6. Early season skiing

Although I had vowed to not bother skiing until the snow came down to us we couldn’t resist having a couple of little sessions whilst the slopes were quiet. Once we had walked up the road to the yoghurt pots, which carried us past Breche, we enjoyed luxury private skiing. There were no queues anywhere on our first visit and we didn’t even need to share cabins with anyone else. Our second excursion on Monday proved a little busier but not to a level about which one could complain. The snow upward from the main lift bases was beautiful provided we were just a little careful with our routes. A run from last year, which I had declared to be my least favourite, was even quite manageable by early afternoon when the sun just touched it to soften the icy north-facing surface. We had that to ourselves which is just as well as it is particularly difficult to avoid human obstacles on a frozen piste.

ADH from top of Signal

ADH from top of Signal

We completed the Sarenne, the signature piste, on Monday as over the summer snow cannons had been erected all along the lower 4km. However, ‘completed’ may be an over-statement because although we could ski the bottom section, we couldn’t actually get to the top for the initial 800yds of true black piste as that final lift wasn’t operating. Last year we had to get onto this run early as it was so popular with all visitors that it became chewed up quickly. We arrived at the highest point about midday and had a wonderful cruise down with hardly anyone for company and beautiful conditions under foot.

We could leave our skis at the chalet as once there is a decent cover we could just jump on a piste at either end of the road and ski down to pick up the cabins from Huez village. The red (harder) run is downhill from the chalet so that would be a definite preference but unfortunately doesn’t have snow canons so wont be open for as long as the blue at the other end which is slightly further but also a bit of an incline. I’m fairly sure we won’t be doing that but our guests may have to if they don’t want to bother with the bus. The full service, including night bus, commences this weekend and we are looking forward to increased flexibility and reduced cardiac exertions!

IMAG2343There is a chair lift from just above our apartment, as the photo illustrates. This is taken from our room window and is our view. The chair hasn’t started working yet but will do once the snow gets down here, at which point we’ll be able to ski right back down to our building. This lift takes us to the top of Signal, one of our favourite respite stations from last year, but unfortunately, they have increased their prices for 2 chocolate chauds et frites by almost 25%! Despite having our first serving for free when we enquired about menus for our guests on our day off and being recognised by Luige from last season, we may not pop in quite so frequently.

View from and at Signal

Top of ‘our’ chairlift (will be)

Le Spot, our other favourite mountain sustenance provider, has yet to open as it is fairly low and sheltered by rocky outcrops which have little snow on them, exposing them for what they really are, although well concealed all last year. We have been visiting other eating establishments to collect more menus for our guests and were invited for a ‘tasting’ on Tuesday evening. We were unsure quite what to expect and were not disappointed! On arrival we were given a bottle of red wine and then served with a starter of calamari and another delicately flavoured fish dish. We ate half each and then swapped plates. This was followed by lamb chops and duck; both beautifully cooked and accompanied which followed the same route as the first course. Ben, the waiter we had been talking to, then poured 2 generous measures of genepi, the local spirit/liqueur. It was never going to be difficult to recommend this place but this gastronomic bribery sealed the deal so we booked it for 2 of our guests for our night off. It transpired to be Tina’s birthday that day and she and Terry very kindly invited us to join them there for a meal the following night when we all enjoyed the special of black boar. It was a pleasure to be able to sit down with them as they are very interesting people but conversations in the chalet tend to be snatched and abridged whilst working.     

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