When Monsieur X used to give me an invite to France (and Switzerland), I never said no even if it was on the wrong side of pay day and it was to a five star ski resort.
Verbier was my first trip to Switzerland and before he told me about this place, the only thing I knew about Verbier was the rich and famous go there. So what’s good enough for Prince Harry and Richard Branson it’s good enough for me…however not having the same bank balance as them how could I visit Verbier with only £400 in my holiday fund?
- I can’t ski (learning to snowboard is on my bucket list), so no ski pass, extra baggage charges or ski rentals.
- No need to take out a mortgage to stay at a 5 star hotel as I was staying at Hotel Monsieur X in Médières.
- Who needs food and drink anyway?
I flew out on Easyjet’s last winter flight (April hence lack of snow) from Birmingham and returned to Manchester five days later . The flight was around £160 which wasn’t bad as I booked it two weeks before departure. I had to take the train to Verbier (pre-petit Porsche) the train station was connected to Geneva airport and the credit card ticket machines were easy to use after I called Monsieur X to find out what train station I was going to – Le Châble changing at Martigny. My train was on time (living in England I’m not used to this luxury), and a return train ticket from Geneva Airport to La Chable cost 120CHF, it would have been cheaper booking the ticket online but I didn’t trust my plane to land on time.
Even thou the two and half hour train journey was expensive the views of Lake Geneva was worth every Franc. The journey from the airport to Lausanne could have been any city out to any countryside, views of factories, apartment blocks and fields but there were little glimpses of the Lake. The future away from Geneva the more of the Lake and mountains I could see, then after Lausanne the views are amazing and relaxing passing though Montreux on the way. The closer I got to Verbier my stress levels reduced – screw work; I’m surrounded by a beautiful lake and its countryside.
From Le Châble station Verbier can be reached by bus or cable car and we opted to travel by cable car (13CHF). More amazing views of the mountains and at this time of year there was more green than white. Once I had finally reached Verbier and Monsieur X I was relieved I had no more long journeys to do for a few days. For a non-skier Verbier is very small, majority of the bars, restaurants and shops in walking distance from the ‘place centrale’ roundabout. With my own personal Holiday Rep and translator, the first bar I experienced was the Central T Bar complete with Sky TV, and enjoyed my first beer of the weekend.
The average cost of a small beer in Verbier was around 5CHF, and a coffee and hot chocolate around 4CHF each. For dinner we went to Borsalino Pizzeria nearby, sharing a pizza and a pasta dish. It was one of the best pasta dishes I have had since working in Sicily, the meals and a bottle of wine cost around 60CHF. We ended the evening with a nightcap at Le Cosy Bar in the hotel Phenix a small, quiet and yes –cosy bar next to the bus station.
While Monsieur X when to work, I spend the majority of day dying on a sofa (hangover, tiredness or Altitude sickness – who knows) in the Medran bar, trying not to get my bad head kicked in by children on the nearly rock climbing wall. My plan was to sleep off my sickness at Mansion de X, but the steep peaceful walk down to Médières helped my headache. Fresh air is the best medicine but I did feel like I was having a heart attack walking back up to after my siesta. My appetite was back and fondue was on (every) menu, Fondue Fromage at Le Caveau, Place Centrale was plat de jour and the strong cheese smell drew us into this popular restaurant and making me feel more hungry. Le Caveau friendly staff made us feel very welcome and served up an excellent meal of Fondue, plate of meats and a bottle of wine (101CHF). Before heading back to Médières a visit to Nelson’s bar opposite the bus station, a english looking bar with live music (or a DJ) and a nightcap at the Loft bar next door.
Next day it was a visit to Le Chalet d’Adrien for a drink, we only saw the reception and the bar of this 5* star hotel, but I could live this type of life. Then it was back to reality as we couldn’t afford the food on their menu and I was hungry again, no 100CHF fondue this time just fish and chips at the sandwich bar near the bus station. 10CHF for a cone of chips and fish ‘nuggets’ thrown in. The evening started in le Cosy Bar for a quiet one, before playing pool in the Big Ben pub and watching how the ‘other half’ party in Le Casita. Monsieur X was working at a birthday party and I sat at the bar drooling over the wasted food as it went back to the kitchen bins. We did manage to have a piece of birthday cake and a free beer.
Sunday we headed down to Le Châble for a bit of cow fighting ‘combats de reines’ very popular but with an entrance fee of 15CHF which was the same price as three small beers. We opted for the drinks at Le Châble’s Restaurant de Gietroz and Le Chat Bleu (the food menu looked amazing I hate being poor).
My last evening in Switzerland was in the Medran bar; Monsieur X said there was a rock concert there. I would say it was a pub band that played at the Nelson the night before – Bon Jovi is a rock concert! After the ‘concert’ it was the Le Fer a Cheval for more drinks and Chez Martin for pizza. Very tasty but I think Borsalino just beat it.
So time to price it up, did I still to my budget.
Train: 105 CHF (Geneva – La Châble standard return ticket) = £80
Drinks: 70CHFish (beaucoup small beers and hot chocolates) = £50 ish
Food: 90CHF (pizza, pasta and fish and chips Monsieur X paid for the Fondue) = £70
Buses and cable car: 35CHF (one way cable car 11CHF, one way bus ticket 3CHF – 4.20CHF) = £27
It can be done…just! You just need your only Monsieur X and no intention of skiing.