So how do you pass the time during a 15-minute gondola ride up a mountain? Quite a number of intriguing possibilities spring to mind, especially if you’re travelling in the company of a loved one on Valentine’s Day. A game of Racing Demon or I-Spy, for example.
The ski resort of Vaujany in France has come up with a more cheesy answer to the question – and not just on February 14. The lift company of Vaujany and neighbouring Oz recently separated from Alpe d’Huez, although they continue to share the 250km ski area which is served by some 84 lifts. They’ve turned one of their two smart new gondolas into a pop-up fondue restaurant on set dates throughout the season.
Six of the normally eight-seater cabins are fitted for the evening with custom-built tables allowing up to 36 guests to dine at their leisure. Yes, eating a fondue in just 15 minutes is hardly conducive to digestion, but don’t worry, the gondolas travel more the speed of the London Eye than a state-of-the-art ski-lift.
You get at least two full circuits of the route down to the hamlet of L’Enversin d’Oz, below the resort at 1100m, and back up again to the main lift station in Vaujany at 1250m. Then a third circuit allows you to enjoy your pud – usually a tarte aux myrtilles (blueberry tart). The evening begins with a glass of Champagne inside the lift station and ends with a tot of Green Chartreuse. Cost including wine is 35€ per adult, 25€ per child.
Vaujany is a charming old village located a one-hour drive from Grenoble. After selling land in the valley below for a giant hydro-electric scheme 30 years ago, it spent part of the proceeds on linking the farming community to the ski area of Alpe d’Huez by a 160-person cable-car that at the time was the largest in the world.
Snow conditions at present are nothing short of superb.
Peter Hardy stayed in Chalet Saskia in Vaujany with Ski Peak. Prices for a week gourmet half board at Saskia are from €899pp, travel not included.