Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Les Lapins ski dans France (Ski Bunnies in France)

Our 5 day holiday, with four full days of skiing, started with us flying into Lyon, late on Thursday and from there bussing it to Bride des Bains at the base of the Alps . It’s a lovely quaint spa town, about a 20 minute gondola ride to the slopes of Meribel where we skied.
Our lovely hotel in the heart of Brides Les Bains...Brides.

Meribel is in the heart of the three valleys, so between Courcheval and Val Thorens ski resorts. We had really good snow, as it snowed before we arrived and then it snowed more during the trip. Our hotel was ok for European standards (2 star), so single beds pushed together for a double, a bit old (even felt like I should get out the feather duster), but quaint with lots of old fashioned ski decorations.

End of the first day, snow and sun!

Our room itself was quite small, but the bed was comfy (well mine was - note above re-single beds), the food was lovely French family style food, and the shower was decent and hot. The most important things covered so all good there. Oh and it was right near the gondola, about oh a 2 minute walk and the ski hire shop so ... perfect.
Me in Brides near the river, the heated river - people take the waters...mmmm Magnesium yummy! Not!

We were a bit sketchy on the first day; after all I had been over a year ago since I last skied (2 years for Mark) and its hard anyway getting used to wearing the boots, walking in them and getting used to skiing in them. Overall though was good and the runs were quite challenging, on blue. Italy was like that for red runs.
Us up near Val Thorens side...above the clouds....excited...very.

Up the gondola on day 1...sun...snow....

We ended up deciding that blue was easy.....for a seasoned skier, blue did not mean beginner...not at all. We were also lucky because we had fairly much lots of snow and plenty of cloud cover (despite sunscreen my nose still got burnt a tiny bit) it makes for good skiing as the snow stays powdery and doesn't melt with the sun and go all icy by the afternoon. Though I find the late afternoon slush just awful to ski on too. I can but it’s like skiing in jelly and custard, ukkky.
After a night of snow!

On our second day we had a private lesson just to help on technique, the instructor was happy with my skiing and said Mark was improving well. The snow that day was just amazing, seriously snow flakes the size of 20c pieces, and it was getting very heavy. So we stayed on in Meribel the rest of that day and went back to Bride for a couple of apr├Ęs ski drinks before dinner at a cute little pub (which is what we ended up doing every night).
Low clouds, means blind skiing

On the third day we were told the clouds were supposed to be clearing so we skied over to Courcheval for a change, which is a bit higher at 2,700m, which we found a bit easier, but alas less challenging, far to many blue runs that merged into greens and lots of people – very busy and expensive too.
Skiing to Courcheval

The popular Grand Marnier crepe house, well are in France

Courcheval is popular with the Russians, so they make it expensive because apparently they all have lots of money. However, whilst it was clearing up marginally some parts the cloud cover was quite intense and we had to ski blind in some spots (you can only see the poles on the side.....) so not as fun. I nearly found myself on a black run at one point. I could have done it but it would have been a slow ride, that and lonely as noone seemed to go down them from what we could see from the lifts.

Mark on top of the world!!

The last day was nearly foggy/cloudy as well but we got above the clouds on the other side of Meribel to the Val Thorens side, where it was 2,400m at the junction, (though its 2,700m, in the town Val Thorens, so the ski runs are higher again) and the clouds were just in the valley, so we were quite literally on top of the world. Again incredible! We got a couple of snaps up there.
The real professionals - the British Land skiers...

There were some great runs over that side of Meribel and as it was our last day, it was getting to be quite a lot of fun and becoming really easy, well I found it so. I was eyeing off some red runs and given another day I would have been on them. We even skied a bit on the slalom slopes that crossed the normal runs that were set up for the British land titles that had started on the Sunday (its open between practice runs), though I can assure you those professionals get down them damn fast!
Last lunch on day 4 of skiing!

It was a lovely break and I really really love to ski, its hard work the gear the lugging and not to mention expensive, but when you get your body settled, your boots comfy, and get down the runs with ease its just great. I also liked that it was in France, one of my favourite countries and I got a chance to try speak a bit of French.
View from the Val Thorens side of Meribel

I did take a few photos but not lots as its only 4 days of skiing and I did not want to risk taking my expensive gear in a backpack up the mountain in lots of snow (or with risk of landing on it). If we had longer we could have taken a day off skiing for just sight seeing.

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