Trip Report elSpike's French SkiSki in the time of Covid - Les Trois Vallées

Occasional Visitor

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I talked about it here:

But long story short.
We converted our Singapore certificates to EU versions through the French portal back when it was open.
We converted our boys ones through the Geneva Canton process where you need proof that you will be in Geneva.

All of this is moot now as the Singapore Vaccination veers now have EU qrcodes built into them so they are pass sanitare compliant.

I’ve seen signs in almost every pharmacy window saying they do conversions. I expect it would take all of 10 minutes as that’s how long it took for our on arrival ART results to be mailed to us.

Edit:
This post was in reply to @Occasional Visitor who had asked:

They have since deleted the question so I’ve included this edit to keep the story consistent. Otherwise it just looks like I repeated myself for no reason. In future please don’t delete your posts after I have answered them. Thanks.
Apologies ! I think I deleted at almost the same time that you replied. I'd been reading up thread and realised that you had got your Pass Sanitaires's by alternative means rather than thru a Pharmacy. Heading to 3V in feb so reading your material very closely !
 
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elSpike

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Apologies ! I think I deleted at almost the same time that you replied. I'd been reading up thread and realised that you had got your Pass Sanitaires's by alternative means rather than thru a Pharmacy. Heading to 3V in feb so reading your material very closely !
All good! It’s good information either way!
 

Kenzie

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Someone's not getting enough powder!


Screen Shot 2021-12-13 at 12.55.41 pm.png
Fantasy snow sites like this are the bane of ski resorts - inflating the expectations of punters, who are then disappointed & disgruntled on arrival.

Always look on the official resort website for an accurate picture of the snow conditions. Here for most of the Tarentaise resorts:-





 

elSpike

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Fantasy snow sites like this are the bane of ski resorts - inflating the expectations of punters, who are then disappointed & disgruntled on arrival.

Always look on the official resort website for an accurate picture of the snow conditions. Here for most of the Tarentaise resorts:-





Ok. I think it’s time you guys take this to a different thread please.

I’m using the official 3valleys app for my weather related needs. It’s where I’ll get my numbers for the ski portion of this trip report.
 

davekinkead

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Mar 29, 2015
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Fantasy snow sites like this are the bane of ski resorts - inflating the expectations of punters, who are then disappointed & disgruntled on arrival.

Always look on the official resort website for an accurate picture of the snow conditions. Here for most of the Tarentaise resorts:-





Yeah nah, I'd rather just look out my window. This was from 24hrs of snow fall last Thursday at 1200m. Lots more up higher ...

You've timed it very well elSpike

265045871_10158503848838240_4131271439898978518_n.jpg


264097847_10159426130086226_6934838830745801000_n.jpg
 

elSpike

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Day 3. No snow in Paris

This morning we again woke early. I think waking at 4.30 is our default now. We have connecting rooms in the Hotel de Louvre with the boys on two singles in the larger of the two while we have a queen in the smaller. It makes it really easy to share our awareness with them. So far they have consistently disliked that sharing. Will have to keep trying!

We again left the hotel just after 7am and headed to Le Musset on Rue Saint Honoure (different direction from where we had dinner the other night. They too have the two standard options for breakfast. With or whiteout eggs.

4558BBA1-BE56-4B51-BAB0-CDCA6022CEEF.jpeg


After breakfast we stopped home to grab our bags and brush our teeth before we started our journey to the Palace of Versailles. We decided to take the train which was dead east with only a couple of minor hiccups.

8FEF6998-7BD2-40A3-9F19-46EF7B28C25C.jpeg


It was a short walk along the seins to the Museum de Orlay RER station (maybe 10 minutes). In the station there are the usual ticket machines but the one we selected would only allow us to buy 3 tickets at once so we had to do two transactions to get our 4 tickets. This was not the case when we used the newer looking machines at the Versailles end for the return. The fare is €3.65 each way.

The journey was painless with the only notable moment being that the conductors did a Ticket check through the carriages at around the halfway point.

The stroll up to the palais is very nice and as you print the corner the estate is shockingly large and looming. I cant imagine what people coming to visit the king might have felt. Intimidated no doubt.

2066C0BD-F4CC-47F1-B795-EA4FC105A486.jpeg


Again, tickets were bought last night online and give a 30m window for entry into the grounds to ensure groups are well spaced.

The tour itself was fine. The audio commentary from my iPhone using the Versailles app was great though it only had some of the rooms it gave some great flavour to the spaces and we definitely Leary some new things.

The Hall of Mirrors where the treaty of Versailles was sighted was a true highlight. It’s impressive in it’s size and purpose.

88DCE33E-4667-4046-B30C-6E275C0521B9.jpeg


We stopped in at one of the cafes for a quick pastry and a drink before we headed out into the grounds to explore the gardens.

C306AE1B-5DC7-4C63-BBF6-71F57627E568.jpeg

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By 1ish we were ready for home so we retraced our steps to the train and reversed the journey.

We dropped the boys off to their room and the wife and I went to Galleries Lafayette for some shopping and a look. The terrace view was spectacular and the central tree had a space Santa so all in all I called it a win. Wife also had time to pick up a new pink after ski jumper to wear.

