Tag Archives: snowboarding

Getting French As: Le Ski France part 1

1 Jan

I know the concept of opposite seasons is a difficult one to grasp, but the number of people that just can’t fathom the fact that we from down under are used to hot Christmases is a little worrying. Then again, I find it hard to fathom that people think they can actually catch the cheese.

Anyway, the relevance of what I’m trying to say comes with the fact that a “white”, or even cold Christmas is something of a novelty to people of Australia and many other countries. It doesn’t matter how high you turn the air conditioner while watching Miracle on 34th Street, you just can’t get the real experience.

With this in mind, and the fact that Mr G. Warming has made a white Christmas a novelty for Londoners these days, we set about getting guaranteed snow for this year’s festive season. Naturally, the answer was  a ski resort in the French Alps. It began as any holiday should with an early morning cab ride to the airport, which would’ve been less stressful had the cabs actually shown up and not forced us to make frantic phone calls to ensure we made it on time. My stress was somewhat alleviated by the comic relief of a friend, who was heard to remark “have we got Kevin?”

Just in case you didn't get it.

Just in case you didn’t get it.

Our early morning Monarch Airlines flight went relatively smoothly considering the time of year, the half empty flight even allowing us to stretch out and catch up on some shut-eye. After a short wait at Grenoble, soon we were on a coach piloted by Pierre Shumacher, who did not drive as though the lives of forty other people were of much concern. The scenery did get steadily more amazing, although the motion of the bus meant that the photos I took are not even up to my low, low standards.

Sooner than we probably should have, we arrived at Les Deux Alpes (The Two Alps) and found that speaking French is actually quite easy. You see, despite the french being so protective of their tongue, you really only need to put “le” in front of everything. For example: “le airport”, “le coffee”, “le holy shit this bus is going to fall down the mountain”. Sadly none of the people we were traveling with found this as amusing as my friend and I, and it was put to bed fairly early on.

Our ski France holiday was booked through Travel Talk, and for the 439 pounds that we paid, I was skeptical of what to expect. The price included six nights hostel accommodation, all ski hire, lift passes, three meals a day AND four three-hour lessons on the slopes. Le bargain! Sorry I’ll stop now.

Despite the fact that we had booked through Travel Talk, there was little to suggest they were involved in anything but the booking process. This wasn’t a bad thing, as the process at UCPA was exceptionally smooth without any extra help. UCPA is not a hotel or travel company, rather its a sports association that exists to provide great ski experiences while keeping the cost as low as possible.

This is done in a number of ways, including guests taking on small responsibilities like wiping down their dining table and basic cleaning of their room before they check out. So this isn’t a ski holiday for people like this, but it’s pretty cheap considering the price of skiing in many other places.

Upon check-in we were issued with our room numbers and lift passes, then invited to get fitted out for our equipment straight away. To be honest when I woke that morning at 3:15am I wasn’t thinking by mid-afternoon I’d be cutting some “gnarly” lines through the powder of the French Alps. To be honest again, that’s not what happened. To describe my efforts on a snowboard as “gnarly” would violate my commitment to truth and quality, but we did hit the slopes and the view ain’t too bad up there.

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After naturally having our confidence obliterated by people half our size and age (and somehow, probably with more money), we retired to UCPA where we found many of our trip mates had started testing out the local beverage dispensaries. It was also time for dinner, but I’ll devote a more appropriate chunk of the next post to the food.

That’ll have to do for now. I must also say happy new year to everyone who inexplicably keeps me from having an excuse to stop this blog by actually reading it. I’m very grateful to all of you. And to show this in true BBS style, here is an “arty” camera phone picture of some sky explosions which occurred last night when we trekked in to central London to experience the annual festival of public urination. The explosions were pretty cool too.

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Thanks for reading, safe travels in 2013. J