The Long-Awaited Holiday Recap

Monday, February 20, 2012

(Alternative title: I Finally Found the Cable For My Camera)

It started off grey. Low-lying clouds drifted up from the valley, seeping between the trees and into our bones. We moved carefully through the murky half-light, our bodies slowly remembering how to do this thing.

All was well, for the first two hours. Then came a phone call, tears, an ambulance. Sa clavicule, elle est cassée. Fin and I looked at each other and looked away, heartsick. Glad it wasn't us, guilty for our gladness.

We awoke on the third day to fat snowflakes fluttering down, filling the air like confetti. It fell, and it fell, and it fell. We bounced and tumbled and whooped through knee-deep snow. Our car got stuck. We retreated, gratefully, to the hot tub. I cannot overstate how good it was to sink, groaning, into that steaming pool at the end of the day. A drink didn't hurt, either.

Finally the clouds parted. The snow of the previous days had been bullied into submission and the pistes were all but empty. The only sound was the thrum of our skis trembling over the grooved surface. I swished and swooped from one run to the next. Even my mum took to the slopes, for the first time since she left France to come home and begin cancer treatment three years ago. She skied cautiously, carefully, but still - she skied.

Fin began skiing 8 years ago, under the questionable instruction of me and my dad. This year, for the first time, I caught glimpses of how it will be one day when he can effortlessly keep pace with me. I can't wait.

(No, I didn't help him. I was too busy laughing.)

French alpine food follows a basic pattern: meat, cheese, or meat + cheese. In an exciting twist on this theme, the meat above was served with a generous crumbling of salt, a token leaf or two, and a slab of butter. No bread, just... butter. Oh, France.

It was all going so well (broken collarbones and motoring mishaps aside). 

And then it got cold. Very, very cold.

That's 9.30 in the morning, just to be clear. And it got colder. So cold that the very air around us seemed to freeze. Tiny particles shimmered in the sunlight like glitter. Every breath chilled me to the bone.

When we stopped at lunchtime - in a hilarious café where the electricity went off every time they used the putain micro-onde (the "fucking microwave"), so that Fin had to continuously flick a switch in the fusebox above his head - it was so cold that the water in the toilet bowl had frozen. Yowza. When I took my glove off to try and take a picture, I lost all feeling in my hand within about ten seconds and didn't get it back for an hour.

This is me. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Hey, Kirsty, maybe you should have laid off on the cheese fondue". And you would be right. But as well as the thin layer of fromage that congealed around my body over the course of the week, I am also wearing:

A thermal vest
A thermal base layer
Another thermal base layer
A fleece
Another fleece
A ski jacket
Thermal long johns
A scarf
A hat
A balaclava
A hood
A smile (you'll have to take my word for that, though.)

That's six layers just on my top half, and three on my head. Like I said. Very, very cold.

And very, very fun.

For those who are interested in these sorts of things, we stayed in the amazing Chalet La Giettaz in La Giettaz en Aravis, in Savoie, which I would recommend a million percent. We flew easyJet to Grenoble, hired a car and drove there in under a couple of hours. We skied in Megève, the Espace Diamant and Le Grand Bornand. Did I mention the HOT TUB?

Images of Fin skiing and of me wearing everything I own by Kieran Burchell

10 boats moored

  1. Oh, le sigh. J and I spent a week of our honeymoon in Yellowstone on a winter snowmobile tour and it was also in the minus 20's. REALLY damn cold. But it was so fun! It's lovely to look at photos of snow holidays other than ours!

  2. Nice pictures Kirsty. Also you have the sweater of my dreams! I love that sweater, and have been lusting after it for awhile. watch out.

    1. I actually think I found it through your Pinterest! It's very cosy, but hand wash only, so obviously it has just been sitting at the bottom of my washing basket since I got home ;)

  3. What a lovely vacation! When I first moved to Switzerland, I could not believe the volume of cheese served and consumed everywhere. The streets literally smell of cheese and butter in the evenings.

    If you don't mind answering, what company did you rent your car from? I'm planning a France trip and might need a car, and I've never rented there before. Thank you!

    1. My mum rented it online from Budget, but to be honest it wasn't that great. It took FOREVER to compelte the paperwork at the airport, then they didn't provide snow chains or a high-vis vest which are actually mandatory in that region of France, so we couldn't use the car for half the week after it snowed. Big fat fail. Sorry I can't be more help!

    2. Thanks, at least I know where not to rent from!

  4. So. Jealous.
    Lovely photos too Kirsty, it's like being there in that moment that the lift pops up through the cloud!

    On cars - rentals always have to provide high-vis vests, triangles (in case of breakdowns) and snow chains or snow tyres in the winter (unless it's a four wheel drive I think).

    I've used Europcar before who weren't too bad.

  5. oh now I want to go skiing even more!x

  6. oh, i've been wanting to plan a ski vacation to france so badly - as much for the skiing as the apres-ski feasts! This looks wonderful.

  7. Hmm last time I went skiing I hurt my knee quite badly. How I wish I could shoop shoop down the piste again! (Never going to happen!)