The My Tracks data (when I managed to turn GPS on on the phone!) can be found here.
Pictures here are licensed under a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution license.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Day 24: Tignes, La Daille

Out today with the Bonjour ski guiding. The guide, Ben, is fast, but, as ever with a group of 11 people there's a degree of waiting around, and runs getting split into small sections. Up and down working our way around Tignes from the top of the lift from Les Brevieres in cloudy and grey conditions, including a run down the "Guerlain Chicheritt" Black run from the "Cold des Ves" lift, which is apparently rarely open. Moguls, but not too bad. Down to Val Claret and up and down to Lavachet for lunch. The big wall down into Tignes is now heavily pisted; I remember it as being all moguls back in the eighties...

After lunch the sun came out (and sunny weather is forecast through Sunday, with only a few clouds out until Wednesday week, so those coming on Sunday to La Rosiere should be prepared for no snow, and sunny weather). Up and down to Val Claret then over to La Daille, where I had the best fall of the holiday yet: I found some ice on a fairly steep section down through the woods to La Daille, fell, and slid "75-100m" according to witnesses. Though they also said "it was a pretty uninteresting slide". No skis came off, though, and only my pride was injured. Back up and down to Tignes Le Lac, then up and back to Les Brevieres, down a very icy red run.

Few pictures today, since there was no time to stop and take them (despite the stats showing a relatively short and slow day), but, jut for "The Editor" :
Cloud on Mont Blanc from run down to Les Brevieres

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Day 23: Champagny and on to Tignes

I left Meribel about 9:30 , and drove to Champagny. Apart from a slight detour through the centre of Brides Les Bains, which was clearly unnecessary, I got to Champagny about 10am and parked at the very top of the car park, by the lift. As I was adding skiing outer layers Manissa and Dave appeared from the lift. Up to  the lift office to get a day pass (and recover the Euro 3 deposit on my old pass), and chat to some Canadians in the queue ("What European countries don't have mountains or ski resorts?").
Up from Champagny (which looks barer than a few weeks ago; where's the snow?), and then down into La Plagne, and up onto the glacier, then back down to meet one of Manissa et al's colleagues for lunch, and to swap books.
The best omelette yet for lunch, "Omelette au Beaufort". Up and down a load of runs in La Plagne, which wasn't too icy, then back to Champagny, and after goodbyes, a drive down to Moutiers, then back up to Bourg and on to Tignes Les Brevieres. As ever, behind a bus coming up. (I must do the maths to demonstrate why this always happens!)
Arrived in Les Brevieres about 6pm, and found the "chalet", which is really more of a chalet hotel. Numbered rooms with keys, and a capacity of ~40 at a guess. Seems friendly enough, and food is good. They claim that the pistes in Tignes and around are in good condition. Tomorrow we will see.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Day 22: Meribel, Courchevel

Over to Courchevel in sunshine this morning in the hope of finding good snow there. This actually turned out to be a fulfilled hope.
~270degree panorama from Creux Noirs. Saulire in the centre (ignore the giant safety poles in Meribel!)
Up to Creux Noirs on the usual basis of "here's a lift I haven't taken yet", and a good run down to Suisses, then up and down the Suisses black run a few times since it was so nice. Down to the Altiport since there was a queue at Suisses. They were actually playing polo. To end the morning back down to Chaudanne in Meribel for lunch and to meet Mary to ski the afternoon.
We went up both Tougnette lifts and had a good run down before deciding to go back to Courchevel since Mary hadn't found the Suisses run yet. Skiing with Mary makes me realise I should put in many more turns! A few more runs around Suisses and Turcs (which is mostly the same run), then back to Meribel for tea.
Peter, Jen, Sophia, Jim, Joanna

An excellent day to finish a pleasant week in the 3Vallees (which have been teaching me to keep my legs apart by throwing in some ice here and there to make things "interesting"). Tomorrow to Champagny for the day to ski with Manissa and friends for the day, then on to Tignes for next week.
Chalet host Mary drinking Irish coffee

