As a cruel April Fools joke, the weather brought snow to Lyon for the first time all year on the first of the month. A quick reminder that while it may be Spring, it’s not Spring weather yet! April Fools Day in France is known as Poisson d’Avril, literally translated to the fish of April. That name almost seems like a joke in itself. As the French tradition goes, the jokester hangs a paper fish behind the back of the person they are joking with, without the person realizing it. It’s similar to a kick me sign, but with a fish instead.
I’ll stick with the snow. And while it was only snowing a little in Lyon, we knew it was snowing a lot in the French Alps. As we were heading into our last weekend of skiing for the season, this was good news for us.
In our first ski season in Europe, we skied for 25 days in 11 resorts across France, Switzerland, and Italy. Jordan started as a complete novice taking lessons in Saas-Fee over Christmas to being comfortable crushing it on multiple black runs. We were spoiled with unparalleled views of the Alps, seeing Mont Blanc from every angle. And while we may be tired from the skiing, we will never tire from the views.
Each weekend, we would pack up our car with an ever-growing list of bags as I decided to take my skis instead of renting, and then Jordan bought ski boots and skis. Jordan figured out how to pack the car most efficiently: boots first, skis next, and our suitcases at the end for a perfect fit. I could pack my suitcase in my sleep as it would be the same outfits each weekend.
We went to Saas-Fee, Megeve, Praz-sur-Arly, Les Arcs, and La Plagne during the first half of the ski season. For the previous five weekends, we’ve been to Val Thorens, Tignes, Sestriere, Les Deux Alpes, and we finished with a powder weekend at Courchevel and Meribel.
We almost canceled our last weekend of skiing, as the Alps hadn’t seen snow in over a month. The last half of March’s rules were to start early, gain as much elevation as possible, stay high, and finish before the slush arrived. I was exhausted from long weeks at work and hard-on-the-body weekends of skiing. All I wanted to do was to stay home!
Unfortunately, we would lose a hefty deposit from the hotel we booked, so we kept our plans. To thank us for not canceling, Ullr, the “god of snow,” blessed us with 11 inches of fresh snow for an amazing last two days of skiing. Jordan was able to ski in powder for the first time and experienced how much of a playground the mountain can be. It was an unforgettable weekend in Courchevel!
Courchevel is part of Les Trois Vallées, the largest ski domain in the world. Courchevel seamlessly connects to other resorts like Meribel and Val Thorens through a maze of gondolas and lits. We hoped to ski across the resorts on Sunday, as we only had the opportunity to snowshoe in Meribel last year while ski resorts remained closed due to the pandemic.
On Saturday, we started with champagne powder on the slopes and finished with a small bottle of champagne for apres-ski. We had plenty of fresh, untouched powder to ski through as we luckily jumped on two lifts right as they opened. While enjoying our powder day, it continued to snow, turning Jordan’s beard into an icy landscape. He said it was the warmest his face had been all season due to the insulation made from the ice! We continued to ski all day until our quads were on fire, screaming at us to take a break.
After a fun day on the mountain, Jordan knew I had a tough week and booked me a massage to further melt my stress away. I was exhausted from skiing, and my brain wasn’t working for me to speak French to the masseuse. I was even struggling to speak sentences in English, honestly. When I could find enough energy to speak with him, I learned that his wife was American and was from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Small world, huh?
The massage helped rejuvenate my body and mind enough to say “yes” to a last day of skiing on Sunday. I wasn’t sure we could top our epic powder day, but the snow was still coming down. We had to try!
It was extremely foggy on Sunday, and we weren’t sure how the conditions would be on the mountain. But as we took a gondola to the top, we went through the fog and clouds and were welcomed with blue skies and sunshine. Some mountain peaks poked out through the thick blanket of fluffy clouds. It felt like the clouds separated us from the rest of the world. We knew we eventually had to ski back down through the fog, but we would soak in the views for now.
The first rule of skiing is never to call the last run. I fully believe calling the last run in any capacity is when accidents happen. “Let’s take one more run before finishing,” or “Let’s stop after this run” is something you will never hear me say. I am very superstitious!
After 20+ days on the mountain, luckily, Jordan and I are in-tune with when each other’s last run should be. We don’t have to say it; we just know when to head to the bottom of the mountain. And as we both started to take more breaks on the runs, we knew it was time to finish our ski season. My quads were burning and screaming at me as we finished on a gentle green run next to our hotel. As soon as I took my skis off, I fell to the ground to take a well-needed break in the snow. I deserved it!
I don’t know about you, but I am so excited to stay in Lyon this upcoming weekend for some rest and relaxation.
See photos and read a little about our other four ski weekends below!
We enjoyed a five-star experience in Val Thorens. We typically go for middle-of-the-road hotels, but it’s fun to treat ourselves once in a while, right? I also think it was the only option available. We stayed at the highest ski-in, ski-out hotel in the highest ski resort in the world. Val Thorens elevation is so high that they guarantee snow!
I was not ready for the luxury experience we received. Jordan was wearing a t-shirt when we arrived, and I made him put a sweater on, as this was not a t-shirt hotel! When we first arrived, the staff unpacked and parked our car, put our ski gear in a dedicated locker, and moved our luggage to our room. We found out that only “yes” people worked at this hotel, as they were so accommodating. At the end of the first day of skiing, I asked for a ski wax and wondered if it was possible. The worker effortlessly met me with a “sure, no problem, it will be ready for you in the morning.”
I was blown away by the hospitality, but the skiing was equally as good.
The weather in Tignes is what I will remember most. We took a gondola to the top of the mountain on our first day, and brutal wind conditions and low visibility met us. We couldn’t see a thing on our first run! I was about to tell Jordan I was done, as it wasn’t fun to ski in this weather. But when we looked up, we noticed the other side of the resort appeared sunny and calm. We spent our day on the sunny side of the mountain with no further problems.
On Sunday, difficult visibility conditions met us again. It was impossible to see the snow on the runs to determine where there were bumps or drops. We were blindly skiing, trusting our gut, and hoping for the best by the end of the day.
We chose Sestriere in Italy for a long three-day weekend. Jordan had commented that Sestriere had updated all its infrastructure for the Turin Winter Olympics, not realizing that it was sixteen years ago.
The snow conditions were a mix of ice and slush, with little in-between. Many lifts and runs were closed due to a lack of snowfall. We even had to take two lifts up the mountain while holding our skis because there wasn’t enough snow coverage to load and unload. If you ever want to see something funny, just watch people trying to get off a lift in their ski boots. We had to run away as fast as we could from the lift!
Sestriere’s redeeming grace was three factors:
- Its amazing on-mountain pesto pasta and authentic Italian pizza for dinner.
- The fact we could ski in two countries between France and Italy. To the left of the fork, France, and the right, Italy!
- Jordan went down his first black diamond run and then even went down a few more!
Les Deux Alps
Les Deux Alps will always have a special place in my heart as it was our first-weekend skiing with friends. It was a bluebird day and unseasonably warm. We started the day off on a nice black run, allowing Jordan to show off the skills he’s learned this season. Next, we continued to ski through Les Deux Alps ski park, watching people do epic tricks and jumps. Jordan and I just skied to the side of the jumps.
We gave our try on the slalom course at the end of the day, where I “raced” our friends. I ski as slow as a turtle, so there wasn’t any competition. There was even a speed camera for us to test our skiing speed. Jordan clocked over 50 kpm, where I maxed out at 41, but only after trying it a few times over the weekend. I do not feel the need for speed!
And while we had a great time skiing for 25 days this season, I am ready to put my ski boots up and trade them out for sandals. Tulip fields in the Netherlands, anyone? Stay tuned!