems to be a restaurant called Le Refuge and La Plagne is no exception! Serving traditional and local dishes, the one in Plagne Centre is an excellent choice with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Le Grizzli grizzli-laplagne.com is another favourite for French specialities in Plagne Villages. Over in the lower village of Montchavin you will find the Hotel de Bellecôte hotel-bellecote.fr which has a superb restaurant that is popular with locals and holidaymakers and is known for its local dishes. Le Plein Soleil lepleinsoleil.com on the pistes of the Montchavin-Les Coches sector has long been a favourite for mountain food stops. With both traditional French food and French/German Alsace influences, notably the Strudels, it’s well worth a visit. At the bottom of the half-pipe, just above Plagne Bellecote, is Les Chalet des Colosses restaurant. Known for its good old British post box and varied international menu, it’s a good spot for lunch on the terrace which over looks the Bellecôte snow front. Its currently sitting in the number 1 spot on Trip Advisor for La Plagne. On the pistes above the village of Champagny, right on the edge of the resort of La Plagne and overlooking the pistes of Courchevel, you will find an excellent self-service restaurant with adjoining snack bar called Le Roc des Blanchets. The food and the views are both impressive. The big news over in Montalbert is that British Michelin starred chef Phil Howard is opening a new restaurant! Far from the city the idea is to cook meals that will satisfy the ravenous skier (or non skier) in his relaxed 35 cover restaurant.

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barslaplagne.fr comes highly recommended for its happy hours, live music and DJ nights. Doors are open from 4pm until 2 in the morning. In Plagne 1800 you’ll find Bar La Mine bar-lamine.fr which, as the name suggests, has a mine theme! The bar is decked out with old lights and mining tools in an English pub style which is kind of a novelty in these parts! It’s a really cosy, dimly lit place, that has played host to some pretty serious parties over the years! Spitting Feathers spitting-feathers.com has fast become the place to go in Plagne Bellecôte not least because the guys there provide a shuttle service to pick you up and drop you back to your accommodation! In Belle Plagne, La Tete Inn

If you’re in Plagne Centre, the resort’s busiest village for nightlife, be sure to check out Igloo Igloo in Galerie du Pelvoux which provides tasty cocktails and a funky atmosphere - think penguins and polar bears in an Igloo shaped room! Also in Plagne Centre and popular with seasonnaires and young holidaymakers alike is the British run Scotty’s Bar. Definitely the kind of place you go to for après and end up leaving in the early hours of the morning!


La Plagne Guide

specially dedicated to sledging. The Eldorado and Colorado parks are open most afternoons. The Grotte de Glace or Ice Caves on the Bellecôte glacier are a little more chilled, literally! Check out ice sculptures and more, high up in the mountains.

Need an adrenaline alternative to skiing or snowboarding? How about a different form of snow sliding? Plagne Bellecôte and Plagne Centre both have ‘parks’

Did you know? La Plagne has an Olympic Bobsleigh track and you can have a go! If you enjoyed the film Cool Runnings then you’ll love the Bob Experience! Try hurtling down this 1.5km long track that has 19 G-Force filled bends.

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Photo: Monica Dalmasso

If there’s one thing you must do whilst holidaying in La Plagne, its visit the Blacksheep Igloos blacksheep-igloo.com up above Plagne Villages. You can choose to stay the night or just eat a traditional fondue meal in one of the fully equipped ‘restaurant’ igloos. Prices start at €49 for the evening meal or €99 for the evening meal and a night in a fully equipped (think comfy cushions, furs and candles) ‘bedroom’ igloo.

In Champagny-Le-Haut an artificial 24m high ice tower is constructed each winter for ice climbing. Believe it or not this is open to all. Even if you have no climbing experience whatsoever you can still book yourself onto an initiation session with their experienced instructors. If clinging to a vertical ice face by just the very points of two ice axes and a pair of crampons sounds a bit much to you its worth stopping by for a look anyway. Its quite a spectacle, particularly at night when the tower is floodlit.

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Red Pompon Night 31st December Every year the New Years Eve festivities get better and more spectacular in Plagne Bellecôte, with fireworks, special effects and DJ’s until the early hours. Gorzderette Tournament 26th - 28th January A multi-activity event involving all sorts of snow related disciplines such as ice climbing, hay sledging and nordic skiing. All the action takes places around Champagny-en-Vanoise. Ice Climbing World Cup 11th January Taking place on the Champagny-le-Haut ice climbing wall Sublicimes 11th - 19th April End of season festivities with a different theme at each summit in the resort. This year look out for Zen, Adrenaline and Yeti themes amongst others! For up-to-date listings head to la-plagne.com

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A Tignes Institution ack in 2002, when Cool Bus were just starting out, some of our very first regular customers booked with us through Dragon Lodge. The guys that ran it were a super friendly bunch and we often found ourselves staying on after their clients had been dropped off so we could hit up a few local bars with them and soak up the friendly Tignes vibes. This winter see’s them hit a big milestone so it seemed appropriate to catch up with the head honcho, John Bassett for a bit of a chinwag‌

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The Lodge


Dragon Lodge Snowboarding Cool Bus - So congratulations are in order! A big one for Dragon Lodge this year John, celebrating 20 winter seasons in Tignes! Word has it that this makes your’s the longest running, snowboard specific chalet company in the Alps. Does that sound about right? John - Thanks, yes it’s our 20th season this winter and we’re really proud to have made it this long! When we started we were definitely one of the first to identify snowboarding as a key element of our setup, rather than just another ski chalet, and although we’ve been through a few incarnations, and now in our 3rd chalet, we have been running continuously here in Tignes since the 97/98 season.

had to share it (luckily we had the same size rental ski boots ha!). I remember the board was a Rossignol, more like an ironing board in shape, with plate bindings which we just clipped our ski boots into - not ideal ha, ha! We spent a day on the nursery slopes teaching ourselves, trying to turn, jump and generally trying to skateboard on snow - there was literally no one else there snowboarding to teach us or even watch. The second day we tried to go up the mountain but they wouldn’t let snowboards on the lift at the time so we sacked it off and skied for the last few days.

Owain and John on top of a volcano in Japan!

CB - The first time we met would have been the 2001/02 season in Tignes I reckon. Dragon Lodge had already been going a couple of years by then. J - Yes that sounds about right, I remember very well first hearing about Rob and his very first one man / one Cool Bus operation, I think we may even have been one of your first clients eh? Great to still be working with you and see how you’ve grown over the years too! CB - What got you and your brother Owain into snowboarding in the first place? J - Our family weren’t into skiing, but we were lucky enough go on a couple of school ski trips, and one holiday with our neighbours for Christmas in 1985 or 86 on which we saw a snowboard for the first time. We were really into skateboarding and although flying around on skis was great fun for any kid, as soon as we saw the snowboard we just had to have a go. Unfortunately, as anyone skiing or riding in the mid 80’s will know, there weren’t many boards about, and attitudes to snowboarding were pretty negative. There was only one board for hire in the village so my brother and I

After that we didn’t ski for years, and forgot about snowboarding, until Owain finished school in 1992 and in the January of ’93, followed a school friend, who was working for a ski operator for the classic gap year, out to Tignes. He had nowhere to stay, no job, just wanted to try a winter in the mountains. He had an old set of skis and boots a friend of our Dad’s gave him, and some pretty hideous 80’s ski jacket & pants, but when he got there he saw that snowboarding had changed, equipment had improved and

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progressed and although still a small scene, it had grown in popularity. I remember him ringing me and saying “Hey John, you remember that snowboarding thing we tried years ago, well it’s so much better now, you have to come out and give it a try!” So, that’s what i did - finished my job and headed out to to Tignes for the last 3 or 4 weeks of the winter. CB - Smart move! How did you get from that to setting up Dragon Lodge? J - After doing a couple more seasons in Tignes and then Val D’Isere, doing building, painting and decorating work in the summers to raise the cash so we didn’t have to work all winter and could just ride every day, Owain did a season in Les Arcs in 96/97 working for a small independent chalet. I spent about half the season out there on and off, helped them setup at the beginning of the season, got to know the owner and the couple that managed it and saw how it all worked. We were already thinking how we could make some kind of living out in the Alps so we could continue riding as much as possible, bring our friends out and meet more people who loved the mountains and snowboarding and skiing. We thought, why not try to setup a chalet that catered to people like us, providing the kind of holiday we’d want to go on ourselves, a bit different from the traditional ski chalet. So we basically went back to the UK with a load of info, facts and figures on how to go about it and how much it cost to run a chalet from the guys who ran the place in Les Arcs, wrote up the concept and a basic business plan, went to a bank and amazingly got them to agree to give a 22 and 24 year old with no experience, a business startup loan! We found a little 10 person chalet apartment in Tignes to buy, and dived in! CB - Amazing! How has Dragon Lodge changed since those early days?

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J - In some ways it’s changed massively - in the early years we were literally learning everything as we went, from how market and publicise it, to taking bookings, arranging travel and even cooking for the guests ourselves. It was such a different world then - pre euro, pre EasyJet and very much the early days of the internet marketing wise. It was all very DIY, always us and friends working together to make it cover costs and still working summers to help pay the bills. My brother left after 5 or 6 great years to travel the world riding and settled in Japan where he’s lived ever since, working as a snowboard guide in Niseko. I continued running the lodge with friends, first of all with Dan (Evans) as a partner for 5 odd years before he went off and setup his own very successful chalet company Snowchateaux, then with Will Hughes who’d been a friend for years, has also done 20 plus seasons in Tignes as a sponsored snowboarder and used to work for us occasionally helping out on transfer days, driving etc. 6 years ago we moved into a bigger, freestanding, 18 person chalet in Le Lac and Will became the manager and now my partner running it. In some ways though it hasn’t changed - it’s still run by a group of friends who love the mountains, snowboarding and skiing, and we still provide a unique take on the chalet experience. CB - You must have a few stories from those early days. Is there any you can share with us without getting anyone into too much trouble ?!

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J - Oh yes, those early years, particularly the first 5 or 6 when we were in the original chalet apartment up in Tignes Val Claret were pretty loose and wild. We were all in our 20s, definitely liked to party pretty hard as well as ride hard, and still manage to run the business…but i guess we attracted likeminded guests who liked the same lifestyle, and many have become regular return guests to this day, and lifelong friends. There was a great scene in Tignes with Brits, Scandis, Dutch and French all riding, working and socialising together, up in Val Claret especially - many nights in the old Pouterie and Crowded House Bars and the Blue Girl nightclub of course, while some of the summer sessions when the UK snowboard scene used to descend on Tignes for the board-test were particularly raucous, we’d always throw a big party at the Crowded House that week which was always memorable (or not!) CB - I remember a week karting the Dirty Sanchez guys around for you in Tignes. That was pretty riotous! J - Ha, yes i forgot we roped you in to do the driving for them that week haha! We went to school with Pritchard, and knew some of the others from the skate scene back home. We used to host shop trips at the Lodge that they came on before they did Sanchez. When MTV wanted to do a Dirty Sanchez on snow episode of course they suggested coming out to stay with us and we helped with the ‘logistics’ which included getting Cool Bus onboard to drive them around. I remember the first morning they arrived in town, they got naked in the lodge (before a

couple of the previous weeks guests had left) and went out sledging. They were spotted by the Mayor of Tignes, arrested and had all their camera equipment and film confiscated - all within 3 hours of arriving haha! The rest of the week was pretty nuts, but at least they kept their pants on most of the time, so no more arrests! CB - Have you had many other high profile guests through your doors over the years? J - We’ve not really the type of chalet that attracts your A list celebs haha, but we have had a fair few high profile musicians and bands come and stay, either just to ride or to perform at events we’ve helped organise, and of course, in the ski and snowboard world, we’ve had a number of big names, from a young 16 year old Nicolas Muller in the early days, to the Nike, Dragon, Endeavor and Vans ski and snowboard teams during the X-Games years, plus British snow sports legends like Jenny Jones and Chemmy Alcott who regularly stay or run coaching camps with us today. CB - And what about Tignes? Has that changed a lot in the last 20 years? J - Yes it’s changed massively. On the one hand positively. The infrastructure has hugely improved with facilities like the new Tignespace sports and conference centre, the Lagoon pool, the roads, parking and environmental measures have all made Tignes a great town for holidaymakers and locals alike, while the lift system is forever being improved and updated so


Dragon Lodge Snowboarding

the skiing and riding experience is the best it can be. On a negative side, it’s been crazy to witness the receding of the glacier! Although we always get great snow in the winter and are always open from October to May, it’s been sad to see how much the glacier on the Grand Motte has receded, limiting summer skiing - a very personal and visible effect of global warming. CB - Yeah it's quite shocking to see comparison photos of the glacier 25 years ago compared to today. Thankfully, at least locally, people seem to be taking this onboard and we’ve seen an increase in efforts to run things more sustainably. We can always do more though. Is running the Lodge a full time job for you these days? J - For me it is for most of the year, but i do some other work in the summers. I still like to dabble in some carpentry and building work, and work of some music/art/action sports events and projects from time to time. For Will it’s a full time job running and managing things in Tignes winter & summer. CB - Must be difficult sometimes managing time between your family in Brighton and the Lodge in Tignes. J - Yes and no. On the one hand I spend less time in the mountains than I’d like to, but I have a great family here in Brighton and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the UK. On the other hand it means I never get tired of it. I always ride every day when I’m in Tignes, and even on a ‘quiet’ year get 6 - 8 weeks riding in the

winter.

success of it?

CB - How did the Japanuary trips evolve? How long have they been going now?

J - There are many more independents doing great jobs, growing into bigger operations, that can probably offer better advice than us, so I’d just say that if you are passionate about the mountains and work hard you can create a great life, working for yourself, doing something you love - I just hope, for the UK chalet industry, Brexit and its repercussions don’t scupper it for us!

J - The Japan trips started with a couple of visits I did with friends and my partner to see my brother and his family - his Japanese wife and my two nephews Manw & Dai. I wanted to see my brother, be a part of my nephew’s lives, and of course ride that sweet Japanese powder every year, but couldn’t really afford it, or justify the time away in the winter, until I noticed that more and more friends and Lodge guests were asking about it - wanting tips on where to go, what to do, or even if we were opening a place there. Five years ago I decided to see if there was interest in an organised ’tour’ type trip where we arranged everything - the accommodation, local logistics, guiding etc. and of course there was. So now Will and I take a small, select group of 6 - 8 friends and clients out and organise the whole itinerary. My brother does the local guiding and we have a blast. Half the group coming again this year have been at least once before (including CoolBus Rob, back for round two this year!) so it’s just like the original Dragon Lodge ideal of organising holidays for people that we’d like to go on (and if fact do haha!). CB - Back in 2001 there was only a handful of independently run chalets in the valley. These days there’s a bunch in each resort. Your’s has certainly stood the test of time. Have you got any advice you can share about how to make a

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CB - You had some pretty substantial celebrations when Dragon Lodge turned 10. Presumably you’ve got something even bigger planned this time round? Anything you can tell us about yet or is it all still in the planning stage? J - We’ve always had a friends and family week or two at the end of the season, after Easter, and this year will be no different. For our 10th we had a couple of great party’s too, took over the Loop bar in Tignes, BBQd by the lake. We had friends from all over the the area like the Cool Bus crew, come up to Tignes to ride and party. Old friends, family and ex staff (all of whom i’m still friends with) came out for the week or just a few days, and this year we’ll definitely be doing the same, then some! CB - Cool, well we’ll be there again for sure - can’t wait! Thanks a lot for taking the time to chat with us and here’s to another 20 years of Dragon Lodge! J - Thanks Rob, cheers!

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Tignes The resort is split over several villages. Tignes Les Brevieres is down below the dam and the only spot low enough to feature some treelined pistes and more traditional style chalets. Tignes 1800 at the top of the dam has recently been expanded with a couple of new hotels and its own wellness area with a pool. Tignes Le Lac and Le Lavachet are adjacent to each other up above 2000 metres and consist mainly of large apartment blocks as does Tignes Val Claret up at the head of the valley.

