We woke to a beautiful dawn creeping over the snow-capped mountains, covering them with a rose pink glow, something I didn’t expect to be seeing again but so welcome. Sara went out for a walk and to get some milk, I went back into the bedroom we had randomly chosen where Roger was beginning to stir. We could actually enjoy the view of the lightening mountains from the bed, a rare occurrence as there would usually be people in the lounge across which our gaze was currently spanning.
After unloading the van, including a new 5 ring cooker, Sara took us into town to pick up the keys for our studio apartment. On the way we passed a van at the bottom of the steps to our old chalet, Breche, being emptied by a gaggle of youngsters in the SkiTotal jackets. It seemed very strange, as if we knew them, or at least, what their lives would be like for the next few months much better than they did. The temptation was to stop and greet them as if we were already acquainted which would have been a bit weird really.
We found the apartment block pretty much where we had identified on Google Earth and ascended the 3 flights of stairs – that’s not going to be fun once our legs start aching from being on them all day at work or on skis. The room faces north so sadly will get no sunshine but we can enjoy that at the chalet this year. We have a pull down double bed but with plenty of space available have opted to leave it down. The kitchen is bijou but I have used smaller and the bathroom is rather compact. Let’s just say that it is as well we have lost weight or may have struggled to get into the shower cubicle around the end of the vanity unit. We have a little breakfast bar to eat at and are able to get our legs underneath and are actually able to sit comfortably in the easy chairs both of which are improvements on last year.
The only real drawback was that there was no electricity but also we had forgotten to bring any cleaning products from the chalet. Our tasks for the day were due to be just sorting ourselves out, cleaning and unpacking and then being free until 9am the following day. Sara had a few jobs to do and left saying she would get in touch with EDF asap and that we should just go out in the meantime.
We wandered up into the bottom end of the town, the old part, where there seemed to be a hive of activity in the businesses with proprietors getting ready for the onslaught of the next few months when they need to try to make a year’s income. We climbed up the steps to Breche to see if our successors were coping with the idiosyncrasies of the old place but there was no sign of them, presumably they were at a training session at Chalet Philippe. We couldn’t avoid noticing the outside improvements where the mud and slush of melted snow combined with hot tub overflow in front of the door had been replaced with a large area of decking which will be much better. There was also a fancy new digital dishwasher, lucky things!
We decided to carry on up to the top of town to collect our lift passes from the ticket office at the bottom of the main lift area. Even this early in the season people were able to ski right down to this area, something for which last year’s guests had to wait until January. We popped our heads into one of the restaurants we had been recommended although not managed to enjoy last year. We were asking for menus to allow our guests to browse the options available on our day off each week however we seemed to be rather premature as they and others had not had them printed yet and didn’t really look terribly ready for the weekend, 5 days away, when our first guests arrive.
We started looking around for somewhere to lunch, thinking that our favourite crepperie was yet to open. Finding little success at the bottom of the slopes we started back down towards the town centre and made our way to Captain Sandwich, an establishment we only frequented at the end of the season but felt that we should have made the effort sooner. We knew the proprietors had been trying to sell the business for the previous 2 years so thought we’d pay them a visit only to be met with a French accent of ‘open tomorrow’. Asking for a menu from the young woman sat outside seemed to be beyond her language skills so her companion came over and translated for us as she was the English girl we’d met in the newsagent last year. Anyway it is under new ownership and so do not need to feel any obligation to go back and at this time, was all the excuse we needed to go back for a galette at the creperie which transpired to be open. Sitting in the sun with our demi-pichet of vin blanc enjoying jambon cru, fromage pancakes was rather superb, particularly as we had no work to go back to for the first time.
There seemed little point in going back to our flat as Sara had not had any luck thus far with EDF and we had no cleaning stuff so we headed back down to the chalet, stopping off at Geneppi to see if their menus were ready. This place had a reputation last year for excellent food and atrocious service. The owner invited us in for a glass of wine whilst he explained what he could do for our guests, including picking them up, but hadn’t got any menus yet, we’ll have to visit again next week! We continued our way down to the chalet and had to endure a coffee in the sunshine on the balcony. Slightly at a loose end we ended up doing some cleaning and organising bits and pieces. We had studied the timetable of the very limited free bus service, it does improve, so were awaiting a ride back up the hill when Sara called to tell us that an electrician was on their way so we needed to get back to let him in. We grabbed our coats and started ‘trotting’ back up the hill and were fortunate enough to be picked up by her before going too far or getting too puffed out. We reached the apartment first and found the master switch hidden behind the fuse box! Ooops! But in our rush had come out without cleaning stuff again! Sara took us up to the Spar to get some emergency provisions for that evening as she hadn’t had time to do the shopping and despite our protestations, funded our little treats we had fully expected to pay for.
She dropped us off and went back to collect our cleaning stuff and brought it back up. The difference in altitude between our 2 places makes the back and forth trips much more significant than their mere distance would imply. I waited down at the entrance off the road to save her having to drive round the back of 2 blocks and turn around in very limited space. Standing outside in a warm shirt and jeans, the former which had to be discarded at lunchtime, was inadequate now that the sun had disappeared behind the hill, the temperature was dropping by the minute. I had to run in to get my coat which, after ascending and descending the 3 flights, I no longer needed but I was lovely and warm.
We set to cleaning just accumulated grime from being empty for some time before unpacking and finding homes for our meagre belongings; there is certainly plenty of cupboard space and we have a ski locker downstairs as well as a post box in the foyer. Unfortunately no-one seems to have the keys for either of these so are unusable as yet.