With the low snow levels in Europe so far this winter, We only booked a trip to France two weeks before departure. We decided on Val Thorens, the highest ski town in the Alpes, knowing it had some decent base levels compared to some of the other mountains throughout the Alpes. We booked a simple apartment ,in the Olympiades block, for the two of us, right in the centre of Val Thorens, for 1 week from the 27thDec - 3rdof Jan, 2015
The flight out was at 6:20 am from Edinburgh Airport direct to Geneva, the flight was nice and short and arrived just 10 minutes late. Being a package holiday we knew we would have to wait before the bus transfer departed to V.T., little did we know what was awaiting us!. The bus journey of 155 km took 15 hours, rather than the usual 3 hrs. Heavy snowfall had caused gridlock on the main motorway from Geneva to Moutier, the last big town before the mountain roads begin. Therefore, we had a slow journey to Albertville then proceeded at a snails pace to Moutiers. A debate was then had regarding the condition of the mountain road, up to V.T., which we decided to try at 3am on the Sunday morning, tired and cranky. Little did we really know, we were the only coach of 14 ran by Crystal Tours to make it to the town that day. We were very lucky to make it to the resort and our accommodation, as others didn't, leaving them to sleep emergency accommodation provided by the French authorities such as school halls, libraries and community centres. We later found out some people spent 24 hours on their coach as they couldn't make it to their accommodation.
Since we were so lucky to have a full Sunday to ski, we made the most of it, only having 3 hours sleep before the ski alarm was set to wake us up.
The alarm rang and the kettle boiled for the essential cup of tea. Looking out the window it was still snowing so no rush we made it out about 915 and headed up the mountain. With V.T. being so high there are no trees so it was going to be a cold, windy, snowy day with little visibility. We skied a little and stuck to blue runs with the odd bit of powder between them and had a fun morning, stopping for lunch at 12pm at the ‘360’ restaurant. Not having had any proper food for almost 48 hours I was looking forward to some pasta and chicken, then some lovely desert. With real food in my stomach I felt much better and headed out to continue to ski all afternoon. The day was fun on the non-crowded fresh snow but cold, about -20 at 2300m. It was so cold at the top the GoPro did not work resulting in very little footage of the day. It was an early night to recover some long lost zzzzzzzzs with the alarm set in anticipation of the cold bluebird day to come.
Woke up for day two, looked out the window and got excited, had a quick breakfast and then out quickly and sharply for the days skiing. Wow, it was cold and again -20 out so the GoPro wasn’t working again, which was very frustrating as the conditions were perfect with some lovely light deep snow! The morning was spent on some lovely runs in the bowl using the Peclet, Moraine and Portette lifts with some cruising on piste and jumping off piste and finding some pockets of mid thigh powder. The best run of the morning being the ‘Rhodos’ red run which which not pisted and was at least knee deep the whole way down, this was a lot of fun. A nice fast lunch was had then headed over to the Cime Caron tram. The top of this tram is at 3200m, the highest point in V.T. The view was a cracker. This has a couple of long reds with some blacks off it, we skied the Col De l’ Audzin a couple times in some lovely soft springy pisted snow. Both times I skied down the non pisted black run from half way down ‘Cristaux’ and this was a great run, with again knee deep to mid thigh powder, plenty of space and not many skiers! The first run was perfect, so much fun that we had to go back up again, the second run I nailed a massive rock and did a nice tomahawk down the mountain and had to climb back up to get my missing left ski. This wasn't quite so much fun without skis in waste deep powder. This almost finished me so we stuck to nice cruisey runs the rest of the day before heading up to the Meribel side of V.T. Up that side of the mountain we went to see what the famous Follie Douce was like, as expected it was kicking off, blasting the beats but it was cold and very busy so we didn’t stay long. The evening consisted of some shopping and a nice walk before a lovely dinner with a nice huge steak, then early to bed.
