18 May 2016

First Visit To the Continent: Skiing In France

When Pat and I started talking about relocating to Scotland, one of the biggest selling points for me was the ease of European travel.  So, when her brother invited us to join him and his wife on a trip to one of their favorite places for an end-of-the-season ski holiday at a bargain price, we quickly said "yes!"  Pat had been on skis once in her teens and I had never skied, but we were certainly willing to give it a try.  Even if we did not like it, we would be in the French Alps, knowing we could find something to do!  And eat!  And drink!

We flew from Edinburgh to Geneva, Switzerland. As we approached the Geneva airport, I was struck dumb by the view from my window. It was truly awesome seeing the mountains coming all the way down to enormous Lake Geneva. Despite what we would see later in the week, I think this view will stay with me the longest. Unfortunately, my photo below does no justice to this stunning sight.

On the ground, we picked up our rental car--back on the right-hand side of the road! We soon entered France on our way to La Tania. It was a beautiful day for a drive.

The beautiful town of Annecy, France

Lac d'Annecy

The view from our apartment, upon arrival

Our first full day in France was mostly relaxing with a little exploring.  We did make a plan for getting our skis the following day though.

Ready to go!
The nursery slope, where it all began...

The weather did not look like this all day.  After practicing on the nursery slope, we ventured up the mountain to a so-called green run, Verdons.  (The ski slopes--pistes--are rated, easiest to hardest: green, blue, red, black.)  The beginning was very steep, at least for the two of us on our first day.  For added difficulty, we had nearly white-out conditions for a while.  It was not pretty.

The following day was absolutely gorgeous!  Warm, sunny, barely a cloud in the sky, skiing with no jackets.  As impressive as the photos might be, I failed to capture the stunning sights of the day--truly awe-inspiring.

Mont Blanc in the distance

Waiting for...

...our ride.

Picture perfect

Gaining perspective, seeing villages in the valley.

Apres ski at the top

We're skiers!
After our long day of skiing at Courchevel, we drove to nearby Meribel for dinner, followed by a lakeside stroll.

En route to Meribel

Pizza! With stinky cheese.

I twisted my knee, falling my first day on skis and Pat was quite sore after two days on the slopes, so we were due for a rest day.  I went for a solo hike from our apartment in the afternoon.  La Tania was closed; most of the snow was gone.  So, I headed up the green slope.

We did make it our for a short practice session later

We had started each day with a few runs on the nursery slope to practice.  The morning after our rest day, I did one run and was ready to ski with the big kids.  I was hooked.  I did several runs on my own and I even conquered Verdons!  Several times, in fact!  Don't get me wrong, I rarely ventured off the greens and it was very quiet, but I was feeling like a skier.

I can still taste this ham and cheese baguette...

Chocolat chaud viennois, mmm...

Riding the bubble up the mountain for another run.

Our last full day was great.  I skied a lot; one run after another.  I had another baguette.  It was a beautiful day.  It certainly felt like the last week of the ski season though.  The slopes and cafes were even less busy than earlier in the week.  The snow was receding and getting dirtier.

I skied a red!! ;)

Tired and happy

I found the quintessence!

The morning we drove back to Geneva was not as beautiful as on our day of arrival, but the views were remarkable nonetheless, just different.

Quick stop at McDonald's en route.
I did not get the Royal Cheese a la "Pulp Fiction." Just coffee.

It was an incredible trip!  I cannot wait to go back, to Europe, to France, skiing--all of it!

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