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The Basics of Après-Ski

September 30, 2023
Have you heard the phrase “Après-Ski” before? It's French for “After skiing,” referring to the activities people do after skiing down the slopes of the world's most popular ski resort towns. It's mostly attributed to the jet-set crowd of the mid-20th century who made it fashionable to go on a ski holiday in rural mountain towns. And while other people can now experience Après-Ski themselves, it remains a luxurious activity nonetheless. So what is Après-Ski? What does it consist of? Well, there's a lot of eating, drinking, and having a blast!

The Basics of Après-Ski

What Does “Après-Ski” Mean?

As already mentioned, “Après-Ski” means “after skiing” in French, referring to the activities those on a ski holiday participate in. Back in the day, and still sort of applies today, going on a ski holiday is as much a social event as it is a vacation. When the rich and famous would escape to Aspen, Chamonix, or Zermatt, they know that their fellow socialites would be there too. As such, they would plan soirees, parties, galas, and more, making it akin to the social season in Regency UK. And yes, many of the elites still treat their ski holidays this way too.

Where and When Did The Term Start?

The term was popularized in the Swiss or French Alps in the 1950s, a time when socialites set trends and precedents on the “proper” ways to luxuriate and go on vacation. Summers are spent in the Mediterranean while winters are enjoyed in the Alps. As commercial skiing became a common practice among the world's elites, Après-Ski became the way to socialize even in these small towns. At times, they'd set up events in famous restaurants. Other times, they'll invite their friends for drinks and game nights in their luxury chalets.

The Basics of Après-Ski

Where Do You Do Après-Ski?

Speaking of the French or Swiss Alps, these rural towns were the common destinations for Après-Ski when it first emerged in the mid-20th-century. For one thing, these places had luxury ski resorts and the sweeping landscapes were absolute must-sees. At the same time, these were the nearest ski slopes to where these elites lived, which were usually in Paris, Rome, London, and more. In the US, Aspen or Vail in Colorado became the go-to destinations for Après-Ski. Though they did not have the amount of glamour and prestige that their European counterparts had, they eventually became popular ski holiday spots nonetheless.

What are The Customs of Après-Ski?

Truth be told, there was never really a strict set of customs for Après-Ski. There are, however common activities that the socialites participated in depending on where they spent their ski holidays. In the European Alps, for example, people ate cheese fondue and drank mulled wine alongside their bowls of caviar and sparkling bottles of champagne. The Italian Alps specifically, on the other hand, had people enjoying lunch for up to two hours, commonly in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Perhaps the most unique is in Japan, wherein people would usually end their days with a dip in the natural hot springs.

The Basics of Après-Ski

What Do You Wear to Après-Ski?

Fortunately for today's vacationers, the unofficial dress code for Après-Ski has loosened up a lot. Like customs, there was never a strict set of rules in terms of dressing for Après-Ski, but back then, those who could afford to go on a ski holiday usually wore haute couture or custom-made clothes. Even their ski gear had to be more fashionable than functional. Today, it's the other way around. Not only is it more important to wear proper ski gear on the slopes, but overdressing on your ski holiday is a lot more taboo nowadays too.

Can You Participate in Après-Ski?

Yes, today you can! Although no one was ever barred from participating in Après-Ski in the 50s and 60s, the scene was dominated by society's elite. In a perfect world, someone from middle-class America could have socialized and blended in among the European jet-set crowd. Unfortunately, such wasn't the case back then. Even today, celebrities mostly participate in Après-Ski with fellow celebrities, but that doesn't mean that you couldn't go on a ski holiday yourself. If you can afford to, you can just as easily get into the high-class ski resorts where you might bump into a movie actress or a pop star.

The Basics of Après-Ski

Where are The Best Places to Do Après-Ski?

Back in the day, the European Alps were the ultimate Après-Ski destinations. Be it Morzine in the French countryside or Montreux in the Swiss Alps, these were where the rich and famous went on their ski holidays. They're still the go-to spots for Après-Ski today, but there are a lot more options too. There's Aspen, Vail, and Park City in the US, for example, which are all exciting in their own right. Niseko, Japan is another popular place, especially since it brings a new facet to Après-Ski that you won't find in the Western Hemisphere.

Is Après-Ski Expensive?

The answer to this is a lot more complicated than you might think. An archetypal Après-Ski experience is expensive, filled with glasses of champagne, staying in luxury chalets, and eating in Michelin-starred hotspots. It's not uncommon to bump into celebrities along the way too. And to get into all of this, you have to spend a lot of money. Money you can also save by simply heading to the nearest pub and sharing a drink with friends. These days, something as simple and humble as this is as much Après-Ski as all the others.

The Basics of Après-Ski

Do you know what “Après-Ski” is all about? When you go on a ski holiday, you'll encounter this term a lot. It's better to learn more about it before you get to our trip so that you'll know what to do!

#apres-ski   #things-to-do   



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