The terrain throughout the resort of Tignes really does offer something for everyone, boasting a glacier, tree-runs, pistes ranging from beginner slopes to black moguls, progressive freestyle parks and world-class back country. Tignes hosts the Freeride World Qualifying tour each season, and was chosen as the venue for the European Winter X Games for three successive years. With several areas specifically for beginners, and a host of cruisey green and blue runs for progression, Tignes is the perfect training ground for those new to snowsports. The beginner slopes

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Photo: andyparant.com

Photo: andyparant.com

Tignes has long been a favourite amongst both British and French snowsports lovers and no wonder with its high altitude location, snow-sure villages, glacier (which is open for summer skiing too), both freestyle and freeride scenes and a lively après/nightlife vibe!

in Tignes Le Lac and Val Claret are serviced by gentle chairlifts and provide a decent length of run, allowing for maximum practice time. The beginner run in Tignes Le Lavachet is serviced by a button lift and gives access the lac slope. The new lift over the beginner slope in Tignes Le lac will be ready for this winter. The beginner run in Tignes 1800 is also a big favourite especially with the new cafe nearby for pit stops! There are several blue run areas in Tignes, the cruiser's paradise. These also double up as jib-heaven for all the freestylers out there, as perfectly moulded side hits are formed after each snow fall. The runs are super wide and provide plenty of space for everyone, even during the busy new year and February holidays. Palafour and Grattalu are the popular spots on the 'sunny side' above Tignes Le lac and Val Claret, and for good reason! With consistently excellent snow, the runs on the glacier also

provide a great playground of blue runs, with the red 'double M' run becoming a little steeper as it heads back down to Val Claret. When the heavy snow days roll in, head down to treelined runs in Les Boisses or Les Brevieres. Make sure you avoid the multitude of cliff faces just off the side of the piste though. It's best to stick to the marked runs in this area. If you do plan to head off-piste it is absolutely essential to hire a guide and carry all the appropriate safety gear. The faces here are steeper than in some other resorts, which leads to some serious avalanche danger. However, there are some un-pisted black runs, which can prove to be great fun after a fresh dump of snow! 'Bus stops' tracks the face on the sunny side of Tignes, from the top of the Merles chairlift down to the lake, whilst the couloirs off Mickey's Ears are excellent when the conditions are primed.


Photo: andyparant.com

Tignes Guide

Tignes and Argentina with English speaking instructors. The guys here specialise in performance courses and freestyle and off-pistes sessions. Perhaps different to nearby resorts, Tignes has a genuine snowboard vibe and there are a couple of really good, snowboard only schools here so it could definitely be the place to learn. Fresh Snowboarding freshsnowboarding.com offer group or private sessions for beginners to experts, in freestyle, off piste & kids courses. Or you could ‘join the Rebel Alliance’ with Rebel Alliance Snowboarding rebelalliancesnowboarding.com who run operations in both

Back to skiing and there are plenty of schools to choose from. New Generation Tignes skinewgen.com is a British run ski school that offers high quality tuition. BASS britishskischool.com provide instructors with the highest level of qualifications to satisfy your every needs on the slopes. Ultimate Snowports ultimatesnowsports.com run group lessons for all levels of ability, but also offer private sessions if required.

The guys at Tignes Spirit (based in Tignes le Lavachet) are the most knowledgable in the area when it comes to repairs and servicing. They also provide the highest quality equipment throughout their fleet of skis, snowboards, touring kit, splitboards and anything else you might need during your holiday. You can buy or rent at massively reduced prices, and their friendly technicians deliver and collect the equipment from your holiday accommodation free of charge. The complete service!

2017 CERTIFICATE of EXCELENCE

tripadvisor

MOBILE DON’T BATTLE THE CROWDS KIT HIRE & PRICES AT THE HIRE SHOPS

Tignes Spirit delivers top end ski & snowboard equipment directly to your door, or we’ll bring you to the rental shop with one of our drivers. We make rental friendly, easy, and affordable. We also have a newly fitted retail store so you can check out our range of products or get your own gear serviced.

40% FF

£9

HIRE when you book through www.tign.es/coolbus or mention “COOLBUS” in store. call +33 (0) 603 629 710 or +44 (0) 2033 264 299 Tignes Spirit Community You can find out more about us in all of these places :

per day

PRICES FROM

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Part of the large and very famous Espace Killy area

2

Tignes boasts the 4th longest funicular in the world!

3 4 5 6

There is a sunken village underneath the Lac du Chevril

7 8

5 free lifts to give beginners a taste of what’s to come

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Adult lift pass price €57.00/day €285/6 days for the whole of Espace Killy

Skiing from 1550m to 3450m 150km of pisted runs with 87 lifts to get you to the top 21 green pistes, 65 blue, 44 red and 24 black

Opens 25th November 2017 and closes 1st May 2018 (also partial opening outside these dates)

Rendez-vous is a Savoyard speciality eatery which also serves good steaks. Tignes Cuisine is a great little take-out where you can grab some Asian delights. The noodles and Thai curry are spot on! They will even deliver to your door if you’re too shattered after a day on the hill. Le Brasero is a ski in/ski out bar and restaurant in Le Lavachet with outdoor seating in a great suntrap. If you want quality food and chilled après drinks at affordable prices then look no further. Their excellent menu includes savoyarde, crispy fries, juicy steaks, seafood poultry and loads of wonderful desserts. Just opposite, La Queue du Cochon is great for posh-nosh in a cosy setting. As the name suggests you can even get roasted pigs tails! If you’re in Val Claret or fancy getting the bus up there to eat of

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an evening then head to Saint Jacques which may set you back a bit, but is well worth the cash in our opinion. It’s been a favourite with locals for a long time, maybe because it has such an extensive Belgium beer selection! With a big (hopefully sunny) terrace at the top of the Chaudannes chair lift from Tignes Le Lac, Lo Soli is a good option for daytime dining. Their self-service restaurant offers Savoyard specialities and also has a warm and cosy inside dining area. L’Alpage is also at the top of the Chaudannes lift and is a big stone, chalet-esque building where you can eat gourmet regional dishes. You can’t get much higher in altitude (3032m) than Le Panoramic, a restaurant on the Grande-Motte glacier which is a real culinary treat. The stunning panoramic views are a definite bonus too. It’s pretty cool to see all of the friendly staff decked out in their traditional Savoyard berets! There is a snack bar too for those on-the-go.

Photo: andyparant.com

1

In Le Lac try the Gentiana for traditional French food reinvented by their chef! You’ll find it just up the hill from Hotel Le Refuge.


Photo: andyparant.com

Tignes Guide

Starting in Le Lavachet, there are a few options choose from. Just up from the Tignes Spirit shop, So Bar is a cosy little place serving quality spirits and wines and with a dart board made out of YES snowboards it’s definitely cool. Just next door, and NEW this winter, is the Box Cafe Bar. From what we hear on the grapevine, expect great things!

The Loop Bar which has a great après atmosphere that continues late into the night. There’s always something going on here and the live music they provide is probably the best you’ll find in resort. Up on rue de la Poste near the bottom of the Palafour lift you’ll find The Marmot Arms which has proper ales on tap and they serve up some incredible gourmet burgers. A little further up the road you’ll find Le Givre which has a huge terrace overlooking the lake. It’s a great place for apres with a pint setting you back just 3.50 during happy hour and a huge selection of rum. They also serve up some incredible giant meat skewers and Savoie specialities.

Onto Tignes Le Lac and the first place of choice amongst many is

High up in Val Claret, the 247 bar is a really cool spot also special-

Each ‘village’ in Tignes has its own little scene and there are busy bars in whichever village you are staying.

ising in rum, with happy hour from 4 until 7 and striptease every Monday! Check their website to find out exactly what’s on while you in Tignes - 247bar.fr. Open until 4am are the Melting Pot and Blue Girl nightclubs in your typical French style! New last winter is the Planks shop/cafe/bar which is a great spot for apres drinks, sitting as its does, right at the foot of the pistes near the funicular. Down in Tignes Les Brevières head to The Vault for après drinks and the rest! Open until 1.30am expect lots of live music, karaoke, quiz nights, BBQ evenings and much more! Vincents is also a buzzing spot, and the go-to hangout for a few beers after a day on the slopes.

Le Café Le Café Givré Restaurant - Rhumer Le Café Givré

Le Café Givré

Restaurant - Rhumerie - Lounge B

Restaurant - Rhumerie - Lounge Bar

Restaurant - Rhumerie - Lounge Bar

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Tignes Guide

TIGNESPACE tignespace.tignes.net/en is a new sports centre in Le Lac which offers awesome climbing facilities. Different sections of the wall are reserved for different levels with a sixteen metre high wall for the pros! You can also rent out the huge trampolines by the hour, badminton courts and football pitches, if you still have energy at the end of the day! The Lagoon Centre is a popular indoor swimming pool ‘complex’ that is located in Le Lac, right opposite the Maison de Tignes and next to the Tovière lift. A wellness centre, gym and fitness suite together with the swimming pool, water slides, bubble pools and water jets here and there means

both kids and adults can enjoy some aqua fun. Also in Le Lac there’s Jack’s Bowling Alley which is actually in the bar/nightclub of Jack’s just next to the sports centre. If you’re looking for something very different to add to your winter holiday experience then it can’t get much cooler than an Ice Diving! This can be organised by Evolution 2 Tignes evolution2.com and involves lowering yourself through a hole cut out of the frozen Lac de Tignes, with an instructor by your side, in order to marvel at the underwater ice formations below. Day or night dives are available from €95. Sounds blooming freezing!

twenty four seven Bar - Rhumerie - Tapas

Rum bar Strip-tease every monday Happy-hour 4pm to 7pm Billiard ‡ Baby-foot ‡ Dart game Rue Val Claret Tignes Val Claret 73320 Ph.+33(0)479062738

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There are too many free music events to mention that happen throughout the season in Tignes. Be sure to pick up a programme of events from the Maison de Tignes or out and about around town on your arrival in resort. NYE Fireworks 31st December If you’re in Tignes on New Year’s Eve then you won’t really be able to miss the fireworks but it’s worth heading to the snow front in Le Lac to take the experience it properly and welcome the New Year in, in style! Half pipe Final World Cup: 18th-22nd March The best riders on the planet showing off their best tricks. Taking place in Tignes huge super-pipe up in Val Claret. European Snowpride 17th - 24th March Waving a great big rainbow flag its the week long gay pride festival on snow! Tignes is incredibly proud of its reputation of acceptance and welcomes the festival once again with open arms. The line up so far includes Barry Harris, Katrin Quinol from Black Box and many more…. Live in Tignes by Francofolies 16th - 19th April 4 days of music concerts across 3 outdoor stages, a big event with an awesome atmosphere Black Shoes 28th - 29th April This ski telemark event celebrates its 26th anniversary in Tignes this season!


Of The By Jemma Harrison First up we’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on journeying to, not only one of the greatest skiing areas in the world, but also one of the greatest eating areas too. Let’s face it, the best part of any winter holiday is that the calorie content of back-to-back cheese fondu nights is readily countered by long energetic days snaking your way down the pistes. So don’t hold back! This is your opportunity to eat guilt-free, like Nigella on skis, if you will? With that in mind, here is our round up of all that is decadent and indulgent in the Tarentaise valley. Whether it’s tartlettes in Tignes or le fromage in La Plagne, we’ll be wishing you a very, merry bon appetit!

The Tarentaise

1.

2.

Tartiflette

Raclette or Fondu

A rich, creamy, cheesey, bacony, gooey potato bake. Every restaurant worth it’s salt will have this dish perfected. Sits like a lead weight in the belly. Must be washed down with copious amounts of number 8 (see below).

Melted cheese on top of bread and meat, or with bread and meat dipped in. A Savoie institution. You won’t be let out of the valley unless you’ve had at least one or the other.

5.

7.

The floating island! A dessert made from meringue sitting atop a bowl of thin custard. Truly as bizarre as it is tasty.

If you are looking for good local Savoie white wine then you can do no better then Apremont, in my humble opinion. Light, dry and round.

Made from red grapes freshly picked in the valleys of the Savoie you’d think this clear brandy would be quite nice. Think again. It’s a bit like drinking diesel. But nothing cuts through a cheese belly than a shot of gasoline! The French are also quite protective of Marc de Savoie and it became trade-marked in 1967 with an “Appellation d'Origine Réglementée”. So there must be something good about it. Do let us know how you get on.

8.

L’Arc de Triomphe

The Powder

Hold on to your ski pants because when the genepi hits it’ll knock ‘em off! A local liquor, usually made by the restauranteurs and landlords in the summer months to any number of family recipes using the genepi flower, which only grows locally over 2000 metres. It’s the perfect end to the night. Actually, scrap that, it’s also the perfect start to the night! I’ve picked out a few tried and tested Génépi cocktails for your tasting pleasure. Enjoy!

25ml Génépi 25ml fresh orange juice 25ml fresh lemon juice 1tbsp bitter orange marmalade 1 egg white Angostura bitters 25ml soda water

25ml Génépi 25ml peach cream 6cl orange juice 25ml cassis liqueur

The Cool Bus must-eat guide to all that is wholesome, wonderful and popular in this little corner of the Savoie. 3.

Beaufort

I know I keep banging on about cheese, but this really is the best of the best. Smooth, firm and creamy, yet sufficiently stinky, this is the one local produce that you should take back home to enjoy.

Îles Flottantes

6.

Apremont

4.

Diots

Delicious thick smokey sausages, easily picked up from any charcuterie. Cook in wine and serve with crozets (little pasta squares).

Le Génépi

Marc de Savoie

Place 2 ice cubes in a tumbler and pour the ingredients in the order of the recipe. Pretty easy!

Add the Genepi, orange juice, lemon juice, marmalade, egg white, and a dash of Angostura to a shaker and whisk by hand, until frothy. Add ice, and shake well to make cold. Strain into a chilled tumbler and enjoy.

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Chez Merie, Miroir

Restaurants

A quirky and brilliant restaurant tucked away in a little village on the outskirts of Ste. Foy. It’s the best restaurant in the region for a romantic dinner for two. If you’re travelling solo and need a buddy then tap me up (you pay for the wine though). I’ve been going 8 years and still love it, hence the inclusion. Shout out to whoever knitted all their upholstery too. A bit on the pricey side but well worth a quick google maps search to find out how to get there. (FYI CoolBus can take you)

Raclette

Belliou La Fumée, Les Arcs 2000

If you’re after a sumptuous piste pit-stop then you can do far worse than this gem. Classic mountain fare done extremely well. Best to book.

Hôtel Le Malgovert, Seez

Raclette

For a treat down in the valley customers have been raving about this newly opened hotel restaurant. It’s owned by Fred, a butcher from down the road, who is a bit of a local legend and rears all the animals himself. Serving excellent cuts of meat (obviously) and an amazing cheeseboard, you couldn’t get any more local with most of the menu coming from within a few miles radius. Great location, cosy decor and not expensive. Nice rooms too.

La Queue de Cochon, Tignes

In the heart of Lavachet sits a cracking restaurant where you can take a break from all the traditional cheese and meats and enjoy something a bit different. Loved by locals and seasonaires, this fairly new restaurant is rapidly gaining a name for itself. Try the duck burger and the grilled oysters. Easy on the pocket too (relatively speaking).

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Savoyarde Tartiflette,

Cheese Fondue


Taste Of The Tarentaise

& DIY

In the last few years we’ve seen a rise in the “hybrid holiday”. I’m talking about a self catering chalet, but where you bring someone in to do a spot of dinner for a few nights. You get the best of everything… cheap accommodation, some lazy nights eating takeaway, a few posh meals out and then schedule in the professionals for the rest of the time. Private chefs and outside catering companies that do all the hard graft are cropping up all over the alps. If you’re over in Peisey Vallandry you’ve got Chloe’s Cuisine, owned by a talented and experienced local chef. There are plenty of options to choose from so all you have to do is roll in post-aprés and Chloe or one of her lovely team will have dinner prepared and on the table.  Another notable company that stands out for me is My Secret Chef. They cover from La Plagne and Les Arcs all the way up to Tignes and Val d’Isere and are

offering up a superb menu this season full of refined winter warmers. A cooked breakfast, afternoon-tea and 3-course dinner will be served in your chalet and their is no need for washing up (joy!). Offering a flexible service for 3-6 days, it's well worth giving them a call. If you prefer to do a little of the leg-work there’s now a Tarentaise-wide company that will deliver high end “ready-meals” for you for the week. Huski will basically stock your fridge with food and drinks on day one. Prices are reasonable, cheaper than a Tesco or M&S meal deal, and much better quality. For example, a four course daily menu over a week costs just €230 and serves two. All you have to do is get out of your ski boots and turn on the oven. Have a peek at their website too, as the wine list alone will save you money. It’d be tricky to make the meals Huski offers any cheaper. However if you want to have a bash at a few Savoyarde favourites then get to the cheese shop and try these recipes yourself...

