Dinner at La Fruitière

We tried La Belotte for dinner this evening. The service was slow when we ate there earlier this week. However, after showing ourselves to our table tonight and waiting 5 mins without seeing the waiter after he’d dropped off our menus, we left in a huff, leaving three other customers looking like they wished they’d done the same. The waiter/chef wasn’t that happy we left. Went down the road to La Fruitière, which was lovely. All tje more lovelier because we had a warm welcome from a waiter with a winning smile, and a little onion pie as an amuse bouch. The menu was good: Jon had an excellent lamb shank, Adam beef bourgignon, I had something local which comprised bread soaked in white wine, baked with cheese and ham and tasted like a personal fondu. Michael had a modern tartiflette, with sausage instead of lardons. Jay had a escalope milanese, which was good. For the first time eating out we had room for puddings, my pear tart was okay, the boys’ baked chocolate cake looked and smelt lovely! Grabbing a last chance, Michael and I had a génépi, which was much sweeter than I expected and came in a tiny tankard. Great meal in a comfortable lively restaurant.

Over the road to L’Alpen bar. Blanche de Bruges was on again so had a couple of those before heading back to the apartment.

About 10cm of snow has fallen this evening! Would have liked that yesterday! Oh well.

Michael made Chilli

Michael made a lovely chilli last night, as an alternative to the cheese-rich menus in the local restaurants. Before dinner we had a lovely bottle of local white wine as an apertitif. Roussette de Savoie was floral, nutty and fresh. Would like to take some home. I made some spicy tomato salsa to have with tortilla chips—I can still taste the garlic this morning.

The fantastic lettuce from the supermarket made a great new ski hat.

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Faces whipped by ice

A late start today after a late night last night—had a lovely pizza back at Brasera, with the sexy waiter. After the afternoon drinking I wasn’t up for continuing. So I came back with Adam and the rest came back at 11:30 (and later) after a few more beers at l’Alpen. So, a sluggish start today, not helped by the clouds over the mountain and the strong wind. When we looked out the window at 9:00 the lifts weren’t running and the snow was being blown off the ground over the meadow and off the mountain. Brrrrr! We got to the slopes at about 10 and found most on the local lifts running, but not the linking lifts between mountains. Fine. Only Cibouït was running to the top of the peaks. Took Bachus up, skied down Rochamout, tried Étoile drag lift for the first time, Chaume and Rochamout down to Peyra-Juana for coffee and hot chocolate. Then Cibouït, where Adam was thinking about trying the black mogul run (Cibouït) but seeing the wind whipping across it and passing over an accident put him off, and we tried the red (Cibouït) and the blue (Pas de l’Ane). Red was better than the blue, which had an ice storm over some of the traverses that were blinding, and whipped our faces with icy snow. Finished the run with my face stinging. After sking down Combe Rateau we skied out, ending up on Route Des Espagnoles. The route we took had about four sections of walking, which was harder to control with the wind—not much fun! Even trying to ski out on the bottom if Aya was hard because the fierce head wind slowing us down. Jay, Adam and Jon stayed at the base station for lunch, Michael and I had lunch up the mountain at Peyra-Juana. I had a huge rabbit stew special and Michael had an Alpine plate, both were lovely, as was the vin chaud.

After lunch bumped into Jon at the Aya run out, and we all took Aya lift back up, which was working today for the first time since we arrived. We saw a fantastic ‘snowbow’ with the sun shining through the snow being blown from the top of the mountain. Skied a couple more red runs, including Corvaria for the first time. So overall had a great days skiing, through the fierce wind and blown snow.

Michael and I headed back to the Grand Bains for a couple of hours if Hammam, Caldarium, Frigidarium and Tepidarium. It might have been OAP day. Lovely time in the hot water, basically a two hour bath.

Michael’s now making chilli for this evening.

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Great day skiing

Slower start this morning. Left our apartment porridge-fuelled and warmed up with an almost pristine blue run on Monêtier, through fresh snow. My skiing was pretty poor this morning and I didn’t really get on that well. There was a strange temperature inversion on the lifts—a very noticeable increase in temperature closer to the top of the mountains. Made it across to the mountains above Villeneuve. Stoped en route for a hot chocolate at Pi Mai at the Village of Frejus, enjoyed the little moghul field to get down to there. Great snow today, there had been a couple of inches overnight and the snow was generally in great condition and the weather was sunny all day. Skied the whole length of Casse de Boeuf black run before lunch which was fun. Stopped for lunch at, what could be the best lunch stop of the holiday, L’Echaillon, with a great menu: Jay was brave with a (tasty) andouillette (or bowel sausage), Jon had a steak tartare, Michael cheek of pork, Adam bolognese, and I had tagliatelle with morel mushrooms—all very tasty.

