The Ultimate French Ski Food Guide
Don't read on an empty stomach!
Skiing in France this year? You will want to read my French ski food and drink must-try guide before you go!
One of the joys of skiing in France has to be the local French ski food! Warm, hearty and guilt-free meals. When you are burning thousands of calories from the full day shredding, you can eat whatever takes your fancy. Don’t expect to come home losing weight, but then again, you should never expect that from a ski holiday. Indulge in the local food and drink, you deserve it!
Sample the delights of the traditional mountain restaurants while enjoying the warm rustic interior of the French mountain huts and echo of the ski conditions from hungry skiers.
With my 10 years French skiing experience from Tignes to Val d’Isere, Val Thorens to Alpe d’Huez, I have been lucky enough to shred some serious powder and indulge in some serious French ski food.
Here are some of my favourite French Lunchtime Food Heroes.
It’s been a cold morning and you have been shredding the mountain like a mad person and you need a gut-filling and hearty dish that will satisfy your needs. Well, the Tartiflette will do exactly that, but you might not be moving so fast after having it. Tartiflette is a pound of creamy creme fraiche potatoes with browned smoked bacon lardons, onion, garlic and topped with a whole creamy, nutty reblochon cheese. But, the big question in the alps is whether the cheese rind should be on or off? I say keep it on, it gives an extra crunch to the top and there is zero waste! Bon appetit.
Classic French Onion Soup
This has got to be my go-to French ski food lunch option! The onion soup is an ultimate comfort food that won’t leave you rolling down the mountain like a Tartiflette will (sorry mate). I mean, it’s still filling but just what you need to refuel your ski batteries.
It’s not just onions in a soup… It’s butter-soft, caramelized onions cooked down to a rich, seasoned beef stock and simmered for 40+ minutes. Then, topped off with fresh garlic croutons and melted crispy Gruyere cheese.
Fancy making it at home?
- 700g onions [Thinly sliced]
- 60g unsalted butter
- 3 garlic [Crushed]
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 litre of good quality beef stock
- 300ml white wine
- French Baguette, 1-inch diagonal slices [1 per person]
- 2 cloves garlic [crushed]
- 225g Gruyère cheese [grated] (A mature cheddar will do but Gruyere is worth getting!)
- First, place a saucepan over a high heat and add the oil and butter together. Once very hot, add the onions, garlic and sugar, and keep mixing until the edges of the onions have turned dark for around 6 minutes. Then simmer on a medium heat and leave the onions to carry on cooking for about 25 minutes.
- While the onions are simmering, it’s time to make the croutons. On a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil and crushed garlic and place the bread slices on top coating both sides. Bake for 20 minutes until crispy and crunchy at 160c.
- By now the onions should be in a rich, nut brown, caramelised sauce. Now, pour in the stock and white wine, season and stir well. As soon as it all comes up to simmering point, turn down the heat to its lowest setting, then go away and leave it to cook very gently for 45-55 minutes.
- Pre-heat the grill to its highest setting. Then ladle in the hot soup, add the floating croutons and sprinkle the grated cheese and place under the grill until the cheese is golden brown.
Serve straight away and enjoy!
Similar to the tartiflette, the Corziflette is another comforting, cheesy hearty delight from the Savoy region. It’s fundamentally a tartiflette but with a buckwheat pasta (Crozet) instead of potatoes. This is a good choice to have if you want to say you tried something different to the usual Alpine dishes.
- 400 gr. of buckwheat Crozet (pasta)
- 1 onion
- 1 garlic clove
- a bit of butter
- 2 tablespoons of white wine
- 25 cl. of cream
- 2 littles reblochons cheese
- Bring to a boil a large pan of salty water. Cook pasta has written on the box. Sieve.
- In the meantime, slice onion and garlic. Fry with a bit of butter.
- Pour some white wine into the pan and stop cooking process.
- Mix with the Crozet pasta. Add cream, pepper, and pour into an oven dish.
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the slice raw ham on top of the Crozets. Cut each reblochon into two pieces. Place on top of ham and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the cheese melt. Serve.
Thank you ‘French Girl Cuisine‘ for this delicious recipe.
In 2018, I went skiing in Val d’Isere with Powder White and had an incredible Beef Bourguignon in the catered chalet Skye. I obviously cheekily asked for the recipe.
Beef Bourguignon originates from Bourgogne, a famous region famous for its food, wine and ox breeding. As you probably know, the main ingredient for this recipe is red wine and lots of it. I would advise saving the good red wine for drinking and use a standard bottle for your dinner.