Friday, 28 January 2011

Day 21: Meribel, Courchevel, Les Menuires

A day under high cloud, so flat light. The meteo claimed the high cloud would clear at lunchtime, but if anything it got worse. Over to Courchevel with Jen and Soph(ia) who competently handled the red runs we found.
Panorama from Saulire looking including our favourite mountain.
We found the most expensive coffee yet (Euro 4.50 for an espresso), the fact that it was in Courchevel, and next to a Polo pitch should have been a giveaway. The people arriving seemed to be Camilla clones...
Panorama at the top of La Vizelle
At the top of La Vizelle we came across The Thinker. Maybe he's considering whether he can afford a coffee.
Soph and Jen were meeting some friends who'd been in ski school for lunch at noon in Meribel, so we headed back, and I carried on to Les Menuires, where I could hear the dessert du jour calling to me form La Marmite de Geant.
Dessert du Jour
The dessert du jour cost Euro 3.50 (though I think it should have been 4.90), but still, a much better deal than Courchevel.

Up to La Messe, but it was a bit icy and flat.
Panorama from Masses looking NE (ish)
Back down to Les Menuires, and back via Mottaret and Saulire for tea in the chalet.

Panorama from Masses looking SW(ish)
Les Menuires emblem at the top of Masses

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Day20: Meribel, Les Menuires, Val Thorens

A similar day to yesterday, though the sky was hazy today (but no snow in sight). Up and down a slightly different set of lifts and runs,  as usual taking the wrong lifts on a few occasions on the basis of "here's a lift I wonder where it goes" without looking at the piste map.

Pointless signs!?
This approach did find these wonderful signs next to a drag lift, though!

On Portette I fell over, for the first time this week. Rats. Finally I got up to the top of the Col (one of the slowest chair lifts in the world AFAICT) by the Glacier de Thorens at 3130m. Here's a panorama (for the Editor's benefit looking south, so not including Mont Blanc). This was stitched together in no time by the wonderful Hugin open source stitching software. Throw in three photos, ask its expert to stitch them, and out comes a panorama!
Panorama looking south from "Col" over the glacier.
By now, though, I could here the cries of the "Tarte Tatin fabrication maison" that I didn't have on Tuesday, so down to Les Menuires and La Marmite de Geant.
Tarte Tatin at La Marmite de Geant
The tarte tatin wasn't dessert du jour today, but it seemed a good choice. Indeed, there was a chap at the next table who'd just finished eating his dessert du jour (fromage frais au coulis), but, when he saw my tarte tatin he ordered one too!
Back to Meribel without going via Mottaret just in time to hear them announcing the final results of the Europa cup slalom.

Meribel with that mountain behind it
Up on Saulire and so home by 4pm. This seemed like a shorter day than yesterday, but My Tracks reckons yesterday was 6:15:52 and today 6:15:23, and that I was moving longer today, which seems unlikely since I stopped for lunch today but didn't yesterday. I think it's the teleportation yesterday that confuses it!
Jim at 3 Marches (2704m)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Day 19: Meribel, Les Menuires, Val Thorens

First the news from last night. Meribel beat Courchevel 9-4 in the ice-hockey. An enthusiastic crowd of somewhat less than 100 people watched the match. A lot of the support was in English. The choice of music (which appeared at every break in play) was slightly weird. I wasn't expecting "Mrs Robinson". For some reason I hadn't worked out that an ice rink might be a cold place, so despite all my outside clothing I was cold by the end of the event. The driver of the ice resurfacing machine got a big cheer when he ran out of water half way through the job. One of the Meribel players was sin-binned for obstruction. It looked exactly the same as the rest of the play to me.

Bottom of Europa Cup course
I was woken by a big crash at 8am, which turned out to be the weird triangular window in my room falling open. That may explain why I was so cold!

The Europa Cup  is in town, with three races. There was an Austrian standing on a balcony above where I took this radio-ing comments on the course back up the mountain for his team, apparently with good effect, since an Austrian won.

Mary suggested that the Messes slopes above Les Menuires might be good, and, indeed they were. The snow was much nicer there again. This did cause me to find the other half of Les Menuires, which means I should maybe revisit my assertion that it doesn't look like some piece of the banlieus dumped in the Alps.
Les Menuires

Mont Blanc in the distance from Bouchet
Looking South(ish) from Bouchet
Since the snow was good and I had time I decided to  see if I could get to the top of the whole 3Vallees, so up to Val Thorens then up the bubble and cable car (Cime Caron) which they claim is at 3200m. From there down a black run round the back (really in the fourth valley of the Trois Vallees) and then up two slow chair lifts to they to the top of Bouchet at 3230m. Back down to Val Thorens and then up on the wrong lift so had a quick run down a nice red (the snow in Val Thorens was nice today!). Up and down via Mottaret to Meribel. A long day, which My Tracks reckons at close to 95km (which may be a slight under-estimate, since the maps shows some use of the transporter beam).

