We just spent a magical week in Val D’lsère. A absolute fairy tale village nestled up in the French Alps.
I couldn’t live there, purely because I’m very much a summer person. I like to be up to see the sun rise while beach days and barmy evenings are some of my fondest pastimes. During winter in the Alps, you are lucky to see daylight by 8, darkness sets in around 530 and to see the sun is a rarity. Despite this there is something uniquely special about snow villages, being rugged up in coats and beanies, the feeling of snowflakes falling all around you. It’s enchanting, and when it’s one of your honeymoon destinations it becomes a hopelessly romantic setting.
Our week in the snow looked a little like this…
730am: Alarm goes off. Pull open the shutters of our ‘chalet’ and lay in bed for a moment admiring the impeccable view of the ski fields. Still not quite light so the fairy lights of the village are still twinkling away.
Head down to breakfast. On offer was the typical French spread of fresh croissants, homemade jam and coffee. For those a little more nutritionally inclined I opted for either 2 boiled eggs with a few slices of ham OR museli, Greek yoghurt, a drizzle of honey and banana. Far from my normal breakfast choices but sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got!
Then it was time to hit the slopes. I’m normally a skier but we headed back to beginners school, embracing the challenge of learning to snowboard. We eventually got the hang of it, that was of course after a good day worth of frustration & a lot of time spent on our asses.
We’d spend a good three hours boarding before heading in to re fuel and recharge.
My favourite spot for lunch was actually down the mountain and one of the first health focused cafes I’ve come across in France. Called the Artic Cafe located in the Main Street of Val D’lsère. An energy kitchen serving nutritious, hearty meals. The protein lunch salad with chicken, roast veggies and hummus really hit the spot for me. Washed down with a fresh berry smoothie or signature white hot chocolate with almond milk (no holiday to the snow is complete without having a hot chocolate)
Then depending on the weather it was either back up the mountain for a couple more hours of carving the fresh powder (that’s what we tell ourselves anyway). On a couple of the day’s there was heavy snowfall and viability was terrible so we decided to squeeze in a a gym session.
Le centre Aquasportif is an awesome fitness facility in the village. There is a swimming pool, squash courts, yoga classes, wellness centre and a weights / cardio area. Generally our workouts were only about 30 minutes and we stuck to mainly upper body as our legs were getting more than a fair workout on the slopes!
By mid afternoon I was ready for a little pampering. What better way to recover than with spa time at the wellness centre located in our hotel. Complete with a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna; reclining beds where you could lie in fluffy white robes, read a book and sip freshly brewed tea. There were also massage services, yoga & Pilates classes on offer for those who wanted it. I was surprised to find that many hotels had this feature, it really is one of the most fantastic way to unwind!
What to eat for dinner? While there isn’t an abundance of health food restaurants there is definitely room for healthy food choices. Honestly we didn’t have a single bad meal in Val D’lsère, in fact we kinda ate like kings. Slow roasted lamb shanks, sweet chilli duck breast, beef goulash and veal steaks with polenta mash. The French certainly know how to do warming winter food. Many places use local produce, it’s fresh and the flavours are incredible! Most dinners were accompanied by a glass of warm spicy mulled wine or in French ‘vin chaud’.
One of the best food experiences was at Le Paul, a restaurant where each table is fitted with its own stone hot plate. Pick your protein (there is a choice of beef, veal, seafood or poultry) and cook it yourself. You get a bunch of sauces, side salad and some raw veggies which you can cook on the grill too.
What about dessert? The French love their cheese…. They also love crepes. I am on holidays after all so yes the choc-banana crepes were really really good.
As we say goodbye to our winter wonderland it’s off to Italy…. What healthy goodness will we find amongst lovers of pizza, pasta and prosecco?
Are you travelling to Europe? Have a look around the website for some great healthy place to eat and workout at your next travel destination.