Cheese Fondue • Approx. 1 med glass of Savoie white wine per person • 200 grams of cheese per person (all Beaufort, or you can add some Emmenthal too) • 1 clove of garlic • 1 teaspoon of potato flour (or any flour) • 1 big glug of Kirsch • pepper • nutmeg To dip: Day old baguette chopped in to chunks, charcuterie tray and potatoes Method: Grate or chop up the cheese. Mix the flour into the kirsch in a small bowl. Rub the inside of the fondue saucepan with the peeled garlic clove. Add the wine until almost boiling then thrown in the cheese and keep stirring with a wooden spoon. Now’s the time to season. When the cheese has all melted, add the potato flour and kirsch mixture, mixing all the time. They key here is a consistent heat and a lot of stirring. Enjoy!

Savoyarde Tartiflette, Serves 4.

• 1 wheel of reblochon cheese • 1 kg of potatoes, pealed and finely sliced • 2 large white onions, finely chopped • 250 grams bacon lardons (I prefer the smaller allumettes) • Cream and a dash of white wine (optional) • butter • salt and pepper

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Method: Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the bacon bits, add the onions and soften a low heat for 10 mins. Add the sliced potatoes and stir. Cook for 15 mins until nearly cooked. It’s not traditional but here I would add some white wine and a bit of cream to help the cooking process. When the potatoes are nearly soft, season and then put them in a low oven proof dish with the bacon bits and onions then cover with the grated reblochon. This needs to be baked in a hot oven until it’s all brown and gooey. The locals would serve with green salad, many glasses of dry white wine, followed by a good shot of Genepi.

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custom beanies

Extreme Knitting

gnarly. funiwear.com


La Rosière A unique resort in the Tarentaise in that it’s the only one where you can ski into another country! La Rosière is a high altitude village (1850m) that gets a lot of sun due to its south-facing aspect. Built in the 1950s, it is a purpose-built resort which also holds a lot of war history. At the Fort de la Redoute you’ll ski past the ruins of an old border fort which was built to keep out the Italians and Germans many years ago. The town probably has the best panorama in the valley with views both down towards Moutiers and up towards Val d’Isere. The resort of La Thuile over in Italy links seamlessly across from La Rosiere via pistes and ski lifts across the Col du Petit St. Bernard. Situated in the Aosta valley, this side of the Espace San Bernardo (as the two are collectively known) is affected by a completely different weather system. As such it is not unusual to find white-out conditions in La Rosiere and clear blue skies in La Thuile or vice-versa. The difference really can be that pronounced.

La Rosière alone is a relatively small ski area, perfect for beginners because of its gentle slopes, beginner areas and plateaus. Intermediates and advanced skiers will definitely want to buy the Espace San Bernardo pass because there’s more challenging terrain over the border and down towards La Thuile. There are some great areas of off-piste on both sides that do not get tracked out too quickly.

The run down through the forest from La Rosiere to the lowest chairlift in Les Ecudets at just 1200m is loads of fun when there’s sufficient snow (here’s a little video of us enjoying some freshies on that very piste last November! - https://vimeo.com/191301824). This is also a great lift to use to access the resort if you are here for a day trip as its only a five minute drive up from Bourg St. Maurice! La Thuile has more than its fair share of treelined pistes lower down. Later in the season the snow on the Italian side tends to hold out better due to its north facing aspect.

Elite-Ski www.elite-ski.com is a British run ski school in the resort that can provide private lessons and then group lessons through the ESF www.esflarosiere.com. There is also an Evolution 2 www.evolution2larosiere.com.

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1 2 3

Linked with the Italian resort of La Thuile

4 5

Skiing from 1176m to 2641m

6

Lift pass price adult €43.50/day €211.20/6 days (Espace San Bernardo)

7

Nearest airport – Chambéry (130km) but most popular Geneva (165km)

160km of pistes 19 lifts in La Rosière area which rises to 39 in the whole Espace San Bernardo

Propaganda73.com

Resort opens 16th December 2017 and closes 20th April 2018

style trattoria, inspired by the Aosta region which offers organic and healthy cuisine.

There are some lovely restaurants in town, whether it’s traditional French mountain specialities, local cuisine or just a burger you’re after. Talking of burgers, Le Comptoir is a good choice and is very child-friendly. There are always a few establishments in French resorts that are known for their cheesy delights and in La Rosière for these you should head to the La Turia, Le Genepi or Les Marmottes. New for 2018 within the Hyatt Centric Hotel are a number of contemporary eateries - the H40 brasserie restaurant, where you can enjoy French cuisine at lunch and dinner and La Tavola, an Italian

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If you’ve eaten too much Tartiflette at lunchtime, the pancakes from Crêperie Le Pétrin could be ideal for you. Sweet or savoury, eat in or take out, they are delicious! While holidaying in La Rosiere, a lunchtime visit to La Thuile in Italy is an absolute must. Even though it’s only a couple of chairlifts away, dining in La Thuile is a very different experience to the traditional French resorts nearby. Think heaps of home-made pasta, proper pizza and Tiramisu plus a shot of Limoncello to wash it all down. Expect to be stuffed on your ski back to France! In our personal opinion, some of the best pizza ever tasted comes out of the snack stop, Pizza Al Taglio. They serve excellent deep-pan pizza slices, whole pizzas plus other fast food options and if you’re lucky the

nice Italians in there may give you a free slice to try! This is a friendly, convenient and fast place for lunch or dinner. Also try La Clotze next to the Chalet Express chair lift for a convenient lunch on the mountain and Maison Neige for a special dining experience in an old military barracks, right out in the middle of nowhere. Maison Neige is a ski lodge with 12 bedrooms but the restaurant is open to all and has a warm fire-filled atmosphere and awesome views over the snow. Maison Carrel is worth a visit too for its beautiful interiors. For food on the mountain on the La Rosière side, be sure to try L’Antigel situated off the Tetras piste. It is thought of by most as the best mountain restaurant in the area. Le Plan du Repos up there in the wilderness at 2100m has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. It’s also possible to walk here from the village of Les Eucherts as it’s located on the piste just above.


La Rosiere Guide

La Rosière is a great place to stay with a family and whether you have family members who don’t ski or just fancy a day off the slopes then there are loads of non-skiing activities in resort. Snow shoeing and local area hikes are popular in and around La Rosiere as there are a lot of pretty chapels, landmarks and history. Tarentaise Tours (www.tarentaise-tours.com/welcome) will organise day trips to a variety of interesting sites and much more for that matter!

Not renowned for its nightlife as much as nearby Val d’Isere for example, there is nonetheless a good little selection of bars and a nightclub or two should you want to ruin your next mornings skiing!

The all new Hyatt Centric Hotel features a fully fledged spa and well-being centre, which is being run by local outfit Massage Me. They have been providing massages in the valley for well over ten years so expect good things!

Le 1850 opposite the Tourist Office in the village centre is a cosy little bar which serves tapas to enjoy with a good glass of vin. Free WiFi is on offer and there is often live music too.

For après-ski activities that don’t involve drinking, La Rosière has bowling, ice-skating and the Ruitor Cinema showing English speaking films (occasionally) so there’s no shortage of stuff to do. Most of this is located in Les Eucherts village on the right-hand side of the main resort which is only a short (free) shuttle away if you are staying in the centre.

Over in Les Eucherts village, Le Skifood which is located within Les Balcons residences is a popular spot. There’s a games room too so you can enjoy a game of pool with your beer or whilst waiting for a snack or a take-out pizza. For late night partying, also in Les Eucherts, is the Moobar Night Club. Open for après and onwards into the night, this large space turns into a ‘disco’ with DJs and is open until 4am. As well as being a great place for some quick ‘pub grub’ Le Comptoir can be a lively bar of an evening. There may be a DJ playing après-ski too.

For a great coffee and cake try Cafe Lattee or Snodroppe. Both serve breakfast, lunch snacks and coffee and can be found on the main road through the centre of the resort.

Freeski Playoffs March 2018 Sixteen of the best skiers from around the world launch themselves off a 20 metre kicker in a series of one on one battles. A spectacle not to be missed! Torchlit descent presented by ESF La Rosiere Starting at 6pm, the torchlight descent is always popular and happens on Monday nights from this date, most weeks of the season.

Freedride Junior Tour 17th March A stage of the junior tour for skiers and snowboarders aged 14 to 17. The event will take place on the north face of the Fort de la Redoute

Feux d’Artifices Outdoor Mix 31st December Fireworks and DJ’s out on the snow to celebrate the New Year!

Micro-Brewery Trade Fair 13th to 15th April Sample some of France’s finest specialist ales!

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Sainte Foy Ste. Foy has an excellent beginners area with two magic carpet lifts (surely the easiest way to get back up the slope when you are learning) which you can use for free! Above this four chairlifts feed twenty odd, top notch pistes. There’s some good easy blues for beginners to advance on and some harder but fun blues and reds for cruising down, a lot of which are treelined. Higher up you’ll find some harder reds and blacks that do not get groomed giving you the chance to get some powder turns after a recent snowfall. It’s off-piste where Ste. Foy really excels and for which it has gained a big reputation in recent years. There is good terrain just to the side of most pistes but under the Marquise chairlift in particular, you will find a huge expanse of untracked mountain. If you want to take things a step further, hiring a guide for the day will allow you to really get the best out of the resort (a bit of local knowledge here goes a long way!) but, as always, don’t think about going off-piste without all the appropriate safety equip-

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need to spend 250 euros on a pass to access a huge ski area! For the more adventurous it also has world renowned off-piste and acts as a perfect base for exploring other resorts, being just opposite Les Arcs and only 15 minutes drive from Tignes, Val d’Isere and La Rosiere.

ment. There is some epic terrain to find and with a bit of hiking you can easily rack up over 1500m of vertical descent. We regularly come here for day trips. For a taste have a look at this edit on our vimeo channel https://vimeo.com/125559705 Photo: Anne Marmottan / OT Sainte Foy

If you’re looking for a quaint, traditional ski village then Sainte-Foy absolutely fits the bill. Its a small, friendly resort with an abundance of amenities and is particularly ideal for families on their first or second ski holiday - when you are still learning to ski you really don’t

New for 2017/18 is the Camp Filleul piste. Named after a military barracks whose ruins can be spotted near this new run, Camp Filleul is graded red and leads off to the left of the Marquise lift. Its length is around 1500m over 305m vertical.

For such a small resort Sainte-Foy has an abundance of ski schools to choose from and they are all within walking distance of all accommodation in the village. Your typical French ski schools in the ESF (www.esf-saintefoy.com/en) and Evolution 2 (www.evolution2saintefoy.com) feature. There’s also Snocool (www.snocool.com/en) who are a smaller operation with English speaking instructors, who offer a few different options like freestyle courses for example.

For such a small resort Sainte-Foy has an abundance of ski schools to choose from and they are all within walking distance of all accommodation in the village. Your typical French ski schools in the ESF www.esf-saintefoy.com/en and Evolution 2 www.evolution2saintefoy.com feature. There’s also Snocool www.snocool.com/en who are a smaller operation with English speaking instructors, who offer a few different options like freestyle courses for example.


Sainte Foy Guide

Further afield you’ll find Le Monal, which is situated in the lower, original village of Sainte-Foy-en-Tarentaise. An institution for 130 years, this restaurant serves traditional dishes with a twist and has a substantial wine cellar. Chez Mérie is located in the hamlet of Le Miroir and is well worth a visit with some delicious dishes cooked in a wood fired oven.

Relax and unwind in Sainte-Foy at the Ô Pure Spa which is a serene place to escape from the hectic slopes and the cold of the winter. In fact, there is a special winter treatment called the ‘Grand Froid’ for face and body with warm oils, alternating stretches and deep movements for intense muscular recuperation. Mountain Equilibre www.mountainequilibre.com is an English run company offering exercise sessions off the piste including reflexology, pilates and massage. Contact Sarah on +33 (0)687 82 33 36 for more info and bookings. For the whole family Igloo Outings can be arranged through with Snocool. Tarentaise-Tours.com are also an excellent choice for all things mountain based. Snow-shoe walks, ice-climbing initiation, bobsleigh initiation and chopper flights around Mont Blanc are just a few of the possibilities on offer to make your stay even more memorable.

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An off-piste Mecca of the Tarentaise valley 4 chairlifts, 2 magic carpets Most accommodation in the village is ski in/ski out Skiing from 1550m to 2620m Resort opens 17th December 2017 and closes 14th April 2018 Adult lift pass prices - €31.50/day €170.40/6 days Nearest airport – Chambery (125km) but most popular Geneva (160km)

Photo: Philippe Royer - OT Sainte Foy

Photo: Philippe Royer - OT Sainte Foy

Photo: Philippe Royer - OT Sainte Foy

For a small resort, Sainte-Foy and its surrounding villages are full of excellent restaurants. L’A Coeur has earned itself a great reputation for its tasty menu and is also great for après and evening drinks. The Black Diamond also has an exceptional restaurant which scores highly on Trip Advisor.

For food on the mountain try the terrace overlooking the monstrous mountain of Mont Pourri at Chez Leon. Warm up with a traditional dish like tartiflette, or go for gratins or lasagnes also cooked in a wood oven. Brevettes is next to Chez Léon at the top of the first lift out of Sainte-Foy and offers a rustic atmosphere in a busy setting, you can’t be in a hurry during the lunchtime rush! For a quick bite and conveniently located at the top of the Arpettaz lift is the Fogliettaz Snack Hut which serves up hot food like paninis and good hot chocolate. You’ll find Les Marquises restaurant unsurprisingly close to the foot of the Marquise chairlift! This is a great spot for lunch on the mountain offering both proper sit down meals and an outdoor snack-bar.

Live concert “Gospel for your Family” 24 December A free 90 minute a gospel event on Christmas Eve La Montee de Sainte-Foy 19th January The 3rd edition of this night-time ski touring event La Piste Des Etoiles 9th April A fun, all-day team event open to anyone, featuring 10 challenges dotted around the ski resort. For complete up-to-date listings head to www.saintefoy-tarentaise.com

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L

ast winter we travelled to Japan with the good people from Dragon Lodge to find our what all the fuss is about. Its fair to say we were bowled over.

Here’s our 9 reasons why we think a ski trip to Japan needs to go on your bucket list‌

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Japanuary

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The People There’s no getting away from the fact that Japanese people are different. Politeness, respect, honesty and kindness, are all things which seem to be distinctly out of fashion these days on our side of the world. Not so in Japan. This is a country that actively rejected the advance of western culture right up until the middle of the 19th century, when they finally opened their borders to foreigners. Since then their core values of respect have remained steadfastly intact and it’s apparent everywhere you go. From the polite bows you receive from strangers in the street to the constant stream of “Arigato Gozaimasu” that you hear muttered in your general direction. Would you leave your car unlocked in the centre of Chamonix with 6 snowboards in the boot? No, I don’t think so, but in Japan that seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. There’s also something incredibly cool about that quietly spoken, moderately dressed Japanese snowboarder with his curiously shaped Gentem powder stick who politely insists you leave the bubble lift in front of him and then proceeds to tear the mountain to shreds before unassumingly taking his place back in the lift queue again at the bottom. Frankly, it’s a breath of fresh air.

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THE FOOD Japanese food perfectly treads that balance between being incredibly healthy and mouthwateringly delicious. There’s a lot of stuff that you will recognise from sampling lesser imitations in Europe and some that you might not. Sushi and sashimi restaurants are pretty widespread over here these days and noodle dishes such as soba, udon and ramen are fairly easy to track down too but wagu beef is something of a rarity and bloody delicious. Izakaya restaurants are a particular delight. It’s basically a Japanese version of tapas, where you order a bunch of dishes to be shared amongst your group. Definitely the most sociable way to dine and it gives you the opportunity to try out a a whole load of different stuff. On most holidays the standard expectation is that you will return with a larger waist than you had at the start. Its totally reasonable to expect the opposite of a holiday in Japan.