For the benefit of The Editor I have included some photos that don't include Mont Blanc today, though I believe that there's an obscure French law (<insert link to made up Wikipedia article here>) that says you have to have at least one picture of Mont Blanc every day if you can see it.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Day 18: Meribel, Les Menuires, Val Thorens

Over dinner last night I discovered that Peter runs a choir, and is also one of the people responsible for Ted Fest. Here (video) he is as one of the "Christian Brothers" singing his own composition. So, we spent most of the evening going through choir songs, arrangements etc. I expect he'll contact Ali and Dee to talk about using some of their arrangements with his choir.
Up late since it's Mary's rest day so no breakfast to get up for. The sun comes in through the big windows in my room on the dot at ten a.m.. I decided to go in the other direction today, over to Les Menuires and Val Thorens. I had a large omelette fromage frites and demi-pression in Les Menuires. It was so big I was able to resist the "dessert du jour: Tarte Tatin fabrication maison". Espresso Euro 1.90. Les Menuires has improved somewhat since I was last there (maybe 25+ years ago). They've expanded by adding some buildings with pitched roofs, stone and wood, which make it seem less like a couple of blocks of flats from the banlieus dropped into an alpine valley.
Mont Blanc from Col de la Chambre
Up to Val Thorens and around a bit. The snow here seems less icy than on Courchevel, but you still find good "slip 50m" pieces to keep you awake. Probably why my speeds are down! Up on the wacky Bouquetin lift, which is a funny cable car/bubble lift cross. It's like a cable car in that there are only two "cars", so when one is up the other is down, but like a bubble in that there is no stationary cable. The "cars" are like three big bubble lift cars right net to each other.
Up to the Mont du Vallon which the lift top station claimed was at 3000m, but the piste map and GPS reckon less than that 2952m on the piste map. Down the Combe de Vallon red run, which wasn't too icy, but is an interesting run. There's nowhere where it's so steep you think it should be a black run, but it keeps up a decent red-run gradient for its whole length which seemed like > 1km. Just relentless.
No sign of more snow. Meteo France "meteo des Montagnes" had it forecast for Thursday in yesterday's forecast, but it's disappeared from today's forecast.
Time to head out for a snack and then the ice-hockey ("hockey on ice" as the English translation on the posters has it).

Monday, 24 January 2011

Day 17: Meribel & Trois Vallees

A beautifully sunny, but cold day.
Mont Blanc in the distance shrouded in cloud (from the top of Saulire)
Over to Courchevel, but the snow there is very icy, a lot seems to be the man made stuff, which is compressed and icy underneath with a thin layer of powdery snow on top. Much less pleasant than in La Thuile (and La Rosiere) last week.
Espresso Euro 2.30 in Courchevel, and 2.20 at Les Cretes. The snow seemed slightly less icy in Meribel and over towards Saint Martin, but there's an awful lot of exposed ground and rocks with no snow.
Maybe I'll try Val Thorens and Les Menuires tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Mary's day off (because new guests are coming on Wednesday she's taking it a day early). I may go to the "friendly" ice-hockey match in the Olympic ice-rink since it's only Euro5, and I've never seen live ice-hockey.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Day 16: Bourg to Meribel

Another no-skiing day. I left Bourg just before 10am with the temperature at -11C, and drove down to Moutiers, intending to waste the morning there before coming up to Meribel to be in the chalet Les Grands Sorbiers for 4pm. However I can vouch for the fact that there's not much to do in Moutiers at 10:30am on a Sunday! I'm sure the centre-commerciale was open, but I don't need to visit another bit supermarket! So after a cafe I set off for Meribel, arriving at the chalet (after some driving around to find it) at about noon. Mary kindly let me in so that I could dump all my stuff, then I left her to get on with the cleaning. The chalet is really an apartment, but on multiple floors, with lots of wooden beams and funny steps. I think I'll need to wear my helmet in the chalet, I banged my head on beams three times in the half hour I was there. However I have a room with a weird high level double bed that takes up ~85% of the floor space, but huge glass windows in the wall and ceiling that give amazing views up the valley onto the ski area. The views have to be some of the best outside views you can get from a bed in Meribel!
View from Bedroom

