News from the snow
Brides - les - Bains France
The old spa town of Brides les Bains was 'the Olympic Village' and thus home to the athletes participating in the 1992 Savoie Winter Olympics. It was linked by high speed gondola to Méribel on the Trois Vallées circuit as a result; there are no ski lifts at village level. It's 'real small town' feel contrasts with the internationally better known resorts up the mountain which include arguably France's choicest resort Courchevel, Europe's highest major resort Val Thorens and the modern resort of Les Menuires. It also offers better value accommodation than the altitude resorts and is quieter in the evenings, although as the main administrative and shopping centre for the Méribel Valley it is no sleepy hamlet. The resort's status as a spa town dates back to the last century and continues to be a second string to its tourism bow, today with the emphasis on health and weight loss, often in conjunction with a summer of winter sports holiday, rather than as a curative treatment for ailments. The thermal resort at Thermes d'Orsi employs specialists and professionals including doctors, masseurs, dieticians and psychologists who can work out special weight loss and fitness programs, often involving a pleasurable dip in the 36º Celsius thermal pool at Salins a hydro massage and a visit to the mud bath.
A traditional village beneath the Trois Vallées ski area, linked by a three stage telecabine to Meribél since the 1992 Savoie Olympics (when it was the Olympic village) . There are also a good range of shops, restaurants and a casino.
The beauty of Brides is that it's already down on the main valley road so access to other areas is much quicker, and you can normally reach them through roadside gondola stations down in the valley also, rather than having to drive up to the resorts. The main down side of the resort's position is that, although well placed to access some of the best ski areas in the French Alps, none of them is on the doorstep.
The gondola ride up to the Trois Vallees takes 25 minutes and is included in the standard pass. It's best to use the gondola trip to plan your day's skiing in the world's biggest ski area as well as to apply sun cream and fine tune ski boot buckles.
The skiing itself? Well let's see, the world's biggest lift linked ski area, the world's biggest lift pass, more than 600km (100 miles) of trails for every level of skier, a 1950 metre (6400 feet) vertical, the chance to try almost every winter sport imaginable, year round glacier skiing. Trying to offer detail inevitably means leaving so much out and further study of the vast array of opportunities before you arrive is highly recommended.
The resort also stages classical, jazz and rock concerts as well as exhibitions and other entertainments at regular intervals.