Rapael Derly, owner of one of Aspen’s most popular restaurants, La Crêperie du Village, believes the Colorado town nestled in the Rocky Mountains offers the best of two worlds: spectacular outdoor recreation and scenery plus cultural attractions that rival cosmopolitan capitals. Almost any day of the year, Derly can escape to one of many nearby hiking, mountain biking, and ski trails to enjoy alpine beauty, solitude, and exercise. Or he can stay in town and hit Aspen’s top-notch restaurants, galleries, and shops.
The beauty of Aspen’s four nearby mountains coupled with a passion for the “mountain lifestyle” convinced Derly to trade Los Angeles and Pastis, the successful bistro and celebrity hotspot he owned there for 15 years, for this alpine paradise. To the former competitive skier who grew up in Aix-en-Provence, France, and regularly visited his family’s Swiss ski chalet, Aspen represents home. His French alpine bistro, opened in 2011, is a rustic, cozy, funky blend where fondues, truffles, and crepes are menu staples and quotes from Red Hot Chili Peppers songs adorn the walls. “I love Aspen because it has so much to offer,” Derly says.
—By Greg Dutter
“If you want to be rock ‘n’ roll, we have a lot of happening restaurants, art galleries, fancy hotels, private jets, and rooftop bars. But you can also do the down-to-earth, mountain-lifestyle scene,” Derly says. “The hiking and ski trails are endless. There are beautiful lakes and rivers for paddle boating and rafting. Even in the high season, you can find good restaurants that aren’t very expensive where you can enjoy a nice glass of wine by a fireplace with friends after a day of skiing.”
“One of my favorite restaurants, especially in the winter, is Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro (76 Boomerang Rd., 970.923.8715). It’s an old converted ski patrol shack atop Aspen Highlands. The location is fantastic, it has a great European vibe and food, and it’s a real party place where people dance on the tables. I also love Cache Cache, a French-American restaurant with extremely good food.”
Drink It In
“Local Coffee House (614 E. Cooper Ave., 970.429.4026) offers amazing pastries in the morning and fresh quiche for lunch. Campo de Fiori is a great Italian restaurant that has a lounge with a deejay on the top floor. I like to go there for a late glass of wine.”
“Performance Ski is a ski shop, but you can also find cool jeans, leather jackets, and cowboy hats. Kemo Sabe is another favorite shop of mine that sells lots of leather belts and cool cowboy boots. There are also plenty of designer boutiques, like Louis Vuitton (205 S. Mill St., 970.544.8200), Gucci (203 S. Galena St., 970.920.9150), and Prada (312 S. Galena St., 970.925.7001).”
Let’s Do This
Derly’s recommendations for visitors are: “Hike the Highland Bowl atop Aspen Highlands. When I tell my staff I’m ‘at the office,’ they know that’s where I am. Order a black-truffle cheese fondue at my restaurant, La Crêperie du Village (400 E. Hopkins Ave., 970.925.1566). Hike the Maroon Bells trails, among our most popular and beautiful sights. When everything is blooming and the mountain tops are capped with snow—green on the bottom, white on top—that says home to me.”