View from Bedroom (in other direction!)
There are only two other people staying in the chalet (until Wednesday when some more arrive), so it should be friendly. Mary seems happy to put up with a late arriving vegetarian, and unperturbed when I showed up four hours early.
I'm typing this from Bar Le Poste de Secours in the centre of Meribel, which has free WiFi and hardly anyone in it at 3pm (it's probably heaving at 3am), so they don't seem to mind people coming in, drinking one coffee and hanging around on the net for two hours.
While Meribel is not "Moscow in the Alps" (which is Courchevel) there is a noticeable number of signs in Russian, and the tourist office has all their literature in Russian too. Maybe Russia is taking over everywhere in the Alps, there were some Russian kids in La Thuile with whom I went up a lift. (The instructor asked me to help them up the chair; they wanted no help at all, and ignored me).
Back to skiing tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Day 15: Bourg Saint Maurice

A rest day today. Left La Rosiere about 9:30 and down to Seez where I stopped for a coffee on the grounds that we always drive through. I resisted the attractions of "La Musee de la Nature (et taxidermie)" which is a wonderful concept, but hard to really summon enthusiasm for. I did read some of the displays in the Office du Tourisme on how to recognise different animal tracks, and on the Roman road through the pass, some of which is apparently still visible. So I'm not sure why Hannibal had such a hard time getting his elephants over if there was already a road!
Leaving Seez I immediately hit the traffic jam for the couple of km down into Bourg, and to Sport 2000 and Intersport to get goggles that will work with both glasses and a helmet, some warm mitts and a new pair of swimming trunks to replace the ones I bought here a couple years ago (mostly because I haven't found any in the UK at a reasonable price, and these were under Euro 5, whereas Speedos seem to cost GBP 25).
Finally to the Hostellerie, and then out for lunch (crepes and cidre), then back to the Hostellerie where the attraction of three hours sleep were irresistible.

Up at 5pm and down to the Super U to look for the missing USB cable, which I found (in the U Culture shop), so now I can get pictures from the camera into the computer. Back to the Hostellerie for a beer, catch up on e-mail and then dinner, which was very good, as ever here. The colin came with a sauce very similar to Roger's "Sauce Pirate", the selection of Savoyarde cheeses was wonderful (though it's hard to beat the Beaufort ete) , and it was hard to decide between the mousse au chocolat and creme caramel.
Panache de fromages de Savoie. 

Opinel Knives in Bourg
Much fun with a family of English speaking children from Seez, who wanted me to be a ghost in the bar to frighten their mother, and then ate most of  the sugar that came with my cafe. I managed (with some difficulty) to stop them sucking on sugar lumps and then putting them back in the bowl! They'd already been on coca, so the sugar probably didn't make them much more hyper.

Tomorrow up to Meribel, probably after a late breakfast and slowly, without skiing.
Pedestrian street in Bourg Saint Maurice

Friday, 21 January 2011

Day 14: January 21 La Rosiere & La Thuile

Last day in La Rosiere until the familay are out on Feb 6. Over into Italy with Jenny (the guest, not the chalet host, who was down in Bourg buying food for next week). Down for coffee as usual, then up to make sure Jenny knew how to find Le Rascard which does an excellent pizza funghi for 8Euro. Up the chairs and then back down including some black runs, which Jenny was slightly nevous about, but handled perfectly. Lunch at Le Rascard sharing a pizza, up and down to Arnouvaz and Argilien for a few runs, then down for coffee. Up the chairs, down to Chaz Dura express, and so, ultimately back to France for a chocolat chaud in Le Relais.

I was even persuaded into the hot tub, a  once a week occasion at best.
Looking forward to another great meal to finish an excellent week (as ever with the excellent SnowCrazy team). Those of you who weren't occupying all the spare space here in Chocard missed out on Jamie's excellent cooking and Jenny's friendly management. You should clearly be trying harder next year.


