mercredi, janvier 06, 2010

Morzine, France

Morzine et Les Portes du Soleil, France

No matter where we are, we always try to ski in France. France may not have the most charming ski stations, but the skiing and the food are certainly better there than anywhere else. More importantly, the kids really progress in their skiing as the French, together with the Swiss and the Austrians, have the best certified ski instructors in Europe.

On our way down to the French Alps, we stopped by at Beatrice's country home in St Julien du Sault for lunch. Bea and I go way back to our days in Sciences Po Paris. She is married to a Corsican and has been working for a few years now at China Southern Airlines in the Champs Elysées. We used to have lunch together when I was still living in Paris and she would sometimes come over to my flat for a nap during her lunch break. When I had the Teenager while still doing my Postgrad, she helped me babysit him occasionally when I had lectures and she had finished hers.

Beatrice's country home that will be covered in vines come Spring

The stop was impromptu. We agreed on it just the night before and she gamely received us the next day with a yummy Pot au Feu and Christmas log. The family of 3 even gave us a piano recital, as their only boy Kevin is an artist both on canvas and on the piano.

The short stop got us stuck in a massive traffic jam on the highway though. We were supposed to reach Morzine at 6pm, but arrived at 8pm instead.

Hotel-Club Le Chablais

This year, we decided to stay at another Touristra Hotel Club Le Chablais. In its era it had been a grand hotel perched over the valley about 300m from where the ski lifts depart today. But nowadays, it's just a bit run down and is co-owned by a long list of Comité d'Entreprises (CE) - a very French concept whereby every company employing more than 50 people would be required to have a committee that will organise events for and offer other advantages to its employees e.g. subsidized holidays, Christmas gifts etc.

View of Morzine from the breakfast room

View of Morzine from our bedroom

Well, unlike those lucky people with a CE, we paid full fare. Still, we like the value-for-money Hotel Clubs that Touristra manages. And Morzine is part of one of the largest ski areas in France : Les Portes du Soleil.

A chalet in Morzine

This ski area contains 12 village resorts from France and Switzerland, 24 ski lifts and 650km of slopes for skiing. Morzine is situated at around 1000m and the highest point is 2400m. In the morning, we started by taking the "Eggs" from just metres from our ski rental shop (which also stored our skis) all the way up to the Pleney point and from there you could ski for hours without coming down again. The village is actually quite charming with traditional wooden chalets, a number of elegant homes and lots of shops and restaurants in its main streets.
. Up there just before sunset

Another view of Morzine

Up in the mountains, most of the slopes are very wide and you get all kinds of trails from the bumpy ones to literally very long, smooth and windy trails that just go on and on. When we were there, it rained half the time which was unfortunate as normally the snowfall in the area is excellent. Still we managed to ski almost everyday and Hub skied a few days at Avoriaz where the snow was more abundant and he said that it was amazing. What I really liked about Morzine is the fact that you needn't go on a tire-fesses if you don't want to. The ski-lifts and cabines go really far and bring you to thousands of metres of slopes each time.

Somewhere along the ski trails

On our last afternoon skiing, we found ourselves the last people on the slopes at sunset. Hub was pushing it too much, bringing us higher and higher up at a time when we should be starting to ski back to our station. At 5:20pm, I couldn't ski anymore and Baby Boy was freezing. He started crying and refused to ski anymore - but the ski lifts were all closed by then.

Happy at the beginning of the fateful afternoon

At that point, a guy started skiing down towards us - one of the Guards who sets out at sunset to make sure that the slopes would be free of all skiers. He contacted base and ordered a snow mobile to come pick up Baby Boy and myself. So I got a trip down the slopes behind a guard and a visit of Morzine by night. While the Hub, Teenager and Baby Girl bravely skiied down the last km or so of slopes in the dark - guided by another Guard with a torch.

Etoile de Bronze

1ère étoile

That week, Baby Boy passed his 1st Star and the Teenager finally got his Bronze Star. Baby Girl failed her 2nd Star though. Her instructor found her too hesitant on the slopes and said she needed to work on her confidence and speed. The next time we ski, the Teenager will work on his Gold Star - which would be the last level for children after which one could consider that he would have learnt everything about skiing technique-wise.

1st course at NY Eve's dinner

On 31st December, we had a New Year's Eve dinner at the hotel with cocktails before dinner and champagne after. On Saturday, the hotel organised a BBQ up on the slopes that Hub and the Teenager attended. And during the week, there was entertainment every evening after dinner. The kids love being able to meet people and walk around in the residence on their own, and the Teenager had his own group of friends so you almost never see him.

All in all, except for the bout of gastric flu in the residence (with kids vomitting everywhere you turned) and the periodic rainfall, the ski trip has been a good one. I am still not crazy about skiing, but if the rest of the family is happy about it, I'm glad I could oblige by tagging along. Thing is that Hub couldn't ski alone with the Babies, so for now, I'm indispensable.

2 commentaires:

edith a dit…

S, I love those scenic shots. Beautifully taken. You guys definitely had fun. Happy New Year! and may the year brings you lots of happiness and good health.

Beau Lotus a dit…

Thanks, Edith, and the same to you!