After a day in Milan, we drove to Verbier, Switzerland. We rented a car from Enterprise, which was a short Uber ride away from our hotel, Hotel AC Milano. We were hoping for an Audi but we ended up with a Volkswagen Golf because that's the only car they had with an automatic transmission. Womp.
If you're interested in taking an international road trip, make sure to get your international driving permit. It's cheap, easy, and you'll need it to rent a car. Also, make sure you get a GPS system, and make sure you get the car charger that goes with it!
The drive was pretty easy and super scenic (Marquette drove the whole way so it was extra easy for me). On a clear day, you can see the snowy Alps from Milan, and as we approached them, the views became even more stunning. We drove through many small Italian alpine towns, and if we had more time, I'd have loved to stop and meander around.
We arrived in Verbier mid-afternoon and checked into our hotel. After dropping our bags off, we drove the car down to Le Châble, the town at the bottom of the mountain, and parked it there. Parking in Verbier is very challenging because there isn't really any (or super expensive for valet - like $50+ a night), so we left it in the free lot in Le Châble and took the gondola back up (see above photos). I'm really glad we did it this way, it worked out perfectly. We didn't need a car at all in Verbier because it's so small and I would not have been happy about paying $150 for parking for three days.
Verbier was absolutely MAGICAL. Seriously, probably up there in the top three places I've ever been. Actually it might be tied with the Maldives - don't make me choose! It was just. so. beautiful. I think the anticipation and buildup also contributed to my awe, since I had been wanting to visit Switzerland for so very long.
Verbier is nestled in between the Italian alps and the French alps, and the influences from both are apparent, especially the French. It's a little ski town of wooden chalets up on the mountain. It overlooks Le Châble and other little towns visible in the lush green valley below, and from the top of Verbier, Mont Fort (pronounced mofo lol), you can see Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, two famous mountains in the alps. The place is so SO gorgeous. The main activities include skiing, snowshoeing, and other snow sports, as well as paragliding, dining, spas, and nightlife. In the summer, mountain biking, mountain climbing, hiking, and other outdoor activities are popular.
We stayed at Hotel Nevai and the W Verbier. I will write a review on the W soon! We did dogsledding, skiing, and lots of exploring. We ate and drank a lot too. Here are a few of the restaurants we loved:
- Le Shed: Everyone told us to go to this burger place we were like "Are burgers special in Switzerland?" like is it a thing? Why does everyone keep recommending this burger place to us when we can get all the burgers we want in the States? Well, it didn't disappoint. It felt very Brooklyn, but the burgers were phenomenal, so no regrets.
- Le Table de Adrien: Incredible views. I definitely recommend making a reservation at least a few hours in advance so you can get one of the tables with the best views. I believe the outdoor area is only open for lunch (because it gets so cold at night), and that's where you want to eat. The views are quite possibly the best dining views in Verbier. And the food was spectacular. Like everywhere else, pricey, but so worth it. I had the gnocchi and Q the beef stroganoff - both were to DIE for. Maybe the view was a contributing factor - I think food always tastes better with a view.
- La Channe: This is a cute little place with eclectic decor that was also recommended to us by quite a few locals. The fondue there is delicious - make sure you know whether you want to get meat fondue or cheese fondue. There's a difference!
- Le Mouton Noir: This place is up the mountain at Les Ruinettes, and is a popular apres ski hangout. We didn't eat here but we did enjoy a bottle of wine and the view - one of the best in Verbier.
Everyone says Switzerland is expensive, and I've always been like "yeah, yeah, how expensive can it really be?" Y'all... Switzerland is EXPENSIVE. Well, at least Verbier was. Hopefully it was pricier than the rest of Switzerland because it was a resort town catering to tourists - I guess we will find out at some point when we visit other parts. For reference, most entrees were 30-40CHF (the exchange is about 1:1, CHF is a little stronger than USD), and many entrees were in the 50CHF price range. At the W, a COKE WAS 8CHF!!! EIGHT! There was a beautiful blanket we wanted to buy, but it was 80CHF. A photographer took some photos of us at Le Mouton Noir and they were charging 39CHF for a 5x7 print and 75CHF for ONE digital copy. I think you guys get the picture. The bright side is, the wine was cheap, and we were able to find a good number of bottles for about the price of an entree.
March was a nice time to come because it was warm, but I think it would've been nice with a little more snow and a few more people. Ski season goes through April, but our ski instructor expressed some concern about the condition of the snow (slushy) and lack of snowfall this past winter. That said, the weather was absolutely perfect - cool enough for you to feel comfortable in your snow clothes but warm enough so that you can enjoy being outside. The air up in the mountains was cool and crisp in the morning - so refreshing. All in all, Switzerland exceeded my high expectations by far, and I can't wait for the next Swiss adventure!