Back in February I went to France for a fun filled week of skiing, drinking and eating. It was probably one of the best skiing holidays I’ve had, apart from my Canadian ski trips (shush don’t tell anyone). I was 1 of 15 in the group, 5 of us drove and the lucky ones flew. I wasn’t actually driving, more of an unconscious sleepy passenger. I really can’t complain about the 15 hour drive, I was well rested by the time we arrived. I couldn’t understand why the others weren’t eager to get on the skis when we arrived.
We spent 6 days skiing. We covered 137 miles. We definitely could have done more. I forgot how strenuous a jammed pack week of skiing could be. Last winter I was living in a ski resort, skiing as and when I felt like it. There was no need to cram as much skiing as possible into a short period of time. My legs definitely felt it and I realised how unfit I am. So I welcomed the coffee, snack and beer breaks with open arms. Staying in Meribel allows you to ski the Three Valleys. There’s seriously so much terrain to cover so repetition doesn’t exist here. My Dad will shake his head when he reads this but all the slopes blend into one. My Dad is the ski guide usually, so I just follow him in my own little world. I enjoy every second of it but I have no idea where I am or if I’ve done this run before. Sorry Dad.
The group had a few minor incidents; a shoulder malfunction, weak ankles and a few stitches. My sister, Holly was unfortunate enough to visit the local doctor’s surgery for five stitches. She slipped on ice and sliced her hand open on the edge of her snowboard. She was innocently walking, maybe slightly inebriated (she wasn’t the only one) and went flying on the icy paths of Meribel. I actually don’t remember much about the incident; I blame the altitude and not the amount I had to drink. She was a trooper though; she got her stitches and was back on her snowboard the next day. Unfortunately her dreams of becoming a hand model are long gone.
Talking of being slightly worse for wear, the French know how to après ski. It’s definitely one thing I missed when skiing in Canada. The Folie Douce is a popular haunt for everyone in the vicinity. It is basically an outdoor bar which parties for 2/3 hours a day. The party ends at 5pm and everyone skis home. It’s a very sketchy decent and not one I’d recommend. You can dance on tables. You can order 500 euro champagne, which is delivered to you in a suspended glass box. You can buy overpriced merchandise. You can have the best time of your life. There are fireworks, smoke machines, loud music, live performers and a DJ. I feel like the music could definitely improve but you just get caught up in the moment. And it’s clear that everyone else is enjoying it. So why change something that already works well. It’s a difficult experience to describe. All I would say is get to a Folie Douce at least once in your lifetime. You will not be disappointed.
From Folie Douce you ski via Le Rond Point to get back to the village. It’s basically the after party for the Folie Douce goers. It’s packed every day, just as popular as Folie Douce without the flashiness. This place has the biggest umbrella I have ever seen in my life. I actually saw it open one day, I mean it may sound boring but it was cool to witness. This bar also has a slide, which takes you to the toilets. As fellow skiers will know, walking down stairs in ski boots is a tricky task. They are usually tiled, extremely slippery and always on a different level to the restaurant/bar. So the slide was a blessing in disguise. From here, you still have to jump onto your skis to get back into the village. I have a vague recollection of this. Again, it’s not recommended.
So the holiday wasn’t just booze, booze, and booze. We ate a lot of good food too, one of my top priorities on a holiday. Of course I researched some restaurants before our visit. Cheese fondue is probably one of my favourite meals as it’s something that you can’t have very often. It makes it all that little bit more special. After a brief Google search, I found the “best cheese fondue on the mountain”. It was located underneath a cheese shop, so you can imagine the stench when you walk in. It was proper cheesy. It comes as no surprise when cheese is the only item on the menu. We ordered a handful of raclettes and cheese fondues. Raclette is heated cheese and scrapped off onto your sides. Cheese fondue is a melted pot of cheese for dipping. They are usually served with boiled potatoes, meat and salad. This is such a fun dining experience and I urge any cheese lovers to indulge as soon as possible. For the local folk I discovered L’Art du fromage in Leeds. I am yet to test to out but you will be the first to know how it goes.
On my “best places to eat in Meribel” search I came across L’Igloo. I was so intrigued because of the igloo title. Who doesn’t want to eat in an igloo? And best of all, it was a pizzeria. The igloo is an area in the restaurant so when booking a table we specifically asked for this. From the outside, it looks like any other popular pizza joint. The igloo was kitted out with cosy pillows and fake fur. Pizza was the main event on the menu but you could order steak, salads and burgers. It was a pretty good pizza and a great atmosphere.
Skiing holidays tends to include a lot of skiing, a lot of drinking and a lot of carb consuming. I barely get to explore the village. I usually hunt down the closest gift shop for my postcard collection but I never get to see what’s going on during the day or sit in a coffee shop people watching. Meribel village is fairly big and our accommodation was very central. Our group stayed in multiple self-catering apartments in the same building. They were clean and practical but a little cramped. Most accommodation often has a sofa, which is coupled as a bed. The table and chair provided never has enough chairs for the amount of heads. And the kitchen usually only has room for one person. One day I would like to stay in a rustic, extravagant chalet or log cabin with all the extras and space you could possibly want. I’ll take a hot tub and a cinema room please.
The week went so quickly and we were soon back to reality. It’s always disappointing when a holiday comes to end. The excitement builds up weeks and months beforehand and then holiday blues kick in almost immediately. However I do have a few exciting things in the pipeline. I’m currently applying for Canadian Permanent Residency and I’m heading on a city break to Gdansk next week. How do you deal with the holiday blues?