Jamie & Jenny
One note from yesterday that I forgot was finding people saying "I must go to Marcruss when I get back to get some new gloves" while I was on a chair lift. So, the fame of Marcruss extends to La Rosiere.

Ian & Jenny

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Day 13: January 20 La Rosiere and La Thuile

Thursday is chalet hosts' day off, so I intended to sleep in (since there's no cooked breakfast to get up for), but didn't really succeed, waking at 8:30 anyway. Checked my mail and had some from the Ski Bonjour people who have a chalet in Tignes Les Brevieres. I'll be staying there Sunday week, so needed to call them to pay. As a result of a checking webcams to see the weather and visibility: cold (-10C in resort, -15C at the top) sunny in La Thuile, cloudy in France, I put on another layer and caught the 10:30 bus. I could already hear the omelette frites at the Relais du Petit St Bernard calling but decided that the caffe latte in La Thuile was louder at the moment, so set off for Italy.

After coffee I did the small black run a couple of times, then the women's downhill (though not from the top since that lift seems to be closed during the week). By now the omelette fromage frites was getting too loud to ignore, so I set off back to France, despite it being sunny (if cold) in Italy and cloudy in France. Starting from the bottom of the bubble in La Thuile at 12:45 I was at the Relais at 1:30, where the omelette was as good as ever.
After lunch up and down a few runs before deciding that it was too cold and crunchy, and that I'd like to sort out accommodation for next week (having sorted out Tignes for the week after). So back down, past the market, which seems the same as ever (two different cheese stalls, the sweet stall, the clothing stall).
Looked at accommodation in Meribel for next week. I mailed the people at  and got the kind of reply that suggests that you should phone because they're never going to look at your mail. <rant> Why do none of these companies have Skype contacts? </rant> In this case, though, they did call back, so I have a double room in a Les Grands Sorbiers from Sunday at a bargain price. I'll try to stay in the Hostellerie du Petit St Bernard in Bourg on Saturday night, since I stayed a week there a few years ago and enjoyed it.
So, with the Chalet Bonjour Bonjour in Tignes Les Brevieres for the week after next and Meribel next week, I'm all set up until the family are out and I'm back here in La Rosiere.
No canapes tonight, so time to sign off and go up to the Danois for a small meal (which was the point of the omelette at lunch).

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Day 12: January 19 La Rosiere and La Thuile

Today started looking as if it was going to be a good day to stay in, write postcards, try to work out where I'll be next week, and sit in the bar drinking coffee. There was cloud and a very slight amount of snow. However it turned into a pretty good day.
View from Les Eucherts up towards Val d'Isere and Tignes when starting to ski.

Up from Les Eucherts and immediately into cloud, just able to see the chair two in front; down in no visibility to La Ros and back up, breaking out into sunlight at the top. Maybe this was going to be OK. Still grey at the Fort, but let's try Italy anyway. Sure enough ski down a little from the two drags and out into bright sunshine with no clouds at all. Down for coffee, and to admire the ice-cream.
Hand made ice-cream at La Cremerie

Up and down my favourite little black (no 37) a couple of times, then back up the mountain and all around the place. Cheese sandwich (crottin de chevre) and creme de marrons from a tube for lunch. For a sugar hit creme de marrons is hard to beat! Starting to get cold and windy... Still, the clouds are avoiding Italy and staying in France.
Clouds staying in France!

Up and down some more blacks and then back to France, since it was getting too cold and windy (-10C and 20km/h at the top).
Down for a well earned chocolat chaud in Jo's favourite bar. Despite the later start and  mixed weather my tracks reckons I still covered 77km as against 80km yesterday, which felt like a harder day.

Couldn't find a mini-USB cable so just took some photos on the phone, for which I do have the right cable.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Day 11: Tuesday 18 January La Rosiere, La Thuile

After a great breakfast of eggs-benedict (with smoked salmon instead of ham), I set off to catch the bus up to town. Got to the bottom of the steps from the chalet, looked at some ice and thought "that looks risky" and then fell backwards. Luckily I had the good sense not to put my right arm back (or, at least to let the elbow bend), so I just ended up with a sore arse! Also unlike Dr Taylor in Tignes, I didn't have a hip-flask in my back pocket, so didn't need "a portable mirror" to inspect my bruises.

