Overview of Verbier, Switzerland
Written by Greg and Heather Burke
Verbier is Swiss-French, part of Les 4 Vallées - which encompasses 92 lifts and 412 kilometers of prepared pistes on one ski pass. You can ski between six towns including La Tzoumaz, Bruson, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, and Thyon. The biggest skiing of the four valleys is Verbier on Mont Fort and Mont Gelé, Mont Fort glacier being the highest elevation at 10,925', reached by tram with an unsurpassed panorama of Switzerland's highest peaks including Mont Blanc 15,781', The Matterhorn 14,690', and The Dom 14,911') to name a few splendid Alps.
Verbier is a European ski playground of the chic and provides an extreme party scene to rival the terrain. We can personally attest to both the wild terrain and nightlife. Our first run off the tram at Mont Gelé was an abrupt intro to Verbier. It was a 3,000' vertical drop of steep un-prepared NFT (no fall terrain). Our next run was equally head-spinning off the summit of Mont Fort tram. After enjoying stunning scenery on the 10,925' observation platform, we skied more seriously steep expert slopes, next to the world speed skier track. It was no surprise to us when we learned that Verbier hosts the Xtreme World Cup finals.
If all this extreme ski terrain sounds daunting, stay off Mont Fort and Gelé and you will find 125 miles of prepared pistes (trails) for intermediate cruising served by 38 lifts in all directions. For big mountain exploration on prepared pistes, you can ski to the interconnected villages of Nendaz, Veysonnez and Thyon to the west, and Bruson to the east.
On mountain ambiance is extremely fun at Verbier, with 24 fabulous Swiss chalets and big bars scattered about the mountain allowing you a place to catch your breath, enjoy the scenery and Swiss cuisine, and plot your next alpine assault. While James Blunt's restaurant La Vache is popular and modern, we thought the Cabane du Glacier Tortin on Mont Fort served cheese fondue to die for, partly because of the cliffy goat path we skied to get there.
Verbier has a top rated ski school and mountain guide services - which are highly recommended if you want to venture off piste and explore the full potential of the steep deep (potentially dangerous) terrain off the trail map.
The Village of Verbier is a mélange of authentic and aspiring. Here charming Swiss chalets and bakeries neighbor modern designer boutiques and urban après ski bars. Some of the finest ski hotels in Verbier include the 4 star Chalet de Flore which is a member of Verbier Luxury Hotels along with sister hotel 5-star Chalet D'Adrian. Verbier's No. 14 Chalet and The Lodge Verbier - Sir Richard Branson's latest luxury hotel, are top notch and top price as well. Adding to that league, a new Hotel W Verbier. W Hotel's first ski hotel has debuted in a new Place Blanche at the base of Verbier's ski lifts.
Verbier is French speaking, but a predominance of English skiers and chalet owners make it easy to communicate, in fact, the area is quadrilingual: French, German, English, and Italian are all spoken.
Verbier has French flair and chicly dressed people, many Michelin rated restaurants and some wild après ski bars. We witnessed crazy costumes, big dancing, and drinking at The Farinet end of season party. The Fer à Cheval, Le Rouge, and the Casbah are also notorious night clubs that rock in Verbier after the lifts stop until late night.
Between the wild Freeski terrain and the parties, you could get into all kinds of trouble in Verbier. On the softer side, you can have a lot of fun and meet some passionate people from all over the world who are drawn to the superbly scenic skiing in Verbier. If you buy Vail Resort's Epic Pass, you get 5 free ski days at Verbier when you book lodging, a nice season pass benefit to consider.