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The Scenery Photos of skiing and snowboarding from Japan are immediately recognisable. Often what stands out most are the tree’s. We are used to skiing through pine forests in Europe. In Japan you are more likely to find yourself skiing through deciduous trees. What’s so great about that? Could it be that the lack of leaves on the branches makes it much easier to pick your line? Or the absence of those perilous tree wells? Maybe its just because its different from the European norm. The same can be said for skiing through fields of bamboo. Watch out for these though. They can be forgiving if you get off line but they do have a habit of springing back at you at alarming speed, often at groin height! Then there’s those rare days when the cloud lifts and you get to fully appreciate your surroundings. In the resort of Niseko that means stunning views of the ever-present volcano Yotei. Elsewhere on Hokkaido you can see all the way down to the sea!

Toilets Toilets in Japan are on the next level. Our own seem lame and frankly old fashioned in comparison. Why would you want to wipe your lower parts with toilet paper when you can just have a little arm swing out from below and give them a quick shower. Then a blast of air to dry off. Cold toilet seats in European ski resorts can make visits an unpleasant

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chore. In Japan that welcoming throne is fully heated. Embarrassed about how much noise you make when splashing down? No need to lay down a crash mat or mask your noises with a forced cough in Japan. Just hit the convenient button next to the loo and everything is drowned out with sweet music! And naturally there’s another button to hit for a quick blast of deodoriser to cover that horrendous smell you just produced.


Japanuary Onsens When visiting Japan you’re sure to notice the odd volcano here and there. The whole place is alive with geothermal activity and one useful benefit of this is an abundance of natural hot springs. The Japanese Onsen is a hot springs with bathing facilities attached and there are thousands across the country. It takes a couple of goes to get used to the whole process but before long, no day on the mountain will feel complete without a long soak to wind down at the end of it. First strip naked in a communal changing room, putting your clothes in a basket, then walk through to the communal washing area. Here you should sit down on a stool which is only a few inches off the ground and proceed to give yourself a thorough wash with the shower attachment. Now clean, you may enter the hot springs. In the mountains this often involves walking out into subzero air and trying to get into the hot water as quickly as possible but without slipping on the iced up path or tripping on the part submerged rocks. Don’t worry, it is physically impossible to achieve this and look cool. If you wish, you can cover your more unsightly parts with a towel while moving between the different areas but tradition dictates that this “towel” should be the size of a flannel. In fact that’s what it is - a flannel. After this somewhat traumatic experience you can now relax in the hot springs enjoying the experience of gently warming your aching muscles as snow falls on your head from above. Unless you forgot to buy yourself a beer from the vending machine on the way in, in which case you are going to need to run the flannel gauntlet. In case you were wondering, most Onsens are single sex.

Sake A Japanese speciality that has yet to take hold in Europe. We’re not sure why. Maybe we’ve already got enough varieties of liquid designed for inebriation? It’s an acquired taste but once you’ve got it you’ll find there are few better ways to get sozzled. Hot sake is a thing too and it takes effect much more quickly that its cooler sibling. And if you decide sake really isn’t for you, Japan produces a host of tasty beers and is fast becoming a global player in the Scots dominated, malt whiskey market.

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Karaoke Karaoke has been around for so long in the west that it’s sometimes easy to forget that it’s a Japanese invention. As such, it would be remiss not to spend at least one evening singing badly to a TV screen when you’re there. Proper Karaoke venues are a bit like bowling alleys. You are met at the front desk where you book your group into a private room that

Night Skiing What could be better than skiing or snowboarding knee deep powder through a perfectly pitched forest, dotted with hits and rollers? Doing it in the dark! Sounds like the stuff of dreams or computer games but it can be done in Japan. Even if you can’t find an untracked spot in the trees with sufficient light, carving turns on the piste at night is super fun too! And you might find even yourself chasing Pikachu down the hill. This really happens! Only in Japan.

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you can reserve for an hour at a time. You leave your shoes at the door and head off to sing to your hearts content. Whenever you feel the need of further refreshment, just hit a button and someone will come and take your beer order. Karaoke in a packed bar in a European ski resort can be a mentally scarring experience. In a private room, with a few beers and a bunch of mates its actually a good laugh. Try it, you might be surprised


Japanuary

Powder Possibly the most important one the list. Japan receives some of the biggest snowfalls in the world. A seasonal snowfall total of 15 metres is pretty standard and some years can see as much as 35 metres! How come? Well, it sit’s in a geographical sweet spot where cold winds from Siberia blow across the sea of Japan before hitting the mountains along the western coast causing them too dump their loads. All this means you are virtually guaranteed a healthy dose of powder on your ski trip. Bluebird days might be few and far between but don’t expect the kind of confusing, head spinning, whiteout conditions you get in the Alps. Being mostly below the tree-line means that even the most closed-in days still give you enough visibility to get around the mountain without getting lost.

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Les Trois Vallees

Brides-Les-Bains at its base. The most westerly valley contains St. Martin-de-Belleville, Les Menuires and Val Thorens. But wait for it - there is a fourth valley! Orelle sits over the back of Val Thorens in the Maurienne valley. Les Trois Vallées is first and foremost the world’s largest ski area and consists of nine resorts. The three villages of Courchevel make up the most easterly valley. La Tania sits halfway between this and the Meribel valley which also contains Mottaret and has

There are obviously some big names in there as well as some you may not have heard of before but they all certainly offer excellent skiing, and there is something for absolutely everyone in this world famous area.

Best for cruising or out and out blasting would have to be over in Les Menuires and Val Thorens. Up here you are well above the tree line and the pistes are wide and well groomed, perfect for carving big turns!

You won’t be short of ski schools to choose from in The 3 Valleys that is for sure, but you need to make sure you book lessons with a school that is close to your accommodation especially if you’re a beginner, otherwise it could be a mission to get there first thing in the morning.

line-up of instructors, these guys cover the resorts mentioned above too.

There are huge tracts of off-piste to be had between the pistes of Mont Vallon at the head of the Meribel valley and some more difficult lines from the top of Saulire between the Meribel and Courchevel valleys. As always, don’t venture out of bounds without all the necessary avalanche equipment and the knowledge of how to use it and we’d also highly recommend enlisting the services of a guide.

English speaking ski schools who service Meribel, La Tania and Courchevel include Parallel Lines (www.parallel-lines.com) and BASS (www.britishskischool.com/BASS_Resorts/Meribel) who are both well established and offer the full range of lessons and courses. On a smaller scale but no less professional is Ski Marmalade (www.skimarmalade.com), if ever there was a name that stuck! An all British

As you might expect from such a huge area, the 3 Valleys has an abundance of every possible type of skiing. Most people are more than happy to spend the majority of their holidays exploring their local valley and then have just one or two days venturing further afield. For certain you’ll find every type of skiing present in each area but for the record, here’s a few of our favourite spots! Our favourite tree runs have to be over in Courchevel and La Tania (the two are adjacent), not surprising given that this is the lowest part of the whole ski area. You’ll find some awesome blue and red runs here threading their way through the forest all the way down to 1300m altitude.

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In Val Thorens and Les Menuires there’s the French/English speaking Prosneige (www.valthorens.prosneige.fr/english) who have some rave reviews to be found online. Whilst working as part of the ESF, David Mitchell (www.davidmitchell-ski.co.uk) is Val Thorens' only native English speaking instructor and he can provide private lessons with himself or if you’d prefer, he can arrange group lessons for you through the ESF so that you don’t have to worry about speaking French!


Photo: David Andre

In Méribel, head to L’Igloo which serves up good burgers and pizza and is well-priced. Another that falls into the well-priced category is the Lodge du Village which is slightly out of town in Méribel Villages towards La Tania. It’s lively with après so is the ideal place to spend the whole evening in your ski boots and be able to dine on a tasty sandwich. La Gallette is a small place in the centre of town and offers some pretty tasty savoury pancakes. For more expensive options there’s Aux Petit Oignons in the direction of the Altiport at 1600m. This little onion is still in the mid-range price bracket with mains at around €20+. For a special treat, try La Grand Coeur which has starters from €29! Staying in Courchevel (being one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world) can make it difficult to find a table in the cheaper places to eat. Don’t get caught short if you’re on a budget, book in advance otherwise you may have to eat in the 2 Michelin Star restaurant – Chabichou where you can’t really get a plate for food for under €75! For Savoyard specialities, as the name suggests, the Petite Savoyarde in 1650 or Moriond as it’s now known, has a traditional menu of main courses from €13.

For food on the mountain try Chalet de la Marine in the Val Thorens sector. It’s a large, picture-perfect chalet on the blue Dalle piste off the top of the Cascades chair lift and offers a huge terrace over looking the slopes and a large, varied menu for lunch. Choose from the traditional restaurant or the self-service bistro. A traditional spot for lunch in an old farmhouse is The Bergerie, situated on the Bellecôte piste on the slopes of Courchevel 1850. The Bel Air above 1650 is good value for mountain food in these parts. In Meribel, lunchtimes are popular at La Folie Douce which is the newest addition to it’s collection of restaurants in the Savoie. In the 3 Valleys you’ll find it at the mid-station of La Saulire bubble which makes it convenient for skiers and non-skiers alike. After lunch here you can join in the late afternoon debauchery in the bar! At the foot of the slopes in Meribel 1650 there’s the Télébar Hotel which houses the cutely named Cookie’s Club where you can sit on the south facing terrace and eat well for not too much cash. Ski in, ski out, that’s what you want at lunchtime!

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330 marked runs – 13% green, 39% blue, 38% red and 10% black. 600km of pistes 180 ski lifts Skiing from 1300m to 3230m 2000 snow making machines!

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Opens 19th December 2017 and closes 22nd April 2018

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Adult lift pass prices €61/day €300/6 days for the whole of the 3 Vallees

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Nearest airport – Chambery (110km) but most popular Geneva (140km)

Photo: Alexis Cornu

A large percentage of people holidaying in the Méribel and Courchevel valleys choose the catered chalet option so they all head out to eat on the chalet staffs night off. As such it’s definitely important to book a table! This tends to be Wednesday but probably advisable to reserve your place on Tuesday or Thursday as well. During school holiday weeks it’s probably best to do this sooner rather than later in your stay.

is a very popular Tex-Mex place serving up some great steaks. Le Montagnard has to be the go-to in St. Martin de Belleville and La Bouitte has a unique style.

Elsewhere across the resort, La Ferme de Reberty has always been a ‘ferme’ favourite but is really only accessible if you’re staying in Reberty village (Les Menuires) or if you’re skiing past during the day of course. John’s American Restaurant further up the valley in Val Thorens doesn’t have the most original name but

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Over in Méribel the Rond Point or ‘The Ronnie’ as it’s affectionately known, is a popular après ski destination which can be reached straight from the slopes, on foot or by bus. There’s a huge terrace and many an evening can be spent dancing on the tables! Le Pub is a British-run place in the centre of town and is a firm

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favourite for lively après and music. Jack’s Bar near the Chaudanne also never disappoints! For late nights in Meribel you’d do well to head to O’Sullivans down in Mussillon where they regularly have big name DJ’s playing. Val Thorens has the ‘Highest Pub in Europe’ in The Frog and Roastbeef which is also the only English pub in town and the prices here aren’t so bad. The small village resort of Saint Martin de Belleville is certainly a little quieter than most although there are still bars and a couple of nightclubs to enjoy like Le Joker and Le Billig.

Photo: David Andre

The Drop Inn is a bar located in the basement of a Pleisure Holidays chalet in La Praz. It’s open to everyone and serves up well-priced drinks and proper toasted sandwich snacks, a rarity in these parts! ‘The place to go’ in Courchevel 1650 (or Courchevel Moriond as its now known) has to be the Funky Fox which now offers no less than four Live Music/DJ nights per week, and a lively atmosphere and top tunes are always guaranteed. They have comfy seating for you to relax in for your well-deserved après ski drinks, watch sporting events from, or even for tasting some of delicious home-made meals. In 1850 for an expensive cocktail or bottle of champers, head to The Caves. Their drinks selection and prices won’t disappoint if you’re looking for a lavish evening. There are Parisian cabaret acts for entertainment too!

Photo: Patric Pachod

Amongst the many villages of the area there are certainly those that have more of a party atmosphere. Courchevel and Méribel are known for their active nightlife and more expensive drinks, whose prices seem to go up with the altitude of the bar, for example, Courchevel 1850 is generally more expensive than 1650. So, let’s start at a lower altitude!


3 Vallees Guide

Just a small hand full… Ski Cross World Cup Val Thorens 7th-9th December FIS Snow Board X World Cup Val Thorens 11th-13th December International Festival of Pyrotechnic Art 15th February-3rd March Watch hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of fireworks explode in all their glory! Teams from around the world come to compete against each other with routines to music. It really is a spectacular show and on the white of the pistes of Courchevel with the mountain backdrop, it’s worth a watch.

Croisette and sign up in order to learn how to slalom and of course, brake! You can learn to fly in Courchevel! Or you can just go on what promises to be one of the most beautiful flights you’ll ever take. The specially designed small snow plane will fly over Courchevel and the rest of the 3 Valleys and the views of Mt. Blanc promise to be stunning!

Scattered around the area of The 3 Valleys there are plenty of Spas and wellness centres to ease those ski legs. In Saint Martin de Belleville head to La Bèla Vya to enjoy mountain inspired treatments using milk and honey. Ever tried mountain biking on snow? Like doing skids? Who doesn’t! Roc n’Bike in Les Menuires provides the chance for everyone to try it and there’s 8km of piste to ride. Head to La

The airport in Courchevel 1850 is very unique in its altitude, it is in fact the highest International mountain airport. There are a good few companies that offer plane flights, helicopter flights and even parachuting but we recommend getting in touch with Aéro Club Courchevel (www.aeroclub-courchevel.com) for flights and lessons and with prices starting at €150 for a 3 person voyage, it’s not too expensive. Air Mauss Parachutisme seems the go-to for parachuting, they will entice you out of the door of that plane if it’s the last thing you ever do!

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Piste Bash Festival Meribel 12th-16th March Loads going on during this week long event with bands, DJ’s and comedians playing at venues across the resort. 3 Vallees Enduro April Open to all, in teams of three, the 3 Vallées Enduro is a fun event which is in its 12th year and has become the world’s largest gathering of amateur skiers over the years. It’s all in the name of discovering the 3 Valleys and to endorse the fact that it is accessible to everyone. Check out more at www.les3vallees.com/enduro Mont Vallon Challenge Meribel 14th and 15th April Race on skis down Mont Vallon on Saturday (Freeride/Giant Slalom with a waterslide at the finish!) then on mountain bikes on Sunday (Meribel to Brides-les-Bains). Sounds exhausting! For full listings head to www.courchevel.com, www.meribel.net, www.valthorens.com & www.lesmenuires.com

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Summer Edition


Cool Bus Mag 2018 Summer

Designed to go farther and faster whatever the terrain, the new Stage 5 signals a new generation of trailloving 29ers where nothing’s off limits and everything goes.

British built lightweight 6061-T6 aluminium frame Geometry for 29 wheels with 150 front/140 rear travel Huge range of custom colour and component options Frames from £1800 | Bikes from £3700

T H E A L L- M O U N TA I N A N D T R A I L B I K E C O N C E P T F R O M O R A N G E — ‘ I T J U S T WO R K S ’

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ORANGEBIKES


r e m Su20m18 W

elcome to the summer section of the Cool Bus magazine. If you were looking for the winter bit you’d better flip this thing over and try again because this side is all about what happens after the snow has melted! At Cool Bus our main passion during the summer months is mountain biking so, unsurprisingly, there’s a decent section to kick things off devoted to filling you in with details about all the fantastic riding you can find in our local bike parks. But it doesn’t stop there! In fact you’ll find we’ve a whole host of other amazing outdoor activities for you in the Tarentaise Valley. Flick through to page 27 for a quick run down of our favourite activities and where to go/who to speak to, if you want to get involved. In addition to that we’ve also wedged in a bunch of great articles that are more summer orientated or that just simply wouldn’t fit into the winter section! Flip to page 14 for the full story on what happened when three somewhat inexperienced Cool Bus drivers made an attempt to climb Mont Blanc!