We had paid for the Trois Valley pass so we decided to make use of it. We woke up early with the plan of heading over to the furthest away valley of Courchevel. The journey wasn't the easiest and we knew it would take a fair bit of time so we were up sharp and away! We caught almost the first two tows to make it up to the top on the Meribel side of V.T, skied down on a lovely long red ‘Lac de la Chambre’ then joined a very crap long blue bit of road down to Meribel Mottaret, avoid that like the plague! Once we made it up to the top of Courchevel we skied down to 1850 with a lovely long red ‘Combe Saulire’ and stopped just short of the 1850 village for a hot chocolate and vin chaud whilst admiring the gorgeous views of the white trees and mountains. Having skied a couple runs in the very similar Courchevel area it was time to head back to V.T. Skiing back to Meribel Mottaret was again a very long red which was very icy in places and wasn’t the most fun. Making it to the top of the area we skied in the Les Menuires area and did a couple of runs there then had another lovely lunch before heading back to V.T. Last run of the day was down the Plein Sud which normally would be a nice red into a blue run, however, at the end of the day it was very busy, bumpy and just a necessity rather than being enjoyable. Overall, it was a fun day skiing but we did feel that we queued a lot compared to what we skied but glad we made it over there and back without getting stranded. We decided the skiing was much better in V.T. than in Corcheval and Meribel due to the queues and the conditions. At night we had another walk and this time a stop in Café Snesko, the Danish bar. This was the place to be for Apres in the village, they had live music every night with a happy hour from 5 to 7. Everyone in the bar was involved in the singing and the actions, making it a fun place to round off the day. Dinner was in the La Maison restaurant, which was good, then early to bed.
The Wednesday was New Years Eve, so we had planned a big night ahead with the much anticipated snow party. We were again up early into which was finally a warmer day and decided to head back over to Meribel ski area, skiing the same lovely long red down to the base of the Mount Vallon gondola, with my previous trips to the Trois Vallee, I remember this being a fun long run and having some great views down the valley and I was not wrong. Once we skied the long red we worked our way over higher into the V.T. side and skied a couple lifts that we hadn't done yet, including the ‘Col’ glacier, into the long blue ‘Moraine’. We then headed back over to the Cime Carron tram and skied, what turned out to being, one of our favourite long reds with a nice black to finish. Last run of the day was up the Peclet gondola and then up the glacier, by this time the weather had come in and with it was some light snow. It was still very cold at -20, windy and snowy, so I regretted the decision at the top but the steep black into nice long red ‘Lac Blanc’. Once skiing was done we then realised that we had not booked anywhere for dinner that evening. After wondering about trying lots of fully booked restaurants we gave up and headed to a café in the Sports centre, which turned out to be a gem where we had a lovely far cheaper than normal dinner! Back to chill in the apartment then head out into the snow party at 1130pm, atmosphere was awesome with some good music and thousands of people in the snow celebrating the new year, back home at 1am to sleep as again shattered post skiing!
New years day is always fun first thing as its never busy, so we were out sharp again and met up with a friend and skiied the morning with him, working our way over to the Orelle area. The first run down there was the ‘Mauriennaise’ run which was a lovely freshly pisted red. We then took the two chairs up to the top and on the way up what I remember as being some lovely off piste skiing but I saw lots of rocks and it was evident that the snow levels were still very low. At the top is the worlds highest zip line and it was cool to see someone do it, it looked scary flying over the glacier. I tried to ski down under the top chair but the snow wasn’t the best and it was tracked out and hard but did get a couple of good turns in. We then headed back to the VT bowl area and up to the ‘Col’ glacier where I went off piste to the right and found some still gorgeous soft snow and it was a lovely fun run! A nice early lunch was had at the ‘Moutiere’ restaurant next to the VT park. After lunch we headed over to the Cime Carron tram and skied there, before ending up back in the bowl to finish the day. We did après again in the Café Snesko bar which was similar to the first time there but again was super fun. Dinner was down in bottom part of VT which we hadn’t really spent some time in so was good to get down there, we then headed up to a couple of bars and they were dead so headed home to bed.
The Friday was our final day and we decided that we would ski our favourite runs of the holiday, less the one in Courchevel as we didn’t really want to waste time getting there. It was again a fun day, which got delayed first thing after skiing the Mount Vallon lift in the Meribel area due to some massive queues. The day was super fun and we skied all round the V.T. area, with some lovely on piste skiing since the place had run out of non tracked, easily accessible powder. Lunch was had at our favourite restaurant at the top of the Cascades lift, which was for me my usual pasta every day for lunch. Right at the end the weather came in and our last run off the Peclet gondola we couldn’t see a thing so it left a bad run for our last of the holiday. Dinner was veal for a change, home to pack then off to bed as we had to get up at 3:50 am for our transfer to Geneva airport.
The journey home was early but simple and we were back to Scotland at lunchtime. Looking back on the trip, the holiday was worth the 15hr bus journey it took us to get there! The pair of us had so much fun, with generally great conditions all week we would have been happy to keep on skiing rather than go back to work on the Monday!!