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Located at an ancient European crossroads by the Simplon Pass into Italy, the small and picturesque town of Brig was on the route for Napoleon's road building to give his armies better communications around Europe. It is equally well placed today to give skiers rapid access to the major ski centres of the Swiss Valais, including Zermatt and Saas Fee. Brig boasts many architectural treasures, dominated by the impressive Stockalper Castle, with its three gilded onion-domed towers and galleried court yard. The palace dates from the heyday of the town back in the 17th century under Kaspar von Stockalper, the greatest Valaisian merchant. He established a flourishing salt and silk trade between Milan and Lyons, and even organized the first postal service. Stockalper built his sumptuous palace in the town center. The three square towers form the corners of a great courtyard with three tiers of arcaded walkways. The palace was in the hands of the Stockalper family which had become impoverished, until 1948, when it was fully restored. In summer, every space is filled with flowerboxes. The heart of Brig today, as for centuries past, runs up the Bahnhofstrasse, until it widens into two "squares" at the intersection with Rhonesandstrasse, and then Furkastrasse. Each square is focused on a fountain, monument or church. Most of this area is a car-free pedestrian zone lined with old buildings which have a certain Mediterranean flavor. Lined with shops and restaurants it makes a very pleasant base when off the slopes. As well as excellent skiing from Rosswald above the resort, reached by gondola, there are a dozen major ski centres within an hour's drive including Belalp, Riederalp, Bettmeralp, Bellwald, Fiesch and, a little further, Zermatt, Saas Fee, Saas Grund, Crans Montana and Leukerbad.

Located at an ancient European crossroads by the Simplon Pass, there are many architectural treasures as well as excellent skiing from Rosswald, reached by gondola. Easy access to bigger ski areas at Zermatt and Saas Fee.

Mountain

Brig's location at the crossroads of major Alpine travel routes benefits skiers today as it did travellers and traders in the past. There's easy access by train and bus to larger neighbouring ski areas including Belalp and, slightly further on lift inter-connections, Riederalp (2335m), Bettmeralp (2872m), and Fiescheralp (2926m), all on the joint Aletsch Glacier Pass. Slightly further afield but still with an hour's drive are world class Zermatt, Crans Montana, Leukerbad and Saas Fee, the latter included on Brig's season pass. For the experienced skier, the high Alpine ski-touring opportunities in the area are outstanding. The main 'local' ski area is at Rosswald, a traditional village located at a snow sure 1825 metres and reached by a gondola that departs from Ried-Brig a short distance from the edge of the town. Rosswald's four T bar lifts serve largely wide easy trails above the treeline, with the hamlet's chalets dotted around the bottom of the slopes for ski in accommodation (there are 1500 visitor beds up on the mountain) and cafés , with good views of Brig itself down in the valley below. This is a nice friendly area for beginners to get started and for early intermediates to improve their technique, whilst mixed parties including more advanced skiers might opt to split up during the daytime, the more experienced tackling some of the major international ski areas mentioned in the vicinity. A regular service bus connects Brig with the gondola base or there is a free car park for those with their own transport. It's possible to buy a lift ticket to include the bus, or not. Two further small ski areas on the road further along past Rosswald towards the Simplon Pass. One is Rothwald, at 1745 metres where three drags take you up to 2626 metres, the second at the Simplon Pass itself where there are a few road side drag lifts by this high altitude settlement at 2005 metres (base). Cross country skiers are well catered for with the long trail of the Goms Valley or on the Simplon Pass.

Families

There are few special attractions or facilities for families in Brig, and no organised child - care services. However the pedestrianised centre with its friendly and unpretentious cafés and restaurants are largely child-friendly and for winter sports the bus and gondola ride up to Rosswald are far less stressful than at the major international resorts, with the slopes, peaceful, friendly, and as safe as any ski area can be, so Brig should certainly not be discounted as a family winter sports destination.

Eating Out

Brig has a good variety of restaurants for its size, including the friendly Channa Molino Italian pizzeria and the French restaurant within the Hotel Victoria. One of the most atmospheric places to eat is, again, the castle's cellar, where the grill has been operational, if not open to the public, for almost 500 years since it was built in 1530. The Burgersaal was added in 1640.

Apres

Brig's nightlife is generally relaxed and largely limited to hotel bars and restaurants. The Britannia Pub, beneath the Hotel de Londres (bit of an unexplained British flavour here...) is often lively, whilst the 'Schlosskeller' (Castle Cellar) is a good place to check out the local beers and wines in the atmospheric, centuries old Palace. Choices in the pedestrianised centre include the friendly aperetif bar in the Simplon Hotel.

Boarding

A 120 metres half pipe was opened on the Rosswald slopes as longb ago as the '97 - '98 season. The Swiss Ski and Snowboard School Rosswald is the best bet for tuition and guiding in the immediate area.

// HIGHLIGHTS //
Vertical drop
780m
Ski area
39
Resort height
1800m
Airport
Zurich
Train station
Brig
beginner
10%
intermediate
80%
expert
10%