Picture this: you’re having amazing raclette while a ballet of snowflakes twirls around you like crazy, your head protected by a straw sunhat that looks like it once belonged to the empress Sissi. Like what you’re seeing? Off to Pépé Nicolas!
Les Trois Vallées has its fair share of amazing restaurants, but none is so lovely as Pépé Nicholas, located just underneath Val Thorens. The family-run dairy farm has operated since 1957 under the helm of “Pépé” Nicolas Jay, who used to bring over his entire family to the mountain shed every summer to herd cows and goats and produce cheese. After his passing, the old barn stayed in the family and provided many a fantastic summer holiday, even though there was no electricity or running water.
Then one day, his grandchildren decided to turn it into a restaurant. The place was decorated with vintage finds and funny details (what about a chandelier made of milk bottles?) and serves great food in the Alpine tradition –the planches apéritives are divine. In summer, it’s still a functioning farm and visitors can join its daily activities (a great idea with kids!), like tending to the goats, rabbits and dogs. There is also a flourishing botanical garden.
In winter it is mainly a restaurant, that has all the difficulties in the world getting people to leave its panoramic terrace and inviting atmosphere after a great meal… The fact that you get to wear funny hats to shield you against sun or snow isn’t helping either. Not the best skier? No worries, the farm is a short walk distance from the road. I went there at midday, in the evening, on a date, with big groups, during blizzards and on very sunny afternoons alike and it never disappointed. By far my favorite address in the Alps!