Chamonix Apres Ski ReportThat's it, the final closing party at Les Grands Montets marks the end of winter
9th May 2012
That time of year has rolled around once more... the final closing party at Les Grands Montets. It is the last of the Chamonix ski areas to close and is therefore the official end to the winter season, and what a winter it was!
We've had more parties than we could feasibly fit in (although we tried our best), fantastic live music from old favourites and new bands, awesome sets from international and local DJs, BBQs galore, dancing 'til the small hours, fancy dress for all occasions... and it all passed by so fast that, as always, it feels like it has ended too soon!
Which is why we were all in the mood to go big yesterday and give the season the send-off it deserved. We got to Les Grands Montets just after lunch time and it was already packed out with music blasting out from the punk band that was playing on the top level of the Lognon terrace. OK, so we didn't quite get the blue skies and sunshine that the forecast promised us, but it was warm enough to sit outside and watch the fun unfold all around us.
The usual water slide had been replaced by a big air bag that was preceded by a giant kicker; some folks pulled out all the stops and showcased their best tricks, while others appeared just to close their eyes and hope for the best – people who hadn't even ventured near the park all winter were getting caught up in the moment and giving it their best shot. One guy even did it naked. Not sure why, maybe he was trying to detract from his lack of park skills...
The theme was Cowboys & Indians, with some amazing costumes including an inflatable rodeo rider, a cowboy wearing chaps and not much else, a few hobby horses and lots and lots of stetsons. Towards the end of the afternoon we beat the crowds by heading down in the cable car to Les Marmottons restaurant at the foot of the mountain, where we were treated to free tapas and an amazing jazz/blues performance from Trio de Janeiro. From there we had a few shots at La Yaute while we waited for the bus to take us to Les Rhododendrons in Les Praz, where we had a few more drinks and regrouped with the stragglers who were still coming back from Argentiere.
Next came the final stage of proceedings, the Reggae Roast party in the woods. Tucked away behind the golf course is a magical little clearing known as Paradis des Praz. By day it is a children's play area nestled in the pine forest with rope swings and climbing frames, a snack shack and a stream running past. By night it has seen many an impromptu open air party, informal BBQ and even the odd wedding reception. Last night was one of the best nights of the winter in my mind. It was not even spoiled by the rain that alternated between drizzle and downpour. The tuck shop had obtained a liquor license for the evening and was serving food and drinks while reggae, dancehall and ska blasted out from under the canopy, the bonfire crackling and blazing nearby. I'm not sure how they did it but they even managed to turn the deck into a kind of tardis that was able to accommodate the whole of Chamonix at once, never have so many people danced so hard in a space so small. That's what Chamonix is all about you see – you can keep your big nightclubs, your chains of well-known bars, even your swanky-pants piste-side faux-chalet apres bars that so many other resorts have. All we need is a good sound-system, enough people and a bit of space to jump around in, “et voila” we have a party.
So that's that then, winter 2011-12 is now officially over! Panic-ye-not though, there will still be plenty going on – bands will still play, bars will still dispense beverages and we will still be here to enjoy them so keep checking the calendar for this week's events. Roll on summer and a different kind of apres all together...