Behind the Scenes at La Folie Douce

Renowned for its epic après parties, electric live performances and impeccable service, La Folie Douce is a small but mighty collection of piste-side restaurants that represent the epitome of good-time skiing. If you’ve ever been to La Folie Douce, no doubt the image of VIP areas loaded with Champagne, DJs on balconies playing to packed out terraces and piste-side cabaret shows have sprung to mind already. But for those to whom the concept is new, you’re in for a treat.

And if you’re visiting the Portes du Soleil this winter, you’ll get to experience it in all its glory.

Created in Val d’Isere in 1981 by mother and son duo ‘Momone’ and Luc Reversade, La Folie Douce guests have been enjoying the proverbial high life for nearly thirty years, and the concept has cemented its reputation as one that brings quality, glam and colour to the après ski experience. And it’s not just about the parties. La Folie Douce prides itself on its fine dining menus and providing the best possible service; that’s no mean feat for a mountain restaurant. While La Folie Douce has been franchised to other carefully selected resorts in the French Alps, there remains only a handful, making the experience that much more unique and the resorts that home them that much more exciting.

So, why Avoriaz? As it happens, La Folie Douce didn’t choose Avoriaz; Avoriaz chose La Folie Douce. Joseph Lenvers is the owner of Le Chalet d’Avoriaz Chez Lenvers, the snack and après bar that has been entirely transformed to become La Folie Douce Avoriaz. Chez Lenvers was the first restaurant in Avoriaz when it opened in 1955. Back then Lenvers’ great great grandfather (also named Joseph) served wine and lemonade to walkers from his farm.

Two generations later, the humble Chez Lenvers had grown, along with the ski resort of Avoriaz, into a lively après ski snack bar. Working with La Folie Douce seemed like the perfect match. “We wanted to redo the chalet,” Monsieur Lenvers tells Source when we meet in October and La Folie Douce is still very much under construction. “And then we had the chance to meet with La Folie Douce. We got on well straight away, they were looking to establish a Folie Douce in the Portes du Soleil, and they decided to do it with us.”

The rest, as they say, is history. And for Joseph Lenvers, it is a new chapter in the Chez Lenvers story. His commitment to ensuring everyone has a good time makes him the perfect person to oversee the future of La Folie Douce Avoriaz. “We’ve always done après ski,” he says, “So really, we’re continuing to do what we’ve always done, with a professional passion and with a top establishment.”

Photo: Oliver Godbold

While Avoriaz is already world-famous as the first pedestrianised ski resort in France, the introduction of such a high profile and iconic establishment looks set to bring in lots of new visitors, as well as appease long-time Avoriaz fans. But will it change the image of resort as we know it? Lenvers doesn’t think so. “There are so many exciting new things happening in Avoriaz all the time. So many restaurants, so many things to do, this is just another one of those things,” he says, modestly.

But there’s a real sense of pride in the room as Lenvers explains why La Folie Douce is more than just your standard après bar. “There are lots of bars in Morzine and Avoriaz that offer après ski next to the pistes but with La Folie Douce, the concept is more thought out. The quality of the restaurant, the quality of the music, the performers, the quality of the design. There are no other restaurants like that. In this sense it’s totally unique.”

And while La Folie Douce is committed to providing the same quality and experience in each of its outlets, each one is also unique in its own way. La Folie Douce Avoriaz will be the first Folie Douce to remain open after the lifts have closed, with après ski parties running until 6:30pm, thanks to its unique location which makes it easily accessible on skis as well as on foot.

La Folie douce Avoriaz

Photo: Oliver Godbold

Like its counterparts across the Alps, La Folie Douce Avoiaz will be made up of a large terrace and a self-service restaurant, La Petite Cuisine, which is spread over two floors and allows guests to enjoy the entertainment whatever the weather. The focus will be on good-quality, locally sourced entertainment starting after lunch every day. Another key aspect of La Folie Douce is La Frutière, a more intimate, exclusive dining experience within the chalet that specialises in local delicacies. This fine dining restaurant will be open in the evenings for dinner, allowing guests to enjoy the more tranquil side of La Folie Douce after the craziness of the daily après party, and another exclusive benefit of being based in Avoriaz.

And what can we expect in terms of events and performances? Lenvers stresses he wants to keep events quite soft in this first year, sticking to a themed day once a week, a collaboration with Snowboxx Festival in March and of course, a special New Year party. But with access to the La Folie Douce’s fine collection of in-house musicians, DJs and performers, we’re predicting exciting and unique shows on a daily basis.

The main thing Joseph Lenvers and his team are hoping for however, is quality. “We want to do everything possible to help people have a special time at La Folie Douce,” he tells us. At the time of writing, the team is perfecting the menu with La Folie Douce’s head chef, Franck Mischler, as well as exploring options to get guests to and from Morzine in the evenings. And, of course, with Lenvers’ years of experience and the well-oiled machine of La Folie Douce behind him, we’re convinced it’s going to be a great first winter.

La Folie Douce Avoriaz is located at the top of the Plateau chairlift, opposite the Ecole button lift. It can be accessed from above via the Lindarets or Proclou chairlifts. If you’re staying in Morzine but want to make the most of the après parties, you can get back to town via the Prodains cable car and the A bus. Make sure you check the timetable because they are less frequent in the evenings!

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