Trip Report: Ski Vacation in France 2017

Wow what a ski trip! Saveur the Journey must have had the good ski karma going because we got dumped on with awesome powder at the Portes du Soleil resorts in France.  The French Alps had suffered from a poor snow season until our group of 8 Americains and 2 French showed up.  The first day we skied was Saturday, March 4 and conditions were decent with poor visiblity but reasonably good snow and lots of snow coming down.  Every subsequent day was better conditions with Tuesday being “la bombe” (which I think means “the bomb” in French).

François off piste and up to his waist in powder.

Tuesday morning saw 17 inches of accumulated snowfall during the night but that was on top of the 10 or so inches from the night before so on many off piste runs we couldn’t find the bottom.

We skied Avoiraz where the atmosphere was that wonderful mix of adults acting like 5 years olds crossed with a soundtrack of yipping coyotes.  From the lift we could see people gliding through the soft powder, thigh deep in some places and hooping and hollering as they went.  Crashes into the soft white were met with cheers and applause  and we watched people overcome with happiness try to extricate themsleves from deep nests of pow.

The energy was contagious with high fives being doled out and received from total strangers.  Some of the people in our group had not skied powder before, and certainly not in that quantity, and they found it to be quite different, challenging but wonderful.  Even the Boulder Colorado native in our group said she hadn’t skied powder this deep in a long time (and she ripped it up!).  After a full day of skiing/riding (we did have 2 snowboarders in our midst) through the limitless powder with virtually no lift lines (the trip was planned for after all the French ski vacations) we would happily make out way to a slopeside restaurant and bar called “La Ferme” where cold glasses of Pelforth Brune (pronounced “Pel-Fort”) beer or mugs of hot chocolate and wild blueberry crepes awaited us.

Beers at “La Ferme”
photo by Shannon Sims

Then we would ski the last run back to the parking lot and drive the few miles back to our beautifully modern yet rustic chalet where a pool, a central fireplace, a glass of wine, and a hot shower were awaiting us.  We would relex and lounge, tell of our exploits and failures, and then sit down at the huge oak table and consume vast quantities of local cheese in some combination with potatoes, charcuterie (cured meats), bread, wine, and a huge double bowl of vibrant French salad greens.

Katie and François enjoying some delicious salad and a little bit of wine. Photo by Shannon Sims.

Many laughs were had as we compared notes on our cultures (French and Americain) and the correct way to twirl a peice of bread dipped in bubbling cheese.  Afterwards, we would eat dessert, drink a little genepi (mountain herb brandy) and slip off to bed, ready to do it all again the next day.  Now this is a vacation I can get behind and we hadn’t even made it to the 21 km backcountry descent of the Mont Blanc glacier!  More on that soon…