If by chance you can’t stand my writing and won’t read the rest of the post, do yourself a favour and don’t miss David’s epic video of our equally epic holiday embedded at the bottom.

 

During the month of February, ski resorts across France are filled with families during the annual school holiday, known as the “ski holiday.” To avoid the rush and high season prices, we headed to the Alps for a week-long ski vacation with some friends just two weeks ago.

I’ve never been a big skier. I learned on a school trip to a local hill while I was in high school. A late bloomer. I went only a handful of times before moving out to western Canada. And even then, when we were a mere 4-hour drive from the Rocky Mountains, we went about 5 times in the 4 years and never for more than 2 days in a row.

Last year we had a fantastic time in Val Thorens with some friends. A 3-day trip that involved David dragging me out to the slope for the first gondola ride up the hill while our friends were just waking up. We’d ski until the last possible run down the hill back to our chalet. After 3 days, I was ready to hang up the ski boots. No amount of Crossfit can really prepare me for the sore and fatigued legs, shins, and knees.

So when David and friends were eager to go on a longer ski holiday, I was just looking forward to spending quality time with friends in a cozy chalet. I knew right away I’d need a mid-week rest day.

But I also learned a few important things during this ski vacation in Courchevel.

  1. Courchevel 1650 isn’t THAT posh

Leading up to the holiday, when our French friends would ask where we were going, we got a range of reactions when we said Courchevel: Eye widening, fingers rubbing to show it’s expensive or “oh la la.”

We’ve since learned Courchevel 1850 (the village higher up on the hill) is the posh one, with Prada and Louis Vuitton stores among other high end brands. We were lower down on the mountain at Courchevel 1650, in a smaller, sleepier town with not much in it. Only a handful of shops, one bakery and only one small grocery store. Actually a borderline convenience store. When you share a chalet among 6 and eat-in for dinner and pack lunches, it’s easy to keep costs down. Had we eaten out every night we would have run out of places to go just like we ran out of interesting dinner ideas from the limited choice at the small grocery store. Courchevel 1850 with its charm, multiple restaurants and grocery stores is just a short gondola ride away but still not the most convenient.

 

  1. Don’t buy skis if you don’t know what you’re doing

After last winter, we bought second-hand skis for me for a whopping 30 euros. What a steal! Well I quickly learned it wasn’t worth the 30 euros. My first few days on the hills were frustrating and not much fun. Granted it rained the first day and conditions weren’t great but I didn’t feel confident in the skis. I was slipping and falling all over the place. Couldn’t get an edge.

And remember how I’m not a seasoned skier, I had no idea that they probably just needed a good tuning or sharpening or maybe they were just the wrong length.   (Even after I asked at the rental shop if they were okay). I did however get stuck on multiple hills, sliding down most of the time, in tears, frustrated, tired and exhausted. I wasn’t that bad of a skier?! I hated always being the last one down the hill. So finally we rented a pair for the remaining time and it was like night and day. It was the skis after all. Not me. So I much more enjoyed our last two days.   Fresh powder and sunshine also helped. And important lesson learned: don’t buy something second-hand if you have no clue what you’re doing.

Après-ski at La Folie Douce is worth it

We never made it last year to the outdoor bar where people danced on tables in ski gear while barmen sprayed champagne all over them. David was too hell-bent on skiing the entire time. Since we were on a more relaxed pace, we skied to La Folie Douce in Meribel our last afternoon and had an amazing time. The music was great, the atmosphere was fun. And it was just unreal to party in the middle of the day, on top of the mountains.  You just have to see the video to get a sense of what it was like. Definitely worth the trip. Even if it did cost us 50 euros to get back to Courchevel after we missed the last gondola over the mountain to get home. Therefore, if you find yourself in the same situation: plan accordingly.

  1. Playing in the snow like a child

What is the best way to feel like a child again? Go tobogganing and make snow angels. Just across from our chalet was a perfect little hill so as the snow fell one night, we headed out to enjoy it. It’s been years since I’ve been tobogganing and it was the most fun I had all week. Later on in the holiday we made snow angels for the perfect drone shot. Again can’t remember the last time I did that. I loved the fresh powder, even without skis on.

  1. Flying through the air

Second-most fun time: flying through the air after catapulting off a ramp onto to a big air-filled cushion. With skis on. My heart was pumping as I walked up to the top of the hill and aligned my skis, pointing them down. When I asked the guy for advice on how to do this: he said just look straight across to the mountains and don’t stop. I screamed the whole way down and just let physics, momentum and gravity do its thing. Then laughed my head off.

  1. My friends are awesome cooks (but I actually knew that already)

I quite possibly overdosed on cured meat, cheese and wine. We had copious amounts of each, usually as an appetizer while we took turns cooking dinner each night. We are all foodies and love to cook. Justin of course is a chef so who needs to go out to a restaurant and pay crazy prices for crappy food when we were able to create it in the comfort of our chalet.

Some of the amazing food we ate: Raclette, chicken stir-fry, apple & sausage risotto, roasted chicken, Caprese salad, baked Camembert, roasted pork tenderloin, personalized pizzas and mushroom stuffed chicken. No amount of skiing burned off the calories we ingested but it was worth it to share great food and wine with some fun and amazing friends.

For a different view-point of our holiday and more incredible photos, go over to Ray’s blog at DC Rainmaker.

The video is only a slice of another unforgettable vacation. Maybe sometime soon you can recreate this recipe for yourself.

 

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My name is Emilia - I love versatile trips! You might find me at a trendy new restaurant one night, but the next day you're just as likely to find me at a local market sampling exotic foods. I'm open to just about anything when I travel and I want to encourage you to be open too!