After lunch we skied Casse de Boeuf again, and I tightened my boots and my skiing improved quite a bit. Really enjoyed the afternoon skiing as my technique and confidence came back. I coped with the traverse along the peak to get back to Monêtier a bit better than on Monday: Jay skied beside me which was a great help. I’m awful skiing along the top of ridges. 🙁

Had a great ski down Tétras, which is my favourite fun ski so far. We skied out on Tabuc, which was a bit more challenging today than on Monday, the piste was more carved up and there was less choice about the turns. The run was still great fun and I ended up on a high from the challenging and exhilarating ski out.

Back to the apartment for a beer on the terrace, before meeting Gavin and Mel at L’Alpen for a drink. If plans work out well Gavin will take us skiing on Friday morning. He’s a local ski instructor and a family friend of Jon’s. L’Alpen hosted a good live band tonight – Muntfinger. All the band were wearing white, low-cut jumpers with a large red ‘M’ on the front. Apparently there was a cross-dressing competition this evening and this was there entry—I don’t think they’ll win, but they are a good band. Heading out for dinner soon.

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Across to Villeneuve

Managed to get into the slopes for 9 this morning. Headed straight across to Eychauda lift and skied that run and Tétras as a warm up, before nipping over the Col de l’Eychauda and skiing the long red Cucumelle. We stopped for a drink in a hotel in Village de Fréjus, but they only had gorgeous mulled wine because their power was out. Shame. The wine had fruit and pine nuts in it, very rich. Took the Fréjus lift up and then a long drag lift, Cretes, along a ridge following a great track. Down Sellettes, up Clot Gauthier and down the red run of the same name. Somehow ended up skiing down Fangeas, and finishing off with the bottom half of an easy black run, Casse du Boeuf. We all met up at the bottom of the run for a stylish lunch at Restaurant Le Chazelay at Villeneuve. Michael had a lovely Italian salad and I had a hearty chicken noodle soup. The quality was great—much better than yesterday.

I was a bit stiff after lunch and had a slow start skiing the bottom half of Fangeas. Warmed up for the best runs of the day from the top of Fangeas on a series of fast, broad blue runs, with great snow. We all bombed down, blood pumping. Headed up Balme lift and unfortuntely had to ski along a narrow ridge with a drop on both sides—Roche Gauthier—which was hell, and I snowploughed my way slowly through this. I’ll need to do it every day that we leave Monêtier, so there’s a personal challenge for me. Back down Eychauda, then skied out on Tabuc, a long black run with a few steep sections. Enjoyed the ski out and we were the only people on the slope!

Off the slopes and back in town by 3:00, and nowhere open for a drink. Finally found a nice small café with a great range of beer: we had a selection of Pelforth and tried a darker beer from Briançon called la Tourmente, very nice And managed a whole pint 😉

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Skiing in Monêtier

We made it out onto the almost empty slopes by 9:15. Warmed up with a nice blue run, Rochamout, then tried a trickier red Clos Gaillard which had a couple of tricky bumpy bits. Moved higher than the midstation to ski down Eychauda, then went back down Rachamout to stop at Peyra-Juana for drinks—we were the only people there when we arrived. Hot chocolates, coffees and hot wine to help use warm up. Took the lift up Cibouït and skied down Pas de Lane, then again to go down Cibouït piste.

We stopped for lunch at the base station at Monêtier, for massive frankfurters and chips. We had this outside, and got a bit cold. Adam called it a day and headed back to the apartment. Jon, Jay, Michael and I then took the lifts up to Cibouït again to ski down the blue. I got vertigo at the top of Yret chairlift, which takes you to the highest part of Serre Chevalier on the Pic de l’Yret (2830m). However, there were great views over toward Villeneuve. Skied a lovely red down from there, but it took a while for my vertigo to go. When it did I bombed down the run. We took a wrong turn and ended up at La Cucumelle, on the way to Villeneuve. So we had to take another lift to the Col de la Cucumelle, so we could make it back to the midstation. We discovered a lovely half pipe, Tétras, which we went down a couple of times. A few more runs and we finally skied out of Aya, which was great. Finished about 3 and stowed our gear in the locker. I’m looking forward to tomorrow—it was striking this morning how much easier it was to put on the warm, flexible ski boot that I left overnight in the locker, compared with the freezing cold, stiff one I’d brought from the apartment.

Adam met us for a beer at the basestation. Then headed back to the apartment, via the supermarket and an argument about a Palmier / Sacristan with a the boulanger. Michael ended up with what he wanted (the Sacristan).

Skiers welcome heavy snow in the Alps -Times Online

A colleague pomited out this article to me: seems we were very lucky with the snow last week!

Andrew Frawley, co-owner of NomadicSki, a chalet holiday business in Chamonix, said: “The conditions are legendary —- some of the best we have seen since we started our business here ten years ago. The pistes are in tip-top condition throughout the resort and the off-piste is magical.”

