Winter is probably my least favorite season, as always I would choose ninety degrees and sunny over below freezing and cloudy on any given day.
Toulouse is in Southwestern France, (the same latitude as Georgia and our weather is comparable to Atlanta’s) so winter doesn’t get nearly as cold, and it hasn’t snowed yet. But the Pyrénées Mountains are just an hour away, creating the border between France and Spain. And luckily this year, the mountains are snow covered and captivating all lovers of skiing and snowboarding, including my family.
For all those who haven’t skied before, I have to say, you are missing out. For all of you who have, you will understand my joy as I tell you about my weekend in the Pyrénées.
My family and I woke up early last Saturday morning and packed the car in preparation for snow: gants (gloves), chapeaux (hats), écharpes (scarfs), et tout (and all). (Technically I would have been missing class, but everything worked out perfectly that I actually didn’t have class that Saturday.) We got in the car and headed for Saint-Lary, a ski resort buried in the mountain range.
Even just the lovers of the outdoors would appreciate the beauty and magnificence of this mountain range. It’s not just mountains next to mountains, but more like mountains forming on top of each other, creating uneven ridges, vertical peaks, and a wonderland for skiers as gravity not only forced you down the piste (slope) but also drew you to one side or the other.
From the top of un télésiège (chair lift) or tire-fesse (T-bar), the view was outstanding. I always caught myself taking in the scene, but being brought back to reality as my skis were leading me down a course (run). We had gorgeous weather, blue skies with the sun casting giant shadows behind the mountains.
The conditions were fairly good (any snow is better than no snow); however, by the end of the day, things would get a little icy. I was asked which is better: the skiing in France or the skiing in the United States and that honestly depends where you ski.
I‘ve been very fortunate, I have skied out west in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and also back east in Vermont and Quebec. I have experienced amazing conditions (deep fresh snow) even on the East Coast. I think I would compare the Pyrénées to the mountains in Vermont (difficulty wise). It was gorgeous and fun, but fairly easy with a little ice thrown in.
We stayed for two days. The lifts close at dusk, so we all returned to our hotel room, wiped out from the day. Taking advantage of the TV (we don’t have one in our apartment in Toulouse), my siblings and I watched shows and everyone slowly got cleaned up for dinner. It was an early night, as we wanted to hit the slopes again early the next morning.
A little after midi (noon) each day, we would eat at an outside restaurant, situated on the slopes, completely surrounded by the mountains. The atmosphere was heavenly. Sunday, we skied all day and returned to Toulouse that night completely exhausted and desiring sleep.
It was a wonderful weekend – joyous and carefree – but we all agreed it was too short. Fortunately though, the big trip will be next month when we go to skiing for a full week in the Alps.
Back in Toulouse, I have been busy working on a school project that’s mandatory for all students. I’m nearly finished, and I have to do a 30 minute presentation (in French of course) sometime in March or April.
My weekends have been spent with friends; last weekend we celebrated my friend’s 18th birthday with a party/sleepover where we played Just Dance 3 for the Xbox. Next weekend is le repas de classe (class dinner) which is for the students and organized by the students. A boy in my class offered up his house for the party, and nearly all 30 of us are having dinner together.
I have to admit I like the French system where you have class with the same people every day, it builds a comfort and closeness between the students, and of course things like a class dinner happen. So I have a lot of things to still look forward to.
Speaking of “dinner,” I am still thoroughly enjoying the culinary experiences of living in France. Two things that come to mind recently are joues de bœuf (beef cheeks) and steak tartare. Both are delicious!