It doesn’t seem a year ago that I was enjoying the official Vegan Week at a Ski Beat chalet in Peisey Vallandry. Back then I was a newbie vegan and was at the beginning of my relationship with Jacqui. One year later, I am still vegan, engaged, and heading back to Paradiski with Ski Beat – this time to La Plagne.
Returning to Paradiski with Ski Beat
On our last visit we fell in love with the Les Arcs ski area and I was curious as to what it would be like to be based on the other side of the Vanoise Express. Our Ski Beat accommodation this time around was the Chalet Florence in Plagne 1800.
A Ski Beat ski holiday is a slick operation from start to finish. We were greeted at Lyon Airport by Ski Beat representatives and shown to our coaches for the transfer. On arrival at the chalet we were welcomed by our lovely hosts, treated to a glass of prosecco, a delicious vegan cake, and nibbles.
Ski Beat – Chalet Florence
This large chalet has a very airy and welcoming feel as soon as you walk into the massive open-plan lounge, kitchen and dining room. The décor is traditional but with large modern windows to one side showcasing a magnificent view of the mountains.
The lounge was a perfect area for everyone to relax and talk about the day’s events after a day on the slopes. Each night, we relaxed with a glass of wine with the other guests in the lounge after the evening meal.
Not that we were ever in a rush to leave the dining table. With the conversations flowing like the wine, we looked forward to catching up with everyone each evening. The long table was big enough to hold a banquet and managed to sit all 20 of us!
Another bonus was a loft area accessed from the lounge. This was a proper ‘man cave’ with seating and a huge tv. We all had great fun playing web-based interactive games up there.
Our bedroom was basic but adequate for what we needed. We had a large comfortable double bed which is unusual with European chalet’s as the rooms normally come with only twin beds.
The bathroom was spacious with a large bath that doubled up as the shower. A big bonus was that the bath had a built in jacuzzi!
Chalet Florence is quite central to everything. It is only a 10 minute walk to the nearest chair lift and there is a free bus service that circles around the village as well as the other La Plagne villages.
There are restaurants and bars within short distances so not far to stagger back from after apres ski!
Vegan Week with Ski Beat
One of the things I love about Ski Beat is that in all their chalets they offer a vegan option throughout the whole of the season. And when I say option I am not talking about an afterthought like a bowl of lettuce as in most situations, but where each meal has been thought out with the same love and innovation that they are prepared.
Every afternoon we were treated with our own vegan cakes when we arrived back at the chalet from the slopes.
The cakes varied each day and my particular favourites were the carrot cake, iced buns, and chocolate muffins. Although, I found them all delicious and quite often ate Jacqui’s as well!
Every evening apart from Wednesday (the chalet hosts’ night off), we were treated to a 3-course meal.
What impresses me about Ski Beat is that each meal is methodically planned pre-season, concisely recorded, and the hosts prepare the food using step-by-step instructions. This is great as the hosts can concentrate on preparing the meals rather than worrying about the planning.
A typical starter would be a soup with plenty of bread to dunk with. I love soup and for me you can’t go wrong with having a warming bowl as a starter. My particular favourite was the pea soup.
Another starter that really stood out for me was the mixed salad. I am not really into salads but the mix of apples, vegetables, different textures and the delicious dressing really made this dish stand out.
Vegan main meal
After a hard day on the slopes (don’t mock, it is hard! All that partying at the apres ski takes its toll!), a hearty meal is always welcome and Ski Beat never disappoint.
The standout dishes for me was the curry which was well balanced with spicing and flavours, as well as the vegan lasagne. Before turning vegan, lasagne was always a favourite of mine but I have always found it hard to find a decent vegan version. Ski Beat has seemed to have worked their magic with this dish as it is worthy of its name.
Well worth waiting for! As with the other courses, each night we had a different dish but my favourite had to be the crumble. Although that is a biased opinion as I would always choose a decent crumble over any other dessert any day!
Plagne 1800 is situated just below Plagne Centre. At the end of the day this makes it incredibly easy to get back to as we just needed to snowboard through the centre.
La Plagne actually consists of many satellite villages which are all easily accessible on the slopes. There is also a free courtesy bus service that continually circles around the villages all day long.
From Plagne Centre you can get up high to La Grande Rochette via a gondola. From here there are long and sweeping blue and red runs all the way back down or to the other villages.