Page 20 is an article from one of our mates Chris Moran, on an emotive subject that unfortunately touches more and more lives these days. Some five years ago, Nelson Pratt, a pro-snowboarder who called Tignes his second home, committed suicide. What came after however, is a truly inspiring story and well worth a read! On page 22 you’ll find a rather amusing Tale of Cool Bus Past involving road trips, booze, crime and Olympians! And finally, to round things off, a couple of pages explaining our most recent innovation - a mobile disco - plus the back story that lead us up to the point where we thought it would be a good idea to cut the roof off a VW Transporter and stuff it full of obscenely loud speakers! If you’re here for the summer, here’s hoping you have a wonderful trip with action packed, sun filled days. Don’t forget that if you’re looking for bars and restaurants in the area you’d do well to have a flick through our ski section as a lot of them are open during the summer too. If you’re reading this in the winter, take the hint and book yourself some mountain time next summer. You won’t regret it!

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05 Espace Killy Bike Park Guide 08 Paradiski Bike Park Guide 12 Espace San Bernardo Bike Park Guide 14 3 Vallees Bike Park Guide 16 Climbing Mont Blanc 22 Nelly’s Ride 24 Tales Of Coolbus Past Chapter 3 29 Tarentaise Summer Activities Guide 34 Coolbus FM

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When in Tignes I always shop at Carrefour Montagne - it has everything I need and more‌ Open 7.30am to 10.00pm Free hire of 7 days a week fondue & raclette kits when you buy your meat & cheese, for a cosy night in! Rue de la Poste, Opposite the pharmacy, Tignes le Lac 04 79 00 99 10

carrefour.montagne.tignes@gmail.com

OPEN ALL YEAR

Fresh bread baked in store daily The best choice of fresh fruit and vegetables Home deliveries Home fondue/raclette kits available


Photo: Pascal Lebeau Fin

Bike Park

Espace Killy T

ignes bike park has developed gradually over the last ten years with considerable investment from the company that runs the resort. Initially building downhill trails around the the Palafour chair and Toviere bubble lifts, they enlisted the help of french mountain bike legend, Karim Amour to help with the design. Since then they have steadily added more trails to their network each summer and in 2012, to coincide with hosting a round of the Downhill World Cup, Val d’Isere joined Tignes to create one fully connected bike park. As of 2017 the area boasts over 150km of downhill and enduro trails spread between the two towns, all linked up via 5 lifts and a shuttle bus service. The majority of trails on the Tignes side are well above the treeline and are man-made with big berms and jumps. These range from easy greens right through to full-on, steep blacks. Some of the most fun of these are the blue trails, in particular Kangooride and Gunpowder which you can blast down with very little input in terms of braking or pedalling. There are also some excellent red trails on both sides of the valley including Funky Tufs.

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The black trails here definitely have the hardest grading for a reason! In places some are incredibly steep and can be a case of simply slamming the brakes on full and hanging on for dear life! The best example of this is probably Moustache. The black graded Kamasutrail leads you through a free ride park on the Toviere side which is well worth a look. It has some very original features including a big floaty step-up jump and a 360 degree wall ride around an inverted cone shaped natural mountain feature. There are several really good enduro trails over in Tignes as well, the majority of which head down towards Tignes Les Brevieres which is below the dam. This gives you the chance to ride down into the treeline and as such offers a different, more natural riding experience to that higher up. Many of these enduro trails criss-cross each other giving you a few different permutations. Highlights include the excellently named Forest Bump and the scree slopes of Rocky Trail. From Les Brevieres you’ll need to get the shuttle bus back up to Tignes Le Lac so its well worth checking the bus timetable before you commit!

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- E n d u ro, d ownhi l l & k i ds b i ke hi re & sa l e s - Bike h i re de li ve r y se r v i ce to : • Ti g n e s • Val d’ Is e re • St foy • Les A rc s • L a Pla g n e • 3 Va lleys - Back co u n t ry e nd uro g ui d i ng & lif t a ss i ste d t r i p s - Beg i n n e r to exp e r t l e sso ns - Acco mmo d at i o n - Co rpo rate eve nt s - Wo me n s p e ci fic l e sso ns - In st ru cto r t ra i ni ng - C h a ri ty eve nt s - Spa re s & re pa i r s

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Follow on instagram @startlinemtb

Blackcats, place du curling, Val Claret, Tignes Like on facebook startline.biking


Photo: Tristan Shu

Bike Park Guide - Espace killy

Facts &

A couple of very fun blue trails link between the two resorts Borsat Attack for riding from Tignes down to Val and Sweet Sweet for the opposite direction. The town of Val d’Isere is 250m lower than Tignes Le Lac. This is enough to drop you into the treeline and a few of the trails over this side take good advantage of this including the red Rhododendrons and fun green, Popeye. There’s also a few good enduro trails including the 8km long Into the Wild!

There’s one more thing worth mentioning about Tignes and Val bike park which makes it stand out from any other. The lift pass is FREE! Yes you heard right! At least it has been for the last 6 years and at the time of going to press we haven’t heard of any plans to change this for 2017. You do still need to pick up a pass though so make sure you pop into the Maison de Tignes before heading to the liftts. For restaurants and bars in the area have a look through our Tignes and Val ski guides at the other end of this mag. A lot of the establishments mentioned are open all through summer too.

Photo: Pascal Lebeau Fin

If all that isn’t enough to keep you busy there are also pump tracks and skateparks in both resorts along with a host of other activites. Tignes probably has the most original of these with various elements dotted around its lake. Some are verging on the ridiculous and have to be seen to

be believed so try searching ‘Tignes Hot-Jump’, ‘Tignes Blob’ and ‘Tignes Flyboard’ on youtube!

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Open 1st July until 31st August 2017 Riding from 1550m to 2800m 3 chairlifts, 2 bubbles 165km of trails including 65km of downhill trails 3 green, 9 blue, 5 red, 4 black 75km of enduro trails 2 blue, 4 red, 6 black 25km of cross country loops 1 pump track, 2 skateparks, 1 Airbag 1 shuttle bus route (Tignes Les Brevieres to Tignes Le Lac) lifts ticket - FREE!

Need uplifts outside the lift opening dates or to ride our amazing trails outside the bike park limits? Call us! +33 632 192 962

Need to hire a bike or looking for lessons? Try Startline in Val Claret startlinemtb.com

Download the trail map at TIGNES.NET

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Bike Park

Paradiski W

Over the last twenty years Les Arcs has steadily forged a reputation as one of the leading bike parks in the French Alps, second only to Portes du Soleil. The riding here however, is in stark contrast to the largely man made trails you see in Morzine and Les Gets. It is the network of ancient walking tracks that criss cross the mountain, in particular below the tree-line, that have helped establish Les Arcs as a leading name. It is worth mentioning that many of these trails do not feature on the Bike Park trail map which makes hiring a guide a worthwhile investment. To give you an idea, there are at least a dozen trails that run through the lower forests into the valley around Bourg St. Maurice. Of these, only two are shown on the official trail map! Having said that there are more than enough marked trails on the Bike Park map to keep you busy. These include a good mixture of

Photo: Tristan Shu

Photo: Andy Parant

Photo: Andy Parant

hen we talk about the mountain biking in Paradiski we are essentially referring to the trail network contained in the Les Arcs Bike Park. This includes all the Les Arcs villages, Peisey-Vallandry, Villaroger and Montchavin-Les Coches. There are trails over in central La Plagne but the riding there is

very limited and for now access from the bike park is far from straight forward and involves a long pedal across a traverse/climb from Les Coches.

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E IN

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LIFTS

The most famous trail in the park has to be ‘Le 8’ or ‘Black 8’ as it is known to most anglophones. This drops 800 metres over 9km from the top of the funicular station in Arc 1600 all the way down to Bourg St. Maurice. People have been coming to Les Arcs just to ride this trail since long before the concept of the bike park was invented! A couple of years ago work started to replace the huge water pipes that run down the mountain from Arc 1600 to the Hydro Electric plant in the valley (believe it or not these pipes are actually supplied by water from the dam 18km away in Tignes!). As a result large parts of Black 8 became inaccessible but the new replacement sections that were added to the trail have only improved it and added to the technical difficulty. Make no mistake, this is graded black for good reason!

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UP

The starting point for a lot of visitors to the area is the funicular railway from Bourg St. Maurice. This runs every half hour and whisks you up 800 vertical metres to Arc 1600 in less than 10 minutes. It runs from 8am until 7pm meaning you don’t have to rush out early in the morning to get a full days riding in! From there the Cachette chairlift gives you access over to Arc 1800 and then beyond to Arc1950/2000 and Vallandry via the Trans Arc gondola.

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SFERS

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old walking tracks and more recently built bike park style trails. One of the most important things that makes Les Arcs work so well is its lift network. You can access a huge amount of the area with virtually no uphill pedalling.

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DAY TRIPS TO:

CLASSIC UPLIFTS ROUTES:

TIGNES/VAL D’SERE LA THUILE PILA ARCHES/BEAUFORT

3 VALLEYS RIDGELINE UPPER TARENTAISE ENDURO BOZEL ENDURO TARENTAISE BACKCOUNTRY

For restaurants and bars in the area have a look through our Les Arcs/Bourg St. Maurice ski guide at the other end of this mag. The majority of establishments mentioned are open all through summer too.

Need a guide? Try Emily Horridge mtnbikeguide@gmail.com

Full details on the Cool Bus website

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1. Marsupilami from the Trans Arc mid-station which is a string of beautifully built jumps and berms. This has an incredible flow to it once you have learned the best lines

Facts &

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

3. The red and black forest trails around Montchavin-Les Coches 4. Rock N’ Arolles from the top of the Cachette lift in Arc 1600 is a fun, pedally red downhill trail. It takes a while to learn all the lines so you can carry your speed through some of the blind corners but once you’ve got it you’ll be grinning from ear to ear!

8.

5. Woodstock in Peisey proves the point that more often than not, its the blue graded man made trails that can be the most fun!

Photo: Agence Merci

2. The green trail La Trank’s is ideal for kids or people new to the sport. It starts from the top of the Trans Arc gondola. There’s no easy trail down from here towards 1800 or 1600 so once you’ve ridden Tranks a few times its best to down-lift on the Trans Arc. We’ve seen kids as young as 5 ride this trail and absolutely love it!

Photo: Agence Urope

Bike Park Guide - Paradiski

9. 10.

177 km or marked trails between 800m and 2600m in altitude 23 trails including: 9 Downhill (2 green runs, 3 blue runs, 2 red runs, 2 black runs) 5 Enduros (2 green, 1 blue, 1 red, 1 black) 2 Cross country 7 liaisons 7 practice parks (these are small areas with ramps and other obstacles - good for kids!) 1 freestyle area (in Arc 1600) which includes 2 northshore style lines, a slopestyle course and a 4X course (though we are not sure sure how you would manage to fit four people down it at once!) 1 funicular railway, 1 double decker cable car (biggest in the world!), 3 gondola lifts, 4 chairlifts and 1 lobster pot lift! Day pass 20 euros - 7 days 65 (80 euros including access to Montchavin-Les Coches) Open 7th July until 1st September

Need a decent bike shop? Try Gravity Lab opposite the football stadium on the main road through Bourg or Revolver behind Super U.

Need uplifts outside the lift opening dates or to ride our amazing trails outside the bike park limits? Call us! +33 632 192 962

Download the trail map at LESARCS.COM

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SOSPEL UPLIFTS 26 RIDE ITINERARIES • 15 YEARS EXPERIENCE PROVIDING UPLIFTS • UNRIVALLED LOCAL KNOWLEDGE • 45 EUROS/PERSON/DAY (MINIMUM 4 RIDERS) • AIRPORT TRANSFERS FROM NICE FROM 120 EUROS WITH BIKES

Contact coolbus.sospel@gmail.com • +33 604 505 464


Bike Park

Espace San Bernardo The lower chairlift in La Rosiere starts only 300m above Bourg St. Maurice so you can pedal up to it in only half an hour. This means its completely possible to set off on your bike from Bourg at 9am and be in Italy sipping a cappuccino before lunchtime! Believe us, we’ve done it! Alternatively you can just drive up to the chairlift where there is ample parking. If you do wish to ride both resorts in one day its worth knowing what’s involved in terms of pedaling:

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From La Rosiere to La Thuile, ride to the top of the Roches Noires chairlift then pedal up the fire road climb for 20 minutes (100m vertical) up to the Fort de la Redoute (worth a look in itself!) before dropping onto the piste towards the Col de Petit St. Bernard and follow the vague looking singletrack right towards the Col. From there you can follow the road down until you see the first bike trail heading off to La Thuile From La Thuile to La Rosiere ride the Chalet Express chairlift to the top then pedal the fire road climb for 30 minutes (180m vertical) before taking the fire road descent to Col de Petit St. Bernard. From the Col you can roll 8km down the tarmac road back to La Rosiere. If all this sounds like a lot of effort Cool Bus actually run a day trip where we drive you to the top of the Col de Petit St. Photo: Tristan Shu

E

space San Bernardo is the collective name for the linked areas of La Rosiere in the Tarentaise and La Thuile in Italy. In the winter these two ski resorts link together seamlessly to make one large ski area. In the summer it requires a little more effort to link the two by bike but it is still very feasible to ride both in one day.

Bernard from Bourg and drop you off at the trail head down to La Thuile. When you’ve had your fill of riding the trails over there we shuttle you back up and over and drop you at the top of the Dream Forest trail. This drops you out back down in Seez, from where its just a quick roll down the road to Bourg. The cost of this day trip is 200 euros for up to 8 riders but you only need to buy a La Thuile lift pass saving you 40 euros (over the San Bernardo pass for a group of 8) and an hour of pedaling!

But what about the riding?!... La Rosiere has a selection of very well built man made trails. The downhill trails total around 25km. Over half of this is above the treeline consisting off nicely built berms and jumps. Our favourite however, would have to be the above mentioned Dream Forest.


Bike Park Guide - Espace San Bernardo

Facts &

1.

2. 3. 4. 5.

This is nearly 6km long and runs through the dense forest from the resort back down to the bottom of the lower chairlift. Whilst it is man made with plenty of banked corners it still has a much more natural feel compared to the rest of the bike park Over the last ten years La Thuile has established itself as one of the leading bike parks in the area, something which lead to it being used for a round of the Enduro World Series in 2014 and 2016. The trails here are numerous and the vast majority run below the treeline. Some use modified walking trails and some have been built from scratch. What makes these trails stand out is the balance between retaining a natural feel whilst still maintaining a good flow. Corners are wide enough and sufficiently banked to enable you to carry speed which is something you don’t get with the 100% natural trails in the area which are

generally dotted with speed killing hairpins! The emphasis in La Thuile is certainly towards the harder end of the trail spectrum and its intermediate to advanced riders that will get the best out of a trip here. A quick look at the stats shows that half of the trails are graded black. Expect your forearms to get a good workout from the relentless tree routes and steep chutes! Other highlights of La Thuile have to be the welcoming friendly Italian atmosphere and the chance to have pizza, Peroni, gellato, espresso and limoncello for lunch for the same price as a McDonalds in France! For restaurants and bars in the area have a look through our La Rosiere ski guide at the other end of this mag. A lot of the establishments mentioned are open all through summer too.

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6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

Day Ticket San Bernardo 24 euros

La Rosiere: 1200m to 2250m Day Ticket La Rosiere 17.40 euros Open Dates 8th July until 2nd September (closed Saturdays) 09:45-16:30 2x chairlifts

La Thuile 1400m to 2300m Day Ticket La Thuile 21 euros 220km of trails in La Thuile including 2 blue downhill trails, 3 reds and 5 blacks Open dates 30th June until 2nd September Every day from 09:30 until 17:00 2x chairlifts

Need a guide? Try Emily Horridge mtnbikeguide@gmail.com

Need uplifts outside the lift opening dates or to ride our amazing trails outside the bike park limits? Call us! +33 632 192 962

Download the trail map at LATHUILE.NET

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13


Bike Park

3 Vallees I

f there is an undiscovered gem of mountain biking in the Tarentaise then it has to be Les 3 Vallees. Despite Meribel hosting the final round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in 2014 it still remains very much off the radar as far as mountain bikers are concerned. We spent a whole day in the Meribel valley on the closing day of the resort last summer and saw just four other mountain bikers on the 40km of incredible trails that we rode! No surprise then that their trails are in such fantastic condition!

