The spa village of Brides-les-Bains, at the heart of the valley in the Vanoise massif, is the gateway to the vast ski area of 3 Vallées, where winter sports enthusiasts can enjoy 600km of slopes.
An Olympic village at the 1992 Games, it has welcomed the Tour de France and last year it hosted the Alpine World Ski Championship. No wonder then that this pretty little alpine village – home to just 512 people – attracts thousands of winter sports enthusiasts from all over the world.
As basecamp for the 3 Vallées, Brides-les-Bains offers access to 342 slopes and 600km of linked ski runs, and, with 85% of the ski area above 1800m, snow is guaranteed. Take the Olympe gondola lift from the heart of the village for easy access to all areas of the 3 Vallées, with a choice of downhill and cross-country ski runs. With 16% green runs, 41% blue runs, 33% red runs and 10% black runs, the 3 Vallées offers almost half easy runs and half expert runs. Ideal for groups of mixed abilities!
Feel like a break from the skis? Don your snowshoes and explore the sublime landscapes of the Tarentaise Valley and the Vanoise Parc. Or let someone else’s legs do the work – dog-sleds are a fun way to enjoy all that glorious scenery, while other four-legged friends await at the Nordic ranch where you can enjoy pony sledging and ski-joering. Then there’s snowmobile driving, paragliding, tobogganing… or take a more sedentary approach and relax with a chocolat chaud and enjoy the fresh mountain air and panoramic views, perhaps while enjoying a music concert. Ice sculpture demonstrations are a sight to behold, or maybe you’d rather focus on your health – perhaps a Pilates session would hit the spot?
Eat, Sleep, Relax
This village has grown up around its spa waters and you won’t be surprised to learn that health and well-being are essential parts of Brides-les-Bains’s DNA: the Grand Spa Thermal, the largest spa in the Alps, has 2700m2 of treatment areas and wellness activities and it’s right in the heart of the village.
For relaxation of the gastronomic sort, there is plenty of choice, whether you’re looking for authentic traditional Savoyard fare, sophisticated gourmet delights, or family-pleasing pizzas. A recent opening is Le 26 on rue Emile Machet, which serves refined, traditional cuisine with a mouthwatering twist.
And of course, the entertainment doesn’t end with dinner. There’s a lively après-ski scene in Brides-les-Bains, with vibrant bars and nightspots, as well as a casino. Also on the entertainment front, every Wednesday and Thursday throughout the winter season, the giant screen in the Parc Thermal will be screening films.
After all that fun, you’ll probably want to rest your head ready for another day on the slopes, and you will be spoilt for choice in Brides-les-Bains. The resort prides itself on offering affordable accommodation, which is a boon at a time when many of us are feeling the squeeze – but don’t for a second think that means there’s any skimping on cosiness or the warmth of the welcome. Take your pick from a choice of 2-to-4-star hotels, as well as B&Bs and apartments –you’re sure to find the ideal place for you and yours.
To help protect the precious mountain environment, Brides-les-Bains encourages visitors to leave the car behind and have a carbon-zero vacation. By train, the village is easily accessible – the Paris-Moutiers train takes 4.5 hour, costs about €60, and there’s a shuttle service to take you right into the village.
Events in 2024
Feb 21: Carnival – schools will take part in an event with music bands and entertainment, plus food and drink.
Mar 17: St Patrick’s Day – Brides-les-Bains’ bars will be dressed in green to celebrate this convivial Irish event from 5pm to 10pm. An Irish concert will be held in the Thermal Park.
Apr 14: Olympe Challenge – A six-hour challenge sees a timed climb 3.5km from Brides-les- Bains to the village of Les Allues-Méribel.
At a glance
Ski until April 14
600km of slopes at an altitude of 1,100 metres and 3,230 metres