From Piste to Pub: Après-Skiing in Samoens and the Grand Massif
By Barbara Allan
Another fantastic day on the slopes of the Grand Massif has come to an end. Daylight fades to night, and piste-bashers now take to the mountain while the last of the day’s revellers are all aboard the GME, descending back into resort. Their day of fun and excitement is far from over however - it’s time for some après-ski!
‘Après-ski’ is of course a French term - the culture of seeking out after ski fun originated right here in the Alps. Norwegians enjoyed post-ski gatherings from as early as the 1800s, but it was the Swiss and the French (yep, those pioneers of winter tourism) who took ‘après’ to the next level. Après-ski has evolved even further with its spread to Austria in particular and other European resorts, as well as oversees, but despite some common misconception it is still alive and well here in France.
In fact, during the winter here in Samoëns après-ski is very much a part of ‘la vie quotidienne’ (everyday life). Now Samoëns is still the charming, quaint and relaxed family resort it always has been, but boy does it have an awful lot going on in the après-ski department too! And with the half-term holiday season now in full swing we thought it was high time to let the cat out of the bag and share with you some of our great après-ski offerings.
Fancy a drink?
Sharing stories about the day’s adventures while enjoying one or two (or a few!) drinks is a long-standing après-ski tradition, and here in Samoëns and the Giffre valley we truly are spoilt for choice of where to go. A few of our personal favourites include:
Covey’s Irish Pub
Open daily 4pm til late
Avenue du Fer à Cheval, Samoëns
No town in the world these days seems complete without an Irish pub, and well, we think ours is one of the best in the world. No matter which night of the week there’s something going on at Covey’s:
- • Monday night is seasonnaires night. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes and groove the night away to some great DJs including DJ Will G, DJ Bear, Radio Meuh and more!
- • Tuesday night is Pub Quiz night – join quizmasters Don and Wendy from 6.30pm for your chance to win some great prizes.
- • Thursday is guest DJ night
- • Friday is live music day!
Covey’s also has a great burger menu and if you’re a sporting fan then be sure to catch your favourite champions league team or major sporting event on the big screens!
Red Rock Cafe
Open daily 4pm til late
Rue des Billets, Samoëns
This great little night spot, with its cool vibe inside and out, is perfect for kicking back with a beer, wine or super tasty cocktail. It gets pretty lively as the night wears on too, so why not make a night out of it? There’s plenty going on this holiday period too:
- • Catch the Champions and Europa League games on the big screen every Wednesday and Thursday.
- • Wednesday night (6.30pm-9.45pm) is also pizza night. Enjoy a wood-fired pizza, ordered directly at the door!
- • Get your skis serviced on a Thursday (8pm-10pm) with 100% Ski – workshop onsite!
L’Après Ski Chez Jeff
Open daily 4pm til late
Rue Cognacq-Jaÿ, Samoëns (opposite Credit Agricole)
A ski trip to the Alps is not a ski trip to the Alps unless you’ve sampled a glass of traditional mulled wine. For the best vin chaud Samoëns has to offer go to Jeff’s ‘L’Après Ski’. As the day turns to night this little outdoor bar becomes an après-ski hot spot for locals and tourists alike.
Vin sur Vin
Open daily 5pm til late
114 Route de la Piaz, Samoëns
With its cosy interior and quiet location Marco’s wine bar is ideal for a more intimate après experience, although it too is buzzing at times. Enjoy a glass from a vast array of local and international wines, accompanied by a plate of Italian antipasti. Other food and snacks are also available.
Open daily morning, noon and night!
60 Route du Fayet, Vercland (right below the Vercland telecabine)
If you’re looking for a great atmosphere, great food and drink, great people and just a generally great time then do not go past La Reposette. Situated right by the piste at the bottom of the Vercland telecabine, Dutch-owned and operated La Reposette is the ideal après-ski venue. It’s also just a short drive from Samoëns centre. It’s great bar, large salon space, and comfy couches by the fireplace make for a very welcoming environment. It’s no wonder it’s so popular with both tourists and locals alike.
- • ‘Lazy Sundays’ - the perfect chilled out Sunday session, jazz and soul style, with DJ Will G. Every Sunday from 3.30pm.
- • ‘Jazz Tuesdays’ – enjoy more jazz vibes every Tuesday from 4.30pm with Digby the Pianoman.
Samoëns isn’t the only village in our valley that’s got it going on in the bar scene. Just a little further afield in either direction you’ll find yourself with even more great bars to choose from.
Open Wed-Sat from 4pm
Le Bellavista, Sixt
Situated right on the river opposite the Sixt tourist office, Nunabar is where it’s at for music.
- • Open mic night every Thursday from 9.30pm
- • Weekend concerts – live and free! There’s some great events happening at Nunabar this season so be sure to check out their website for dates.
Le Bon Coin
Open daily 8am-1am
La Badney, Morillon
Step off the telecabine in Morillon and cross the road. That’s all you have to do to find yourself right in the hub of everything après-ski in Morillon. This great little bar is a local’s favourite so you’re generally assured a good night out any day of the week. Challenge someone to a game of table football or get your groove on every Thursday at the live and free concert!
