Day off down the valley

Boxing Day

Wednesday 26/12/12

Christmas Day was very busy but seemed to have been a great success. After serving breakfast today we had the rest of the day off and having been ‘stuck’ in Les Carroz since the beginning of  December after the huge snowfall we couldn’t wait to drive off down the hill and do some exploring. It was great to be back in the van.

First stop was Le Fayet, about 40 minutes from Les Carroz, where we parked the van outside the Parc de Thermals and walked up towards the spa building which seemed quite popular. We carried on up the valley towards the Crespin waterfall and crossed the bridge spanning the river 51m below. Climbing higher still we walked up towards Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains, a very pretty town which is a stopping point on the Mont-Blanc Tramway and popular base for skiers. 

We walked the path back down to Le Fayet which for most of the route followed the tram track. Dave was delighted when just as we were about to finish our walk we came across ‘Anne’ on her way up the mountain, complete with snow plough attached to the front. The trip to Bellevue takes 50 minutes and costs in the region of 27€ - so not cheap but it a stunning trip.

Back in the van we took a wrong turn and headed back up the valley driving through Megeve and Combloux before ending back in Le Fayet. Through Sallanches we headed for Luzier and came across the fast flowing Cascade de L'Arpenaz (waterfall) and Lacs des Ilettes (lakes). 

Plenty of wonderful photo opportunities and a lovely day out, hopefully we can fit in a few more.

Santa on the slopes

Christmas Day 
Tuesday 25/12/12

Santa arrived on the slopes in his snow mobile yesterday handing out sweets and satsumas to the children.

It was too windy for him to have his hot air balloon ride but he is due to go skiing today!


Open for Business

Sunday 23/12/12

Finally our guests arrive today. We seem to have been getting ready forever but there has been an awful lot to do in the way of cleaning, shopping, maintaining and familiarising ourselves with the chalet. We now know it inside out and it has 9 bedrooms (sleeping max 28), 6 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, 2 lounges, 1 jacuzzi/sauna room, 1 boot-room, 1 boiler room and various store rooms.

We arrived here 3 weeks ago with the intention of spending the first week leisurely driving around – those that have been following the blog will have seen however that we ended up being snowed-in for the first week. On arrival Les Carroz was pretty much shut-up with just the post office, two bars and one bakery open. Now the place is buzzing with numerous ski-hire shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, super-markets, and the inevitable shops with ‘stuff’ in (you can’t get away from them wherever you go!) all ready for business.

We have cleaned the chalet from top to bottom, fixing things as we have gone along even rearranging (and thinning out) the furniture. The hot-tub on first run was found to have 6 leaks and a few broken jets – Dave has fixed all these now and we have tested it on a few evenings to make sure it is the right temperature and the leaks are fixed! Dave has tested the sauna too. Not sure when the chalet is empty next so we can ‘test’ them again!

The chalet has a subtle ‘hint’ of Xmas about it with twinkly outdoor lights on the balcony and around the lounge. A last minute purchase of a Christmas tree is waiting to be unwrapped and decorated today - with what I don’t know! We may have to resort to some Blue Peter style home made efforts. 

The shopping has been a bit of a chore – buying sufficient food, loo rolls, alcohol etc for 30 people (20 in our chalet & 10 in the other chalet) plus staff for about 10 days until we go down to Cluses (the nearest major town) for another shop. I had a ‘test’ meal to prepare on Wednesday for 14 ‘expats’ living in the area. It seemed to go OK – all those years working at Penmaen, in the Penhelig Arms and the Sandwich shop has obviously stood me in good stead.

The Les Carroz tourist office have arranged a packed programme with open air Christmas concerts and mass, live music, street parades, an outdoor market, lantern releases and night-time ski-ing down the lit-up pistes. Santa also has a packed schedule - going up in a hot air balloon, ski-ing and parading through the streets handing out sweets. I will try and update the blog when I have time – even if it is just photographs of village life.

Happy Christmas everyone xxxxxxxxx

Breakfast routine - 1

Tuesday 18/12/2012

Our first clients arrive on the 23rd so for the time being we are working 9am - 5pm ish getting the chalet ready. It's a 10 minute walk from our studio apartment to the chalet so we can have quite a leisurely start to the day.

A short 2 minute walk from our studio apartment is a lovely bakery and we seem to have settled into a morning routine of partaking of their delicious croissants.

The bakery has a very tempting display of cakes, biscuits and breads. In order to try and  delay the onset of the dreaded CGB (Chalet Girl's Bum) I shall have to try and avoid temptation for as long as possible. But what harm can one little croissant do?

