Last year we decided to take a “once in a lifetime” spring break trip to the Alps. I’ll split this posting up into several sections to keep any of them from being too long. I’m writing this as we’re flying home on the last leg of our trip. So far there have been no travel problems other than the 14 -16 hour length of the trip. We chose Chamonix for our first trip to Europe because Chamonix is not a purpose built resort. Let me get this out of the way at the beginning. We were treated well by the French people. We don't sppeak French so we were typicla tourists. We were not hasseled or pushed around in lift lines. One thing we Americans need to keep in mind is France and Great Brittan are both small countires with less than 60 million people. According to our ski guide Chamonix is a town of 30,000 full-time residents. Chamonix is beautiful and several times larger than Aspen or Vail. We made our airline and room reservations months ago. Airline fares were about $700 per ticket and the three bedroom condo (apartment is what it’s called in Europe) was $1,800 for 7 days. Our first surprise was the flight from Amsterdam to Geneva. Beer, Wine, coffee, tea or water, only. No Soft drinks on a midday KLM flight! Flying back on a morning flight we had the same beverage selection. Yes the beer and wine were free. The apartment was nearly new. Typically European, it was small by USA standards. Each bedroom had a closet. They were just large enough for two twin beds and two night stands, no dresser, chair or luggage stand. One very small, modern bath with a shower, another ½ bath (toilet and sink only) and a third ½ bath (tub with shower and sink only). There was also a small combination washer dryer under the counter top in the bath with a shower. This was an “uncatered apartment”. Towels and linens were furnished but everyone made their own bed. We were to bring everything else with us. There was a large store only a hundred yards from the apartment so stocking was no problem, but it was different. The unit was billed as having WiFi access but two night the WiFi disappeared. It worked great 80% of the time and not at all 20%. We rented the unit through a British company, MyFrenchChalet.com. that I learned about via Snowheads.com. The exchange rate for Dollars and Euros works against Americans but two things were bargains, lift tickets and the apartment. I'll cover ski areas, snow conditions and european equipment later.
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3/17/07 at 6:42pm