Having often, rather relunctantly, skied on past this type of venue for fear of spending my week’s budget on one lunch, I was recently very pleasantly surprised by La Folie Douce in Meribel! The large sunny terrace with it’s huge bar, brightly-coloured cushions, views to blow your socks off and a generally luxury look about it, would have set off all the holiday budget alarm bells! However, recently on a ski holiday in Courchevel with a large group of old friends, I very happily parked my skis and followed the crowd into La Folie Douce… and I have now officially caught the Folie Douce fever… without blowing my budget!
Often listed in the top 10 mountain restaurants in Europe, Luc Reversade’s chain, La Folie Douce, certainly offers a very unique concept in mountain eating and entertainment! The first Folie Douce was opened over 30 years ago in Val d’Isère and I imagine that Mr Reversade hasn’t looked back since! The exact translation of La Folie Douce is “A Gentle Madness” and personally I think the name couldn’t be more fitting!
All ages mix here, with everyone having their fair share of fun. Things start to get going after lunch when extravagantly-dressed dancers encourage everyone to get up on the tables and dance! I spent a lot of time wondering whether my ski boots would be more stable for table-dancing than the 6 inch platform stilettos the singer was wearing! In the end, I decided that breaking my leg falling off a table would be a rather embarrassing ski holiday accident, so I resisted the temptation to join in this particular activity! I'm proud to say that some of my friends didn't resist!
It’s almost impossible to leave La Folie Douce before closing time! If you do, then you’ll have a nagging feeling you’re missing out on something - and you’re right! From live musicians (saxophone and electric guitar), dancers and singers on the bar, accompanying some very lively dance music, to live, tango-style cabaret on a stage with the Alps as a backdrop, there’s certainly something well worth staying for…
Don’t be put off if you’re not really into the clubbing scene – the overall atmosphere is so wonderful, with stunning views, friendly bar staff and great food, that this is truly a place any skier and snowboarder would find hard not to appreciate. Beautiful people having a great time in a beautiful spot – what more could you ask for? Maybe light aircraft and para-gliders drifting overhead with cloudless blue sky as a backdrop? Well you won’t be disappointed!
If you'd like to get a feel, watch this short video a friend uploaded on YouTube.
However, you will be disappointed when the bar shuts at 4.30pm! It’s suddenly time to come back to reality, get your skis or boards back on and make your slightly tipsy way home… I can almost guarantee you’ll back for more…
Just before getting off the Saulire Express cable car in Meribel, you’ll catch a glimpse of a huge, sunny terrace with brightly-coloured cushions scattered about – don’t blink or you’ll miss it. When you come out of the cable car station, you could almost think that you had imagined this vision, as La Folie Douce is tucked behind a lip just under the cable car station. Turn left when coming out and then ski a sharp left for about 200 meters … and you’ve arrived!
You can spend a fortune here if you like, BUT you don’t have to! If you’d like to, then lunch at La Folie Douce's La Fruitière restaurant, which offers excellent, typical, Savoyard dishes combining authenticity and modernity, prepared by Franck Mischler, “Maître Cuisinier de France”. If you’re with a large group of friends, you could always treat yourselves to a 6-litre bottle of champagne for a mere 10,200€!
Thankfully, we steered clear of these options and went to the self service restaurant (Nuvoself) where we discovered some excellent, home-style hot meals, such as filet of beef or roast lamb with some very tasty veg on the side – all for as little as 17€! A very pleasant surprise considering the previous day, a small, cold spaghetti bolognaise had set me back 23€ leaving me feeling very unsatisfied! Sitting back and enjoying lunch in the impressive high-ceilinged lounge/dining area was just another plus point!
It’s no wonder, with its 3 completely different atmospheres (chic restaurant, great-value self service restaurant with cozy dining area and lively, outdoor bar), that this venue manages to attract thousands of visitors each week! Luc Reversade is quite simply a genius! Thank you Luc!
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Being lucky enough to have parents who were crazy about skiing, my love for the mountains started when I was 4 years old on our first family ski holiday to Austrian ski resort of Obergurl. One ski holiday a year was never enough and tears rolled down my face as I looked out the back window of the car on the drive down the valley on the way home!
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