Ingredients – Serves 4
- 1kg lean stewing beef
- 50g unsalted butter
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 level tbsp flour
- 1 level tbsp soft brown sugar
- 200ml beef stock
- Bottle of red wine
- 2tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp chopped thyme
- Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC, gas mark 3. Cut the beef into large cubes or slices.
- Melt the butter in a thick pan and add the oil. Fry the beef quickly on all sides; this may need to be done in batches. Remove from the pan and keep on one side.
- Reduce the heat and add the onions, cook until golden brown then stir in the garlic.
- Layer the beef and onions in a deep casserole, beginning with onions and finishing with meat. Season each layer lightly with salt and black pepper.
- Scrape up the juices in the pan, stir in the flour and sugar and cook to colour the roux. Stir in the stock a little at a time.
- Add the vinegar and wine. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
- Add the herbs and bay leaves and pour over the beef. Cover well with greaseproof paper and the lid of the pan and cook the beef gently for 2½ – 3 hours. The flavour of the stew is improved if it is made the day before it is required.
Thank you, Powder White, for this delicious recipe and incredible ski holiday.
Diots au Vin Blanc (In White Wine)
What is a Diots (dee-yo)? They are a traditional French ski food option easily found in supermarkets and restaurants in the French Alps, originating from the region of Savoy (La Savoie). These very meaty sausages are full of flavour and contain a coarse and fatty pork mince that has been seasoned with nutmeg.
This is where the flavour comes from! The traditional way of cooking them is in white wine, but they are also good roasted or grilled, in a casserole. I love to cook extra and have a cold in a sandwich on the mountain with salad, brie and Dijon mustard! Pulling this out at lunch definitely gets your ski buddies jealous.
Here is a classic Diots au Vin Blanc from my French Family Lola Cendar. Merci beaucoup!
Ingredients – Serves 4
- 8 Diots
- 2 onions [sliced]
- 1 bottle of white wine (€4-6)
- 2 garlic cloves [chopped]
- Large knob of unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons of flour [to thicken the sauce]
- 1 bay leaves [optional]
- With a knife, pierce the Doits a couple of times and grill. In a large casserole pot on a medium heat, add the butter, sliced onions and sauté until soft (7 minutes). Then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the flour to the onions and continue stirring for 1 minute, then add the wine stirring all the time until thoroughly mixed together until it becomes a thick sauce. Then add the Doits with the natural juices, seasoning and bay leaves. Cover with a lid to cook for 45 minutes on a low-medium heat.
- Serve up hot with creamy mashed potato and running beans (any green vegetable you like will do).
Local Bakery Lunch
Skiing isn’t a cheap holiday, to say the least, and you can’t always treat yourself to spending €15-20 each lunchtime on the mountain. So, I recommend heading down to the local bakery in the morning and pick up a hearty and filling baguette or what I am eating in this photo, a Feuilleté rapide jambon fromage! This will only cost you around €4-6 each time.
What a saving! But if you want to eat well on a budget, make your own lunches in your apartment. Here is a few baguette filler I have made in the past:
- Brie, cranberries and cooked ham or bacon
- Garlic cream cheese, salad, tomato and ham
- Goats cheese, rocket, honey and cured meat
- Chicken, pesto, dried tomatoes, rocket, red onion
- Butter, any local cheese, red onion and salad
On my ski season, I once spread leftover lasagne on a baguette, salad and it was… NAUGHTY! Use up the leftover, no waste in Biffen’s Kitchen.
Skis: Atomic Theory 2013, Jumper: Planks
Apple Tarte Tatin
This iconic French ski food dessert provides a dark and sticky caramel sweet apple topping with a crisp pastry. This goes perfectly with the French Onion Soup and you won’t be left with too much of a food baby and able to ski the rest of the afternoon. Tarte Tatin is easily made and here is a classic recipe from taste.com
Ingredients – Serves 4
- 300g all-butter puff pastry sheets
- plain flour, for dusting
- 6 dessert apple (about 900g)
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 85g unsalted butter (soft)
- High-quality vanilla ice cream, to serve
- Make sure the sheets are 3mm-thick and lightly prick the sheets with a fork. Then wrap in cling film on a baking sheet and freeze while preparing the apples.
