Where to buy in the French Alps

Where to buy in the French Alps

For those seeking a high-altitude property close to great skiing (and even better après ski), Joanna Leggett seeks out the hottest spots in the winter Alps…

In the French Alps, they describe Mont Blanc as the ‘roof of Europe’. So where better where to start talking about après ski than ‘on the ceiling’ of the Alps at Méribel’s La Folie Douce, a bar and club? Situated at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, it’s located almost on the French/Italian border close to Megève and at the top of the St-Gervais ski slopes. Here legendary DJs get clubbers dancing in front of the most magnificent of panoramas. What an introduction to some of the hottest spots for après ski the Alps has to offer.

Each year I look forward eagerly, after the long, hot summers we enjoy here in France, to winter with all its attendant fun. When snow covers the peaks of the stunning French Alps, the views capture your imagination. And it’s not just about spending your days out on the slopes, whether you’re skiing, snowboarding or just tramping through the snow. As the sun sets and the snow on the mountains turns rosy pink, reflecting the setting sun, and deeply shadowed slopes are highlighted by the midnight- blue sky punctuated by stars, it’s time to think about the most serious business of the day: après ski.


For the young, and those even younger at heart, here winter evenings seem to start sooner and nights are definitely longer. With dusk starting as early as 4pm, it’s time to drag yourself (or toboggan perhaps?) back to your digs to change for the evening’s entertainment – arguably, the most fun you can have with your ski togs on. However, before getting ready for the serious après ski, it’s perhaps best to start with a nice warming petit goûter – hot chocolate and gâteau or vin chaud to keep the cold out and energise your prelude to the evening’s activities.

Après ski was born and bred in France before spreading to winter sports centres around the world. Being France, food is naturally a prerequisite to any good entertainment and the choice of places to eat après ski is legendary – from raclette to fondue and everything in between. Après ski activities are equally wide-ranging: sophisticated cocktails, great food and electronic dance music rocking round the clock till 4 or 5am, or as simple as a glass of beer or wine in a timber- lined Alpine bar.

During my many visits to the ski resorts of the Alps, I have undertaken ‘exhaustive’ research (I use the term advisedly) into the après ski scene and found some great venues. My list is by no means exhaustive – I’d need to write a novel to include every place I’ve been, there are so many resorts and villages – but here are just a few of my favourite spots to enjoy relaxing after a day on the slopes.


Starting at the top, Val Thorens, Europe’s highest resort, is home to one of the aforementioned Folie Douce bars, as well as Klub Summit, on Rue de Gebroulaz, which has the greatest elevation of all. It plays a range of music from rock to disco to get everyone up on the floor. In fact, with more than 40 bars and three night clubs here, the choice is legendary. You could start making your way down off the mountain with karaoke at Red Fox.

While the Rue de Gebroulaz is the place to enjoy the party scene, Malaysia and Baramix (Val Thorens’s two other nightclubs), are across town. Malaysia, the largest, has legendary visiting DJs such as Calvin Harris. Folie Douce has definitely got the mix right and is open in five locations starting in Val d’Isère, it can also be found in Megève, Méribel and Alpe d’Huez.



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The first purpose-built ski resort in the Alps, Megève is full of charm, with chic rustic chalets, upmarket hotels and designer boutiques, with cobbled medieval streets at its pedestrianised centre. For the more energetic, après ski could include night snowshoeing, but for the well-heeled serious partygoer, why not start with tartiflette at M restaurant, where cheese is selected and tasted with the care of someone sampling the finest wines.

With a wide choice of clubs and bars, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Megève: gamble your sous at the Casino, or find Club Cocoon where the locals go, which has possibly more attractive prices. Then, if jazz is your thing, le Club de Jazz les Cinq Rues is not to be missed.


Another day, another resort – this time Chamonix, which has a reputation as one of the world’s premier skiing destinations, with après ski life to match. At Chambre Neuf, it’s standing room only – especially when it’s two-for-one cocktail time. At L’Amnesia, the party goes on till 4am, which sometimes might be best forgotten. La Terrasse right in the centre of town is a popular spot where revellers enjoying extended happy hour can people-watch and drink in the scene. Then for beer lovers, The Pub is where you can enjoy a pint and watch live sport in an English-styled bar. Again for jazz fans, at Maison des Artistes you can sit in leather-chaired comfort with local vin chaud and drink in music!



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In Méribel, if you’re still looking for a taste of England, you can have a burger and a pint in La Taverne in its main ‘pub’, or sample a choice of typical Savoyard specialities in the restaurant. Fondue anyone? With Méribel’s reputation for being one of the best resorts for après ski, there’s a wide range of bars from up on the slopes to down in the town, starting with another Folie Douce, just below the mid-station of the Saulire Express, making it accessible to non-skiers and snow-boarders, as well as those coming off the slopes. Then there’s the Rond Point with more live music and a slide down to the loo.

From here, many drift down to O’Sullivans but if you’re craving urban chic, then try the Den Bar where you’ll find a wine list to die for.


Courchevel is famed for its nightlife – it’s also known for being pricey, but in fact its higher resort, 1850, is the more expensive. Le Bubble Bar with its plush couches offers great food with live music on Sundays. Meanwhile Le Kudeta, at the base of the 1850 chairlifts, offers rustic charm and fine dining during the day before morphing into a club with live DJs by 10pm at night.

Courchevel 1650 has a mix of bars and restaurants that are more reasonably priced, including The Seven Kings, Le Pelican and Funky Fox, where dancing goes on till 4am.

All are wonderful ways to après ski; alternatively, you could go dog-sledding towed by a specially trained dog, night sledging, ski-dooing or ice skating – or, for the more romantic, you could snuggle up in fur rugs, seated by log-burning fires at the Fire and Ice Bar. With the largest terrace in 1650, it is the perfect spot for a relaxing drink after a busy day on the slopes and to mix hotspots with icy cold surroundings. Bon appétit et bonne soirée!

Joanna Leggett is the Marketing Director at Leggett Immobilier

Tel: 08700 115151 (UK), 0033 (0)553 60 84 88 (INT)

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Lead photo credit : Val Thorens, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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