A friendly French snow-boarder at the bus stop asked if I was OK, since I was taking a minute to get my thoughts together before getting up. We waited a few minutes for the bus, chatting about breaking wrists with roller-skates, getting over to Italy and so on before he asked if I was English. When I owned up he complimented me on my French. A definite triumph! Since the bus was a Les Eucherts one I started from there, which seems to require that you take at least two lifts to get to the bottom the Fort lift. Not a big deal, the snow is good, and some big blue carving is a good wake up first thing in the morning. Up on the two drag lifts (the RHS one at the bottom is still faster by about three or four people!), and then down directly with no more lifts to La Thuile for caffe latte as usual, though taking slightly longer since my eye was watering, partly due to suncream, and also, I realised, because my goggles don't work well over a helmet. So you buy one new piece of equipment, and then have to buy another to go with it! Luckily it is possible (if not perfect) to put the goggles on, then the helmet.

Checked out whether the supermarket still has Opinel knives, but it doesn't (but don't get too disappointed...)

Up on the bubble, then down to Arnouvaz and that area. A nice black run, with a red exactly identical 50m further over. When I tried the red there were a bunch of people side-slipping it, which is unsurprising since it is in all respects identical to the black run! Up and ate lunch looking at the glacier du Ruitor again. The high clouds were beginning to clear and the sun come out. Back down to the village for an espresso, but found a bunch of lost Irish by the chair lifts at the centre of La Thuile debating how to find "the restaurant". Doing my good deed for the day, I took them the righthand, short, chair and back down the blue run to the place you leave the piste for Le Rascard, which they recognised. Back into town for espresso (Lavazza; 1Euro!), then back up the short lift which I had previously thought was pointless (apart from getting to Le Rascard), but which actually lets you come down the excellent (shortish but steep all the way) black that is in the centre of the pistes in the village, which I'd never managed to find the top of before. It cried out for See Those Eyes (though this isn't quite the same version, I have the 12" in the iPod), so I tried the iPod inside the helmet, which seemed to work fine, though the run only took about a quarter of the song, which lasted until I was on the bubble. "Persian Love" to the top of the lift, then back to Scotland for some Runrig. A few runs down the front and in the pass, before back over to La Ros to finish about quarter to four.

Called in at Intersport to try on goggles which work with glasses and a helmet. Finally found some, and came to pay, trying to use up Carte Cadeau, only to find they don't take it, and I need to go back to the big one in Bourg to use it, so that can wait until Saturday. Then to the 8 a 8 to get some PPCs, and to discover that they have a range of Opinel knives in stock.

Canape time !

Monday, 17 January 2011

Day 10: Monday Jan 17 La Rosiere & La Thuile

Another excellent day's skiing. Ian left his helmet at the chalet, and had to go back for it, so Jenny and I did one run from the chairlift back to La Ros. Then up and down the small black run down to the drag lift, which I couldn't resist since no-one else seemed to have been down it. Across to the fort and over to Italy for a latte, and to buy lunch in the supermarket. They still have the excellent artisanal chocolate con lampone. Up an down a bunch of the black runs back to La Thuile which all seem in pretty good condition with only a few "interesting" patches of ice. Lunch at the top of Chaz Dura express with views over to the glacier du Ruitor. Down into the pass for a few more runs, but it started getting cold and windy in the pass, so I stopped for an espresso (1.20 Euro up a mountain it's still less than on the Gloucester Rd!). Back down to La Rosiere after a few runs down the fort and aroundabout. Discovered that I screwed up the data collection again, though it felt about the same as yesterday with a few more blacks in it. "My Tracks" should just turn on the GPS itself once you start recording a track!

Mostly modern Scottish song writers today. Roddy WoombleKarine Polwart, and the excellent Inge Thomson, whose ethereal vocals and weird songs suited the sunny Alps very well. Also Mumford and Sons which seemed a bit "2010"and overstated in the Alps.

Back up to town to buy a helmet in Skimium. Seems my head is worth less than one foot! La Rosiere regulars will be glad to know that not much has changed. The "Grande Guignol" is still in the salle Jean Arpin on Wednesday, and the market on Thursday. The lights over the table in Chocard now work, and it has WiFi. The navette drivers look a little less like the local biker gang, but are still friendly.