In Courchevel you’ll find some incredible natural trails through the lower forests, particularly down towards Le Praz. It’s possible to ride all the way down to St. Bon or even Bozel, way down in the valley at 750m altitude. Probably best to invest in an IGN map (like OS in the UK) if you want to do this as a lot of the trails don’t feature on the bike park map. There is a free shuttle bus with bike racks for 8 bikes that runs half hourly from St. Bon and a couple of times a day from Le Grand Carrey all the way back up to Courchevel 1850. Do check the timetable beforehand though and be aware that if you turn up at a bus stop and see eight other riders waiting you

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Photo: Tristan Shu

Les 3 Vallees is a huge mountain bike area. In terms of square kilometres it is easily the largest lift linked bike park featured in this magazine. For those that are unfamiliar with the area, the valleys, from east to west, are Courchevel, Meribel and the Belleville valley which includes Les Menuires, Val Thorens and St. Martin-de-Belleville. Each has sufficient trails to keep you busy for several days but combined they make an awesome venue for a week long holiday.


Bike Park Guide - 3 Vallees might be out of luck! Higher up you will find some good purpose built trails above the treeline at 1850 and up around the Saulire peak. This is also where you need to head if you want to drop down into Meribel. The Meribel valley features some great natural trails lower down and purpose built trails higher up. The DH4 downhill trail that runs from the top of the Tougnette chairlift is not to be missed. Really well built making the most out of the mountain with very steep berms and nicely shaped jumps which all flow together beautifully. This was a new trail back in 2015 but doesn’t see much traffic and therefore still rides ‘as new’! Our favourite route in the whole area has to be the trail that follows the ridgeline between the Meribel and Belleville valleys, so much so that we offer this as an uplift out of season. It has also featured in the Trans Savoie bike race in the past. From the Pas de Cherferie there is a fairly brutal climb up the steep fireroad and piste up to Le Verdet at 2294m. It is well worth the effort though as what follows is an epic ridgeline descent that can take anywhere between 2 and 3 hours depending on how much of a hurry you are in! Near the top the trail is undulating with some fun, rocky descents interspersed with very short climbs. Just as you drop into the treeline the trail starts to really flow with sweeping, naturally banked corners. Further down expect some rooty sections and then fairly exposed forest singletrack towards the bottom. Some of the trail is marked up as E7 on the Meribel trail map but we have tweaked our own version to include some more cheeky singletrack and to finish all the way down in the valley at Moutiers. Have a look at the edit of the trail on our vimeo channel - https://vimeo.com/99338416 Of the 3 valleys, the Belleville side probably has the smallest concentration of good trails mainly due to its higher altitude. The only trails that run below the treeline are the lower parts leading into St. Martin-de-Belleville. As such Val Thorens or Les Menuires wouldn’t be the best location to choose for a holiday but if you are over in Meribel or Courchevel for the week its definitely worth popping over for a day. There are several really well built downhill tracks with huge berms and jumps running down towards Les Menuires and St. Martin-de-Belleville that are well worth the trip.. For restaurants and bars in the area have a look through our 3 Valleys ski guide at the other end of this mag. A lot of the establishments mentioned are open all through summer too.

You can find out more about us in all of these places :

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Facts &

1. 2. 3. 4.

Largest linked bike area in the Tarentaise 300km of marked DH and Enduro trails between 2700m and 700m 6 green, 11 blue, 12 red and 15 black 6 marked cross country routes 12 gondola lifts, 2 chairlifts and 2 shuttle bus routes with bike carrying capacity to bring you up from the base of the valley

5.

Open 1st July until 24th August 2017 for the full 3 valleys but some partial opening outside these dates

6.

Day pass 17,50 euros, week pass 52 euros for all 3 Valleys which is a total bargain whatever way you look at it!

Need a guide? Try Emily Horridge mtnbikeguide@gmail.com

Need uplifts outside the lift opening dates or to ride our amazing trails outside the bike park limits? Call us! +33 632 192 962

Download the trail map at MERIBEL.NET

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L

ast September, myself and ex-Cool Bus driver Ross Kean rode the Route des Grandes Alpes from Bourg Saint Maurice down to Nice. It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip involving a significant amount of physical effort against a backdrop of incredible views of the Alps at their most colourful. So good was it in fact, that as soon as I floated the idea of another mission the following autumn, Ross was immediately onboard. Mont Blanc is very much part of the scenery around here. You can see it from the higher pistes of most of the resorts in the valley. In a straight line its summit is 25 kms from Bourg St Maurice but due to its immense size it seems much nearer. At 4810 metres it is the highest mountain in Western Europe (the highest in Europe being Mt. Elbrus in Russia) and is surrounded by ten other stunning peaks over 4000m that together make up the Mont Blanc massif. Being such an ever present part of the local furniture, it made for an obvious challenge for the two of us. A few cursory internet searches suggested that although arduous, a Mont Blanc ascent via the “easy” Gouter route was not technically difficult so we quickly decided we were up to the task. With the Gouter Refuge booked (they get fully booked many months in advance) we were committed, with

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a planned summit day of 19th September. July and August are the peak months for climbing Mont Blanc. As such we both felt that September would be a more attractive prospect. Less people but still close enough to summer to have a good chance of decent weather. It was only later that we discovered a disadvantage to our chosen date. The Tramway du Mont Blanc runs from St. Gervais up to 2400m. Using this would reduce the height we had to climb by 600m. Unfortunately it closes at the beginning of September! In the article I wrote on cycling the Route des Grandes Alpes last year, I finished off by explaining how such a trip was well within the capabilities of anyone with a half decent level of fitness and I fully expected to be doing the same after this trip. Having just returned from our attempt however, I have to admit that this is far from true of Mont Blanc! Following a spate of rescues, in August of 2017, the Mayor of St. Gervais issued an ‘arrete municipale’ (local bylaw) listing the equipment required by anyone wishing to attempt to reach the summit via the route we were planning to use.

This therefore, made a good starting point for kitting up. If you find yourself reading the list and having to google the items on it you should probably think twice about going at all! Suffice to say that crampons, an ice axe and crevasse rescue equipment all feature. The next step was to get fit! Luckily we have some pretty decent sized mountains on our doorstep to train on. We interspersed daily short hikes of 4-500 metres height gain with longer treks up to 3000m. We also managed to squeeze in a trip up the stunning Monte Bianco ‘Skyway’ lift from Courmayeur and went for a trek across the glacier to test out all of our gear in appropriate conditions. Some wild camping nights above 2500m also helped. In the meantime we enlisted another group member in the shape of Jelle Roze (pronounce his name like a cockney saying yellow


Climbing Mont Blanc

rose!). Another ex-Cool Bus driver (and previous cover star of the Cool Bus Mag!), Jelle has been a good friend of ours for nearly 15 years. Although we have never strictly been mountaineering together we’ve certainly been on many backcountry hikes with our snowboards over the years. Having done a little mountaineering in my teens, I had the dubious distinction of being the most experienced of our group so it was left to me to demonstrate the rudimentary mountaineering techniques needed for the trip. As the date ticked nearer we anxiously kept an eye on the weather report. We frequently enjoy excellent weather all through September in our neck of the Alps. This year however, things panned out a little differently. As August ended it was like someone had flicked the winter switch and we immediately went from hot and sunny, to cold and overcast with snowfall as low as 2000 metres.

managed to get our van up to a height of 1600m, just a mile away from the top of the cable car. From our parking spot, the Refuge du Gouter was visible as a tiny black dot perched on the edge of a cliff in the distance. In fact it was only 5km in a straight line and 2200m higher than our starting point. As we set off with the sun still low in the sky, we were confident that we would arrive at the refuge in good time.

We set off from Bourg at 05:30 on the 18th September for the short drive round to St. Gervais. We had made a last minute decision to drive up as far as we could rather than head round to Les Houches where the Bellevue cable car runs from 8am to whisk you up to 1800m. This was a decision that would prove valuable on our return. Following a 4x4 only track we

From the Bellevue cable car, two paths are shown on the map. The more direct route follows the train track of the Mont Blanc tramway. Unfortunately this was marked as closed so we dropped down to a lower path that meanders through a valley before steadily climbing towards the Refuge du Nid d’Aigle. We only climbed a few kms up this

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trail before we hit snow. At this low altitude it was still fairly easy going and just enhanced the natural beauty of the area. With a crisp fresh bite to the air we crunched our way up past numerous bouquetin who were snuffling their way through to graze on the underlying vegetation. Whilst taking a quick coffee stop at the Nid d’Aigle, we met up with a couple of climbers from the Canary Islands who had followed us up the trail. Ross is fairly fluent in Spanish and he quickly discovered that they were working to that exact same schedule as us, and planning to summit the next morning. We set off just in front of them to tackle the next section up towards the Refuge de Tete Rousse. As the snow depth increased our speed up the hill slowed. At this point we

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problems here and didn't see any rocks coming down at all.

were still in our trail shoes but as we approached the Tete Rousse the snow depth became such that we needed to switch to proper climbing boots. The map showed two options, either cross a glacier to the Tete Rousse and then continue up or cross the glacier higher up. We chose the latter which turned out to be a bad decision. The trail soon completely disappeared and we ended up crossing a dangerously loose scree slope onto the glacier. This took some time and when we reached the glacier and checked our watches, to our surprise it was already 4pm! After this came the most dangerous part of the whole route crossing the Grand Couloir. The reason for this is that as the temperature increases during the day, rocks are released from higher up and come bouncing down, turning the couloir into a bowling alley with climbers as the pins! Due to the snow and cold temperatures, we had no

The final section from here to the Refuge du Gouter is described by many as en enjoyable, straightforward scramble. Tackling it with at least 6 inches of snow covering the rocks changed the face of it somewhat. I think it’s fair to say that we were all genuinely scared! The route runs up a rocky, exposed ridge, following vague, painted red spots. With dry rock to contend with I’m sure it would be fun. Brushing snow out of the handholds and trying to avoid those which were covered in ice however, made you acutely aware that one slip would send you bouncing down some 500 metres to the glacier below. I don’t think you’d be looking too pretty at the end of a fall like that. Gingerly, we made our way up this sketchy climb. At around 5pm I called the refuge to let them know we were definitely still coming and to save us dinner! At around 7pm, and with great relief, we finally reached the top of the climb, which pops you out at the site of the old Gouter Refuge, now locked-up and out of use. The extra 100m across to the new hut might have been disheartening were it not for the fact that we had just climbed up out of the cloud and were treated to a stunning view as the sun dipped towards the horizon. Our spirits were immediately lifted and we stopped to take a whole bunch of photos. At the refuge we received a warm greeting from the friendly staff. We were surprised to find the place nearly empty. It seemed most of those booked in for the night had cancelled their reservations due to

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the bad weather. On the climb up I had come to the conclusion that our plan to get up early the next day and summit was unwise. It had been a gruelling day and a 2am wake up call seemed unfeasible. We were pleased to find that there was also plenty of space for us to stay an extra night. The weather looked worse the next day but with possible improvement after that. We sat down and gratefully wolfed down our 3 course meal in the comfort of the refuge and looked forward to an unexpected lie-in the next day! As we tucked into dessert, our friends from the Canary Islands, Eduardo and Jonatan arrived looking just as relieved as we had felt. They quickly adopted the same strategy as us and we went to bed hoping for better weather the following evening. The next day mainly involved killing time. Luckily the Refuge du Gouter happens to be one of the newest and most stunning in the Alps. Built in 2014 at a cost of 7.5 million euros, it is the highest manned refuge in Western Europe and has a very distinctive egg shape which reduces its susceptibility to strong winds and the pressure from snow above. It looks a little like a UFO has landed on the side of Mont Blanc! Its four storeys can accommodate 120 people, in dormitory style rooms. Booking well in advance is essential. Power is supplied from solar panels and the


Climbing Mont Blanc water used for sanitation is sourced by melting snow. It is quite the marvel of technology! All supplies have to be helicoptered in. As such it’s no surprise that the prices are quite high! A bottle of water costs 7 euros (no drinkable water available from the taps), dinner is 30 euros and a beer costs 9! Having seen the helicopter repeatedly shuttling loads up we had no problem paying these prices. I did note other climbers saving themselves a few euros by melting snow on their own stoves outside. We did venture out for a quick walk up towards the Dome du Gouter during the morning, mainly just to familiarise ourselves with the first part of the route. The visibility was around 10m as we set out but reduced steadily down to 2m after an hour so we made an about turn. It was definitely good to get out though with all three of us roped together, crampons and ice axes out.

The refuge had shelves full of magazines and books. Most are in French but we were surprised to find the only English publication was a brand new edition of Viz magazine so we killed some time billy laughing at their ‘Top Tips’ over a couple of expensive beers! As the day wore on the refuge steadily filled up with climbers and by dinner time it was half full. The weather report for the next day was looking very promising. The hut warden informed us that he had 40 odd people booked-in for the early 3am breakfast sitting the next day. As we were planning an early start too we were reassured to hear that there would be a good number of us heading to the summit together. We retired early but all three of us struggled to get to sleep. This may have been due to the altitude, the number of people coming into our dormitory at various times through the night, or the nagging doubts about having to descend over that “straightforward rock scramble” tomorrow, which by now was covered in even more snow! Probably it was a combination of all three but as the alarm went off at 02:45 we were all looking very bleary eyed. Breakfast was quickly dispatched and we descended to the boot room to get kitted up. We set off out into the darkness somewhere around the middle of the group of 40 that were heading to the summit that morning and with Eduardo and Jonatan very close behind us.

the valley from Chamonix. As we set off, at times it was difficult to distinguish between the bright stars and the headlamps of the climbers above us. The lights of Chamonix and Sallanches were clearly visible down in the valley. The initial climb over the Dome du Gouter is a bit of a slog so it was probably for the best that we were in the dark and unable to see the slope ahead of us and we got our heads down and marched it out. As we dropped down the far side of the Dome the summit appeared for the first time in the slowly brightening sky and made for an awesome sight. Already to the left you could see the Chamonix Aiguilles and nearby peaks gradually brightening in the dawn. Lights were on in the lift station of the Aiguille du Midi. The temptation to keep stopping to admire the views was only tempered by the extreme cold that immediately brought on the shivers as soon as we slowed our pace! Passing the emergency shelter of the Vallot hut, the route then becomes more precipitous as you climb a ridge. The slopes drop away steeply to both sides but again the cold gave us an urgency that helped to mask our anxiousness at the

It was a beautiful clear night but with a fierce wind blowing up

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THE

at the table and then woke to find the Canary Islanders had joined us!