- Heat oven to 180C. Peel, quarter and core the apples. Put the sugar in a 20cm ovenproof heavy-based frying pan and place over a medium-high heat. Cook the sugar for 5-7 mins to a dark amber caramel syrup that’s starting to smoke, then turn off the heat and stir in the 60g butter.
- To assemble the Tarte Tatin, arrange the apple quarters very tightly in a circle around the edge of the dish first, rounded-side down, then fill in the middle in a similar fashion. Gently press with your hands to ensure there are no gaps. Brush the fruit with the melted butter.
- Bake in the oven for 30 mins, then remove and place the disc of frozen puff pastry on top – it will quickly defrost. Tuck the edges down the inside of the dish and, with a knife, prick a few holes in the pastry to allow steam to escape. Bake for a further 40-45 mins until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.
- Allow to cool to room temperature for 1 hr before running a knife around the edge of the dish and inverting it onto a large serving plate that is deep enough to contain the juices. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Classic French Creme Brulee
This classic crème brûlée recipe from sbs.com is an easy French ski dessert to make when impressing friends. For me, it’s all about getting the crisp burnt sugar crust right, so when you dig that teaspoon in, it offloads that satisfying crunch!
- 300ml pure cream
- 200ml milk
- 2 vanilla beans, split lengthways, seeds scraped
- 100g egg yolks (from 5 eggs)
- 70g caster sugar
- 30g demerara sugar
- Preheat oven to 130°C.
- Place the cream, milk and vanilla seeds in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and remove from heat.
- Quickly whisk together the yolks and caster sugar in a large bowl until just combined. Pour the hot cream mixture over the top and whisk again until combined. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve then pour into four 180 ml ramekins.
- Cover with foil and bake the brûlées in a bain marie for 60 minutes or until set but with a slight wobble. Remove and rest for 20 minutes at room temperature before refrigerating for 4 hours or until cold.
- To serve, sprinkle each brûlée with demerara sugar and caramelise using a blowtorch.
That’s the end of my French ski food lunch menu; now it’s time to quench your thirst with a drink or two.
Vin chaud was where it all started and from there you have mulled wine and Glühwein. The idea is a simple concept of heated wine and infused with spices. At first, I was never a big fan back home in the UK but when you are in the French Alps and you need that warm pick me up, Vin Chaud hits the spot. Here is how you can make it at home or even on a self-catered ski holiday. TIP: bring the spices from home.
- 2 large piece of orange zest and the juice
- 1 bottle good red wine
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 4 small cinnamon sticks
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/3 cup good quality Cognac (optional)
Sometimes you want to stop for a quick drink in the sun but not wanting a full beer or wine… Demi-peche is just what you need! It combines French beer and a shot of peach syrup. Now then, back to the slopes!
This traditional herbal liqueur is made in France and refers to alpine plants of the genus Artemisia, also known as wormwood. This is what provides the liqueur’s flavour and the green colour. It’s like the Austrian version of Jagermeister; a herbal liquor originally used to treat colds, but now used more to get merry!
Now then. This is a contemporary drink that is very popular with seasonnaires. It starts with an empty pint glass, add half a bottle of white wine, and then a shot of any syrup you like (I go for the raspberry syrup).
Top it up with soda or lemonade and you have a rather lethal cocktail. Right, let’s go to Apres Ski!
This is my favourite for 2 reasons.
1. I love toffee
2. It was the mostly drank on my years as the committee president Brookes Snow Sports Society as we discovered how to make it back in Oxford! A perfect, subtle combination of creamy toffee against ice-cold vodka, what isn’t there to love!
Here is how I made my snowsport toffee vodka without spending 2 days shaking it like I saw online.
- 1L standard vodka
- 150g-200g bag of toffee (Werther’s Originals work very well too)
- Crush the toffee into small pieces or use a coffee grinder/food processor.
- Pour about a third the litre bottle into a sterilised empty bottle.
- Funnel the toffee into the bottle until full.
- Screw the lid on nice and tightly. Shake and put in the dishwasher on a high heat. 1 run through should do the trick, but sometimes it might need a second one.
- Once it has finished, pour the vodka through a sieve into a pouring jug. Then back in the bottle with a free pourer and BOSH! Drink Responsibly.
I hope you have become a little wiser with my personal experience in French ski food. If you are looking to ski in France, I highly recommend checking out Powder White if you want a Catered or Self-Catered French Chalet.
If you have any questions about Val d’Isere, Meribel, Val Thoren, Courchevel and Tignes, drop me a message. I have skied there for the past 6 years.
Wait, what about Austria Ski Food?