Val Thorens, March 2016
We went skiing in Val Thorens this year, even though we skied there a few years ago. We tend to avoid going to the same resort twice, but Val Thorens was so good that we decided to come back. We skied with Victor's sister, her family and their friends, a group of 13 altogether.
We took a train from York to the Alps. It turned out to be doable but very long. We had to change in London, then Paris. Eventually we reached Lyon airport where we stayed overnight. The next day we rented a car and drove to the mountains, stopping in Chartreuse Regional Nature Park for a few hours. The weather was great, it was warm and sunny with some snow in the hills. We left the car near the Chartreuse monastery and went for a walk.
The Grande Chartreuse monastery is fairly high in the mountains. It looks like a fortress rather than a monastery. Thick walls, watchtowers, tiny entrance door. The monastery is a home of Carthusian monks. The monastery is also known for Chartreuse liqueur which is made with 130 herbs and plants. Only two monks know the recipe. Nowadays the liqueur is produced in the city of Voiron nearby.
This plance is peaceful and quiet, with nobody around.
The monastery is closed for visitors. There is a museum nearby but we preferred to look at the monastery from the surrounding hills. In the few hours that we spent walking around, we did not see a single person inside, but heard the bell ringing.
We were meant not to disturb the peaceful surroundings but things didn't always work according to plan.
The kids found a lizard. At first it tried to run away but eventually got tired and let the kids hold it.
The lizard was very photogenic.
We went along a road that went up above the monastery. To avoid retracing our steps, we decended through the forest with no paths. It was quite steep and slippery. The white snow field at the bottom looks flat but in reality it was rather steep.
The boulders are overgrown with moss. The snow is largely gone but the Spring hasn't arrived yet. We eventually got down to a road that led back to the car. We drove to Val Thorens where the rest of our group was already waiting.
Day one. We are exploring the mountains.
The weather wasn't particularly kind to us this year: we only had two sunny days (out of six). The girls are enjoying skiing whatever the weather.
We were often skiing as a group and hence occasionally had to wait for everybody to get down.
Sonya is carving the snow.
Overcast. The village in the valley is Val Thorens.
Yasha and Lova.
A zip wire from Orelleto Thorens. It is probably quite an expensive ride.
This was a great day, the overnight snowfall covered all ski tracks. Every morning, the girls went to a ski school and the grown-ups had almost three hours to enjoy skiing.
The pristine slope is now all covered with ski tracks...
The sun is shining over the valley but this place is shielded by the mountains.
The overnight snowfall was quite considerable and skiing on the fresh snow was great.
Lova is following somebody's ski.
Lova fell and lost his ski in the snow. He found it eventually but it wasn't easy.
Looking for the lost ski.
We must have spent a couple of hours on that slope (Porette-Thorens). The piste down to the ski lift is almost flat.
Plenty of opportunities for off-piste skiing.
Sonya and Ksyusha also enjoyed off-piste skiing, particularly jumping off snow drifts.
Sun bathing on a ski lift.
A view from our apartment: sunset.
No more good weather. It turned cloudy and quite windy and the top chair lifts were closed.
An oasis in a snow desert.
Helped by the wind.
Sonya's ski school.
The last day. Saying good bye to the mountains.
The snow in the last couple of days turned pale brown (watermelon snow). At first we thought that the view was distorted by the sunglasses, but the colour turned out to be real. Apparently, the southern wind sometimes brings sand from the Sahara Desert which colours the snow.