5 tips from 5 local legends
How to survive a season in the Alps
Planks has always called Val d'Isere it’s home, however as our community grows we have decided it’s time we need more than one mountain to Live Ski and Enjoy! This season we are expanding and you will now find us in La Plagne, Tignes, Meribel and Morzine alongside Biggie’s hometown of Val d’Isere. We wanted to get the inside scoop for those of you that are heading out to do a season in one of these resorts, so we caught up with 5 local legends for their tips on how best to survive a season in their hometown!
Joe Harkess - Tignes
Harkess is the original party starter and can still throw down on the hill! A ski instructor for over 10 years, Joe now co-runs TDC (The Development Centre), but in the past he has coached freeski camps, done seasons and broken hearts all over Europe.
- Making the most of a season means up-ing your level of riding! I've been lucky enough to be taken under the wing of some absolute legends over the years. You'll meet loads of experienced riders doing a season, so don't be intimidated and ask them their thoughts. Good riders want to pass on knowledge, as that's how they got better themselves.
- The parks in the Tignes area are sick! There's a reason the X Games choose here for their first European leg. There’s a smooth flow through the park, quick laps, tech rails and big booters. The Val park is better for finding your feet on small and intermediate jumps and rails/boxes, however, when Val opens up it's Big Boy Booter, it's on!
- For food there's really only one place you need to know about, Tignes Cuisine. After a few months of flowing wine and mountains of molten cheese, you’ll be gagging for something different. A great hangout for a late lunch after an epic shred and where some of the raddest riders in town hangout.
- The bar that you will not have heard of but absolutely need to try, is the Boulele on the rue de Rosset. Don't go in a big crowd.... just creep in, head to the back and soak up the French mountain town vibes. This is where you'll find the pisteurs letting off steam and those guys are the real legends in any resort.
- The cheeky ski lift bedpost notch eh!? Obviously one that a lot of folk wanna tick off the list!! Being a soon to wed gentleman, I obviously know little in this department. However there is an aptly named lift at the far end of the ski area, the Fornet(cation) gondola, in good weather it takes 12mins, with a little bit of wind, it slows down to 24mins!! Plenty of time lads/laddettes!!....
Bobby T - Morzine
Welshmen Bobby T is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet and will never fail to make you laugh! After competing for the British team, Bobby T spent years in Morzine and is now focused on coaching and giving back to his sport!
- In the busy season head to Ardent gondola to beat the queue's at Super Morzine or Prodains. And if you're feeling naughty, it's perfect for your naughty antics; they have tinted windows, so no need to rush!!
- On a pow day some of the best secret stashes, aren’t that secret. ‘Mario Land’ is a great day out and really easy to get to.
- Feeling the pinch… learn how to cook! It’s the best way to impress those chalet girls, saves the pennies and they're already in your gaff ready for 'dessert'. Win-win!!
- Don't go to Bar Robinsons at après (unless you like being really really REALLY drunk, climbing up trees, wetting yourself and losing most of your clothes). It’s my favourite place!!
- A perfect snack after a hard-core Robinsons session is at Bombay ski club. Get the naan wrap; it’s incredible!!
Charlie Bulbrook - La Plagne
After years of chasing snow around the world, Charlie has now settled down in La Plagne and has spent the last 6 years running his award winning chalet company Alpoholics.
- DON'T get into that typical seasonaire habit of drinking every night. There are 3 things involved in a season, skiing, working and partying; you can only do 2 of them well!
- DO get yourself a lesson or 2 from a local instructor at the start of the season, even if you are an experienced rider. At the very least you'll be shown some rad new spots.
- DON'T drop into the powder fields off the back of the Becoin Chair or Grand Rochette Gondola without your avi gear and a sound knowledge of how to use it, no matter how incredibly tempting and accessible they might look.
- DO get stuck into the legendary après party’s at La Bergerie. I helped start these way back and they have become an absolute staple for tourists and seasonaires alike. See you at the front!
- DON'T play legendary bar game “Shut The Box” in Bar La Mine. Whether you like it or not it will turn into a shot fest and it will be your last memory of the night.
Omar Baldaccioni - Meribel
Omar has done 14 years in Meribel and knows everything there is to know about the three valleys. He might not be your typical ‘seasonaire’ anymore but as the manager of the Ronnie he employs them every year and has seen his fair share of antics!
- Looking for a job? If you’re not working for me, then bar jobs are the Holy Grail. Preferably, I’d like to own a chalet and get paid rent for doing nothing, but we can all live in hope.
- Head to Mountain burger in Mottaret for loads of beef and bread, arguably the best burger you’ll eat on a budget, and afterwards you can stop in at The Cows for a beer.
- For the best Après spot head to The Rond Point, known more affectionately as the Ronnie. I know I’m biased, but we all love the place and Meribel is lucky to have it.
- There's no shortage of live music on our doorstep, La Taverne, Jacks, Evolution, The Den, O'Sullivans, Le Pub, Scotts, LDV and La Tsaretta all host nights that showcase the musical talents on offer in resort.
- La Folie Douce is always a win. They are taking over the world! Regardless of whether you love them or not, you will have a good time just overlook the spraying champagne, cabaret and organised fun.
Biggie - Val d’Isere
Shredding on all four paws, Biggie owns the streets of Val D’Isere. The resident Planks dog, Biggie can be found manning the till, trying on the new eyewear range or shredding the backcountry with Jim! Woof!
- A good set of boots is essential on a season to keep you out on the mountain all day long! If your having issues head to Surefoot those guys know how to keep your paws comfy.
- For the best food, 1789 is boomtown! They specialise In meat dishes and cook everything on an open fire. Plus they do an epic doggy bag.
- When I hit the town, I head straight to Dicks tea bar, because there is enough room on the dance floor for me to throw down my famous windmills.
- The best way to impress the lady dogs / bitches is to take them for a late night ski tour up the mountain, but always be prepared and make sure you Shred Safe!
- Don’t be afraid to make lots of new friends, the mountains are always more fun with the Wolfpack!