19th September 2016
I am so lucky, I learnt to ski as a child, hence reducing the majority of those crashing, terrifying falls which happen when adults start later in life, nervy and stiff and already with an inferiority complex and embarrassed, as experienced skiers tend to be patronising to those who aren’t up to scratch.
My husband once said to me, after I was saying “try, try again” after a particularly dramatic fall, where he seemed to have mowed down about 4 children and was lying barely conscious on the side of the mountain” I can’t stand your Pollyanna attitude, just “leave me here to die” So we are obviously not great ski buddies!
I have skied in many terrains, I love the gentle runs in Italy, through snow, heavy pines and the vast, open, moon-like landscape of France. I have skied in Verbier, St Anton, Courchevel, Meribel and Sun Valley, USA.
Skiing is actually when I feel physically and mentally my best. I have an awareness of my body’s strength and the quicksilver energy or more likely fear that courses through my veins as I peek over the black run. I feel like a horse refusing a fence at the Grand National, but then the joy of disobeying one’s thoughts and throwing oneself over and arriving at the bottom alive is exhilarating. I even like sitting on a chairlift, contemplating the vast stillness around. I eat heartily and sleep deeply.
What I HATE about skiing, is all the kit, getting the ski passes, having to drive to start the day, queues, being boiling hot or freezing as I have misjudged the weather, Getting my children’s clothes and ski boots on, I was always so exhausted after pulling and pushing them to get ready to start the day, I often lost the will to live before the day even started.
Well thanks to ‘Eleven’ who asked me to come and stay at CHALET PELERIN in Le Miroir, I can report that I have found the ultimate skiing luxurious chalet with the best staff and guides I have ever come across. Good for families with small children, for groups of friends, testosterone filled teens, nervous, hesitant people and macho, off piste heliskiers, Eleven can do it all, effortlessly.
I didn’t understand why Eleven called them themselves ‘Eleven Experience’, now I do, because everything is so meticulously, invisibly planned so as to offer the most unique, bespoke trip. The word ‘experience’ is just right, they are providing not just a venue and their vision is unbeatable.
Chalet Pelerin and their staff exceeded all my expectations from the moment I landed in Geneva. Le Miroir is a half hour helicopter ride or a two hour drive. (I would opt for the helicopter and have their guys bring the luggage.)
Chalet Pelerin is situated in the charming, authentic French village of Le Miroir, which has great restaurants and lovely shops but is not full of blingy designer labels. Le Miroir is perfectly placed for all the best skiing in Europe. With easy access to runs in Val D’Isere, Tignes, Saint Foy, Les Arcs and Villa Roger and La Rosiere, one never repeats the same runs so, every day is a new experience.
The chalet oozes luxury and calm, but it is not all just sheepskins and soft beige walls and antlers. It is decorated personally and beautifully by the owner’s wife, womb-like but not claustrophobic because of the stunning views, snug private places, the cinema, the spa, the outdoor Jacuzzi. The layout is the perfect balance of privacy and coming together, and with a private chef and a sommelier at hand, it is hard to tear oneself away from the chalet.
However every house that I have ever visited lives or dies dependent on the staff chosen and here Chalet Pelerin has struck gold. Julie, who has lived in the village for three generations has anticipated your needs before you have even thought of them. I had forgotten my knee brace, one appeared five minutes later. She is full of information yet unobtrusive. The lion of the establishment, whose kingdom is the ski room, is Griff, a Welshmen who lived in a hammock in the mountains for a summer and was persuaded to join the team. The ski room is the pulse of the house, music blaring, kids joking around. Griff’s in charge of all activities. The preparation for the day, starts early and like everything else is invisible and impeccable.
Every morning Griff consults the weather report and with as many back up guides as they judge needed, all the kit, personally fitted boots, ski-passes, handmade skis with a map of the area on them (there is nothing that has been overlooked), coconut water, snacks, headbands and goggles already in the cars. We were informed where the best skiing was that day and off we went. Griff makes everything fun and has eyes in the back of his head. The team sync together perfectly so all the hassle, organization and planning is done for you and you feel free as a bird, yet totally taken care of. You don’t have to lift a finger, drive or plan.
The first day, we had a fabulous morning around Val D’Isere and ended up at the Folie Douce for lunch. I felt like I was hallucinating in an outdoor 80’s time warp, but it was packed with revelers, including members of some of the ’Made in Chelsea’ gang (never watched it , never will), wearing the perma tan and perma smile and downing those oversize bottles of champagne with gusto, a lot of selfies and no ski wear, so anyone in a hedonistic mood can actually come to Chalet Pelerin and just party if they want. You can then move on to Coco Rico, Café Face and Dick’s T Bar, but not without Griff keeping an eagle eye on the proceedings of the just old enough to drink age (so parents can relax!).
I spent the rest of the day using the spa, wandering into the village and at night we had dinner at Chez Marie, a fabulous rustic restaurant in the village.
Early next morning, we were off again to La Rosiere and took the run to Italy, these were fast, open runs amongst breathtaking scenery, with views of Mont Blanc like a picture postcard as our backdrop. We had lunch in an Italian pizzeria that Eleven have an arrangement with, of course it was the best Italian restaurant I have ever eaten and my allergy to gluten disappeared as I guzzled pizzas.
You could be there for a week and still not have time to do all the runs nearby, it’s also possible to do great off piste runs and ski back to the chalet from Saint Foy.
The highlight of my trip was on the final night. An air of mystery prevailed, why were we donning ski shoes and head torches and following our guides heading up the mountain? Past hurtling rivers, spooky spires, up, up we went until a tiny light appeared in the distance. As we entered into the ghostly abandoned hamlet, a magic trick had been performed, Griff appeared in a top hat and led us to a fire pit and cocktails. Eleven have transformed this forlorn place into their own private fondu restaurant and a fully stocked bar. Imagination and innovation, I take my hat off to all the members of ‘Eleven’ and I will be back reporting on their new venture in Iceland.
Heli skiing, off piste and family skiing level runs.
La Rosier, Val D’Isere, Tignes, Saint Foy, Rogiers and more.
Val D’isere has all the designer shops you could ever want.
Coco Rico, Café Face, La Folie Douce and Dicks T Bar.
There are ski parks at Val D’Isere and pond skimming. Jump Parks at Les Arcs and Tigne
Take the helicopter as its 1,000 euros for 4 people, it lands just above the chalet.
Travel on a Sunday to miss all the mass travel.
The word ‘experience’ is just right as Eleven are providing an experience not a venue and their vision is unbeatable. If you’d like to know more about Chalet Pelerin or enquire about staying there, you can find out more here.