James Blunt wants to be Swiss. Thoroughly British, he was born into a military family and trained as an officer at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England. He fell in love with the Swiss-French ski region of Verbier during his captainship of the British Army's Household Cavalry ski team. Not one for doing things by half, Blunt became the ski champion of the entire Royal Armoured Corps before leaving the Army in 2002 to work on his music career. He went on to sell 18 million records - including the smash hit You're Beautiful. A full-time resident of Verbier since 2007, he says he feels so at home there that every New Year's Eve he dresses up as a cow and runs around the village square. Whether that's enough to convince the Swiss to give him the red passport is another story. What's certain is that his entry into the local snow economy is melting the Swiss competition.
2,730m above sea level is high for a restaurant, even in the Swiss Alps. The view across the Croix de Couer down the valley to the internationally acclaimed ski village of Verbier is spectacular. The white caps of Mont Gelé tower above the restaurant and all around pristine slopes of fine powder ski wait for fans of steep downhill skiing from all around the world to carve it up. Each resort has its own identity – Verbier is the home of adrenaline-seekers. No wonder the British singer was able to join forces with international rugby star Lawrence Dallaglio, superbike racer Carl Fogarty and star chef Heston Blumenthal in opening a feel-good, look-good fuelling station.
La Vache has been a success. Decorated warmly in a modern alpine dairy style with a healthy portion of lounge vibe, it's a cool place to stop for lunch. The menu isn't very Swiss. Soup, salad, pizza, pasta and burgers at fair prices sounds like exactly what to expect from a bunch of British golden boys living it up on the slopes.
"When you've got your own ski lift, it's great to have your own restaurant to go with it, plus your own pizza on the menu," jokes James Blunt. The Blunt comes with tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, spicy beef, red onions and red chilli peppers and costs 24 francs. James won't make it himself, though. "I'm a terrible cook. I'm banned from the kitchen in my own restaurant".
Spending the long, cold months of last winter in his chalet seems to have paid off. James on his most recent album, Moon Landing: "It's a really beautiful sounding record, full of loneliness and longing. There's been a lot of love put into making it, and I couldn't be happier with how it sounds."
Photo of James Blunt copyright Melody Sky Photography