DB66D626-43A5-452A-9127-21F10661DC90.jpeg

BE1D53BB-90F3-4A48-94AF-F92E4A0FFE19.jpeg


The afternooon winding down we stopped for a small vin and frites before heading back to the hotel.
11A7341C-0FE4-4914-AAEF-71DCFEAF49FA.jpeg


Dinner was back to the tulleries Christmas market where we each at our body weight in onion soup, meats, cheeses, crepes and warm apple cider.

I now feel a little like this little guy.

6AB9A3AC-DDB3-4A42-91A6-DDDD502E2666.jpeg
 

elSpike

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Day 4: last day in Paris part 1 (cause we will be back when we fly out in January)

Another early morning that kicked off with a dark walk looking for a cafe that said it’s opening hours were from 8am but when we got there it was very closed.

67CCBD77-B498-4544-81BA-E6B18AF5DB10.jpeg


Instead we went back to the same Le Musset Cafe as yesterday and pretty much ordered the same things. Don’t mess with what works I guess.

Today was planned to be a “bitsa” day with a diverse set of things we wanted to do. First up we went back to the Arc de Triumph as mr 13 had voiced that he regretted not going to the top when we were there on day 1. Along the way we found some statues that made me laugh.

5EB25AC2-2D72-42B8-9998-49523A30C637.jpeg


Climbing the Arc costs €13 for 18+ and free for >18s. After going through the security checkpoint we were greeted with spiral stairs the climbed inside the northern leg.

924668D7-E0C8-4CD8-AEFC-A14849788C2F.jpeg


The climb was worth it with a section inside the top plinth acting as a museum to the Unknown soldier from WW1 who was interred at the base of the arc.

In my usual irreverent style I only took one photo and it is a little inappropriate for the seriousness of the military museum.

361CDCF5-575B-421A-835A-43407714B83C.jpeg


In my defence, it’s not my fault they have a statue with this face just there in the museum. It’s like they want you to laugh.

Once through the museum but you can go up to the terrace which is a spectacular view of the city. I dare say it’s a better view than the Tower Eiffel too.

540BBFEC-2F43-44DC-A12C-953999ACE00A.jpeg


AC1CB39C-3533-4DCC-AF5C-B1AC4664CC76.jpeg


You get to see the 12 roads that lead to the arc and on a clearish day like today the cities monuments are all visible.

After the arc we took the metro over towards the north. I chose poorly in the underground passage and took the wrong line towards National (took the M6 instead of the M2) that forced us to chengevtrains again when I realised and cost another €7.60 as I couldn’t figure out how to change platform sides without leaving the station…

We got off the train at Pigalle near the Sacre-Coeur not to visit the church but to go see two things. First the wall of love, which is an art intilation of a couple of hundred lava tiles with “I love you” written in over 250 languages.

0478CED6-5908-4F25-B106-0069541224B4.jpeg


Unfortunately there were a group of ladies there with zero awareness taking selfies then staying in the way while they showed each other their poses so we couldn’t get an unobstructed shot of the wall.

846401DE-DD94-4AFA-9035-8C5452B53E9D.jpeg


Close by that I got to remake a scene from one of my favourite movies: Ronin. Who doesn’t wish they could be as cool as Sam?

E200AD9C-B69F-4E80-B5E7-E2FB403DC821.jpeg


We then had an hour or so to find lunch but for the life of us couldn’t find a Boulangerie for about 30 minutes. It was the weirdest thing. At every other moment of the trip it has felt we have never been more than a block from a fresh baked baguette! We ended up finding one off a side alley near our next destination so all was well.

Next up, Team elSpike loves to do escape rooms and boy did we find an outstanding one today. Called HintHunt this one was a pirate themed room which had probably some of the best physical puzzles and attention to detail on the fitout that we’ve ever seen. We ended up making it out with 90s to spare, joining the 50% of groups that have managed to finish in the time. Phew.

CDE80974-DBF1-4A39-9107-4E40875207A5.jpeg


I’m pretty sure we are going to go back there to do another room before we leave Paris next month! So great.

We then wandered down to the Hotel De Ville and their Christmas market (4th one since we’ve been here)

982EE4DB-5EB1-4E07-BE63-E4954FD9551D.jpeg


Finally we found a lovely book cafe to sit, eat cheese and sip Pinot (and milkshakes for the boys) for the rest of the afternoon. We’ll pop out for dinner at a close by brasserie later on, but for now we are back to the hotel for a lay down.

93360FBE-8D19-4A9A-898C-DC00DD4791E5.jpeg
 

Jonathan_P

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Day 4: last day in Paris part 1 (cause we will be back when we fly out in January)

Another early morning that kicked off with a dark walk looking for a cafe that said it’s opening hours were from 8am but when we got there it was very closed.

67CCBD77-B498-4544-81BA-E6B18AF5DB10.jpeg


Instead we went back to the same Le Musset Cafe as yesterday and pretty much ordered the same things. Don’t mess with what works I guess.

Today was planned to be a “bitsa” day with a diverse set of things we wanted to do. First up we went back to the Arc de Triumph as mr 13 had voiced that he regretted not going to the top when we were there on day 1. Along the way we found some statues that made me laugh.

