Interested in doing a weekends skiing for less than 120 pounds all inclusive? If so, this is the blog for you.
La Bresse Hohneck, in the Vosges “mountains” in France, I think is probably one of the best ski resorts in the world. A controversial choice, I will admit that, but give me a second to explain why I think La Bresse can provide you with the perfect ski holiday!
Firstly, lets clarify what I think makes a good ski holiday. For me, a ski holiday has to be cheap, friendly, involve beer and involve a lot of skiing (both on and off piste).
La Bresse, is not, and will never be a major resort. With just 32 ski runs (some quite short), it is small by most of Europe’s standard. You will not find classic runs such as the Black run down from Mont Fort, the Combe Saulire, or Courchevel in the Three Valleys. What you will find however, is a cheap, friendly resort that will not leave too big a hole in your pocket.
The “main” resort (there are a number of mini resorts accessible by car), has 4 green runs, 11 blue, 11 red and just 1 black. Let me assure you though, that the one black run (that they cleverly named “Noire”), will excite any ski enthusiast. It starts with a short plateau that soon drops off the side of the world. It is a piste that is never bashed, but simply left to wreak havoc with your knees and skiing technique. It is 5 minutes of unadulterated immensity. Dropping at the sort of speed you should not feel comfortable at; you are left with a sporadic covering of moguls (that vary in shape and size) and snow drifts covering the ice sheets that are left on the exposed sections of the slope. Getting down it is a challenge, looking good is out of the question. It is a skiing enthusiasts dream, and the sort of slope most sane skiers will avoid at all costs. At best, it is a technical challenge of a slope, at worst it is a trip to the hospital.
This said, with 9 interesting and varied red runs, there is plenty to keep the more normal intermediate – advanced skier amused. Equally, there is extensive off-piste to be enjoyed in an area which in the summer is famed for its mountain biking and walking. Take a 1:25,000 walking map with you, and you can stay entertained for hours. Equally, nearly the whole mountain is accessible by blue and green runs, allowing the beginners and those who lack confidence a chance to explore the whole area.
Hopefully, this will have whetted your appetite. Now, let me now explain how it is possible to enjoy all this for less than 120 pounds.
La Bresse is just 4 and half hour drive away from Brussels (a similar distance from Calais) or an hour or so from Strasbourg (a lot closer than the Alps). This means it is very possible to go for just two days skiing (meaning no holiday taken from work). A car however, is a must if you are going to take advantage of my accommodation recommendations later which are 8km from the main slopes. Get a car full of you together and you are looking at 5-10 euro’s of fuel each (double if you are going with just one other).
For a weekends ski hire, expect to pay around 30 Euro’s from ‘Bol d’air’ – where you get a 10% discount if you stay in my recommended hotel. Here you can get good quality service, without the queuing that you would experience if you tried to hire the skis from the bottom of the ski slope. Bol d’air is based about 2 km from the ski slope (you pass it on the way there each morning).
Thanks to the construction of a new ski station, they have increased the lift pass this year. It will cost you 45 Euro’s for two days. This however, puts it on a similar level to ski resorts across Europe. Lift passes and ski hire are just those “unavoidable” costs that every ski holiday has.
Here is the real winner, let me introduce you to the L’Angleus in Saulxures Sur Moselotte. It is a family owned hotel, bar and restaurant. I cannot recommend it to you enough. It is a really down to earth and charming place with everything you could ever need.
Firstly, a double bedroom will set you back just 37 Euro’s a night (this is almost unheard of for ski accommodation). That’s 18.50 per person per night (assuming you have someone who is willing to share a bed with you). It is a warm and friendly hotel. It is nothing posh, but it serves the purpose of having somewhere warm with beer to come back to in the evenings. On top of this they serve up an amazing selection of burgers in the restaurant (this is coming from someone who is almost a veggie). The burgers vary from a 4 Euro “beef burger” through to an 8 Euro “Cheese monster burger”. Add a portion of chips on the side for 2 Euro’s and you have the biggest meal any hungry skier could ever wish for. This combined with a liter of very drinkable house red for just 6 Euros (yes that’s right…6 Euors!!!) makes for very enjoyable evenings.
The owners are also really nice people (they have lent me maps, let my girlfriend who was feeling under the weather stay in bed all day on the day we were checking out, and have generally just been really nice to us). Please, do not get put off by the web-site and go to this hotel!
See above comment on the burgers and combine it with a few cold pasta salads and you are away.
In the Alps the “cheap option” is shivering outside in the snow, or eating sandwiches under the table whilst trying to not get thrown out by an overly efficient waiters. Here at La Bresse, they provide you with a very civilized heated “Salle de pique-nique” that sells hot drinks. Bring your own bread, cheese and chocolate from home (resort shops are always expensive) and you are one well fed skier. For Breakfast, call in at one of the bakeries on the way to the slope for a quick croissant and some bread (bring your own chocolate spread).
Voila! This is how it breaks down:
Travel – 10 Euros
Accommodation – 37 Euros
Ski Hire – 30 Euros
Lift pass – 45 Euros
Food – 15 Euros
Total – 137 euro’s (120 pound sterling!) – Minus 30 Euros if you have your own skies and you drop to below 100 pounds for a weekends skiing. That is how you ski on a budget – and enjoy it.