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Trip Report Europe (France & Swizterland) trip report

Discussion in 'Europe' started by rdk, Jan 5, 2021.

  1. rdk

    rdk Hard Yards

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    As nobody will be heading OS to ski this winter, I thought I’d write a report on my January 2020 ski trip to Europe to whet people’s appetites for winter next year.

    This was my second two-week trip to Europe to ski. Last time I flew to Geneva and had a couple of nights to acclimatise before heading to Val D’Isere. This time I flew to Lyon with Emirates. This was a great choice. The flight left Melbourne about 6:00 am on Thursday 16 Jan and with a change in Dubai arrived in Lyon 7:00 pm the same day. The flight Dubai-Lyon was half empty so I had a row of four seats to stretch out over and have a sleep, so arrived in Lyon feeling quite OK. Passport control at Lyon was the quickest I’ve ever entered another country - the non-EU counters had zero people so I walked straight up, passport stamped and out the door. There is a tram/light rail service direct from the airport to the main train station in Lyon, and my hotel for the next two nights was directly opposite the tram stop - there is an Ibis, Ibis Styles and Mercure. The Ibis Styles was great.

    So went to bed Thursday night, woke up Friday morning and had a day to explore Lyon, Friday night at the hotel, then Saturday morning tram back to the airport where I had booked a transfer to Les Menuires in the Three Valleys. As usual this meant a change of bus at Moutiers, but the transfer was very smooth and I arrived at Les Menuires about 1:30 pm. Check into the hotel, go and pick up skis and lift pass, ready to ski the next day.

    Les Menuires is not everyone’s cup of tea, but there are quite a few very comfortable hotels that are ski-in ski-out. This time I stayed at the L’Ours Blanc - very comfortable, delicious half-board, great bar and lounge and suited me down to the ground. Ski hire organised online at a nearby Go Sport and turned out I had brand new skis for the week.

    This was my second week in Les Menuires and I think it’s the perfect base for the 3Vallees. There is the “local mountain” La Masse (2800m) which gives 1000m vertical and is the perfect warm-up every morning before heading out to the rest of the 3Vallees. La Masse is good for mixed groups because it is never busy, and has a variety of pistes down (black, red and blue) so people can choose their own comfort level and meet at the bottom. First thing the pistes are perfectly groomed, so a nice blue or red blast down a couple of times is the perfect leg warmer.

    For the rest of the 3Vallees its just two lifts to either go up to Val Thorens or drop over to Meribel. For some of the best skiing in Meribel (in my view Mont vallon) I think it's easier and more fun to get there from Les Menuires than from most of Meribel itself. For skiing Val Thorens equally as easy, and to return at the end of the day either work around the Val Thorens lifts or a long flattish run out at the end to get back to Les Menuires. Not forgetting the Jesusalem piste down to St Martin, one of the best runs in the entire 3Vallees, is simple to access.

    I had a few day’s lunchtime (90 mins) private lessons with Oxygene ski school and had a great time - this culminated with a half-day off piste in the Vallon Du Lou between Les Menuires and Val Thorens. A great experience and I can’t recommend Oxygene ski school highly enough.

    If you’re thinking of visiting France to ski, then put the 3Vallees on your list. Incredible range of pistes, a great sensation of travelling, 15,000m of vertical per day easily done and all in all a great place. Not even expensive compared to Australian prices.

    After a week in Les Menuires I caught the bus to Geneva Airport then the train to Zermatt. This was quite fine in a day, and I arrived Zermatt about four pm.

    Zermatt has the reputation for being expensive, but there are quite a number of three star hotels that are reasonably priced, especially if you choose the half-board option. I stayed in a hotel close to the station, and in the hotel bar a glass of Swiss red wine was cheaper than what I’d pay in my local cafe in Melbourne. The four course meal each night worked out at about A$100, so expensive but not ridiculous. However, choosing to eat out in Zermatt you could easily spend double that. But there is a Maccas, and incredibly had burgers on gluten-free buns.

    Zermatt is an incredible place,absolutely unique in the world. I won’t go into specific runs, except from the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (3800m) down to Valtournench (1528m) is a bigger vertical drop than the top of Mt Kosciusko to sea level, in a run of about 18 km long. What an experience, slightly marred by the slow Italian lifts back up to the ridge separating Zermatt from Cervinia.

    Zermatt has great skiing either side of the border, with better lifts on the Swiss side. Being Swiss everything runs perfectly. The Italian slopes generally wider and more open than the Swiss slopes, but whatever type of skiing you like you can find it here. The one downside of Zermatt is the bus ride most people face morning and night. There are three access lifts, a train, a funicular and a gondola, and depending where you are staying you are likely to face a walk or bus ride in the morning and evening. The afternoon buses are particularly crowded and unpleasant.

    For this reason I don’t think Zermatt is a place for beginners or timid skiers, even though there are some gentle slopes in the different sectors.

    At the end of my second week I caught the 8:00 am train to Zurich, and flew back to melbourne on an afternoon flight. Swiss trains are pretty cool.

    I think next trip (this stage January 2023) I think I’ll go back to Zermatt and am tossing up the second week in either St Anton, or Val D’Isere where I was last about six years ago. If you are a determined North American skier I recommend giving Europe a go.
     
    skiflat, cwpski and Roymond like this.
  2. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    A trip report without pics......
     
    skiflat likes this.
  3. LDJ

    LDJ One of Us

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    Nice report. I had a fantastic time in 3Vs in 2020 late Feb really lucky to do it. I was the other end in courcheval 1650 and absolutely loved the skiing
     
    rdk likes this.
  4. LDJ

    LDJ One of Us

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    I’ll add some from my trip to 3Vs in feb 2020 to help you out
     
    rdk and DidSurfNowSki like this.
  5. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki One of them Ski Pass: Gold

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. person s

    person s Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Zermatt

    electric taxis lined up outside the Sunnegga Seilbahn



    the Sunnegga Seilbahn



    the Gornergratbahn



    there's a really famous mountain, but you hardly ever see it except when you only have a phone and it's foggy



    Schweigmatten on the way down to Furi - there's that pesky mountain again



    offspring with Wolli

     
    LDJ, SnowBound and DidSurfNowSki like this.
  7. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Now we’re talking!!