5EB25AC2-2D72-42B8-9998-49523A30C637.jpeg


Climbing the Arc costs €13 for 18+ and free for >18s. After going through the security checkpoint we were greeted with spiral stairs the climbed inside the northern leg.

924668D7-E0C8-4CD8-AEFC-A14849788C2F.jpeg


The climb was worth it with a section inside the top plinth acting as a museum to the Unknown soldier from WW1 who was interred at the base of the arc.

In my usual irreverent style I only took one photo and it is a little inappropriate for the seriousness of the military museum.

361CDCF5-575B-421A-835A-43407714B83C.jpeg


In my defence, it’s not my fault they have a statue with this face just there in the museum. It’s like they want you to laugh.

Once through the museum but you can go up to the terrace which is a spectacular view of the city. I dare say it’s a better view than the Tower Eiffel too.

540BBFEC-2F43-44DC-A12C-953999ACE00A.jpeg


AC1CB39C-3533-4DCC-AF5C-B1AC4664CC76.jpeg


You get to see the 12 roads that lead to the arc and on a clearish day like today the cities monuments are all visible.

After the arc we took the metro over towards the north. I chose poorly in the underground passage and took the wrong line towards National (took the M6 instead of the M2) that forced us to chengevtrains again when I realised and cost another €7.60 as I couldn’t figure out how to change platform sides without leaving the station…

We got off the train at Pigalle near the Sacre-Coeur not to visit the church but to go see two things. First the wall of love, which is an art intilation of a couple of hundred lava tiles with “I love you” written in over 250 languages.

0478CED6-5908-4F25-B106-0069541224B4.jpeg


Unfortunately there were a group of ladies there with zero awareness taking selfies then staying in the way while they showed each other their poses so we couldn’t get an unobstructed shot of the wall.

846401DE-DD94-4AFA-9035-8C5452B53E9D.jpeg


Close by that I got to remake a scene from one of my favourite movies: Ronin. Who doesn’t wish they could be as cool as Sam?

E200AD9C-B69F-4E80-B5E7-E2FB403DC821.jpeg


We then had an hour or so to find lunch but for the life of us couldn’t find a Boulangerie for about 30 minutes. It was the weirdest thing. At every other moment of the trip it has felt we have never been more than a block from a fresh baked baguette! We ended up finding one off a side alley near our next destination so all was well.

Next up, Team elSpike loves to do escape rooms and boy did we find an outstanding one today. Called HintHunt this one was a pirate themed room which had probably some of the best physical puzzles and attention to detail on the fitout that we’ve ever seen. We ended up making it out with 90s to spare, joining the 50% of groups that have managed to finish in the time. Phew.

CDE80974-DBF1-4A39-9107-4E40875207A5.jpeg


I’m pretty sure we are going to go back there to do another room before we leave Paris next month! So great.

We then wandered down to the Hotel De Ville and their Christmas market (4th one since we’ve been here)

982EE4DB-5EB1-4E07-BE63-E4954FD9551D.jpeg


Finally we found a lovely book cafe to sit, eat cheese and sip Pinot (and milkshakes for the boys) for the rest of the afternoon. We’ll pop out for dinner at a close by brasserie later on, but for now we are back to the hotel for a lay down.

93360FBE-8D19-4A9A-898C-DC00DD4791E5.jpeg
Awesome trip report, makes me want to dig up our old photos of Paris, I miss travelling overseas:(:)
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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Day 4 dinner was at a lovely cafe called Louise. It was like being invited in to a Parisian family home for some good old fashioned staples. Very reasonable prices of about €15-18

945C239C-4B6A-467B-A1B1-E3A63E6B2341.jpeg


We also managed to find a new bike accessory for those more social rides.

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Day 5: Travel day and first snow sighting.

First up. Paris city traffic is no joke on a Thursday morning. After a quick breakfast at yet another cafe with pastries, hot drinks, orange juice and omelettes, we checked out and hit our first snag. It took way longer (20mins) than expected to find a 6 seater Uber and then the journey to Gare du Lyon took double the time (35 mins for ?4km). This meant we essentially had to keep walking as quickly as we could through the train station.

EB1EF688-C91F-4CCA-8AE3-BBE441888484.jpeg


There was a Pass Sanitaire heck point to enter the departure hall where they gave us a wrist band.

A4535743-9487-4343-BB41-754D6778FE98.jpeg


I’m not sure of the point of it as we were asked for our qrcodes two more times after getting the band.

Another annoyance, The TGV gates rEnquired you to self scan your qrcode for the train ticket but as we had them on our phones and not hard copy, it kept triggering our NFC payment on the phone thus obscuring the qrcode. In the end I had to get manually scanned onto the platform.

From there it was just a matter of finding our seats (first class baby) and a spot for our luggage. We chose the upper deck on the front most carriage which had plenty of room. If you are travelling with skis I strongly recommend you arrive a little earlier than we did to secure the ability to lay them across your bags.

6EF1338C-1830-47EC-94CD-2D82DABF78BA.jpeg


On the 3.5h trip from Paris to Annecy we spotted our first snow on the ground just before passing Lyon

7D8AB3FF-AFA7-47D6-BA98-0B0B97D38DD2.jpeg


The hype is real!

