410 Km (4 Valleys linked with La Tzoumas, Nendaz, Veysonnaz and others)
1,500 M – 3,330 M
Mont Fort 3,330 M
Blue 39%, Red 44%, Black 17%
Sion 1 hr
Despite its hardcore reputation, Verbier actually has excellent nursery slopes (Les Moulins, Les Esserts and Le Rouge) and there are plenty of good ski schools operating here.
Various nannying services are available for the youngest non-skiing kids, plus very young children from 3 months to 4 years can be looked after in the Le Mouilin local creche by fully trained and qualified staff. There are good children’s beginner areas and a choice of ski schools for those aged four and up who want to start skiing.
From humble beginnings as a small farming hamlet, the first lifts were installed just after the war and Verbier has grown into one of the world’s most desirable ski destinations, with some of the best luxury chalets in the world. Its ski area has expanded to become the biggest in Switzerland and one of the five biggest in the world with more than 400km of runs. It’s equally well known for its off-piste terrain, and of course fantastic gourmet dining.
Verbier has a well-deserved reputation for having plenty to offer for both skiers and non-skiers. With a host of superb restaurants and enticing boutiques and a lively apres ski scene. The resort has been newly modernised to ensure direct ski access into the village, into the ‘Place Blanche’ area which is located at the bottom of the Verbier home piste, next to the main Medran lift station.
Verbier offers sunny snow-sure skiing, with ski lifts climbing more than 1,800 vertical metres above the village to the glaciated slopes of Mont Fort and beyond. As part of the 4 Valleys ski pass you will have access to plenty of on-piste skiing taking in the resorts of Nendaz, Thyon and Veysonnaz, to Bruson, across the valley.
Although it looks like it could have been here for centuries, thanks to strict building control, Verbier has in fact almost entirely been built since the late 1940s on a moderately steep hillside – the upside of which is that most properties offer great views out across the valley.
Better still the hillside is largely south-facing, so along with the views out across the Alps from the Matterhorn to Mont Blanc, the balconies and terraces are perfect for soaking up the rays.
Verbier has a deserved reputation for offering some of the most challenging off-piste skiing in the world and attracts some of the world’s best skiers and boarders to capitalise on it.
But it’s incorrect to think Verbier is just about the off-piste when it comes to skiing, there’s plenty of terrain for all ability levels and tastes, including excellent nursery slopes for complete beginners.
To make the most of the full extent of The 4 Valleys area pass, good intermediate level skiing is generally required as the links between the sectors is normally on quite tricky red runs, they’re not generally the easy links that are common at similar multi-resort areas in France for example.
In terms of gentler skiing, the runs close to Verbier and at Savoleyres/Tzournaz are likely to offer the most appeal. Better skiers will want to explore the 4 Valleys, perhaps spending at least a day in the Thyon and Veysonnaz sector, then more time at Nendaz.
Experts may first be bemused by the apparently small number of black graded runs at the resort, this is because some years ago many former blacks pistes were re-graded as yellow ‘off-piste itineraries’, becoming marked, but no longer groomed runs. Off-piste fans will want to head right off the map however and hire a qualified mountain guide to get into Verbier’s famous backcountry.
Finally, freestyle fans should head up to La Chaux where there’s a great terrain park.
Verbier has very well laid out and equipped areas for both adult and beginners, as well as a choice of ski schools, some British run. Les Moulins near the resort centre features a creche and children’s learning area; Les Esserts, a little further out, is more suitable for adult beginners and has a magic carpet and button lift.
Once you have mastered the basics at Les Moulins and Les Esserts you are ready to head to Le Rouge, which is a little further up toward the top end of town, where many of the luxury ski chalets are located.
Whether it’s the ideal choice for a first ski holiday is more open to debate and personal taste – some might prefer a smaller, more intimate destination in which to learn, others will be happy to dive in and start as they mean to go on – learning their trade-in one of the world’s best resorts.
In terms of available childcare, the local ‘Le Moulin’ creche accepts children from three months old, and the various ski schools will teach children from age four in private or group classes. A number of British-run nanny-agencies can provide a nanny for your children in the resort, day and/or evening, and the tourist office can provide a list of approved babysitters as well. Some other agencies offer academic tutoring in resort for your children during your holiday.
Verbier has a reputation for its lively apres ski scene and quite refreshingly feels much more upmarket than other resorts, with a great international crowd.
Popular venues from about 3 pm onwards include The Mont Fort (pubmontfort.com), which counts itself as one of the village’s original bars, established for more than 40 years, and The Farinet (hotelfarinet.com) which gets very busy most days by the time the lifts close with live music and table dancing (of the ski booted variety).
La Rouge has a popular apres-ski spot ‘La Luge’ on its upper level with great DJs, a drinks menu and a sunny terrace (complete with wind protection screens) to enjoy it all on. Look out for the wooden giraffes. There are plenty more bars to choose from. Later on, the legendary Farm Club is another resort institution – the place to see and be seen for nearly five decades now. The African-themed Casbah is the late-night dancing alternative.
Le Dahu (+41 27 778 20 00; ledahu.ch) is a large restaurant near the top station at La Chaux. There is a decked terrace, a self-service area downstairs and table service upstairs. Full range of cuisine from popular pizza to gourmet. Accessible to any non-skiers in your group.
La Marlenaz (marlenaz.ch) is reached from the top of Savoleyres via the off-piste Marlenaz run. It’s worth the effort for great mountain food here with fondue a speciality, as well as the spectacular views. In the evening you can hike up, enjoy dinner, then take a toboggan back.
Le Carrefour (route du Golf 95, +41 27 771 55 55, lecarrefour.ch) is accessible from the slopes or by the ski bus for non-skiers. Very popular – classic mountain cuisine, raclette, fondue, rosti and big salads.
The homely La Grange restaurant ((route de Verbier Station 70, +41 27 771 64 31; lagrange.ch) is one of the most popular in Verbier. Good mountain meals and international dishes with steak or cheese fondue prepared to perfection.
If you love sweet things, you must visit La Galerie du Chocolat (+41 27 565 46 46
lachocolateriedeverbier.com), a truly heaven for chocolate addicts and located underneath UBS in the Central Square.
La Rouge (rue de Ransou 37; +41 27 771 80 00; lerouge-verbier.com) is very popular too, largely on the strength of its food quality and menu, with everything from the sea bass to the duck highly praised.
The British run New Generation (skinewgen.com) ski school have more than 20 years’ experience offering private and group lessons in all snowsports disciplines for all abilities.
Adrenaline (adrenaline-verbier.ch), established since 1998, have internationally-qualified instructors qualified to teach all snowsports disciplines from beginner to pro, including offering off-piste guiding. Coming up to three decades in business, BASS Verbier (britishskischool.com)is one of a network of BASS ski schools across the Alps offering teaching for all abilities and off piste guiding.