Time to stop, canapes and supper approach!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Day 9: Sunday 16 January La Rosiere, La Thuile

Over to La Thuile for the mandatory annual picture of a Caffe Latte in
the ice-cream parlour in La Thuile. Lunch in Le Rascard (pizza funghi)
and more skiing. Sucking a few mouthfuls of water on each lift is
definitely a good thing. No clouds all day, but snow in reasonable
condition, and most runs open, including the blacks down into La
Thuile, though Escudets in La Rosiere and the run below Les Eucherts
are both closed.

Phone/GPS  convincing me that I should buy a skiing helmet, though I doubt that I really hit 76km/hour!

Excellent supper. Luckily we managed to string it out long enough that we could avoid playing Boggle afterwards!

Day 8: Saturday 15 January Champagny, Les Arcs, La Rosiere

Left La Rosiere about 9:30. Settled up with the garagein Bozel (10
Euro for charging the battery), and on to Moutiers, where I found some
anti-rust treatment to put on the deeve in the car to try to stop it
all rusting before I get back to the UK and a proper fix. On to Bourg
Ste Maurice and up on the funicular to Arc 1600, since I bought a six
day Paradiski pass this is the sixth day. Hot sun all day. Up to the
glacier (phone's GPS and Google My Tracks reckons 3282m), and down to

Stopped at the big Intersport on the way out of Bourg and got some
more ski-socks and a water bag etc to put into my rucksack to give it
some "CamelBack" properties. They understood how to use the Carte Cadeau cards, which the smaller Intersport in  town where I hired skis had failed to do. Then up to La Rosiere (inevitably behind
a coach up the hairpins).

Chalet is virtually empty, just two other guests. I have the same room Jo and I shared last year, but a bathroom to myself, since there is no one in Jennifer and Ashley's bunk-bed room.

Day 6,7 Jan 13,14 Champagny, La Plagne

With Roger down to Bozel to the garage who put the battery on
charge. Then out skiing with Richard and Manissa. Back down to Bozel
to pick up the battery, connecting it back to the car made the problem
obvious. The map light immediately came on. A result of the prat-nav
efforts on Sunday, when I had it on to read the map and work out where
I should be going. While reversing out of the parking slot in the
multi-storey I deeved the driver's door and sill against a pillar I
had failed to notice :-) Oh well. Car is working, at least. Booked for
Chalet Chocard in La Rosiere for a week from Saturday, and a six day
Espace San Bernardino pass online, the web owas offering a "pay for
five days and get six" deal if you booked online by 12th (yesterday),
but it went through fine!

Day 7 Friday 14th Jan
Out skiing with the whole crew (Richard, Roger, Manissa, John). Roger and I achieved our good  turn for the day by educating a couple of very friendly dutch guys in Tom Lehrer, to the extent that they wrote down his name! This was the result of someone commenting that e would all be  "going simultaneous", which, of course, led to a rendition of "When the air becomes uraneous we'' all go simuataneous", and then into highlights (i.e. the bits we remembered} of other classics.

A good day.

Sunset from Champagny looking towards Courchevel.

Day 5 Wednesday 12 Jan Courchevel

Roger wanted to finish his DIY project (adding a curtain around the
bunks), an do other non-skiiing things, so Richard and I decided to go
over to Courchevel; my six-jours Paradiski pass includes a free day in
Trois Vallees. However, when we tried to unlock the car, it was clear
the battery was flat. Since no lights had been left on, this suggests
the battery has died. Roger kindly drove us over to Courchevel, where
we had a good says skiing, with some sun but getting cloudier
later. Back on the bus to Bozel, Roger came down to pick us up, and on
to the garage in Bozel, where M Le Proprietaire suggested bringing the
battery down. A task for tomorrow, though we disconnected the battery
with no problem. As I expected, a car batter is not "une pile", but I
failed to guess that it is "une batterie".
Boots seemed good, after a day's skiing, so agreed to buy them.
Roger cooked "cabillaud en sauce pirate" ("Jolly Roger" :-)).