Warming the croissants up in our little mini-oven.......

Icicles and sunshine

A glorious sunny day has meant plenty of icicle photo opportunities......


Lazy Sunday afternoon ......

Sunday 9/12/12

It appears that this much snow this early in Les Carroz is quite unusual. The lifts are not due to open for a couple of weeks yet but they have decided to open a few of them just for the day with any money collected being donated to charity. 

Some of our 'team' have headed up to the higher slopes on the Telecabine but Dave chose to break himself in gently on the nursery slopes. Once I get my lessons I shall be probably be spending many an hour on these slopes which are just a short walk away from our studio.

I went for a walk around the village with the camera and came across some huge icicles - some must be 1.5 meters long and are really thick. I wouldn't like to be underneath any of them if / when they break off.


Blue sky thinking.......

Thursday 6/12/12

As promised some photos of the blue sky which we had on Thursday.
This is the only day it hasn't snowed since we have been here.

Today the snow has returned with a break forecast for Sunday before more snow next week. 
Enough snow already!

Tomorrow we start work officially - first job is to clear a path to the front door!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow ......

Tuesday 4/12/12
Les Carroz

We arrived in Les Carroz on Saturday afternoon and it hasn't stopped snowing since. The resort 'opens' officially on 22/12/12 and at the moment the traders are busy stocking up the shops, opening the restaurants, getting chalets ready and preparing the pistes. It's a pretty resort and once the snow stops, the clouds lift and the sun comes out I will post some photos.

The photo above was taken this morning and shows the van slowly being 'consumed' by the snow and there is more snow forecast for the rest of the week. Dave climbed onto the van roof this morning and cleared off about 20cm depth.  It is currently parked outside the chalet we are running. I haven't counted up all the bedrooms and beds yet but there's loads of them and it's huge! Help........

Change of course

Wednesday 28/11/12

We have been zig-zagging our way across France enjoying the different landscapes, towns and villages en-route.  We haven’t had a plan just gone pretty much as the mood took us. Our Europe road map is quite small scale and rather unhelpfully has no contours and few heights marked. So when we decided to head south towards Montelimar we didn’t realise we were heading firstly towards quite a high pass and secondly into a big snow storm. As dusk fell and the snow was getting thicker and sticking we decided we had to turn around and head back to a small village we had just driven through.

We ground to a halt in the square in front of the Post Office and Dave wrestled with the snow chains so that we could park up rather than just abandoning it in the centre of the square where we had stopped. Lorries with snow ploughs and tractors fought valiantly to keep clearing the road late into the night. At 5am the nimble tractor drivers were up again clearing the snow so that life could carry on. 

We decided to double back the way we had come the day before and find a lower route on to our final destination. The snow is all around us on the mountains but at least the roads are clear………for now. More snow is expected on Sunday by which time we should be in Les Carroz.

Time stands still

Monday 26/11/12

In the Limousin district we came across Oradour a deserted town preserved in memory of those who lost their lives here in World War II. Its sad history tells of 200 SS Nazi troops entering the town on the afternoon of 10th June 1944 rounding up all the inhabitants killing 642 in total, of which 193 were children.

The town has been preserved sympathetically with no commercial influence. There are a few family shrines and a number of plain signs indicating the type of trade operated from the buildings, of which only the shells remain today,  and the name of the business owner. Walking around it appears to have been a wealthy town with a church, school, doctors surgery, a number of garages, cafĂ©’s, hairdressers, bakeries, pharmacies and a large post office. The thoroughfares are wide and open with a tram network running the length of the main street. It is eerily quiet with few visitors, strangely in the distance you can here children in the school playground of the new town Oradour-sur-Glane, sounding almost like a soundtrack to a bygone day.

After killing the inhabitants the troops set fire to the town and destroyed much of the fabric and contents of the buildings. What remains today in amongst the rubble are a number of large metal objects including pots, scales, tools, sewing machines and cars that survived the fires. As they slowly rust away they remind you that these streets and houses were once alive with people going about their daily business before their lives were so cruelly taken away from them. 

Visiting the town is free and the entrance is through a smart visitor centre which also houses a library and exhibition. On the far side of the large 5km site, near the graveyard, is another building, almost unnoticeable. Here smaller exhibits and belongings are displayed and the names of all who lost their lives are engraved onto plaques on the walls. Everyday objects including spectacles, watches, jewellery, ink pots and coins have been collected from the houses and bodies of those who lost their lives. Poignantly the watches of the men stopped during their final hours. Time really has stood still here.