Almost forty years ago, my parents and two younger sisters visited family friends in Les Deux Alpes. I’ve looked at the photos from their holiday many times, and wished I could go one day.
Making My “One Day I’ll …” A Reality
Following mum’s death in May 2018, I reconnected with the French family they’d visited. Since then I organised a trip to Cabourg last May, to stay in their summer home. Gosh that sounds incredible! Fancy having your own ‘summer home’. Anyway, I digress …
Sadly Barry missed the trip-of-a-lifetime that included one of the French Canals and Venice, due the non-arrival of his visa. He was bereft, as Cabourg was so close to, and my visit coincided with, the centennial celebrations of D-Day. Barry does love history. More on that to come.
In early December 2019, I’d been in touch with Odile by email. She’d sent me photos of a mountain she can see from her window, which reignited my desire to visit this place “one day”.
After a quick search I discovered we could fly to Grenoble Alps Isere airport (one of the closest airports), from Manchester, at weekends – for only £108 return for us both. What a crazy price! So I looked at possible dates, chatted to Barry, emailed Odile and voila! We booked flights for 12th to 18th January.
The Journey Is Part Of The Thrill Of Travel
It’s easy to increase the cost of a cheap flight! But we resisted well. The £108 was cabin bags only, and included an early onward flight from Manchester. We knew we could easily pack lightly, but the 8am flight was tricky. Booking a hotel to sleep in till 5am seemed ludicrous, it was almost the same cost as the flight! So we booked train tickets from Chester to Manchester airport for the Saturday night, the latest possible.
We got the last bus from Christleton (where Areandare is moored) to Chester, which got us there around 8pm. Had a meal and a couple of drinks. Then jumped on the train hoping there’d be some sort of seat to sleep on. There was. Sort of! Not the comfiest, and I was joined by a young homeless man who snuggled up next to me. I think we’d maybe taken his usual spot. Downstairs when we went to check-in there were a few more sleeping. How lovely the airport seemingly turns a blind eye to this.
I did however seriously fail to adequately research how far Grenoble airport is from Les Deux Alpes. When we landed and THEN did the Google search, I discovered it was about two hours away. Yes I know! The previous post talks of spending less time on my ‘Smart phone’, but boy it’s useful. I also found a Shuttle was the cheapest and simplest way. Fortunately there was one in the car park. Sadly, not booking in advance cost us heaps. Bens bus thankfully had room for us and our cabin bags for the journey, but at a cost of 40 euros each. Phew. We booked a return for the following Saturday online (on my phone again!), for another £29.80 each. Had I booked both journeys in advance, it would’ve cost just £51.50 each. Damn!
C’est La Vie! There followed a breathtaking journey. We were blown away watching the scenery driving through snowy mountains, gazing in awe at fairytale villages dotted along the way. The road up to Les Deux Alpes is steep. Incredibly steep. Involving a number of hairpin bends. Actually ten. However the ascent was a lot less scary than the descent!
Fantastic French Hospitality
My father met Odile’s father in the early 1950s, when travelling through France on his way back to England after working for a few years in Nigeria. He was an adventurous soul.
As a family we spent many happy times with ‘Pa John’, his wife Madeleine, and family. Many of their children, as they grew up, came to stay in England with us. And my older sister and I stayed in France. When my younger daughter was studying French, she asked to go with mum and dad to Pa John’s in Soissons to learn more French. Wonderfully close connexions.
Staying with Odile, and her husband Bruno, is akin to an extension of a lifetime of happy memories for me.
It was a first time for Barry to experience French hospitality. We’ve previously travelled to Paris in 2010 with Tom, but stayed in a hotel for only a couple of days and did ‘touristy’ things.
Breathtaking Beauty And World-class Skiing
Many of you reading will have experienced the breathtaking beauty of snow covered mountains. Skiing was something I always wanted to try, but could never ‘fit in’ or afford as a single parent working full-time as a midwife with a mortgage and bills to pay. I somehow managed to fund both my girls for school ski trips. I’m immensely proud of myself for that.
Barry on the other hand lived in New Zealand, where skiing is a big part of life for many in the winter. He and his first wife Donna, Jamie and Tom his children, enjoyed many skiing holidays. He’d have loved to experience it again.
We discovered that Les Deux Alpes is one of the best places in the world to ski. Here’s what they boast, and quite rightly:
“Because the glacier rises to 3,600 metres’ altitude, Les 2 Alpes ski area is always guaranteed real snow – and with 398 hectares of marked pistes, it’s pure bliss for snowsports-lovers. Its position high up in the Ecrins mountain (in Oisans) range makes Les 2 Alpes one of the highest skiable summits in France. One spectacular run starts from the glacier at 3,600 m and descends 2,300 m to the village of Mont de Lans at an altitude of 1,300 m – without skiers once needing to use a ski lift! “ https://www.les2alpes.com/en/ski-area.html
Barry was very tempted; but age, finances, lack of insurance for skiing, and my inability got in the way. Consequently we did our utmost to enjoy all we could of the mountains on foot. It wasn’t in the least difficult …
I think this post is long enough for now. More to come tomorrow, including a spot of history that most visitors wouldn’t even contemplate, how we easily managed to enjoy NOT skiing, a spectacular snowfall, and lots of Barry’s fabulous photos. It made require two more posts tbh 😉