Verbier has developed into a glamorous winter playground for anyone who wants to splash the cash. There is no doubt it’s an expensive resort but with its superb skiing, international clientele, high-quality accommodation and phenomenal bars and restaurants, it’s most certainly worth it. Situated in the canton of the Valais, in the southwest of Switzerland, Verbier is bordered by France to the west and Italy to the south. It’s about a two-hour drive from Geneva airport, or you can take a train from the airport to Le Chable and then hop onto the gondola to the centre of resort. Verbier suits both the keen skier, with its amazing and easily accessible off-piste, and the more leisurely skier who enjoys cruising the blues before relaxing on a sun lounger for the afternoon. It’s also the perfect spot for the après-ski enthusiast, with a world-famous selection of lively bars and clubs.
Verbier is the main resort of the 4 Vallées ski area, which includes Thyon, Veysonnaz and Nendaz. Together, they offer over 410 kilometres of ski runs and 93 ski lifts, all covered in one lift pass. In summer, the area provides the usual alpine activities you would expect, from climbing, mountain biking, cycling, alpinism and hiking to more leisurely pursuits. One of Verbier’s biggest attractions is the summit of Mont Fort, the highest peak in the 4 Vallées. It takes four cable cars to get there from Verbier village, culminating with a final 400m stretch from the Col des Gentianes. After climbing a stone staircase, take in the amazing vista which includes Mont Blanc, the Dents du Midi, the Matterhorn and the Rhone Valley.
Verbier and the 4 Valleys ski area is the biggest ski area in Switzerland. The ski terrain starts at 1250m and tops out at 3330m at the summit of Mont Fort.
The whole ski area has 35 blue pistes, 39 red pistes, 14 black pistes, a snowpark, a handful of cross-country ski and winter walking trails and an incredible array of off-piste opportunities. The skiing in and around Verbier can be broken up into 4 areas, namely: Verbier, La Tzoumaz/Savoleyres, Bruson and Mont Fort/4 Valleys Its enormous ski area and varied terrain attracts skiers and snowboarders from around the globe and offers something for every level of skiers and snowboarder, from complete beginners to extreme freeride and expert skiers as well as ski mountaineers, though beginners and more novice intermediates will find some of the runs a little daunting.
Those seeking the awe-inspiring panoramic views from the top of Mont Fort, as well as the challenging and often mogulled-out black run on its front face, can head up to its 3,330m summit via the Mont Fort 2 tram. From there, you can also drop off the backside for some adrenaline packed descents, but it is not advisable to do so without the accompaniment of an experienced guide. The Mont Fort sector can either be accessed via La Chaux (2260m) by loading onto the Jumbo, or via Tortin (2050m) by taking the Col des Gentianes tram.. Both lifts converge at the same spot…the Col des Gentianes, at an altitude of 2,950m. From the Col des Gentianes, there is also the possibility of remaining in the high alpine area and skiing the Glaciers 2 red runs, which are serviced by the Glacier 1 & Glacier 2 drag lifts. Due to the glacier’s heavy recession these past few years, this area necessitates lots of natural snowfall to operate, and therefore, is not always open.
Probably the most awesome off-piste itinerary in the 4-Valleys, doing the “backside” means you’re really leaving the ski area boundaries & getting out there in the backcountry for a bit. The slope inclination, which is very steep in some parts, glaciated terrain, avalanche potential and relatively long walk out means only expert skiers and snowboarders with a good knowledge of avalanche awareness should attempt this run, or better yet, hire a guide to make sure you go the right way and get out safely!
The rest of the 4 Valleys, namely Nendaz (1400m), Siviez (1730m), Veysonnaz (1400m) and Thyon (2100m) together go by the name of “Printze”. Spanning North, North-East from Tortin, the Printze area offers a great choice of blue and red runs, as well as a few blacks for the more intrepid skiers and snowboarders. The highest point in this sector is the Greppon Blanc, at 2700m under which you’ll find a selection of red and black runs taking you either back to Siviez or traversing across the mountain to Thyon. Once in Thyon you’ll find more blue pistes on the back side of the mountain, marking the farthest point in the 4 valleys ski area and you’ll need to be competent skiing red pistes to get across here.
There are two gondolas connecting the two ski areas of Savoleyres and Tzoumaz, from the valley floor in La Tzoumaz across into Verbier, with an additional 6 ski lifts giving access to a small mixture of blue and red pistes. There is also a 10km sledge track which starts at the top of the ridge and takes you all the way to La Tzoumaz and a 5km winter hiking trail. The Savoleyres part of the ski area is south-facing and so attracts lot of sunshine and popular with beginners and families, who enjoy skiing on the blue pistes in Les Esserts Situated right behind Savoleyres’ south-facing slopes, La Tzoumaz’s pistes quickly plunge into the tree-line, offering a nice choice of red and blue runs.
