A busier skiing season
This was actually our third visit, and the second visit skiing. This time it was far snowier, but also busier, being both French and UK holiday weeks.
Equipped with our own skis and still learning on the free baby slopes, it was an inexpensive week of skiing. We each bought a six day walker's cable car pass for 52€. A ski pass would have cost about eight times more. Clearly on a walker's pass you can't carry around your skis and so before checking in at the campsite down in Venosc, we drove into Les 2 Alpes where Brun Sport offer ski lockers for 26€ for a week.
With our skis stored in the resort, we had a cheaper and easier ride up and down in the cable car between Venosc and Les 2 Alpes each morning and night.
The biggest difference over our visit at Christmas was how busy the slopes were. We'd hardly had to queue for the drag lift on the Petit Viking on the previous visit, whereas in February half term, by 10.15am ski school groups of children were making the queue hard to put up with. So we would ski until 10.15am, by which time our legs ached anyway, and the smell of croissants from the neighbouring cafe were too strong to ignore.
Skis lifts are designed for skiers, and though they cater to walkers, once you get to the top and are expected to get off, walking boots rather than skis are a considerable disadvantage. You can only hope the attendant at the top notices the absence of skis and slows down the lift to give you more time to get off and out of the way before the chair whacks you on the head and you slip on the ice.
The walk down the west mountain is lovely. It's well signed and the path descends gently, occasionally crossing paths with skiers. In some places numerous walkers have created compacted ice on the path making it slippery and more preferable to seek firmer footings in the snow at the edge. You just have to accept that every tenth step will land you knee deep in snow.
We ate our way through more of the menu, including our favorites of steak frites and the house pie, and trying things we'd not yet had. Tony had a huge pot of moules (served with chips and a beer, all for 17€), and a huge faux fillet, which is not a fake steak like it sounds, but a cut similar to sirloin that doesn't exist in British butchery.
We'd settle the bill and take the remainder of our carafe of wine to the deck chairs and soak up the sun until 2.30pm when we'd walk the rest of the way down the mountain and back into town where the outdoor pool was just opening for swimmers at 3pm.
Around 4.15pm we'd enjoy the last of the sun, drinking vin chaud, mulled wine, from an Italian delicatessen in the high street, or a large cold glass of Heineken from a snack bar further down the road.
Finally around 5pm we would take the cable car back down to Venosc where Cleopatra's own heater plus an oil-filled radiator, and electric blanket on the back seat, would have us snuggly warm for a boardgame or two and maybe an Amazon show on the Kindle Fire before bed, ready to get up and repeat the process.
There's something satisfyingly relaxing about getting into a familiar routine. By our third full-week's stay we've found the things we like, so why stray from the old routine?
And then another day we purchased 3€ sledges, only to be told off both top and bottom of the ski lift because they're forbidden on the ski slopes. We hid them in our backpacks until after lunch when the litre of wine and several genopes got the better of us and we joined several other sledgers breaking the rules.
The weather was outstanding once again. We had just one overcast day and six days of coats-off, sleeves-rolled-up, full sun.
We left Venosc at 7am this morning and expect to arrive at the Calais Eurotunnel terminal around 2.45pm but I'm pretty sure we'll be back in Les 2 Alpes this Christmas.