Less than a two hour drive from Monaco and its blue Mediterranean waves, lies ski resort Isola 2000. It might not be the most exciting, glittery or spectacular of resorts, but what it lacks in charm it makes up with its accessible location and scenic surroundings.In terms of snow, its altitude ensures it’s snowsure. Storms rolling in off the Mediterranean actually hit here first, meaning the resort often benefits from heavy snow. But let’s be completely honest – you don’t come here because it’s thebest place to ski, eat, or party. You come here because it’s a two hour drive from your seaside home in Monaco, Roquebrune, or Nice, and because it is a safe weekend bet for some sunny slopes.
We headed up to Isola 2000 in early December, having just returned to the Cote d’Azur not being able to shake the itch for some snow before going back to working from home. Leaving in the morning, our drive is a beautiful one that winds up through the steep river gorges of the Maritime Alps. If you have the time, there’s plenty of worthwhile places to stop, from the Verdon and Cians gorges, to the spectacular fortress towns such as Entrevaux. As this is our third visit we decide to skip the deviations and instead aim for some good food enroute.
We stop for lunch at Auberge le Robur, the area’s very own one-star Michelin restaurant, located 1100 metres above the sea and well worth the climb. From here, the view of the valley is superb and the food is full of flavour, featuring fine seasonal produce with a creative and enthusiastic twist. If you’re hungry (or leave Monaco later than us) and need to make an earlier pitstop there’s always Cassini, the little inn which has been run for over 80 years by four generations of the Cassini family – always managing to serve great food.
After checking into Pierre & Vacances Residence (which is fine, and there isn’t much choice to be fair) we hit the slopes a few times in the warming afternoon sun. For restaurants at the resort itself, there isn’t an abundance of great places to eat so don’t expect too much. However, L’avalanche serve good pizza and has a nice outdoor terrace which is perfect for a hot chocolate or beer.
After two days of sunny skiing, we’re equally parts tired and happy, and decide to head back to Monte Carlo. As we sit down at Beef Bar for our last Sunday dinner before work kicks off, we look out over the Mediterranean sea – thinking about how we were hitting the slopes just hours ago.