A COLD GOPRO CAPTURES THE PROOF exposure. An hour or so later we finally felt the sun on our faces as we approached the summit. It felt like an epic struggle and as we finally reached the level ridge of the peak I suddenly realised I had tears in my eyes! The view from the top was truly spectacular. Nowhere else in the Alps can you see so far and look down on so much. It was easy to pick out the peaks of the Grand Motte in Tignes, the Aiguille Rouge in Les Arcs and the Bellecote in La Plagne some 25 kms distant. They looked tiny! Looking the other way the much closer and higher peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif were much more immediate. We congratulated ourselves with a group man hug and attempted to take a few pictures. This was easier said than done as the batteries in

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our phones were dead from the cold. My GoPro would only switch on for 4 seconds! Still, we managed to get some evidence of reaching the top then quickly set off downwards! Just a hundred metres down from the peak we came across Eduardo and Jonatan in high spirits and made plans to meet them back at the refuge so we could descend the remaining distance together. We made our way very carefully down from the summit along the ridgeline, passing other climbers on their way to the summit. Past the Vallot hut the route becomes considerably less dangerous and we all relaxed into it. Back at the Gouter Refuge we wasted no time in ordering a big communal bowl of pasta bolognaise and devouring it. At some point I drifted off to sleep

Feeling considerably revitalised after lunch, we set off for the part we were most nervous of. The 500m descent over exposed, snow covered rocks. Full concentration was required. The nature of the descent is that the hardest sections are nearest the top and these have fixed cables running next to them. As such the ring-twitching steadily decreased as we dropped lower and lower. I was near the back with Eduardo and Jonatan and a number of times they helped me out by pointing out good footholds that were difficult to spot from above. Reaching the, thankfully frozen, Grand Couloir, we knew the worst of it was behind us and began to relax a bit. A peculiarity of descending from such high altitude is that the air improves as you go down meaning that to a certain extent, you actually feel better as you approach the end. At around 6pm we reached the Nid d’Aigle which also marks the top of the Tramway and the path that runs alongside it. Again the way was marked as blocked due to works taking place but being late in the day we decided to ignore the signs and head down this way. Surely no one would be working on it this late at night and the route was probably half the distance of the alternative. Imagine our distress, having walked about half an hour down this path,


Climbing Mont Blanc

to come across a team working on securing the cliffs above the tracks. They informed us in no uncertain terms that there was no way we were passing this way under these dangerous works. “Demi-tour, demi-tour” came the shout, meaning turn round and go back up! Another 30 minutes later we were back at Nid d’Aigle looking very sorry for ourselves and picking up the alternative path. These last two and a half hours of hiking felt like a kind of mental torture. The 5 of us had been on the mountain for well over 12 hours having barely slept the night before. The path just seemed to go on and on. At around 8pm it got fully dark as we climbed up into the forest. Head torches came out again as we picked our way through the roots and rocks. Eventually, at 9pm, in a near zombie like state, we arrived back at the van. Eduardo and Jonatan had originally planned to descend on the Bellevue cable car which closed at 5pm so they were pleased we had taken the decision to drive up, as were we! 45 minutes later we were in Chamonix, dropping the two of them off at their hotel and stocking up on burgers and chips for our drive back home. Finally, at half past midnight, some 22 hours after our day started, we rolled into Bourg St. Maurice and the welcome solace of our own beds to sleep the sleep of the dead.

Bellevue to Refuge du Gouter 2000m ascent (10 hours for us) Refuge du Gouter to Mont Blanc summit - 1000m ascent (5.5 hours) Mont Blanc to Refuge du Gouter 1000m descent (3.5 hours) Refuge du Gouter to Bellevue 2000m descent (7 hours) Climbing Mont Blanc definitely isn’t for anyone. Its bloody hard work as we found out. The best way to do it would be with a guide. They know the route inside out. They can read the weather and make the right decisions. They are responsible for your safety and will make sure you get back without incident. Don’t rush it. We originally planned to attempt the whole thing in two days. Elite trail runner Kilian Jornet ran to the summit and back in less than 5 hours in 2013 (by a different route) but obviously he is a freak of nature! If we did it again I’d aim for four days. Perhaps day 1 up to the Tete Rousse, day 2 up to the Gouter, summit day 3 and back to the Gouter, descent to the valley on day 4. This would give loads more time to adjust to the altitude, prevent you from getting excessively fatigued and overall be much safer. Train well before hand particularly at high altitude. Aim to tackle at least 2 peaks over 3500m.

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Tramway du Mont Blanc - 31.50 euros return - open mid-June until early September and through the winter Telecabine de Bellevue (Les Houches) - 18 euros return - open mid-June until late September and through the winter Nearest accessible parking to Gouter route - Bionassy (45.868337, 6.761251) St Gervais Mairie Minimum Equipment Requirements • Hat, glacier sunglasses, goggles, sunscreen • Mountaineering helmet • Headlamp • 2 pairs of gloves (1 light, 1 warm) • Gaiters • Clothes for mountaineering (warm socks, gore-tex trousers and coat, fleece or down jacket) • Mountaineering shoes with crampons • Harness and crevasse rescue kit • Rope • Ice axe and walking poles • GPS or compass and altimeter

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by Chris Moran

k Nelly in h t u o y o d t a h W * done? would have f***** ’m 80km - half-way around when my body decides it’s had enough. Typical. And 160km (or 100 miles if you’re old-school) is much more than I’ve ever even thought about cycling on a bike. To be honest, I’d think twice about driving that far in a car - or I’d at least check there was a good supply of jelly babies in the glove box first.

killed himself in June of 2012. It feels odd to write that, but he did: he took his own life. We could be oddly British about it, and I could have written something like “…he sadly passed away,” but what has followed on from the event aims to break down the stigma that surrounds male suicide, of which the stiff-upper-lip, don’t-talk-about-feelings mentality is no-doubt part of.

I have Adam Gendle to blame - the ex-snowboarding, TV presenting, game-show-hosting owner of Famous First Words (www.facebook.com/FamousFirstWords ). In a series of frankly abusive emails to myself and a group of other - ahem - older snowboarders, he let us know in no-uncertain terms that the 40km and 80km options on the sportive were not open to us - we were doing the 160km route. “What do you think Nelly would have f****** done?” he wrote. I’ll spare you the rest, but the sentiment was clear: this was gonna hurt, and we were going to grin and bear it.

For Nelsons family and close friends, of course, his death was a traumatic event. To the wider world, it was confusing: to say Nelson was

The ‘Nelly’ in the email is Nelson Pratt, one of the UK’s most talented and humble snowboarders, who spent season-upon-season in the Espace Killy, as well as traveling all over the world filming and being photographed for snowboard magazines. Nelson

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Marcus & Nelson after a Woolacombe surf

well loved within the snowboarding community would be a gross understatement. To highlight the point, his funeral service was so oversubscribed that mourners filled the church, the adjoining car park and even spilled out onto the access road. The vicar had to erect a PA so everyone could hear the service. There was an RAF fly-by (Nelly helped train some of their snowboarders,


Nelly’s Ride in addition to his coaching work with Olympic-medal winning Jenny Jones). Afterwards, the wake was held on the Pratt family farm - a place where yellow rape-seed oil fields fade from hill-to-hill through an area of outstanding natural beauty. On that day in the summer of 2012, a huge, white marquee melted to pink, then orange, as the summer sun set on mourners who hugged, shared stories about their time with Nelly, and perhaps wondered why he’d done it? The sad truth is that we may never know. But as well as the sadness, there was also an energy to the event. So many people connected to each other through snowboarding, through sport, through their time with Nelson. It was very moving, very sad, but also very lovely. Nelly’s eulogy in church set the scene - delivered by his best friend Marcus Chapman, it bordered on a best-man’s speech, with laugh-out-loud anecdotes about Nelly’s ability to eat huge quantities of food and

to remain as fit as butchers dog; his love of the family farm and his trusty Land Rover; his passion for snowboarding and the journeys it had taken him on, and - perhaps surprisingly for some - Nelson and Marcus’s shared love of road cycling - especially the summer missions they’d embarked in the countryside that surrounded the church. It was the only funeral I’ve ever been to that could honestly fit the description as being a celebration of someone’s life. By the time Summer 2013 rolled around, Marcus, Nelson’s brother Chris and the rest of the Pratt family had conceived the idea of a charity bike ride starting and ending at the farm, with a choice of three routes: 40km, 80km and 160km. It made perfect sense. Here was a way to remember Nelson, for his friends and acquantances to revisit the farm, to ride bikes and see the lanes and hills Nelly so loved himself, and to raise money for the charity C.A.L.M (the Campaign Against Living Miserably). The first year raised around £60,000, and in the event has only gone from strength to strength.

Back in the saddle, I pushed through the halfway mark and carried on. I had no choice turning back or carrying on was the same distance back to the farm. By the third stop at 110km or so, I realised it was doable. Yes, everything hurt; yes, I had to dig deep; and yes, there were moments where I wanted to throw the bike into a hedge and speed dial Uber. But it felt exceptionally good to cross the finish line before dark, and I bowled into the food stalls safe in the knowledge that I could dive face-first into a full-sized victoria sponge and still have calories to spare for the evening. Marcus, Chris and the Pratt family have created something very very special in the sportive, and I for one will be there every September for as long as the event is put on. Be there for the 2018 event, you won’t regret it.

HOW TO GET Involved! To donate to the amazing charity The Calm Zone, text "TDTV17" then "£5" or "£10" to 70070 (please include £ sign) To hear more about Nelson, and Marcus’s reasons for starting the sportive, try the fantastic Looking Sideways podcast interview with Marcus: www.wearelookingsideways.com/podcasts/016-marcus-chapman

Nelly in NZ Pic by Natalie Mayer

To see photos of some incredibly stoked people after they’d finished the 2017 ride, check out www.facebook.com/pg/theCALMzone/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10155233416144690

To read more about the 2017 sportive, and to see gallery images try: www.thecalmzone.net/2017/09/fifth-nelsons-tour-de-test-valley-sportive To see Nelson snowboard, and to remember how much of a legend he was, and will always be, check out: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN-3XQuPazw To see a great film from the 2015 event, check out: www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5F1TnMHHU0

To sign up to the 2018 sportive, go to www.nelsonstourdetestvalley.co.uk To learn more about the amazing work that the charity C.A.L.M do, visit www.thecalmzone.net

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Excuse me sir ...MMmmmnnngghhhh...

Excuse me sir!!! MMmnn? My eyes open but immediately shut again from shock. A quick snapshot of a cobalt blue sky, filled with retina burning sunshine. “Sorry sir, you can’t sleep here” My eyes open again but this time only partially. The same sky but this time I can see a silhouetted head at the periphery, looking down on me. “You can’t sleep here sir. Big match today. Spectators will be arriving soon.” I rise unsteadily to my feet to be rewarded with a rush of blood to the head and a wave of dizziness that feels familiar and not altogether unpleasant.

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Phase one hangover. The stage only experienced if woken prematurely. Still near the peak of drunkenness, just coming over the top but with a watchful eye on the impending slope ahead, which drops away steeply into a world of pain and suffering. In front of me stand two guys of Mediterranean appearance wearing brightly coloured uniforms. Immediately behind them looms the foreboding shape of an equally colourful sports stadium, emblazoned with the familiar five rings of the Olympic Games. Glancing behind me I see a patch of freshly turned earth that was probably intended as a flower bed but never quite made it. The centre of this “flower bed” is squashed flat in the approximate shape of an adult male. As my booze addled brain slowly puts all the evidence together I turn back to face my two friends with an inane grin on my face. “Are you gay?” And so it was, faced with this bizarrely inappropriate question, that I began my 30th year.

Two Weeks Earlier... I’m standing in the arrivals area of Geneva International Airport, full of nervous excitement. The environment is certainly not the source of this enthusiasm. It is July 2004 and Cool Bus has recently completed its third winter operating airport transfers. Geneva airport already feels a little over familiar. The previous season had gone really well in terms of clients and it became apparent partway through that we needed a third bus to add to the Mercedes 508 and Ford Transit that we already owned. In January, whilst driving past Annecy, I had spotted a Volkswagen T3 Synchro for sale by the side of the road and was immediately smitten. This was a model that I had coveted for many years. Volkswagen’s third generation of Transporters used a much more reliable water cooled diesel engine, while still retaining some of the familiar stylings that have made the old T2 bay window and T1 split screen


Tales Of Coolbus Past Chapter 3 campers so highly sought after. The Synchro version added not only 4WD but also jacked up suspension and skid trays to the underbelly, to create a genuinely capable off-road vehicle. And here for sale I had found the very rare 9 seat minibus version. Not only that but it also had a two tone paint job (navy blue/royal blue) and a huge sunroof that essentially opened up the whole middle third of the ceiling. It was clearly a match made in heaven and there was no way I could let her slip through my fingers. I wasted no time in paying well over the odds and taking her back to my place in Bourg. That very same van was now sat in the arrivals car park of Geneva airport sporting a few minor modifications to turn her into a basic camper van, which was ideal for the mini-adventure we had planned. 2004 happened to be an Olympic year. Back in the eighties when I was still a young lad, I’d signed up for our school canoe slalom club. Thanks to the enthusiasm of a technology teacher, Tony Shenton, who ran the club, myself and another pupil, Stuart MacIntosh had got into the sport in a big way, rising up through the national rankings to the point where we ended up racing in the Junior World Championships in 1992. Throughout the years building up

to this we spent hours and hours training at our local water sports facility (dodging discarded shopping trolleys on the Grand Union Canal) and weekends travelling the country attending races. Through this we built up a network of friends of a similar age from across the UK who were involved in the same sport. Having spent so much time with this group during our formative years, its no surprise that many of them went on to be lifelong friends. This included an infamous character called Stuart Bowman, a man with no filter between his brain and mouth, known for his uncanny ability to make grown women cry and men want to punch him in the face, and Nick Smith, a couple of years older and considerably cooler than the rest of us, who more recently coached Tim Bailie and Etienne Stott to Olympic gold in London. By 2004 Nick and Stu were racing together in the canadian doubles category and had qualified for the Athens Olympics along with my old school buddy, Stuart MacIntosh. I also had more than a passing acquaintance with the two other members of the Olympic team, Helen Reeves and Campbell Walsh. Life is unlikely to present you with many opportunities to watch friends competing in an Olympic Games so we decided we’d better make the most of this one and

planned a two week holiday around it. My 30th birthday was due to fall on the final day of racing, providing the perfect combination of post race party and birthday bash, in a city already in full party mode! A quick consultation of the map had shown that it was a fairly easy drive from Geneva, down through Italy and then across to Greece on the Brindisi - Patras ferry. From there it was just a short hop to Athens. Della and I formulated a route which took in a few Italian beaches and the capital, Rome, for a bit of history. Privately I also made my own plan to propose to Della during the trip. We had been together for nearly ten years through thick and thin. Finally I had the beginnings of a functioning business and also owned an apartment in Bourg St. Maurice so I felt I’d reached the right time in life. We had spent the last few years apart during the winters with Della staying in the UK. She worked in the mortgage business and with the impending sub-prime mortgage crash just around the corner, it seemed the right time to pack it all in and up sticks to France. All in all we had an action packed fortnight lined up which had me virtually frothing over with excitement! With Della safely through Geneva arrivals we set off for Chamonix and the first overnight stop of our trip.

sir. e r e h p e e l s ’t You can day. Big match to soon g in iv r r a e b ill Spectators w

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Five days later we pulled up on the banks of Lago di Bracciano, a picturesque lake just north of Rome with ample free camping opportunities. Following a few clandestine map consultations I had selected this as the ideal venue for a marriage proposal. The red wine was flowing (from a carton) as the sun set over the lake, and partway through a round of the romantic card game “Shit Head”, I revealed my ring and asked her to marry me. She accepted and we immediately popped open a bottle of bubbly that I had left warming in the van. Even the fact that I bought a ring 10 sizes too big couldn’t dampen the romance that evening. The next day my new fiancee and I headed off to Rome in high spirits. We dropped the van at a park and ride on the outskirts and then trained into the city centre. It was a beautiful day with blazing sunshine, perfect for wandering this stunning historical city. It was the first time either of us had been and we were

blown away as soon as we stepped off the train. There is history, literally around every corner, much of which dates back thousands of years. The Forum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, we ticked them all off easily on foot without so much as a map or guide book between us. By late afternoon the hours of wandering the city streets had taken their toll and we jumped back on the train out of the centre. Ten minutes later we were out into the expansive car park looking around for the van. On arrival we had been directed to a zone reserved for camper vans so it was easy to find the right area but finding the van itself was proving a little more tricky. We both felt sure we had the right spot but it wasn’t there so we kept searching. I think Della was the first to come out and say, in a wavering voice, “The van’s not here Rob. Its been nicked.” In our relationship Della is very much the pessimistic one so it has always been my job to put a positive spin on

ere rob. h t o n ’s n a v the d. its been nicke

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things but after another 15 minutes of hunting in vain I was finding it increasingly difficult to remain upbeat. Finally I had no option but to agree. The van was gone. As I reluctantly admitted defeat to Della, the true horror of the consequences dawned on both of us. Della’s “too big” engagement ring was in the van. All my birthday presents including stuff she had brought out from the UK were in there. She’d even got me one of those fancy new 40GB iPod things, cutting edge technology in 2004. Our passports were in there along with all other forms of ID so there would be no sailing to Greece until they were replaced. The whole trip had very quickly taken a disastrous turn. After a quick rant at the car park attendant and with heavy hearts, we got on the train back into the centre to pay a visit to the police station. Della was absolutely distraught. Its fair to say she doesn't cope well with stressful situations and, in terms of trauma, this was right up there with the death of a long loved family pet. At the station all the details were taken by a very sympathetic female police officer. Despite her lack of English and us not speaking a word of Italian, we somehow muddled through the forms and she did her best to console us with a “At least you still have each other” (communicated through the medium of mime).