You can also ski down the other side to Champagny. I really enjoyed this side of the mountain as it got the sun early which softened the snow. You can really nail down on your technique here enjoying the long mixture of red or blue runs down from the top.
The whole ski area is vast and the lifts fast and efficient. We were there early January which is traditionally quieter than usual and we found the pistes to be uncrowded with barely any queues at any chairlift or gondola.
If you enjoy the French style apres-ski on the slopes then La Bergerie is worth a visit. Similar to Folie Douce, in the afternoons you can expect a DJ laying down mellow tracks with live singing, sax or guitar solos accompanying.
La Bergerie is the perfect place to stop for a drink at the end of the afternoon, before heading back down to Plagne 1800.
Freestyle & Funzones
There are numerous freestyle zones to enjoy, most notably the park above Plagne Bellecote which has suitable runs for any ability.
My favourite area is La Pause Funslope (found at the top of the Arpette and Salla lift). This long run mixes boardercross with fun features such as tunnels, small kickers, and a small bench. Great fun for any age and ability – although not to be taken too seriously by advanced riders!
The Equalizer Tunnel is also worth mentioning. Aptly found on the ‘Tunnel’ run from Roche de Mio, you ski or snowboard through a long tunnel with multi-colour strobe lighting and thumping dance music. It’s like snowboarding straight through a London night club!
Beware though as the tunnel is quite flat. Snowboarders will need to get a bit of speed up to make it through it.
Of course, La Plagne is part of Les Arcs and Vallandry Peisey to form the formidable Paradiski ski area. The ski areas are linked up by the Vanoise Express; a super-fast, double decker cable car.
I love Les Arcs. There are challenging runs as well as long meandering blues and reds that effortlessly sweep through tree lined routes. We also liked heading above the tree line and enjoyed the wide-open slopes heading towards Arc 2000.
Snow Park 17
If you enjoy lapping the park then head over to Snow Park 17 above the Belvedere restaurant. I really enjoyed the intermediate line of 3 kickers.
Be aware that these kickers are quite big for intermediate level, but are very well designed and shaped for a smooth take-off and landing. To hit all 3 you need to not scrub your landing and to keep your speed throughout.
If you like to party on the slopes you can’t go wrong with Folie Douce. This extravagant party bar combines a DJ mixing the decks alongside solo sax and guitar rifts.
It can get busy and revellers dance on the tables when the party really gets going (including me). It is worth going to just to experience the mayhem!
Mont Blanc Bar – Vallandry
Although Folie is fun, Jacqui and I also enjoyed a quiet drink and lunch at the Mont Blanc in Vallandry. The Mont Blanc which is more like a traditional pub and the staff are very friendly.
Getting back to La Plagne in time!
If you do venture over to Les Arcs when staying at La Plagne, it is vital to make sure you leave enough time to get back over the Vanoise Express and up and over to Belle Plagne at the very least. Believe me, this warning comes from the experience of nearly not making it twice!
Once down to Plagne Bellecote, you are at least safe in the knowledge that you can catch the courtesy buses that continually lap around the La Plagne villages.
Ski Beat package ski holidays
Jacqui and I have now had the pleasure of having 2 Ski Beat holidays in Paradiski and I would thoroughly recommend them. Incredibly reasonably priced, Ski Beat seem to concentrate on what matters with a ski holiday.
Ski Beat chalets are wonderful and hosted by well trained chalet hosts. We were looked after from the moment we arrived at the airport. Everything from the BA charted flights, transfers, to ski hire was seamless.
Final thoughts on vegan week with Ski Beat
A lot of emphasis is put into the evening meal. With great food, flowing wine and engaging conversations amongst guests, a wonderful atmosphere and camaraderie is created at the table, that continues into the lounge once the meal is over.
Not only are vegans well catered for at Ski Beat chalets, but also anyone with any dietary requirements. It is refreshing to be welcomed and not to be felt alienated or a hindrance.
I wish my experience could be said for the restaurants on the slopes. The resorts that form Paradiski are slowly catching on, but it is still hard to find mountain restaurants that serve vegan food and only a splattering of resort restaurants that do.
For a stress-free, well-organised, vegan friendly, good value ski chalet package holiday, Ski Beat takes a lot of beating.
For more info visit skibeat.co.uk
Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)