Day 3: Champagny

Hired equipment and bought lift pass, before getting onto the slopes
at just after 11am. A few runs in Champagny before Roger got up, then
over to La Plagne. Above the clouds in the valley the weather was
good, becoming sunny later on. Good views of Mont Blanc as well as La
Grande Motte (at different times!) over the clouds in the
valleys. Covered 52km (including lifts, of course!) , with an
elevation gain of nearly 5100m (though since we came down in the
bubble to Champagny some of that should be ignored).

View from Richard & Roger's appartment.

Day 2 January 9 Reims to Champagny-en-Vanoise

Breakfast at 8:30, then went to look at the cathedral, which is
certainly impressive. Reims seems a place worth a weeked at some
point.Bought a sandwich and some crisps for lunch from
a Monop, before setting off at 9:45 back onto the A26.

A ong day's driving with the weather getting rainier and windier. Wind
turbines looking like cloud cutters near Colombey-les-deux-Eglises,
with just the top blade in the clouds. NOt doing any good, though, the
cloudes ot worse and worse, turining into fog on the hogh
ground. Crossed the channel-mediterranean watershed 250km north of
Lyon. More "Nostalgie", and "Shalom - Dijon", as well as "France Info",
which had continual rain warnings for departements I was in or just

Stopped for coffee and to refuel north of Lyon, then had lunch two
hours later. I was convinced that there'd be a lot of snow on the way
up to Chapagny if all the rain I was driving through was also
falling up there, so I started to look for chains. I finally found
some for 185/55R15 at the third service station I tried. More
driving... finally got to Moutiers at about 5:40, and managed to take
a wrong turn setting off towards Les Menuires. The prat-nav kindly
kept telling me to keep on. About five miles up the mountain I decided
it was wrong, and looked at the map (which I had bought after leaving
the Chunnel while fixing the headlight deflectors, on the basis that
you can never have too many maps). Turned around and back down to
Moutiers, consulted the map again and followed old-fashioned
principles (follow road signs, the map and your nose). Reached
Champagny about 6:25 with no snow on the roads at all, and the
temperature 5C. A total of 798 miles of driving from Bristol.

Roger came down and helped me up with my bags. Good food at about
7:30, then out for a beer next door and to meet other English
residents of Champagny whom Roger and Richard know, who will no doubt feature in later episodes.

Day 1 January 8 Bristol-Reims

Day 1 (Saturday 8 Jan)
Left Bristol at just after 10am, stopped for lunch at Maidstone
services at about 1pm, since otherwise I'd reach the Chunnel terminal
more than two hours before crossing time. In the WH Smiths I saw Chad
Orzel's "How to teach Quantum Physics to your dog" as number eleven
in the non-fiction best seller list, and on a buy one, get one
half-price deal. So I took a photo to mail to Chad and bought a copy.

Arrived at the Chunnel terminal at about 1:40, the car was immediately
recognized, and I was offered the option of travelling on the 2:20 or
2:50 shuttles at no-extra cost, so I opted for 2:20. Just time to
visit the duty-free sales shed, and get an AA kit of all the things
you need to be legal driving in France (emergency triangle, headlight
converters, high-vis jacket, spare bulb kit, ...). Drove on to the
shttle, and then sit there for half an hour in the car before driving
out straight onto the roads in France. Passport checked by UK border
control, and the French border control (on the wrong side of the car,
of course), just check you can wave something burgundy coloured at

Set off down A26 in light rain, and drove until just before seven
getting to Reims. Listened to "Nostalgie" a weird mix of Gainsbourg,
Queen, etc. Had a track for the "identify the track from under three words from
the lyric competition" : "Tyrolean spa".

 I managed to resist the idea of staying in an Ibis
(or whatever a the motorway exit), and followed my noze into the
centre of town, in time to park at 7pm just as the parking
restrictions finish, 360 miles and eight hours after leavng Bristol.
Found the Hotel Azur, a friendly, non-chain, French 2* hotel, where
the proprietress gave me a map and pointed me in the direction of the
restaurants in the centre of town, as well as various tokens for free
beer in one place, or a free glass of Champagne in another.

Had an excellent moules au safran frites avec sa tarte aux pommes for
under 12Euro in La Grande <something> in the center of Reims. Walked
back to the hotel via the cathedral, which is very well lit, and
celebrating its 800th anniversary this year (2011).