I’m writing this report a little bit broken. Not so much as a result of skiing, more as a result of a double dose of apres-skiing…
Yesterday a bunch of us decided to use our Mont Blanc Unlimited lift passes to visit Saint Gervais in the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area. Saint Gervais, so I’m told, is a lovely resort with miles and miles of pistes, plenty of easily accessible off-piste and beautiful views of Mont Joly and the surrounding peaks. I say “so I’m told” because whenever I’ve been there I’ve managed to time it perfectly with a blizzard and zero visibility. I’ve rarely seen beyond the tips of my own skis in Saint Gervais.
Looking on the bright side though, the white-out was the result of snowfall that had started the night before and continued all throughout the day, bringing a welcome top-up to what were previously quite patchy pistes. We took the Bettex cable car and gondola up to Mont Joux where conditions were great; the pistes were flat as a pancake underneath a squeaky layer of fresh light snow. Everything between Mont Joux at 1958m and Mont Arbois at 1840m was in fine fettle and well covered. Below that things were looking a bit more dubious though and once we'd gone below the mid-stations of either La Princesse or Le Bettex there were large patches of earth emerging through a thin layer of rather wet snow.
Saint-Gervais is a big area though and there is plenty to explore higher up, so back up we went. Off the sides of the pistes and amongst the trees were swathes of untouched powder; Saint Gervais is predominantly a family resort, which means that most people stay on-piste and fresh tracks can be found all day long without having to venture too far. Another bonus feature of Saint Gervais is that much of the ski area is amongst pine forests, so the trees give a welcome bit of definition on days like yesterday when everything else just looks white and swirly.
After a few laps of increasingly swirly whiteness we decided it was time to retreat for lunch, so we set up camp at the Folie Douce. There are two dining options to choose from here - either the self-service La Petite Cuisine, or the seated restaurant La Fruitiere. There is plenty to choose from and it is all freshly made but it is quite pricey, we didn’t see many families feeding their tribes of kids here!
The main reason people come to La Folie Douce is for the apres-ski show. Every day at 2:30pm, whatever the weather, the music gets pumped up and the performers get everyone dancing on the tables outside. Live singers, musicians and DJs strut their stuff and all of a sudden you realise just how many people consider a fancy dress costume to be a vital element of packing for a ski holiday.
We may not have given our ski legs much exercise that day but they had a good 2 hour dance workout instead. By the time the show was over we were ready to ski back to the lift station and head home - by now it was completely impossible to see a thing other than unsteady figures weaving in and out of vision like confused ghosts.
Two cable cars down, one minibus back to Chamonix, and it was time for round two… apres-ski at Chambre Neuf with No Limits! If you like your apres-ski hot, sweaty and loud (and to be honest, who doesn’t?), then this will be your cup of tea, or pitcher of beer. It usually kicks off around 5:30pm and lasts about 2 hours with a short break in the middle so stock up on enough beer to see you through, get right to the front, bagsie yourself a spot on the table and sing yourself hoarse. The best thing about apres-ski is that by 7:30pm you feel like you’ve had a night out, so you can go home for an early night and do it all again tomorrow. See you there later!