Arrival into Annecy was smooth with a bit of queueing for the platform lift with all our luggage and a merciful short 700m walk to our AirBnB. The town is excruciatingly pretty.

3E3CE634-F52E-45DC-B601-956B45E06648.jpeg

D53E519D-01B2-4E69-A5DD-E7978916878F.jpeg


And the view from our balcony is pretty ok too.

8C2E0557-57D9-4CEA-8197-1A06E94B47F1.jpeg


After a short stroll through the Christmas market and an impromptu light show at the town square in significantly colder temps

2AF7FD88-78D2-4356-9F57-863B6A321311.jpeg

(Ignore the time on my phone. I leave my watch on Singapore time due to other reasons it was actually about 4pm)

For dinner we decided on Fondue from ale Chalet across from our place. Do not they only open at 7PM which could be a little late for some (us)

FE400E22-E2FA-411E-8021-801B04E61D49.jpeg

B3A38343-80BF-46F6-A5C1-0A191058B440.jpeg


Tomorrow we are hopefully off to Geneva!
 
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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
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@elSpike I have to ask…
is the bandito moustache a ski holiday thing or a permanent feature?
It rocks.
It started as a Movember thing. Then it was a covidstache thing. Now it’s just my thing.

Permanent baby.

Forget the mo. I'm waiting for a smile - even a thank you dad - from the eldest.
I do keep catching him at the wrong time. You can see his smile in the escape room pic.

Good luck!
Entering Geneva was easy as. No issues at all. Will post more when we finish. Just stopped for lunch now.

D393B308-B9B6-4241-8763-3BE8B81D6422.jpeg
 

elSpike

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Day 6. Sneaky Swiss Sidetrip

Today turned out to be a not insignificant amount of anxiety over absolutely nothing. As I mentioned in previous posts there was a lot of conflicting information and changes to the rules for entering Switzerland from France as a third country national. Essentially there was conflicting advice on if we needed a PCR 72 hours before crossing the border. Before leaving Singapore I called the Swiss ministry of health covid hotline and got a general “you don’t need to follow any of the rules” message but with no written confirmation.

Here’s how it went down.

We got up super early to take the FlixBus from Annecy Train station to Geneva bus station.

8D830FEE-A477-47BD-8408-1E008E23C6D8.jpeg


As the temps were showing 0° with feels like -2° We rugged up good. We then walked the 700 m to the Annecy train station and arrived with 10 min yo spare.

456A0ADE-8C40-4AF9-9EE0-2CEF04CA9095.jpeg


81AFBB95-3BA3-4FE5-AE37-33288ACF54EB.jpeg


On boarding we had our Pass Sanitaire (vaccination) and tickets checked and were let on to the bus.

An hour later we got off the bus in Geneva.

There was zero checks and zero border control between Annecy and Geneva. It was like it was every other time we’ve been to Europe, essentially like it was all the same country.

F7F48D65-18F1-4432-A73D-07B2B0C9F696.jpeg

11BA7234-418C-40CE-9525-362D6C76CC63.jpeg


We’d taken the first but to make sure we had enough time if something went wrong at the border but as nothing had we were left with 2.5 hours to kill before our Chocolate Tour.

We strolled around the old city looking for a cafe. Finding a chain bakery we had pastries and hot drinks and played some Love Letter before taking a walk along the lake for a bit.

Do note that every restaurant and controlled space in Geneva will scan your pass Sanitaire and math your ID to the results. They took both passports and our Singapore national ID cards as ID. Basically anything that has your photo and your name. This is in contrast to France who only scan the pass Sanitaire code.

C781FC7B-C687-4F3B-AE57-CF2581180C69.jpeg


We also managed to get this shot of Mr 16 for the cover of Parkhour Teen monthly.

8F29DDA1-3477-4E7D-8ECE-9E08E389E76A.jpeg


At about 9.45am we made our way to the meeting point and introduced ourselves to Mike from Local Flavours Tours. He was a local Genevan university student and had grown up as the kid of diplomats so his English was outstanding.

The tour itself was outstanding. Part walking city tour, part chocolate tasting safari. We visited 9 or 10 chocolatiers over the three hours, sampling hot chocolate, chocolates, truffles, chocolate cakes, and many different types and flavours of chocolates. Along the way Mike built the story of how Geneva and Switzerland came to be famous for chocolate and the various milestones in the city state. I can’t recommend it enough if you are ever in Geneva!

4A0DF4B5-5768-4ED7-ACB7-A1E58D5BAC71.jpeg

80F9457F-66EA-4877-A887-DFE0EE442B2B.jpeg

0781EF22-6C81-4716-B385-BC4C2BD503A2.jpeg


After the tour ended at 1pm we headed up to the Palais of Nations (otherwise known as the UN European headquarters) as the boys are both avid a model UN members. We stopped in for lunch at a local neighbourhood cafe for lunch of sandwiches and soup too.

3B22F521-0ABB-418E-A6CC-9029A32EA88F.jpeg

EAD6D697-F928-4B53-9AB4-CA298FAE0024.jpeg


We then walked back along the shore of the lake to the Christmas Markets at the English Gardens.

