In Praise of Lunch on the Piste


For those who believe that a European ski trip should be the last ‘luxury’ to be dropped in these times of the strong euro, then this one is for you … well at least for those who believe in lunch on the piste.

This is, in part, a completely shameless plug for the French Alpine village where I live and work (when I’m not living and working in London). Le Grand Bornand is in the Aravis mountain range and has some huge assets: it’s just one-hour’s drive from Geneva airport and has easy access to motorways in several directions; it’s a real mountain village rather than simply a ‘resort’ and it produces Reblochon cheese; it offers a variety of decent skiing with some pretty damn fine views, and most importantly of all it is a very reasonable place to eat lunch on the piste!

The neighbouring resort La Clusaz I know and love too, but costs for lunch at its mountain restaurants have gone up and up. The best restaurant at altitude, the Relais de l’Aiguille, has a fab view from the terrace and decent, rather than extraordinary food, but apparently they now charge €30 for a main course served on the terrace. I think La Clusaz is trying to be a Courchevel or a Val d’Isère where you expect the prices are going to be exorbitant, but at both of these you are in two of the largest ski areas of the world.

So what’s on the menu for lunch up the mountain here? Well, you can go for the usual Spaghetti Bolognese or Saucisse Frites, available in most restaurants, but where I ate today – having escaped the computer for a very quick but cold lunchtime ski – was vegetable soup (with croutons and grated cheese served separately) and a big hunk of bread – price €5.50 + €0.30 for the bread. Had I wanted wine, I could have chosen a bottle of acceptable Savoie wine for €15. Inside the Chalet de Maroly restaurant was cosy and warm, but the terrace would have been pleasant too if the sun had been stronger. Another little restaurant I love is La Taverne, over near the Joyères pistes – here my choice of lunch is usually Endives with Ham and a Cheese Sauce which costs €9 and they do a great Apremont from Jean Masson. On New Year’s Day, we splashed out a little more for lunch joining friends at La Bournerie, which is just above the new Floria lift and reachable also in the evenings via 180 steps. Plat de Jour was an excellent pigeon accompanied by tagliatelli with a mushroom sauce and delicious spinach with pine nuts. We drank Mondeuse from Louis Magnin (€25 a bottle) and the price per head including wine and coffee was around €20, for sitting on a fabulous terrace with smiling service too.

Vive le Grand Bornand and Vive le Lunch!

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