Le Nord (6-man high-speed detachable chair) services a short but sweet, moderately steep ridgeline speckled with trees, Le Taillay (4-man chair) on the other side of the ski area gives access to mellow terrain which starts off very open and gradually enters the tree-line. With both, you have the option of either staying on the piste or wandering off-piste, without ever having to venture too far to the sides to find fresh powder.The Les Etablons (2-man chair) can offer some great turns when the snow is good lower down. The second half of the red slope has a good moderate pitch and can be quite fun. What more, with the brand-new 8-man La Tzoumaz gondola, great “top to bottom” runs can be enjoyed. La Tzoumaz features one of the longest sled runs in the Swiss Alps, with 848 metres of height difference over 10km. The toboggan run follows the Petite Combe run from the top of the gondola, so don’t be surprised to see some sledges whizz pass as you ski down.
After skiing there’s no better way to celebrate a great day on the slopes than with a few well-earned après ski drinks. Verbier excels on that front, starting up on the mountain. Here Le Mouton Noir is Verbier’s equivalent of La Folie Douce. You’ll find DJ’s and live performers all winter. Happy Hour is every day from 15:00 to 16:00. Just around the corner from Le Mouton Noir is the Ice Cube Bar, which has its own resident DJ. Open from 09:30 to 17:00 you can also grab a bite to eat here to keep you going. Happy hour here is also from 15:00 to 16:00. You’ll find them at the top of the Medran lift station. Pub Mont Fort or the “Pub” as it’s referred to by locals, is open daily during the ski season from 3pm. With its large terrace, weekly drinks promotions and a handy location by the bottom of the Médran cable car, it’s the perfect place to meet up. Parties, sports on the big screen, a great snack menu with famous burgers all make this place one of Verbier’s favourite bars. Happy Hour is from 16:00 – 17:00, when you can get half-price on beers, wines and soft drinks. They have regular live music from some of the best bands around.
Continuing on, The Farinet Lounge offers a great range of cocktails and has to be one of the best places to stop off during the afternoon and continue on late into the night. There’s a log fire to warm up next to and live DJ’s every night during the winter until 02:00. Also, at The Farinet is the aptly named Farinet Apres Ski Bar which has live music every day of the week, open from 16:00 to 21:00. Le Rouge is another famous apres-ski bar at the bottom of the Rouge piste in Verbier town. The party starts at 3pm on their large terrace with resident DJ’s playing house music. Brasserie le Bec is more restaurant than bar, close to the bottom of the Medran lift. They have a great apres-ski snack menu and a good selection of drinks, cocktails and wine, served in a contemporary, light flooded interior. They are open every day from 08:00 to 19:00 in winter.
Later on, Verbier is a hive of activity, with The Farm being one of the oldest and most well-known nightclubs in the Alps, first opening its doors back in 1971. Farm Club’s reputation as one of the best venues in the Alps remains unchallenged – no visit to Verbier would be complete without a visit to the Farm! Open daily throughout the winter season from 23:00 to 04:00.
Farinet South is the new kid on the block, opening for the first time in winter 2016. Catch a game of live sports action on the big screens, play a game of pool and enjoy one of their international or local craft beers. DJ’s keep the party going until 04:00. The Carve is an exclusive bar and nightclub with a supper club that opens from 19:30 to 22:30, serving classic Swiss cuisine with a contemporary twist. Then it’s on to the bar where you can party the night away until 04:00 to the sounds of one of their resident DJ’s. Etoile Rouge Supper Club is a late-night venue where you can dine and dance under the same roof. Expect to find a mix of Scandinavian and Eastern Europeans flavours on the menu, with seating for up to 60 guests. After supper you can move straight to the dance floor, cocktail in hand. Open from 20:00 to 04:00 every day during winter season.
Central T Bar is a sports bar and live music venue. You will find live music played here regularly by the musicians on the local scene, often kicking off about 22:30. This bar also serves some of the best Sushi in Verbier. Open from 16:00 until 02:00.Le Crock No Name is a trendy, stylish bar which offers live music from 22:30. It’s a great place to let your hair down and have a dance to one of their brilliant live sets. It’s small, intimate and sexy. The bar opens at 17:00 and closes at 02:00.
Accommodation choices are vast and varied. Finding accommodation in Verbier is certainly not difficult as there is a huge amount of choice available for practically all budgets and motivations. Verbier has a reputation as an exclusive, high-end resort so it is no surprise that there are a reasonable number of luxury five-star hotels here, but the town is also home to numerous mid-budget establishments for those travelling on a budget and you will also find a good choice of apartments and chalets. Most options aren’t exactly cheap but there are still some pockets of value, so whether you are on a moderate budget or really want the best there is, we are happy to help advise.