D817F11D-1EA5-4AC0-86AF-BD4726047CF3.jpeg


We even managed to find some poutine for dinner!

8C952D87-E2C6-4D52-AE99-3E5A55E54570.jpeg


Of special note for me, Mr 16 realised that as we were in Switzerland the legal age for drinking bear and wine is 16, so he had his first beer (he lives a sheltered Singapore life so this is legitimately his first beer) with me there in the shore of Lake Geneva. It was an amazing moment in time as a Dad.

Once we’d had our fill of Christmas market food we stopped by a Läderach chocolate store and returned to one of the truffle stores from the tour (Chocolates of Sweetzerland) to pick up some of our favourites before heading back to the Geneva bus station. Note. The bus station doesn’t have any bathrooms but if you look like a lost tourist the swanky hotel around the corner will let you use theirs.

Getting on the bus was pretty much the same process. Pass Sanitaire and bus ticket were scanned and then board. The return trip was just as uneventful and we made it home to the Airbnb in just under 70 minutes boarding bus to walking in the door.

Tomorrow is a scheduled rest day so we’ll probably get up a little later and do less but I’m sure I’ll post something later in the day. Thanks again for reading and I hope you are getting something out of these non-skiing posts.
 

Hyst

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Day 6. Sneaky Swiss Sidetrip

Today turned out to be a not insignificant amount of anxiety over absolutely nothing. As I mentioned in previous posts there was a lot of conflicting information and changes to the rules for entering Switzerland from France as a third country national. Essentially there was conflicting advice on if we needed a PCR 72 hours before crossing the border. Before leaving Singapore I called the Swiss ministry of health covid hotline and got a general “you don’t need to follow any of the rules” message but with no written confirmation.

Here’s how it went down.

We got up super early to take the FlixBus from Annecy Train station to Geneva bus station.

8D830FEE-A477-47BD-8408-1E008E23C6D8.jpeg


As the temps were showing 0° with feels like -2° We rugged up good. We then walked the 700 m to the Annecy train station and arrived with 10 min yo spare.

456A0ADE-8C40-4AF9-9EE0-2CEF04CA9095.jpeg



81AFBB95-3BA3-4FE5-AE37-33288ACF54EB.jpeg


On boarding we had our Pass Sanitaire (vaccination) and tickets checked and were let on to the bus.

An hour later we got off the bus in Geneva.

There was zero checks and zero border control between Annecy and Geneva. It was like it was every other time we’ve been to Europe, essentially like it was all the same country.

F7F48D65-18F1-4432-A73D-07B2B0C9F696.jpeg

11BA7234-418C-40CE-9525-362D6C76CC63.jpeg


We’d taken the first but to make sure we had enough time if something went wrong at the border but as nothing had we were left with 2.5 hours to kill before our Chocolate Tour.

We strolled around the old city looking for a cafe. Finding a chain bakery we had pastries and hot drinks and played some Love Letter before taking a walk along the lake for a bit.

Do note that every restaurant and controlled space in Geneva will scan your pass Sanitaire and math your ID to the results. They took both passports and our Singapore national ID cards as ID. Basically anything that has your photo and your name. This is in contrast to France who only scan the pass Sanitaire code.

C781FC7B-C687-4F3B-AE57-CF2581180C69.jpeg


We also managed to get this shot of Mr 16 for the cover of Parkhour Teen monthly.

8F29DDA1-3477-4E7D-8ECE-9E08E389E76A.jpeg


At about 9.45am we made our way to the meeting point and introduced ourselves to Mike from Local Flavours Tours. He was a local Genevan university student and had grown up as the kid of diplomats so his English was outstanding.

The tour itself was outstanding. Part walking city tour, part chocolate tasting safari. We visited 9 or 10 chocolatiers over the three hours, sampling hot chocolate, chocolates, truffles, chocolate cakes, and many different types and flavours of chocolates. Along the way Mike built the story of how Geneva and Switzerland came to be famous for chocolate and the various milestones in the city state. I can’t recommend it enough if you are ever in Geneva!

4A0DF4B5-5768-4ED7-ACB7-A1E58D5BAC71.jpeg

80F9457F-66EA-4877-A887-DFE0EE442B2B.jpeg

0781EF22-6C81-4716-B385-BC4C2BD503A2.jpeg


After the tour ended at 1pm we headed up to the Palais of Nations (otherwise known as the UN European headquarters) as the boys are both avid a model UN members. We stopped in for lunch at a local neighbourhood cafe for lunch of sandwiches and soup too.

3B22F521-0ABB-418E-A6CC-9029A32EA88F.jpeg

EAD6D697-F928-4B53-9AB4-CA298FAE0024.jpeg


We then walked back along the shore of the lake to the Christmas Markets at the English Gardens.

D817F11D-1EA5-4AC0-86AF-BD4726047CF3.jpeg


We even managed to find some poutine for dinner!

8C952D87-E2C6-4D52-AE99-3E5A55E54570.jpeg


Of special note for me, Mr 16 realised that as we were in Switzerland the legal age for drinking bear and wine is 16, so he had his first beer (he lives a sheltered Singapore life so this is legitimately his first beer) with me there in the shore of Lake Geneva. It was an amazing moment in time as a Dad.

