History And High Jinks In The Snow

This is the third and final post about our recent trip to Les Deux Alpes. It now feels like ages ago since we were there. The mostly gloomy, wet, English weather doesn’t help …

In the previous post I alluded to some of the history of the area. Anyone who knows Barry well will be aware of his fascination of any history of places we visit. In the bedroom we were staying, there was a very old photograph of the early settlement in the area. We think the image dates from around the 1920s, as the first access road was built in 1925.

Les Deux Alpes

You can clearly make our La Muzelle, the stunning mountain that forms a backdrop from Les Deux Alpes to Venosc. Few visitors would spot one of these original homes that’s still standing, surrounded by new shops and homes …

Les Deux Alpes original settlement house still standing January 2020
An original settlement house – can you spot it in the previous image?

There was an extra building on the side of the home, but otherwise it looked remarkably well kept. Sadly it was all closed up, and didn’t look as though anyone was living there. It would’ve been amazing to be able to go inside, to have it as a type of museum with information about the early days.

Les Deux Alpes original settlement church
We found another couple of original buildings too …

How different the village is today, around 100 years since the original settlement image …

Remember Fondues?

Odile had asked us if we’d be back in time for lunch on our first full day – we said it was unlikely as that was the day we went to the main Glacier. She mentioned something about a racket, that she had for us. I had no idea what she meant. We were out at Venosc village on Tuesday, but Wednesday we stayed nearby visiting a museum that Odile drove us to. It meant we could have the lunch meal she’d been keen for us to experience.

What she actually presented us with we discovered was called a ‘raclette‘. You may know what it is? After we’d eaten it we saw signs for it all over the village! Delicious. Very like the 1970s fondue. It’s a Swiss dish apparently, based on heating up and scraping off melted cheese. We also had fried potatoes on the top, and a variety of meats. It was a real treat.

We both loved the French style of eating a number of courses with small portions. Like watercress and French Dressing. Beetroot and crushed garlic. Hardly any meat. The ‘done thing’ was to partake of a small glass of wine only at lunchtime (obviously Barry & I didn’t manage to stick to this!). And a fascinating first of avocado and sugar!

A Ride To The Devil In The Heart

In 1956 the first Diable Gondola was opened. On the Thursday we ventured up the current Gondola. This experience was rather different to the Jandri Express. Sitting in this one we were exposed to the elements, and only the two of us up and down. It was my first time in such a ski-lift, and I have to say I found it rather scary!

The entrance to Le Diable …
The top!

The views at the top were once were mind-blowing, and we wandered slowly around taking it all in.

La Muzelle
La Muzelle from Le Diable Au Coeur

At the top of the cable car there’s a Michelin starred restaurant, run by the son of a friend of Odile and Bruno. We didn’t partake in the extravagance, tempting as it was, but enjoyed a drink in the bar and a light lunch from the snack bar of ‘Le Diable Au Coeur’ – literally meaning ‘The Devil in the heart’.

The area was unsurprisingly a mass of skiers – mostly hip young folks, with an occasional more mature one. A signpost showing the distance to one of the ski-fields in the South Island of New Zealand was a surprise … A mere 18,982km away 😉

Another attraction at the resort is paragliding (parapente in French). We stood and watched a few brave tandem flights – and a few who didn’t make it! I couldn’t watch one who went solo, without skis, ran over the edge and his ‘para’ didn’t emerge! Barry informed me – no idea what happened to him/her. It looked like a sheer drop, but we think there must’ve been ledge where he/she landed, as there didn’t seem to be any shrieks of horror when it happened!

Diable Paragliders Les Deux Alps

Odile informed us that evening and she and Bruno had taken the plunge and tandem paraglided about nine years ago! She even, after much searching, found the DVD of the event. Showing them each smiling excitedly. Odile I think would’ve been in her mid to late sixties at the time, and Bruno in his late seventies. Wow! What an inspirational couple.

A stunning ride back down the mountain ensued, with Barry taking photos and me holding on with a vice-like grip!

Aprés Ski and Splendid Snow

We explored the area lots each day, but didn’t partake in the potentially colourful night-life. Apart from one drink in a bar that had fire on the tables after our trip on the Diable. We met a delightful young couple from Leeds, who snapped this fab shot of us with the sun setting behind La Muzelle after we’d taken each other:

On the final day of our trip, it snowed. Not just the faint flurry we generally get in England. But a proper cover of around eight inches. We watched from the warmth of Odile and Bruno’s home, then couldn’t resist walking out in it and capturing some snowy shots …

Breathtakingly beautiful.

Snow at Les Deux Alpes

A Hair-Raising Coach Journey

Following the snow-fall, we were up bright and early to catch Ben’s Bus back to Grenoble Airport on the Saturday. It’s difficult to imagine such a journey in UK – with TEN hairpin bends to descend the mountain road!

Slowly but surely our coach driver got us down. Barry sat by the window while I held my breath for much of the time. He ooh-ed and ahh-ed animatedly at the sheer drops. Little fazes him …

Early morning light in a snowy Les Deux Alpes

What a spectacular week. It was so sad to say au revouir to Odile and Bruno; such gentle, kind, wise and loving people. We’ll always fondly remember our special time in Les Deux Alpes.

Sunset over La Muzelle

More Shenanigans ..

In the next post I’ll reveal where we went just a few days after returning from France. A rather unusual residence with more special people …

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