Single for the season: High Five in the sunshine at Verbier

Gabriella Le Breton finds Verbier in a mellow mood, with sun loungers proving just as popular as the chairlifts.

imageWhere this week?

In the enduringly popular Swiss resort of Verbier – known for its vibrant nightlife, expensive nightclubs (namely Coco and Farm Club) and celebrity fans (James Blunt even has a chairlift named after him). Oh, and its superb skiing, spread across four valleys.

Why now?

There’s invariably some kind of event taking place in Verbier and this week is no exception. I arrived in time for last weekend’s 12th annual Verbier High Five by Carlsberg competition (a highly entertaining one-day competition for professional and amateur skiers) as well as the 40th birthday celebrations of the Farm Club.

Who else is here?

Thanks to the High Five event, I’m in stellar company, with the legendary Alberto Tomba and Luc Alphand, the talented Didier Cuche and British hearthrob, Chemmy Alcott, all enjoying the light-hearted spring atmosphere here.

How are the slopes?

Although half of Verbier’s marked trails are now closed, including most of the Savoleyres area and all of Bruson, the higher slopes are still in good, albeit slushy, condition. It’s still possible to access decent off-piste terrain after a (hot) hike or a few hours of ski touring.

The word on the piste

Locals were hopeful that the amateurs taking part in the Verbier High Five would give the pro skiers a run for their money and turned out en-masse to watch the action. However, when the weather closed in, most spectators retired to the Pub Mont Fort to ‘secure a place’ for their pals, leaving Didier Cuche and Tina Maze (from Slovenia) to win the competition.

Generally, temperatures in town have been topping the high teens. As such, the focus of most people in Verbier has shifted from skiing to partying, with long lazy afternoons spent lounging in a deck chair on the slopes (Chalet Carlsberg, Chez Dany and Cabane Mont Fort being favourites), followed by prolonged après on sunny terraces in town. As such, it was perfect timing for Marcus Bratter, owner of the Farm Club, to celebrate the 40th birthday of the legendary club in style, with an enormous party.

Despite the late nights, people are still making the most of the Nissan Fresh Tracks programme, which enables skiers and riders to take part in guided morning sessions before the lifts officially open.

The place to party right now?

Little has changed in Verbier. The Pub Mont Fort, Farinet après-ski bar, Offshore and Le Rouge are still the liveliest spots to hit when you first come off the slopes. Then move on to Fer à Cheval, King’s, Farinet lounge bar, T-Bar, Coup d’Etat or Les Croquignoles.

The last is also known as the Crock No Name and is a small but atmospheric bar, which attracts a loyal following thanks to its live music and cocktails. It’s also handily located above the Boulangerie de Croquignoles: seasonaires refer fondly to the bakery’s “window of dreams” – if you leave the Crock late, you’ll see staff already baking and, if you knock politely on the window, they’ll sell you a delicious roast beef or chicken curry baguette for 5CHF.

Once you’re in the mood for dancing, join the locals at the Casbah or Farm Club or the flash tourists at the infamously expensive Coco.

The bottom line

Verbier’s mellow vibe makes a real change to the high adrenaline powder hound-feel that usually pervades the resort, with people jostling for deckchairs instead of chairlifts. That’s not to say it’s quiet though – the resort’s hotels were sold out over the weekend – and, with the arrival of the XSpeedski speed skiing World Championship finals in a few days time, there’s still plenty of fun to be had.

How to get here

Fly to Geneva with Swiss ( or BA ( From Geneva you can book a private shuttle transfer with Resorthoppa ( to Verbier (the journey takes about two hours). Alternatively, take the train to Martigny and continue on the St Bernard Express to Le Châble, where you can pick up a bus to Verbier (the journey takes 2.5 to 3 hours in total). Book tickets in advance through the Swiss Travel Centre (

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