Without having had any lessons, and with the upmost stupidity and bravado, I chucked my 18-year old self down a sleep slope that connected our hotel to the green slopes in the high resort of Val Thorens.
Once I'd untangled myself from the netting that saved a few bruises, I began to enjoy skiing, and never looked back.
Every year since, I've managed to get at least one week of skiing into the calendar. At the peak of my skiing powers I managed two weeks in a season.
Unlike the other trips, our 2017 ski holiday was set up to be extra special. The combination of impending weddings and babies on the horizon meant that our week in Meribel could be our last as a group for a few years. One final blow out.
As such, we wanted it to be extra special. More luxury. More gastronomic. More relaxing.
And we nailed it.
|The living area in Chalet Braye, Meribel Village|
THE PART WHERE I DISCOVERED FISH & PIPS
This story starts back in June last year, when I began searching beyond the usual ski operators to find something a little different. As this post explains, I found Fish & Pips, found Chalet Braye, and booked the whole chalet for ourselves.
Unlike the other ski operators, Fish & Pips had a nice booking system which allowed you to add notes and details for each traveller (such as dietary requirements, ski lessons etc.) and most importantly, allowed you to pay in installments. Having booked so far in advance (8 months to be exact) this made the financial burden of a ski holiday much easier to digest.
THE PART WHERE WE WALK PAST THE BIG UNCOMFORTABLE COACHES
For any of you that have flown into Geneva or especially Grenoble airport, you quickly become accustomed to what a sheep feels like when being herded. Queue for immigration, queue for luggage, then queue for your coach.
Except this time around we booked a private transfer with Fish & Pips. We met our driver, walked past the uncomfortably cramped, busy coaches, and hopped into our very own minibus. Aside from stopping only once, this knocked approximately 45 mins off our transfer to Meribel. #winning.
THE PART WHERE WE EXPLORE CHALET BRAYE
Chalet Braye was newly refurbished for the 2016/17 season and boy did we get a treat. A typical wood-clad, Savoyard-style chalet, this place had everything.
An outdoor hot tub. A games room. A spacious lounge area with views of the Tougnette mountain. Wood-burning fire. Boot warmers. Netflix TV. Cards Against Humanity. Comfortable rooms. The list goes on.
|The cosy pre-dinner scene in Chalet Braye|
|Bookshelves on the stairs at Chalet Braye|
|The branded lip balm came in very handy...and was a nice touch!|
|The outdoor hub tub at Chalet Braye - where we spent most of our early evenings!|
Some of the photos don't do the chalet justice, so have a peek at the video that I filmed when we arrived.
...and then came the food.
THE PART ABOUT THE GASTRONOMY
One of the main reasons we chose Fish & Pips was their attention to the food. As it says on their website, they try to provide the best dining experiences the Alps has to offer by carefully hand-picking restaurant chefs and allowing them free rein when it comes to choosing menus.
How's this for service - our fantastic chalet chef, Jeremy, called me the Thursday before we departed to double check on dietary requirements, and to see if there were any specific dishes we did or didn't want.
Fast-forward to our first evening meal. Canapes - sun-dried tomatoes and warm goats cheese served on small bread toasts. Starter - creamy butternut squash soup served with fresh, warm bread (below),
Main course - Slow-cooked beef cheek served vegetables and dauphinoise potatoes
SLOW-COOKED BEEF CHEEK PEOPLE.
Dessert - apple tart with ice cream.
To finish - Savoyard cheese board with bread and/or crackers.
5-courses, every night, with fresh, different dishes. Such as monkfish risotto with bacon and peas....
...and slow-cooked duck leg with puy lentils;
The food was absolutely incredible. I had to be rolled out of the chalet at the end of the week. I tip my hat to our chef, Jeremy.
If that wasn't enough, there were also plenty of surprises when it came to the beverages too...
THE PART WHERE THE ALCOHOL FLOWED...TO MATCH DINNER
Unlike other chalets, there was free beer and free champagne on offer with Fish & Pips in Chalet Braye. We knew this when we booked, but to actually have free beer and champagne on tap, as well as a yummy afternoon cake everyday, it was.....well, it was heaven.
See all the pictures of the amazing food above? Well, our chalet host also chose wines to match the food that Jeremy cooked. We got a different wine for starter and another glass of wine for our main course. Occasionally if we were well behaved we got a dessert wine too.
|Red wine warming by the fire|
How good is that?! A far cry from the gulp and shudder wine you usually receive (and have to dilute with cordial) in other chalets.
THE PART WHERE SKIS AND BOOTS WERE BROUGHT TO THE DOOR
Usually if you book ski hire in resort, you have to take a stroll to the hire shop to get your boots fitted. More annoyingly you have to then drop your skis and boots off at the end of the week when all you want to do is relax.
Not so on this occasion.
Fish & Pips have a partnership with Meribel-based ski hire company Slide Candy who deliver the skis and boots to your door, and do the fitting in the chalet. You don't have to walk more than 10ft.
At the end of the week, they were waiting at our chalet to collect the boots and skis back. Amazing.
THE PART WHERE I WRAP UP THIS POST
In 15 years of ski holidays, Chalet Braye - and the experience from Fish & Pips - is by far the best chalet holiday I've had. Their service is excellent and cater for everything you need to make the holiday effortless and relaxing.
A luxury ski chalet holiday may be more expensive than your standard ski holiday, but as you can see above, it is worth every penny :)
What's been your favourite ski holiday? Can you beat chalet Braye? ;)