Once we’d had our fill of Christmas market food we stopped by a Läderach chocolate store and returned to one of the truffle stores from the tour (Chocolates of Sweetzerland) to pick up some of our favourites before heading back to the Geneva bus station. Note. The bus station doesn’t have any bathrooms but if you look like a lost tourist the swanky hotel around the corner will let you use theirs.

Getting on the bus was pretty much the same process. Pass Sanitaire and bus ticket were scanned and then board. The return trip was just as uneventful and we made it home to the Airbnb in just under 70 minutes boarding bus to walking in the door.

Tomorrow is a scheduled rest day so we’ll probably get up a little later and do less but I’m sure I’ll post something later in the day. Thanks again for reading and I hope you are getting something out of these non-skiing posts.
"not insignificant amount of anxiety"

Well done - sorry, to have feed the anxiety. :wave:
The smile of mr. 16 must have been the beer. :cheers:

Just have to a wait few more days to see your ski trousers! :angel:
 
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Sbooker

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I’m enjoying your in depth TR. Thankyou :):thumbs:
Very much so. My daughter is doing year twelve in 2022. She loves her French studies and wants to be a school teacher who specialises in teaching French. The plan is to spend 5 weeks in France this time next year. We’ll start in Paris as @elSpike has done and then set up camp in the Tignes or Les Arcs for a spell.
 

elSpike

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Day 7: Rest Day Annecy.

After a very full week of early starts we all needed a bit of a slow start so we went to be with no plans for the morning. I still woke at 4.30am though. By 6.30 I was bouncing off the walls so I snuck out to grab some pre breakfast pastries from a Paul bakery that was open early just down the road while my lovely wife made us some tea and coffee. I’d bought some filter bags from my friends business along (drinkmorning.com go check them out, they deliver to oz) so it was good stuff too!

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The boys started to stir by about 8.30 and we had all woken up enough to start off for full breakfast soon after. For those of you who know me from the cycling thread, I ride a dragonfruit pink road bike so it was only natural that when we spotted a brunch place called Le Bicyclette Rose, we had to go there.

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Boy am I glad we did. They had an incredible array of options with the big brunch at €23 catching the adults eye.

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It was all organic and locally sourced produce and my goodness was it good.

After devouring all that we took a stroll along the street with all the ski gear shops and picked up some apres gloves for the boys and some more socks for the wife. We also scoped out the options for shell pants in case ours were too small after 2 years off the snow.

The sky remained overcast as it had been since we arrived in France.

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We then all headed home for a bit of a laze about for a few hours and returned to the streets at about 2pm to be greeted with the most brilliantly blue sky.

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A quick stop in for what trip advisor said was the best hot chocolate in Annecy (it was)…

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We headed over to the lake for a stroll. It was quite busy but still lovely along the shore.

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As the shadows started to lengthen we turned back for home. Apple Watch circles closed and a nice 5-6km under our belts.

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We detoured past the Bridge de Amour, one of the more famous canal crossings here.

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The colours on the buildings and water as the sun set were spectacular as well.

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We dropped the boys off at the apartment for a bit of ipad time and we went off to grab a glass of wine under the city walls. I did t take any pics of that so you’ll just have to believe me.

Around 5.30-6pm we grabbed the boys again and went to Crêperie bretonne Bleu de toi for galettes and crepes. Simply stunning.

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And with that we ar whole again and tucked into bed nice and early. I may have a surprise for you all tomorrow of all goes well but I don’t want to jinx it by pre posting. You’ll just haave to wait and see!
 

elSpike

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Day 8 - Semnoz

As I alluded to last night and spoiled today, we decided we couldn’t wait for the 3 Valleys. A quick research on the web showed that the optimal low stress day trip would be taking the free bus to Semnoz. So that’s exactly what we did.

Up early yet again we had a quick coffee and tea and pulled on our ski gear, departing the apartment at 7 for the 7.30 bus to Semnoz. We stopped in at a bakery along the way, though due to my terrible French I accidentally got only 3 items instead of 4, leaving me with no breakfast!

Sibra (local Annecy bus collective) runs busses to Semnoz from Annecy Train Station at 30 minute intervals from 7.30, arriving at the top roughly 45 minutes later. It’s usually €1.50 each but it is free at the moment for some reason.

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The drive up is a very narrow and winding road. In the dark it looked pretty dicey so I’m super glad someone else was doing the driving. It’s pretty great as you clear through the clouds and the sun and blue sky is all around you.

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The ticket office and rental station don’t open early, but we’d read online that it gets very busy so we came up early. We were glad that we did as we were in the front of a very long line when rentals started their process at almost exactly 9am.

It was a little chaotic so no time for pictures but the prices are all on the Semnoz website. Basically it was €72 for 4 sets of skis and 2 sets of boots for the day. The skis were all recent model Heads and the boots the boys were in were brand new. We were travelling light today so we didn’t bother bringing our K2 mindbenders up. Also worth noting, both my 16 and 13 year olds are in either same size or larger boots than I am now…

Rental also requires you to leave a photo ID so make sure you bring a card if you don’t want to leave your Passport.