Tales Of Coolbus Past Chapter 3 Fortunately we also still had my wallet with credit cards and cash so finding somewhere to stay was not a problem. Della had travel insurance for the trip and naturally the vehicle was insured too. We booked ourselves into a hotel in the centre of Rome and set about figuring out how we could get new passports. The next morning we were at the front of the queue at the British Embassy to fill out the required forms, determined that we would make it to Greece no matter what. Grumpy passport photos were hurriedly taken and we left knowing that, it being a Friday, we would certainly not be getting replacements until Tuesday at the earliest but more likely Wednesday. With at least 4 days to kill we headed off to find the cheapest shops Rome has to offer to equip ourselves with replacement clothes, bags, toiletries and everything else we might need. The Olympic canoeing events took place over four days - Tuesday until Friday. As such it was immediately obvious that we were going to miss a good chunk of this and possibly even all of it. On Monday afternoon we presented ourselves again at the Embassy, vainly hoping that our new travel documents would be ready - they weren’t. And so it was that on the Tuesday morning, rather than watching my school mate Stuart MacIntosh racing the Olympic canoe slalom heat’s live in Athens, we instead had to settle for a small tv in a hotel room with Italian commentary. The whole thing was somewhat disheartening. On Tuesday afternoon we found ourselves again in the now familiar, plush surroundings of the Embassy. The smartly dressed lady at the desk told us that our passports were not ready yet but that they would definitely be there first thing tomorrow morning! We immediately set about arranging travel to Athens. The best we could manage was an arrival on the Thursday, late afternoon. Whilst this was 3 days later than planned it was still in time to watch the semi finals and finals of the mens kayak and canadian doubles events and to celebrate my 30th birthday! With that all arranged it seemed appropriate to celebrate with a meal in a fancy restaurant and one too many drinks in town. Consequently, early the next day I found myself hunched over in the marbled interior of the bathrooms of the British Embassy in Rome.

Peppercorns in sauce make a fantastic accompaniment to a delicious, tender steak. When they are firing out of your nose into a fancy toilet bowl however, they sting like buggery. Even this slightly harrowing experience however, couldn’t take the shine off our mood as we walked out through the gated gardens with our brand new passports in hand! The next 24 hours of travelling involved one train journey, one overnight ferry from Brindisi to Patras, one bus journey onwards to Athens and then a taxi out to Glyfada where our friends were staying. They had managed to find us a room in their hotel and had successfully sold on the tickets that we had been unable to use for the first 3 days of competition. We arrived to smiles all round and congratulations when they heard about our engagement. I think most were surprised we’d made it all. We were quickly filled in on events so far. That day Stuart MacIntosh had raced the semi-finals and finals of the Canadian singles, finishing a respectable 8th but the big news was that Helen Reeves had scored a bronze medal!

ferry, so she decided to stay at the hotel and the rest of the team all had races the next day. I assured Della I wouldn't be too late and the three of us headed out to a nearby boozer where Helen had arranged to meet athletes from some of the other nations. There was a great atmosphere in the bar whose clientele was almost exclusively made up of athletes that had just finished their Olympic competitions and were now very much in holiday mode. Some, like Helen, were celebrating successful results, some were just simply celebrating and it was difficult not to get caught up in the mood of the place, and to be fair, I didn’t try too hard to resist. After 5 days stuck in Rome, I felt like I deserved a little celebration too. At some point in the early hours of the morning, we all staggered out into the street and made the short walk back to the hotel. Like most people, I find the liberal imbibement of alcoholic refreshment on an empty stomach, with little or no sleep the night before,

She was understandably keen to go out and celebrate and Stu and I were more than happy to join her! Della was tired, having not slept much on our overnight

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Continued... endows me with a clarity of mind which is almost impossible to achieve under normal circumstances. As such, upon reaching our hotel room (where I found Della in a state of some distress, brought on no doubt by her own lack of sleep, my late return and the after effects of the previous week’s ordeal) I had no problem expressing myself in a calm and coherent manner and we were able discuss and settle any issues without the need for raised voices. Imagine my surprise then, having decided that our differences were fully resolved and therefore retiring to bed, when I received a pint of water to the face. Again my clear head stepped in and I quickly decided the best course of action was to leave immediately and walk home to France. Approximately five hours later (or five minutes, its hard to be sure) having covered most of the distance back to France (well to Athens anyway) I realised that I had left behind my so recently acquired passport. This left me stumped. Clearly there was no chance of crossing the French border tonight so I might as well bed down in the nearest horizontal area I could find off the main thoroughfare. Moments

later I was drifting off into a deep sleep in a patch of dirt just outside the Olympic Hockey stadium… I am pleased to say that after this somewhat inauspicious start to my 30th year, things quickly improved. Twenty minutes after being rudely awakened from my slumber I had presented myself back at our hotel with the proverbial tail very much tucked between my lower appendages. Reconciliation achieved, we hit the hotel breakfast buffet with a vengeance. A few of our fellow guests appeared to be just as bleary eyed as me. Apparently there had been some shouting late at night from one of the rooms. I note that the “3 blondes in a boat” who were on the same floor as us, went on to win a gold medal for Great Britain in the sailing that day so they can’t have been that tired. Buffet ravaged, we headed down to the Olympic canoe slalom course to catch the days action. As you might expect from a European games, there was a decent sized British contingent flying the flag and the elevated spectating area offered incredible views of the entire course. The crowds were

roaring and the atmosphere was electric which soon put paid to any lasting damage from the previous nights adventures. Stu Bowman and Nick Smith put in an outstanding performance in the heats finishing 2nd. Unfortunately it all went pear shaped in the semi final and they dropped down to 9th. The mens kayak event brought high hopes in the shape of Campbell Walsh who had been scoring consistent podium results at World Cup races all summer. He didn't disappoint and we had the great pleasure of watching him smash down the course into second place, splitting two French athletes and then climbing onto the podium to collect his silver medal. The following nights festivities started out a street party in Glyfada before moving on to an incredible open air nightclub a little way down the coast. The next day, after saying goodbye to the team, Della and I headed off to a Greek Island for a few nights, then ferried and trained our way back to Bourg via Milan. Some 3 months later I was contacted by the local Bourg police and asked to drop in at the station. Like most people, such invitations immediately cause me to break out into a nervous sweat. Imagine my surprise when presenting myself at the Gendarmerie, to be told that the Italian police had been in touch with news of my stolen van! It had been spotted being driven around a town some 3 hours north of Rome with tampered door locks. A few weeks later, the van was back in its rightful home of Bourg St. Maurice. Della and I tied the knot in November the following year before settling down permanently together in France.

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Tarentaise Guide E lsewhere in our magazine you’ll find our comprehensive guide to all the local mountain bike parks so we’ve definitely got that covered. That’s far from the only activity available to you in the Tarentaise though. There’s all sorts on offer!

If hammering down a rough mountainside on two wheels isn’t really your bag, fear not, we have some of the best road biking in the world right here in the valley! All of the local cols have played a part in the Tour de France over the years including the immense Col de l’Iseran which tops out at a whopping 2764 metres. This year see’s the race summit the Cormet de Roselend on the 18th July before ascending partway up the Col du Petit St. Bernard. The following day the action kicks off right from Bourg St. Maurice before the riders tackle the Col de Madeleine en-route to the stage finish at Alpe d’Huez. Fancy attempting some of this yourself? Revolver bike shop in Bourg (between Super U and U-Culture) rent out Trek carbon road bikes and the owner Stephane knows the sport inside out and speaks good English too! Even if you’re not into cycling, the Tour de France is an amazing spectacle, so if you’re in the area at the right time be sure to find yourself a good spot by the roadside either on the 18th or 19th July. Bourg has been a world renowned spot for whitewater sports for decades. The canoe slalom course at the southern end of town has a reputation for being one of the toughest in the world and has played host to many rounds of of the World Cup as well as the French national championships which take place here annually. Fear not however, because

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Tarentaise Summer Activities Guide immediately below this the river is raft-able by mere mortals too! Being dam controlled means the local rafting companies are able to rely on daily regular releases of water so even in dry periods the river can still be pumping! Various options are available depending on how big you want to go. The first section from Bourg to Landry is pretty straightforward stuff. Beyond that you can chose to navigate the rapids at Aime and go further still through the stunning Centron gorge. There are several local outfits offering rafting trips. Try h2o-rafting.com or Mountain River High. If getting wet is your thing but you don’t really fancy white water we’ve got plenty more options for you! Bourg has an excellent olympic size, outdoor swimming pool with diving boards and loads of outdoor space for sunbathing. There’s also a kids play area, 25 metre indoor pool with retractable roof and indoor kids pool. Just down the valley in Gothard you’ll find a lovely plan d’eau (swimming lake). Again, loads of grassy space for sunbathing, beach area, kids playground, and a decent cafe/restaurant. If you’re mobile, you won’t regret a visit to Lake Annecy (about an hours drive from Bourg). It’s a stunning spot with beautiful turquoise waters but does tend to get quite busy during July and August. Another great place for water sports is WAM park (wam73.fr), just the other side of Albertville. They have a fantastic clockwise wake boarding cable tow with loads of great features, big cafe/beach area that’s great for sunbathing, kids water games area (that adults secretly really enjoy too), trampolines, slackline, paddle boards and boat rentals. You can even rent a floating cabin and stay the night! Loads of fun for the whole family. To fully appreciate the stunning mountains of the Tarentaise they really is no substitute for a good hike! There are routes here for all abilities and fitness levels. A relatively easy walk out of Bourg is the trail up to the Chapelle Saint-Michel. While the chapel itself isn’t really anything special, the views of the valley are very pretty and its a relatively easy way to get up to a nice peaceful spot. For a longer full day hike you can’t beat Les Cinq Lacs. The climb

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Tarentaise Summer Activities Guide takes around 5 hours from Bourg but you can shorten it by driving partway up. A harder full day option which really gets you out into the wild is the route from Tignes to Peisey (or vice versa) via the Vanoise national park. Or go further still and spend a night in a mountain refuge! If you’re doing this it’s certainly a good idea to head into the Vanoise Park for stunning unspoilt mountains and a good chance of catching some local wildlife such a bouquetins or bearded vultures! Taking things a step further you could try your hand at a bit of rock climbing! There’s several great spots in the valley but one favourite has to be Notre Dame du Pre. You can also camp up here very cheaply and campfires are permitted in designated spots. If you don’t have the kit or expertise for rock climbing there are several via ferrata routes in the valley. Via ferrata is Italian for iron route and it’s essentially a rock climbing route which is made easier by the addition of metal steps and a cable running along side that you can clip into. Equipment can be rented from Intersport in Bourg and they range in difficulty from easy to superhero level. The lower section of the Pesiey via ferrata is a good place to start whereas the one in Val d’Isere is for more advanced climbers! For a more kid friendly option there are also a number of treetop rope courses in the valley (like Go-Ape in the UK). You’ll find one near the Auberge de Jeunesse just outside Seez, one at the Gothard plan d’eau and one down the valley in Villette. Finally, if you really want to get yourself a completely different perspective on the local mountains, we highly recommend paragliding! The easiest way is to book yourself a tandem paraglide (or parapente as they call it in these parts) with an instructor. If you want to take things further there are plenty of local schools that will show you the ropes on a week long course. A good local company that offer both of these is darentasia.com This is far from an exhaustive list but hopefully it gives you a few good ideas that will add to your summer holiday experience in the Tarentaise valley!

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A Brief History f you grew up in the eighties and nineties, chances are that, like us, you spent time in your youth compiling mixtape’s. These days the phrase has come to mean something different but back then it involved spending hours selecting the very best songs in your collection, whether they be from vinyl or cassette, getting them in just the right order so that each song complemented the previous one, then recording them all onto a C60 or C90 tape. It was the analogue equivalent of a Spotify playlist.

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We made mixtape’s for all sorts of different reasons. Perhaps for a long drive somewhere, or to play at someones party, to take on holiday, or the perennial classic - to give to that girl/boy that you had the hots for. It was your chance to express yourself, be creative and maybe even slip in the odd song with a barely concealed sentiment. Things moved on over the years and the mixtape became the mix CD and then, sometime around the mid-noughties, CD players became available that could read the new fangled mp3 format from a CD. This meant that rather than being limited to just 70 minutes of music, you could now fit 8 or 9 hours onto one disc.

This opened up a whole new world. Played on shuffle, a 9 hour compilation could last months without getting boring. A fact that did not pass us by at Cool Bus. Music has always been very important to us. It is as linked to driving as rhubarb is to custard. A well chosen playlist can make a long journey an absolute joy. In just the same way, a bad selection of tunes can turn it into an uncomfortable ordeal. As such, even back in our first year, we attached great importance to providing our clients with a good choice of music for their journey. At the start this involved carting around wallets full of CD’s and we even had a selection of tapes. Music choice was always given to the customer, so a


Coolbus FM good range covering most genres was essential. The advent of mp3 liberated us from all this unnecessary baggage and the first CoolBus FM CD was born. The first volume was compiled by spending many hours one summer going through our entire CD collection and picking the best song from each disc to go into one mp3 volume. It was a time consuming process but also quite fun and the end result was something quite special. Why call it CoolBus FM? iTunes allows you to edit the album title for every track on a playlist in one go. With this changed to CoolBus FM and then setting the van stereo display to album name, it gave the appearance to our customers that they were listening to our very own private radio station! It wasn’t long before we started compiling mental lists of new songs that needed to go on. Pretty soon that list had 100 songs on it and CoolBus FM2 was put together just in time for the following season. Then drivers started compiling their own lists and new volumes got churned out each winter. By 2015 we were up to volume 8. The next logical step was to go online and it wasn’t long before the CoolBus FM Podcast appeared on Soundcloud. There are currently 10 episodes available to stream and download here - https://soundcloud.com/coolbus-fm With the advent of Volkswagen’s 6th generation of Transporters came a new stereo with an SD card slot as standard. Accordingly, all 8 CD volumes were edited and then squashed onto cards, meaning drivers now had over 750 hand

picked songs at their fingertips. Somewhere along the way we also bought a sound system. Having to borrow one each year for our legendary end of season party was becoming a bit of a drag and its all tax deductible after all so why not! The added advantage was that we could now organise parties whenever we fancied it. Regular apres events ensued at Charley’s Factory in Bourg. Then during the summer of 2017, we spotted the “Police Rave Unit” at a couple of festivals in the UK. Essentially this is an old police riot van with the roof lifted off and a sound system fitted (look it up on youtube). We’d seen it before at other festivals but it was only at that point that it occurred to us we really needed something similar in our fleet. It just seemed to fit. Just a couple of weeks later, Thibaud from the Winter Film Festival in Bourg St. Maurice, contacted us asking if we wanted to do something at their event. Suddenly we had a good excuse and the right motivation.

Of All Time subject to change on a daily basis

“Ring The Alarm” By Tenor Saw “Cool For Cats” By Squeeze “Common People” By William Shatner “Peg” By Steely Dan “Know The Ledge” By Eric B And Rakim “LK” By DJ Marky

The next month saw plenty of head scratching, a trip to Berlin to source a van, a camper van roof posted from Cornwall, many thousand euros evaporating from our bank account, a few late nights and the odd splinter but at the end of it, and with less than 24 hours to go before the start of the Winter Film Festival, we had achieved what we set out to. Ladies and Gentleman, we present to you, the CoolBus FM Mobile Disco…

“Mas Que Nada” By Elza Soares “Gosh” By Jamie XX “Ever Fallen In Love” By The Buzzcocks “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” By Nat King Cole

Nearest Misses ‘S tracks that need a lightning quick FF finger with kids onboard

“French Kiss” By Lil Louis “You Sexy MF” By Prince “Closer” By Nine Inch Nails “I’ll Be Surprised” By Skinnyman “Straight Outta Compton” By NWA

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Cool Bus Onboard Magazine 2017/18  
Cool Bus Onboard Magazine 2017/18  

Ski Resort guides for Val d'Isere, Tignes, Les Arcs, La Plagne, Meribel, Courchevel, Les Menuires, La Rosiere and Ste. Foy. Ski and snowboar...

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