Countries

The French Alps embrace Le Tour

Emmanuel will be packing up his skis this month and getting out his bike as the French Alps embrace Le Tour.

A ski tour driver over the winter in Val D’Isere, so he can ski, the Belgian doppelganger for Kevin De Bruyne, keeps the legs rotating in the summer on his bike.

Reflections: On Val D’Isere

Well, he is Belgian.

And he is not the only one as mountain men and women do the same in France.

Ride on

That’ll be me: Where’s my yellow jersey?

If you don’t know it, Morzine is a car-free village, and home to 34 hotels, 52 bars and restaurants.

And 16 mapped routes totalling 1200kms around Morzine.

This year Morzine will play host to the 109th Tour de France with riders rolling into Chatel on July 10.

They will enjoy a day’s rest in Morzine the next day before departing on July 12 to compete the 10th stage, a 148km run towards Megeve.

More on everything two-wheeled and the resort has been awarded the Accueil velo label and the Hebergement Cyclo label.

And that guarantees quality and expertise for cyclists, and sports shops offering specialist bike services.

The centrally located Hotel La Clef des Champs also offers guests six electric bikes and charging points. From €29pp.

Electric dreams

Four wheels: C’est bon trop

It used to be the case, of course, that bikes came in only one shape.

Unless you’re talking about bicycles made for two, unicycles or Penny Farthings.

Now we’ve done the oul dual bike, or should that be duel, as The Scary One pulled one way and I the other in Majorca.

While left to my own devices I passed over the alternative attraction of electric bikes in Saint Tropez for a Fiat 500 drive around the mountains.

I was, of course, due to drive myself only for the tour coordinator to slam the brakes on that and take the wheel himself.

I had stalled on the. old gearstick on the dashboard.

The mountains are calling

The wheel deal: In Quinta do Lago

There was too a gentle ride through the lakelands of Quinto da Lago in the Algarve.

Before my competitiveness got the better of me and I skidded off the path and scared the spoonbill birds on the water.

Better, of course, to just pose then with the bike than try to be Eddie Merckx, or Emmanuel.

So it was the obligatory picture next to the Pyrenees cyclist statue on a trip up to Le Pic du Midi.

Isn’t it better to let the experts, the superhuman cyclists, do the heavy lifting?

And sit back in your picnic spot, break out the wine and cheese and baguettes and take it all in as the French Alps embrace Le Tour.

 

 

Countries, Europe, Skiing

Aprés days are here again

Aprés days are here again, back in Val d’Isere again, Aperol and Cabaret again, aprés days are here again.

We’re swaying with a gallery of foam fun characters on the dance floor of the world’s highest cabaret, La Folie Douce.

You got the bottle: La Folie Douce

All in ski boots and some on the tables.

Where not half an hour ago our Ski France party had been feasting on ink black squid, lobster and Prosecco.

Uncorked

The cork is truly out of the bottle with Covid restrictions lifted in France and aprés rules now taking precedence.

And in La Folie Douce that means throwing some shapes with giant bananas and oversized babies.

All of whom have skied to the biggest aprés party on the exclusive French resort.

Well most, with those of us who are just reacquainting themselves with the slopes after six years away, taking the gondola.

Life is a Cabaret

Dancing on the world ceiling: And in ski boots

We’re bouncing to the house beat of the top-hatted MC, the burlesque dancers and a hip-hop Cardinal Richelieu belting out Rhythm Is A Dancer (don’t ask).

Just reward after negotiating the tour of the complex, up and down and through corridors in ski boots.

All to rightly glamour at the choice of restaurant experiences, the Classical Roman sculptures and the panoramic views.

We have after all just met the challenge of that Italian-themed feast at the open-deck La Cucucina (Crazy Kitchen).

Where waiters in smocks serve up the best fare.

Grazie mille

Mona pizza: La Cucucina

And perché Italiano? Why, because Italy is just over the top of the Alps to the left.

For some though (and not guilty here) just getting back to base camp will be a task enough.

No, not our party of black run skiers, but some of our foam-costumed friends, one of whom is stopped at the pass.

By our pocket rocket host Jerrine (doubly blessed with Irish and Scottish blood) who tells him he cannot take his bottle of rosé down on the gondola.

Jerrine is un force de la nature, herding packs of overlubricated boys and girl parties away from the slopes for their own safety.

And down the gondolas.

Sway to go

Gods and men: Neptune and Bandanaman

I bodyswerve one at the foot, a snowboarder who has perfected the act of falling while staying upright.

