We had some glorious weather last week, it even tempted us out on to the slopes 3 times. On our ‘rest’ day in between skiing, we even walked to one of the beautiful mountain restaurants. The resort has quietened down considerably, awaiting the final surge of the Easter break. The only real problem is that the temperatures were far too high, even in the shade. I don’t think any of the nights dipped below zero degrees and during the day, in the sun, it must have been hitting the 20s. This resulted in some significant slush at lower levels by early afternoon so our midday skiing programme worked quite well. The only drawback was that we tended to go over the back of the resort to ski, where the sun reaches the slopes later, but does mean that we have a bit of a trek coming back home via the south facing pistes. These had been basking in sunshine since 9am and were distinctly churned up, consequently, pretty hard work on the old legs! But we’re not complaining. Just those 2-3 hours is about the right length of time for us, particularly if carried out 2-3 times a week. Translate that in to time spent running or cycling and we are exercising quite hard, oh, and its at altitude!
Our walk was not too strenuous. We did use the ski lift for the first section but the walk of about 1km was undulating with soft snow underfoot making the going fairly arduous despite the limited distance. We had tried to book but only got a French answering machine. My spoken French isn’t too bad however, my comprehension is pretty dire and over the phone it is almost non-existent. As the place was quieter we decided to take the risk and just turn up. It appeared that everyone else had booked as it was full on the terrace when we arrived. Despite the cooking over the open wood-fired oven inside, we didn’t want to sit at one of those many vacant tables. Our only option was to have a drink in one of the deckchairs on the snow outside the terrace and wait.
We chose a pair which faced the terrace so we could monitor what was going on, feeling reasonably sure that we were going to be forgotten as no name had been taken and no suggestion of how long we would have to wait was forthcoming. We had our backs to the sun which was no actual hardship for a while. Our faces and those of our colleagues, even the guests last week, are suddenly becoming very tanned, goggle and sunglass lines dominating those of seasonnaires. We were just considering an optimistic second drink or resigned departure when the young waitress stood at the top of the steps shouting for the ‘2 Eeenglish’. Yes, we were the only non-French people there.
We enjoyed delectable mixed grills, Roger’s with dauphinoise and mine with chips. Well, Roger did. I just got a portion of chips! Something certainly got lost in the translation of ‘deux’ and ‘pour deux’ i.e. to share. Once the confusion was cleared up I received mine, with dauphinoise as well, from the waitress who had remembered us for the table so we didn’t mind. The protraction just meant that we had to spend longer there and have another carafe of wine, hey-ho!
The return walk did seem longer but that was probably due to the snow being even softer under foot (nothing to do with the wine!) and had taken on the beautiful pearlescent sheen we remembered from the spring melt last year. Fortunately this was our day off so we didn’t have to drag ourselves back to the chalet for evening service.
Our next skiing excursion took us back over to the new favourite black run as it is not icy in these conditions. Being on a north facing slope it was a skating rink from top to bottom the first time we tried it but now it is super and very quiet over lunchtime.
It had the misfortune to end at a really slow cronky old gondola which has to be taken across the valley to meet up with the main cabin back up to this back side of the resort. After having skied this 5km run without stopping it can be rather nice to have a bit of break in the lifts, unfortunately these two are standing only but you can’t have everything. These lifts carry us over the trees between which the snow is melting rapidly, exposing huge clumps of primroses and tasty fresh green shoots. The latter proving very tempting to the chamois, of which we have now seen quite a few. These seem to be a cross between a mountain goat and sheep but is actually part of the antelope genus. We have yet to see any marmottes this year, having only seen them at the end of our first season (similar to ground-hogs) and are local celebrities with a major lift system named after it and is used as an emblem for everything.