Semnoz also has 100 free electronic lockers available for use. We stuffed our shoes and boot bags in there for the day.

Tickets were €11.60 each for the day though we had some issues with their card machines and cellular connectivity so I ended up having to pay cash. This was a little disastrous as we hadn’t restocked cash yesterday, but I had enough and the rest of the days food etc went on to the card fine.

Finally by 9.45ish we were skiing!

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Semnoz is a relatively small field but it’s definitely enough to have some fun for the day.

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It has 4-5 pole lifts, a quad chair and a pretty advanced/fast 6 chair poma that has gondolas every 6-8th chair.

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The quad is achingly slow though.

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It was our families first ever use of pole lifts in our 6 years of skiing so a bit of novelty there, even though Mr13 had a few early “disengagements” along the way.

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We stopped for an early brunch at the bottom of the Bauges zone. They had crepes and galettes, soup, hotdogs and fries. All very reasonable prices (about €5 each).

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I’m still not used to just how many French people smoke. It’s pretty much non-existent in Singapore public spaces so it’s a bit of a shock to just have ashtrays on every table and people lighting up all over the place. It reminds me a lot of growing up in the early 80s.

The rest of the afternoon was spent collecting the runs and having a grand old time.

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The vies didn’t stop being spectacular and I could literally feel my soul being restored each time I paused just to breathe in the mountain air. God I have missed this.

As the afternoon started to grow cold we packed up, returned our gear and caught the bus back to Annecy. Do be aware there are 3 routes for Sibra busses so make sure you catch the one back to Annecy!

The views on the way back down were just as stunning.

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Back in Annecy we dropped our stuff off at the apartment, got changed and stopped in at a bistro for an early dinner. I couldn’t tell you the name (maybe it was La Bassilica?) but it had solid food at reasonable prices and an outstanding Bordeaux by the glass.

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The Christmas market is still in full swing, so as we strolled home we grabbed a few sweet bread treats and the family is drinking tea and playing on their iPads while I type this.

What a wonderful day.

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Hyst

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Can recommend this place a bit out of the center.

But seems you already found a nice place.
 
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Hermannator

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@elSpike great TR! Very interesting, entertaining and informative.

How are you going on the cash (as in physical notes+coins) front? Are you mostly transacting with it or has there been a wide acceptance of cards around the traps?
 

Jonathan_P

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I’m still not used to just how many French people smoke. It’s pretty much non-existent in Singapore public spaces so it’s a bit of a shock to just have ashtrays on every table and people lighting up all over the place.
Was one of my favourite things about travelling around Europe:) Back then I use to smoke, wow I was in nicotine heaven, I am sure I killed some lung cells on that six week trip. These days as a non smoker I can’t stand the smell.
 
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Hermannator

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Card is everywhere in France
Thx Carve. 'tis so long since I've been and all... I've forgotten. I do recall my card being swallowed in Val d'Isere. Of course it was on a Friday night and of course I was moving off to the next resort the next day...

Bring extra cards peeps!
 
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Legs Akimbo

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Thx Carve. 'tis so long since I've been and all... I've forgotten. I do recall my card being swallowed in Val d'Isere. Of course it was on a Friday night and of course I was moving off to the next resort the next day...

Bring extra cards peeps!
And carry one with you and leave the others in your room, ideally in a safe.
 

Heinz

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Thx Carve. 'tis so long since I've been and all... I've forgotten. I do recall my card being swallowed in Val d'Isere. Of course it was on a Friday night and of course I was moving off to the next resort the next day...

Bring extra cards peeps!
ATM once swallowed my card in Chamonix many years ago. Was on weekend so had to hang around an extra couple of days so I could go into the branch office to get it back.
 
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elSpike

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@elSpike great TR! Very interesting, entertaining and informative.

How are you going on the cash (as in physical notes+coins) front? Are you mostly transacting with it or has there been a wide acceptance of cards around the traps?
Ah. I this is an interesting topic and worth discussing.

The TLDR version is cards at about 95% of places.

The detail.

You will see the term CB, or Card Bancaire, everywhere. It’s analogous to Visa/Mastercard and we’ve found that anywhere that accepts CB will take the other credit card types too.

The vast majority of merchants use a cellular terminal either like the Aussie EFTPOS readers or a rectangular device paired to a phone like a giant Square reader. This is the reason we had problems yesterday. If cellular is spotty, say in the back valley of what is essentially a local hill, you may be shit out of luck.

We’ve had about a 60-70% success rate using our ApplePay virtual cards on watch and phone. There is a grey plastic terminal that I’ll try to get a picture of that seems to fail the most. If ApplePay doesn’t work we pull out the physical card.

Every ticket machine for public transport has accepted card.

All of this said, I had about €500 euros with me from Singapore and most of that is now gone (we’ll get some more today) so we have used cash in various places.

Where possible, use dip machines so your card can't be swallowed.
This! I subscribe to this mentality everywhere in the world these days. Quick yank on the dip scanner to test if it’s not a shell and you are usually good. DBS also has a feature where I get a push notification to my phone/watch fir every transaction while I’m overseas. This gives me piece of mind that I haven’t been skimmed.
 