And wait for our connecting coach to take us back to our contactless chalet, Chalet Davos.

Where a meal has been prepared for later and delivered.

And a jacuzzi awaits.

Aprés days are here again in Val d’Isere.

MEET YOU ON THE SLOPES

 

Countries, Europe, Skiing

Pardon, allé skier en France

Mai oui, I know you’ve not heard from me for a couple of days. Pardon, allé skier or gone skiing en France.

Or falling off the magic carpet (more of that later) and snow ploughing down the green slopes.

All under the guidance of Ski France, our host for these days in plush Val D’Isere and my patient and impossibly handsome instructor Antoine.

Summit else

Have boots will travel: Chalet Davos boot room

It is, of course, a job to get me out of my four-poster bed in my chalet Davos with breathtaking views of those mountains I’ll be tackling later.

And Rosie, our woman of all talents knows my form.

From when she had to wake me in Interlaken in Switzerland and I left the shower running through the breakfast room ceiling.

Chalet La France

House about that? Val D’Isere

Our chalet, Davos, you may associate with that economic summit when our leaders discuss how they can squeeze more money out of us.

For our party in our summit of chalets next to the Val d’Isere it is all about the giving.

They give you Champagne, wine, beer, daily breakfasts, lunches and evening meals.

All delivered with a smile to your door every day… and you do not even have to get out of your jacuzzi or sauna to collect it.

Belt up

Way to go, Jo: With Queen of Ski France Jo

But those frosted mountains compel you to get out there to play on their slopes.

Although the most fun fellow skiers can have is at the expense of a snow white-bearded falling face first onto the slope.

In my defence the conveyor belt taking you through the tunnel up the incline to start comes to a juddering halt.

Before you can take your snow plough position.

No enfants were injured in the making of this post.

Only the pride of an oul fella who should know better.

Aprés ski

Dancing on the ceiling: At La Folie Douce

Mind you, I did hold my own when it came to the apres and if you let me catch my breath I’ll gather my thoughts and share that in my next post.

From the highest cabaret in the world, La Folie Douce.

For now apols again for my tardiness et Pardon, allé skier en France.

 

Asia, Countries, Europe, Skiing, UK

Holiskis and don’ts… and the frozen penis

Now I’m getting my Alpine gear together for my trip next month so a quick recap. Holiskis and don’ts and the frozen penis.

Yes frostbite can get you just when, and where, you don’t expect.

And that for Olympic 50km cross country skier Remi Lindholm, in the -26C chills of Beijing, means in the nether regions.

Once frostbitten

A pain in the groin: Remi Lindholm

For Finland’s Remi it was rather surprisingly and fortunately not the first time.

He had suffered the same inconvenience in Ruka in his homeland last year.

Remi said: ‘When the body parts started to warm up after the finish the pain was unbearable.’

Remi had come prepared though with a heat pack but it seems that that’s not enough to combat those temperatures or exertions.

So the best piece of advice would be not to ski a 50km Olympic race in -26C temperatures.

Blue run, run, run

Chalet La France: Val D’Isere

Just as well then that I’ll be sticking to the Blue Run in Val D’Isere.

And Ski France’s guides for what to take with you… to keep warm and safe.

Beginner’s pluck

Home and dry: Hillend, near Edinburgh

Firstly if you’ve not skied before try getting down to your local dry ski slope.

And mine is in Scotland and Ireland like me then they’re at Hillend, near Edinburgh and Kilternan, near Dublin.

If you’re lucky enough to live in The Scottish Highlands (and then you are lucky) and you have a snowy slope nearby.

You can always learn to ski when you can get there.

I’d guard though against learning with your partner after my first experiences on the snow.

Ploughing the depths

Snow business: I’ll work my way up to boarding

When I went careening into Claire in Aviemore.

And didn’t snow plough in time and left her with a multicoloured bruise.

Which was there for all to see when we assembled in the swimming pool later.

All of which tells you that your ski pants aren’t guaranteed protection against out-of-control skiers.

So yes, helmet and goggle up and get a padded ski jacket, pants and gloves.

Pride comes before a fall

Marching orders: My skiing holidays memories

Master too your fall and how to get back up.

And get on and off your gondola.

And the answer to your question: what happened to me after I’d taken Claire out of the game.

Yes, she emasculated me… giving me the Let’s Be Friends speech before the night was out.

And only a week left of our holiday too.

The worst break

And let me tell you the worst ski injury you can endure is a broken heart.

Maybe just in case though follow this. Holiskis and Don’ts and the frozen penis.