Liz Compton, 32, a marketing executive on a week’s holiday in Chamonix with a group of seven friends from London, said: “I’ve been skiing since I was 12 and this is some of the best snow I have ever skied. The conditions are out of this world —- fresh snow, sunshine and the slopes are relatively quiet because there are no kids around. What more could you ask?”

[From Skiers welcome heavy snow in the Alps -Times Online ]

Back to Brévènt

We still had one of the three main resorts left to try (well I did) and so we planned to go to Les Grands Montets. We left half an hour earlier than normal but when we got there, we found that there was a lift strike as part of a national dispute, so we ended up going back to Brévènt where there were some lifts open. We went back to the Lachenal red run that we enjoyed so much at the beginning of the week, but it was now a much tougher mogul run and it was a bit of a slog! We all made it though, and Michael found it was easier off piste down the side of the run.

John, Jay and Vit: men of action! Brévènt Graham, Brévènt Michael, Brévènt

We had great weather, as you can see from the photos and enjoyed stopping for a nice cup of tea—the slopes were pretty quiet and we found a nice outdoor hut.

John, stopping for tea on Brévènt

Everyone came around our apartment to drink the Savoie wine that we bought and help eat some of the crisps, bread, cheese and sausage that seemed to have mounted up. We all then shared a cheesy fondue for dinner at Le Monchu. The mushroom fondue was particularly good. We ended up in a nice ‘local’ bar in the centre of town, Les Bistrot des Sports with a lot of attractive men it (nice!) and drank Affligem. There were icy drafts when the door opened an guys who sort of hung about in the half-open doorway!

Balme again and l’Impossible

My knee lasted the day today and I was all rested and ready to go! With some clouds in the sky (gloom) we headed off to Balme because we thought ti would be the least cloudy. When we go there we were lucky, the clouds had lifted at that end of the valley and we had a great day skiing in Balme, encountering only the occasional cloud. John was harassed at the Charamillion hut by some cunning blackbirds that threw ice from the roof at him in a ploy to get some food. I tried a grog there. not realising it was only rum and hot water – bleurgh!

'The Birds' throwing ice at John, Balme

We had a long ski out to Vallorcines down the Esserts Blue Run, and also had great fun on the reds: Solonges and Caisets on the ski out. We had a brief split up: Vit and Michael off to the Chatelet run with an exciting off-piste bowl full of moguls (too much for me), Jay and John went for a long blue Esserts down to Vallorcine, while I went back down the groomed Solonges red, which was very exciting.

In the evening, Michael and I went for dinner to Restaurant L’Impossible which was right next door the our local bar, Le Jekyll. The atmosphere and menu were great and we sat in front of a huge fire that belted out the heat at times. I had some escargots, which were smothered in the typical green, garlicy sauce, and Michael had little Savoie toasts with cheese and bacon. Michael fillet steak came out medium-well done, which had to be sent back (and was lovely on take two) I had scallops on a lovely leek and onion fry, which I thought when I ordered had seaweeed, but I wasn’t too sure it did when it arrived. I had Bretan something anyway. We had a few other little things thrown in for a lovely meal. The manager didn’t charge us for Michael steak, which was fair: we did have to eat our mains separately.

Le Jekyll bar and L'Impossible Restaurant, Chamonix


Truly off-piste

I had a day in the apartment today, playing Poker Dice and listening to music on my iphone, solving Mensa puzzles that we were given for Christmas and trying to read Gargantua Now (not going well). My knee was painful for walking but not when bent in skiing position! Tempting to go out with the others skiing. The weather wasn’t great today though: lots of low clouds over the pistes. I took the Planpraz Gondola up to Brévènt to meet the others for lunch. They had started the day on Les Grades Montets, but transferred over to Brévènt so they could avoid the cloud. Sadly it was cloudy there, but we all met up for a nice lunch (I had a very heavy Tartiflette that came from a massive wok thing by the door…), and I left the four of them skiing off into the cloud when I took the gondola back down to Chamonix.

Cloudy Day - poor skiing Chamonix from the Planpraz gondola

Vit, Michael and Jay, Brévent - Flégère in cloud

I had a wander around town, ten got a text from MIchael to see he was giving up on the cloud skiing and he joined me for a wander around the shops: with the current parity between the Euro and the Pounds, we didn’t really want to buy anything! 🙁 Stopped for a thé parfumé at Atelier Café, which was nice, and bought a couple of bottles of vin de Savoie to try in the apartment.

Chamonix Town Centre

After drinks at Le Jekyll we met Vit, Jay and John for Happy Hours drinks at Le Jekyll, before heading off for dinner at La Poële Omeletterie, the omelets were of course very nice and we had a good evening. It was a cold evening when we wandered into town. We had drinks at Cafe La Terrasse which is a lovely building inside (strange on the outside). We sat upstairs by the massive single-glazed windows which was pretty chilly. We were thrown out at 11, for a party that was signed on the door as 23:00–23:30!

Vit, John, Jey and Graham, Cafe La Terrasse, Chamonix Cafe La Terrasse, Chamonix