My blog has been quiet and I apologize. January flew by, and before I knew it, les vacances started again mid-February. So I did not have a chance to write until now.
France is split into three zones where each zone get two weeks of vacation (they split it up into three different zones so not everyone is on vacation at once), and the most typical place to go in February is skiing in the Alps.
Anxious to play in the snow, my family and I packed the car and headed towards Grenoble, coming directly from school and work on Friday, February 10th. With all our hats and gloves, ski boots and snow pants, we drove through the night and arrived in the mountains around 3am. However, even though it was a late night, it didn’t impede on our skiing as we were at the bottom of the lifts the next day, ready for some fresh powder. From where we were staying, it was just a short walk to the gondola.
I have to say, the Alps are absolutely stunning. In every direction there are snow covered peaks. Vertical drops cut into the crystal blue sky, just begging to be skied on. Luckily for us, the weather was gorgeous: sunny, clear and cold. But the snow was very deep (record snowfalls this season) and it even snowed one day during our stay.
The day it snowed a lot of runs were closed due to avalanche risk (a little fact that would have worried my mother if she had known at the time). We did do some skiing out of bounds (hors-piste), as there are barely any trees in the Alps, and it’s all open. We would go to the edge of a run, look over, and say “ah, that seems doable.”
Thank God I knew how to ski before this trip. The Alps definitely tested my skiing ability, plus I am not used to deep powder (a dream for skiers, but more challenging than groomed slopes). Even though I always kept up with the group and was ready and willing to try any run, it wasn’t always pretty. Somewhat off balance, sometimes slow, and occasionally falling, I always made it down the mountain.
Every day we skied, all except one day. Not only was it because it was the day it snowed, but also we were without our ski equipment. Here’s why: there were two apartments: one for the kids and one for the adults. The kids could go to their apartment to hang out, watch TV, take a shower, sleep, and everything after skiing, but we would all reconvene for dinner at the parents’ apartment.
All our clothes, toothbrushes, ski equipment… everything was in our apartment. So one night, while leaving to go to dinner, we all exited the building, and as soon as we closed the door (which automatically locks) we realized that all three sets of keys were sitting on the kitchen table - on the other side of the door.
It didn’t seem like that big of a deal since we could call the agency, and everything would be fine, so we didn’t worry too much. It was late on Tuesday night so we decided to call the next day (Wednesday) and we would just sleep in our clothes at the parents’ apartment on the couches.
The next day we called, only to find out the agency is closed on Wednesdays. So instead of skiing, all the little kids went ice skating. Clara (a girl my age) and I took pictures and watched them while drinking hot chocolate. We also occupied ourselves by touring the little village, and of course, us being girls, ended up in a few shops. When our apartment was finally unlocked that afternoon (someone helped us break in), champagne was purchased for dinner and we had a little celebration.
Speaking of dinner, we ate really well on this trip. Breakfast was always really big as we didn’t really have a lunch during the day. We would stop at a café on the mountain for some hot chocolate or gaufres (waffles) with Nutella, but not an actual meal. Dinner was always great. For me the highlights were les raclettes (different types of cheese melted that you eat over potatoes or ham) and fondue.
There were three families on this trip, and I have to admit, I adored them all, and it was really fun. With great friends, delicious food, and days packed with action on the slopes, the week passed by way too fast, and before we knew it we were packing the car up again.
On the way back to Toulouse, though, we made a little “pit stop” in Saint-Etienne, to have dinner with my dad’s mom and brother and stay overnight on Saturday the 18th. Sunday, my dad left from there to go to Paris for work, while Augustin, my mom, and I continued on to Toulouse, leaving Colette to spend the week with her grandmother (as there was still another week left of vacation). I so very luckily got to spend my second week of the February vacation in Madrid.