After our experiences at CairnGorm we made a few decisions.
1. Buy you own boots. My feet were sore for a couple of days after using the hire boots. We did some investigation, went into Aviemore, tried on some boots and I came away a happy (but poorer) customer. Paul has large feet, his boots had to be ordered from another store but a few days later he ended up with some. We then clomped around the house for a few evenings in them.
2. Let’s go on a ski holiday! I reckoned that the way for Paul to become a confident skier was to get some miles under his skis and that meant going to a resort in France. A day on the Internet and we had a holiday to La Plagne booked, flying out of Glasgow five days after booking!
Travel on a holiday like this is the painful part. We left Glasgow about 7:30am and landed at Chambery. It was chaotic trying to retrieve the couple of bags from the luggage belt as there was just not enough space for the people and bags. Then out to the transfer bus, once we found it. A garbled “Your bus is number X, it is in Bay Y, behind that building” and a vague wave outside!
As we were staying in Belle Plagne (2050m), the highest one of the La Plagne resorts, we were last off the bus. It was a bit of a walk to our accommodation (again, a vague “Follow the wooden walkway and it’s on your right; and oh, you can’t book in until 4pm” and it was just after 2pm). We did eventually get into our ‘studio’ after queuing again for a while. At least we were very centrally located, the bakers 50m from the door, the Spar about 200m and snow to put the skis on about 100m from the door. We were hiring skis and that went very smoothly.
What can I say about the skiing? The snow cover was excellent. We could ski to the lower parts of the resort (Les Coches 1450m and La Roche, beside the Olympic bobsleigh run) in the mornings; it became a little soft in the afternoon. The slopes were groomed to perfection overnight and the snow was good and grippy for skiing on. We met very few patches of ice and hard snow, the runs were generally quiet except at bottle-neck areas. Queues for lifts were usually minimal if you had an early lunch (we had a sandwich which was a little squashed as a rucksack and chairlifts do this!) and you avoided the area around Plagne Bellecote in the mid to late afternoon. It was also amazing to see all the very small children in their ski school classes - we referred to tem as the 'Penguins' as they often did not have poles and had to shuffle along if they ran out of speed.
On the last day we were almost exhausted as we queued so little, had a quick rest on the chairlift or gondola and then back out skiing again. We even managed a last run down from Roche de Mio on the Tunnel run, one of our favourite runs. A pleasant blue, some steeper slopes which had a few ‘moguls’ on by the afternoon and a couple of long ‘schusses’ which I reckon I got up to about 60 kph - faster than I can go on my road bike!
Would we do this again? I think the answer is yes, the chaotic airport on the way home is a bit of a distant memory, we now have our own skis as well, we can transfer some of the skills learnt to back-country touring. Roll on a real winter 2014 - 2015!
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