Another up and coming destination in the Giffre valley for après-ski entertainment is Verchaix, just a 5 minute drive from Samoëns centre. In fact, if you continue just a little further on from the Verchaix roundabout you’ll find yourself in Les Hottes Ouest, a small estate where you will find the Giffre valley’s themed bars and restaurants:
- • Lhotti’s American Diner is all new this season. Styled in true 50s fashion Lhotti’s is open for lunch and dinner every day except Wednesday.
- • La Ranchera, formerly Le Potet, is just across the road. These guys specialise in pizzas and Tex-Mex and are open from 6pm Tuesday through Saturday.
- • El Barrio is an après-ski paradise! El Barrio has a large games room with pool tables, darts and table football and the lounge bar is renowned for its live music and DJ nights. Open from 5pm every day except Monday, El Barrio also offers free transfers to and from the venue.
But what do you want to DO?!
Wining and dining certainly make up a large part of the après-ski experience but there is so much more to it than that. Here in Samoëns we are also spoilt for our choice of the many great après-ski activities that are available. And because we are after all primarily a family resort, there is something for everyone. When the lifts close and it’s time to come down off the mountain don’t worry - no matter what your age or adventure there is an activity for you.
Samoëns Ice Rink
Open daily - various session times (see website for details)
155 route des Drugères, Samoëns
Ph: +33 (0) 4 50 34 13 92
This brand new 56m x 26m ice skating arena opened in October 2015. With grand stand seating for up to 450 guests and 600m2 of covered, outdoor ice skating terrain the competition standard ice rink is a fantastic addition to Samoëns village. The ice rink is open daily - most nights until 10.30pm! – and equipment is available for hire onsite. Throughout the season, there will be weekly ice hockey matches including from Samoëns’ very own team ‘Les Lynx’, as well as various spectacles, ice dancing and more. Be sure to contact reception or the tourist office for more details.
Atypik Nordique - Torchlit Snowshoe
Route du Joux Plane, Samoëns
Ph: +33 (0) 6 25 70 37 08
Local mountain guide Ludo offers visitors to the valley a truly unique après-ski experience. Strap on a pair of snow shoes and let Ludo lead you on a one hour hike through snowy forests. With nothing but the moon and flickering flame of your handheld torch to guide you, enjoy the quiet, calm of the mountain after dark as you make your way to Ludo’s Yurts – traditional Mongolian roundhouses. There you will enjoy a traditional meal in a truly convivial environment. Cost is 35€ for adults, 25€ for children under 16 years, including aperitif and drinks with the meal. Bookings are a must!
Restaurant Au Rendez-vous des Skieurs, Samoëns 1600
Ph: +33 (0) 6 07 90 06 92
For the more adventurous après-skiers, how does a night-time hoon across open pistes and through narrow, tree-lined runs on your very own ski-doo sound? Follow this up with a traditional mountain menu of charcuterie, salads, and fondue and it makes for quite an exhilarating (and very tasty!) experience. Packages range from 90€ to 180€ depending on meal options and whether you choose to ride solo or with a friend. No experience is necessary, just a keen sense of adventure. It is very popular though so be sure to book ahead!
Marvel by Sledge
Ph: +33 (0) 4 50 90 40 00
The beautiful 5km long Marvel run in Morillon is an absolute delight to ski, so imagine being able to sledge it – after the pistes have closed! That is exactly what you can do each Wednesday night during school holiday periods. Sledging tours depart from the Sairon chairlift at 5pm and cost 7€50, including sledge hire. You will need to register ahead of time so be sure to contact either the lift office or Morillon tourist office.
Shopping and sightseeing
As if everything that already exists to do isn’t enough, the village of Samoëns itself has won awards for its historic value and beauty. Take a stroll around the medieval streets and admire the stone masonry of a bygone era. Duck into one of the many shops. There’s something for every taste and price range, from chocolatiers, chic or classic alpine homewares, numerous clothing and sporting specialists, and specialty food and wine stores. The beautiful Samoëns church is also well worth a visit, or walk through the more than 100-year-old botanical gardens. Here you’ll pass the frozen waterfall on your way up to the chapel and beyond, all the while taking in fabulous views over the village.
Morillon also offers further sites to visit. A short 5 min drive away – or hop on the free ski bus – to find a further selection of shops, cafes and restaurants. Or wander a little further down to the river and lake, Lac Bleu. And if that’s still not enough to whet your ‘après’ appetite then there are some other fabulous resorts and cities such as Chamonix, Morzine, Annecy, and Geneva all within a one hour drive.
As you can see the tradition of après-ski is still very much a part of French life. Here in Samoëns and the Grand Massif especially we have a vast array of destinations and activities to enjoy post-ski. So when next you’re visiting our fabulous, little resort be sure to remember that when the sun sets on your day’s skiing, your après-ski fun is only just beginning!