Verbier is one of the biggest ski resorts in the world. With 68 trails and 17 chairlift lines, there’s something for everyone.
Located in the French Alps, the resort is accessible by train from Geneva or Lyon, making it an easy day trip from Paris or the major cities in France. Its location and the snow-making machine it relies on mean that it never gets really cold even in the winter, which is great for skiing.
The History Of Verbier
For centuries, villages and towns in the French Alps were connected to each other through ‘Monte’, a mountain pass that was an important transit point for traders and soldiers passing between France and Italy. In 1789, the French Revolution caused a major shift in how people in the region perceived their role in society, with many considering themselves to be equals, rather than bearers of social power. This new ideology was brought to life when on New Year’s Day 1871, citizens of the Aosta Valley (now in northern Italy) staged a revolt against the government in Turin. The insurrection – which later turned into a full-blown military campaign – was later known as the ‘Razormontato’. It was a pivotal moment that forever changed the face of the Alps. After this historic event, many of the smaller local villages decided to abandon the traditions of the previous era and become a part of the wider world. While the villages changed, the name ‘Monte’ still represents the highest point on the Transpontine, European and international routes which traverse the French Alps. This gave birth to the modern-day resort of Verbier.
Today, the largest village in the Valais region of Switzerland, Verbier is a well-known ski resort that prides itself on its welcoming atmosphere. It was the first European resort to offer chairlift access for people with disabilities, as well as being the first to introduce half-pipes into the sport. This year, the Swiss ski village will be celebrating its 140th anniversary, which undoubtedly means a lot of fun activities and events to look forward to.
The Geography Of Verbier
Verbier is located in the French Alps, forming part of the international border between France and Switzerland. The village is tucked away in a large amphitheatre, with the Swiss Alps appearing on the horizon. The resort sits at an altitude of 1,600m, and its average yearly snowfall is around 150cm. The majority of the village’s skiers and snowboarders follow the well-established trails that wind their way through the nearby forests, heading towards the sheer cliff-faces of the Bernese Alps. One of the best things about the geography of Verbier is how close the resort is to the cities of Geneva and Lyon. In 2018, the village is expected to welcome around 200,000 annual visitors, which is great for the local community.
The Culture Of Verbier
The inhabitants of Verbier are very friendly and welcoming, which is reflected in the resort’s laid-back vibe. The village is home to a vibrant artistic community which puts on an annual festival in the middle of winter. This event, the Foire Saint-Gabriel, is one of the biggest arts festivals in the area, and is attended by people from all over the world. The local cuisine is another thing to look forward to. Roasted lamb and chicken, creamy goat’s cheese, and pastries filled with chocolate are just some of the local delicacies that can be consumed after a long day on the slopes. And don’t forget about the fondue. This Alpine specialty will be served all day, every day at the bottom of a gondola lift!
The skiing and après-skiing scenes in Verbier are lively and vibrant. The skiing village is home to a large number of international skiers and snowboarders, drawn to the resort by its fantastic off-piste terrain and nightlife. The local ski instructors are renowned for their expertise, and offer some of the most popular winter sports courses in the world. These courses range from easy greens to expert terrains which feature high-degree terrain, including chairlift access. The village also prides itself on being a truly beginner-friendly ski resort, with 20% of the village’s terrain designed for beginners. Another 20% of the trails are suitable for advanced intermediates, while the remaining 60% are challenging for experts.
The Climate Of Verbier
Verbier is located in the French Alps, forming part of the international border between France and Switzerland. The village is tucked away in a large amphitheatre, with the Swiss Alps appearing on the horizon. In the winter, the village is blanketed in the white stuff, and daytime temperatures can reach as high as 10ºC, which is perfectly comfortable for a winter sports enthusiast. However, as it is located at the highest elevation in the area, the climate can get a little icy at night, which is why most people don’t go for a night-time stroll after the last lift has stopped.
Skiing In Verbier
The biggest and most popular ski resort in Verbier is Le Grand Escapade. This is a great place for beginners and intermediates who are looking for an easy day out, as well as for experts who want to test their skills. The resort features 12 trails, ranging in difficulty from easy to very difficult, with the expert terrains offering stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area. A couple of these expert trails are even accessible by car, making this an ideal location for caravanners. On weekdays, the Le Grand Escapade trails are illuminated by the sun which shines brightly, while on weekends, dark clouds and fog engulf the trails, turning night into day, and making for some unique and spectacular sights.
On the opposite side of the resort, Le Petit Escapade offers a beginner-friendly snow park, as well as 6 trails, ranging in difficulty from easy to extreme. This ski resort is also accessible for people with disabilities, which should come as no surprise since the village is home to several ski instructors who are fully aware of and prepared to help people with special needs.
Where Will I Stay In Verbier?
There are several options when it comes to where to stay in Verbier. The hotels vary widely in terms of quality and price, from 5-star resorts to small family-run guesthouses. When it comes to affordability, one of the best options is the Village Lodge, just a 5-minute walk from the gondola lift. This is a small hotel located in a typical Swiss village, and the rates are extremely affordable, especially for solo travelers and small groups.
For those who want to stay within the walls of a hotel, there is a wide variety of chain hotels located in the centre of the village, as well as a few 5-star establishments nearby. Hotels within walking distance of the lifts will also save you a great deal of money on transportation costs, which arise as you travel further afield to reach the rest of the village.
What Amenities Will My Hotel Offer?
Hotels in Verbier provide a wide variety of amenities. Some of the more popular ones include the wellness centre with indoor pool, sauna and whirlpool, as well as the Jacuzzi. Some of the smaller and more affordable hotels may not offer these, but they will boast an indoor pool and/or tennis courts. If you are looking for a truly luxurious experience during your stay, the nearby Les Fenêtres du Mont Blanc hotel offers an indoor pool, wellness center and wellness lounge, along with a panoramic view of the snowcapped Alps. This hotel is a must for anybody seeking maximum pampering.
Regardless of whether you are looking for a relaxing or sophisticated stay in the French Alps, Verbier has the perfect hotel to offer. The variety of amenities and the warm welcome of the locals will make you feel right at home, while the breathtaking view of the majestic Alps will take your breath away. Now, all you have to do is book your stay at one of the many hotels in the Swiss Alps, and make the most of your trip to the most beautiful and well-known ski resort in the world!