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Of special note for me, Mr 16 realised that as we were in Switzerland the legal age for drinking bear and wine is 16, so he had his first beer (he lives a sheltered Singapore life so this is legitimately his first beer) with me there in the shore of Lake Geneva. It was an amazing moment in time as a Dad.

Surprised at Mr 16 - the legal age for drinking beer & wine in France is 16! (Must be bought by 'an adult' - generally most bars/restaurants would read that as 'a parent'.)
 
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elSpike

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Surprised at Mr 16 - the legal age for drinking beer & wine in France is 16! (Must be bought by 'an adult' - generally most bars/restaurants would read that as 'a parent'.)

We were in Geneva at the time. Switzerland is 16+

Part of it was him ordering himself!
 

Hot Diggity

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Loving the trip report elSpike. Keep it coming.

When you head back to Paris I highly recommend A Noste. Amazing tapas food. Menu found here. https://www.a-noste.com/la-carte-tapas-table Unfortunately they don't have my favourites on there at the moment (Bone marrow rissoto and Magret de Canard smoked duck) but there is another smoked duck and everything is delicious. Been a few times and will go again in August, and everytime we are in Paris.

3 valleys is amazing. We spent a week there in Val Thorens and didn't see half of it. As suggested check out a La Folie douce for a drink in the afternoon but get away before the rest do. You can imagine, and will see some people have been there since lunchtime and more dangerously are often novices.

Have fun and keep us posted.
 
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Hot Diggity

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Ps Was that a Rhubarb Far Breton that you ate on Friday? (Sorry forgot how to reply to a single image) and my guess was La Clusaz also. Close enough. Couldn't help yourselves? I don't blame you.
 
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elSpike

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Ps Was that a Rhubarb Far Breton that you ate on Friday? (Sorry forgot how to reply to a single image) and my guess was La Clusaz also. Close enough. Couldn't help yourselves? I don't blame you.
I don’t know which one you are referring to but I don’t recall a rhubarb anything sorry.
 

Hot Diggity

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I don’t know which one you are referring to but I don’t recall a rhubarb anything sorry.

It would normally have prunes or the like in it but doesn't look like it. Baked custard square with icing sugar sprinkle. First pic on Friday from Cafe Loiuse?
 
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elSpike

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It would normally have prunes or the like in it but doesn't look like it. Baked custard square with icing sugar sprinkle. First pic on Friday from Cafe Loiuse?
Ah. That was an excellent example of a clafoutis aux cerises. A baked cherry flan.
 
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elSpike

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Day 9: Annecy

Another free and easy day exploring Annecy with a bit of a late start. First up my lovely wife went out and got us some croissants and onion quiche while we waited for the boys to wake up.

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Once they did emerge at about 9.30am we went to an Aussie cafe named Haven. It felt almost exactly like it had been transported from St Kilda to the back alleys of Annecy. Flat whites and Smashed avo abounded.

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After a delicious meal we climbed the rather steep ramps up to Annecy Castle. Overlooking the town it is now a museum and art gallery with a little bit of history of the castle thrown in for good measure. Tickets were €5 for adults and €3 for 12-26yrs.

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The view was spectacular from the top.

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And some of the art was beautiful, like this one that reminded me of the backgrounds from an old Sierra Kings Quest game

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And others that apparently depicted Lancelot’s love for Guenièvre

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Which when you zoom in, clearly has someone farting into the butt of another person…

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I might be forgetting the detail but I don’t think that part was in any of the Arthurian stories I’ve ever read…

The castle itself was pretty great though.

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After the castle we wandered back through the old town taking time to get lost in a few of the alleys and tunnels between the walls.

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The boys then wanted to veg out so we dropped them at the apartment while we continued the stroll.

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I did find this sign that y’all might like

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We stopped at a small deli under our apartment and grabbed some raclette and ham baguettes for lunch and took them back to the boys.

While we are the adults watched the first episode of the second season of the Witcher. If you haven’t watched it yet it’s pretty great.

After lunch the wife and I popped out to buy some stocking fillers for the boys and return to a walk by the lake.

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Along the way we saw some bikes to rent which, being cycling tragics, we couldn’t not do. It is called Vélonecy which required an app and a credit card deposit. All done in under a minute or two and super easy. The bikes are auto assist e-bikes meaning when you pedal the electric motor automatically assists depending on which setting you have it on between 1-5. Essentially pedalling at about 60-80w would mean the bike would be going about 25-27km/h in the most assistive setting. Rental was free for the first 30 minutes and I think €3 per hour after that.

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Dinner for our final night was at a well recommended place called Le Freti. It specialises in Fondu with about 18 different kinds. We stuck with the local Savoyard specialty and while it was good I preferred the one from La Chalet on our first night. It was slightly pricer but the overall experience and paired wine was streets ahead. If you only have one fondue opportunity in Annecy I’d recommend La Chalet.

With that we wrap up our Annecy leg and tomorrow we make our way up to Reberty and the 3 valleys. Should be nothing but skiing related reports for the next 2-3 weeks!

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Froff Life

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Glad you're also getting stuck into S2 of the Witcher, such a fun show!

Loving the TR so far, enjoy the skiing :)
 
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