We’ve been pretty quiet over here lately, but all is good. We rounded out 2021 by spending Thanksgiving in Georgia with my family, getting our booster shots, exploring the Christmas markets in Germany, and ringing in the new year with a week of skiing in Switzerland. I created a ski monster out of Jordan, and we have spent the past four weeks skiing in the French Alps. I’ve been wearing the same ski outfit for over ten years, so all the photos look the same. For that reason, I’m consolidating all of our ski trips into one post.
What is a ski monster, you ask? While I’ve made the term up, I’m assuming it would have Jordan’s photo next to it if it were in the dictionary. A ski monster would be someone who hasn’t really skied in 34 years, took four days of private lessons in Switzerland, fell in love with the sport, and promptly booked all available weekends to ski for the rest of the season. Ok, maybe that definition is a little too specific. We can thank Simon, Jordan’s fantastic Scottish instructor, for working on this miracle.
But I’m not complaining. My ski gear has been stored under our guest bed for two years, patiently waiting for the ski resorts to open. When we moved to Lyon in February 2020, the ski resorts closed not too long after we arrived due to COVID. Apparently, apres-ski was a super-spreader event. The resorts stayed closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season. And the resorts remained closed in most of Europe for the following season. We spent our winter snowshoeing in the French Alps instead.
Switzerland kept its ski resorts open the entire time, but France discouraged residents from crossing borders for a weekend thrill. The French government enforced a mandatory quarantine if they caught French residents going or coming from Switzerland to ski. So we didn’t risk it. One of Switzerland’s ski resorts borders France, and one of the parking lots happened to be on the French side. France refused to open the parking lot for the resort because they didn’t want anyone skiing.
The ski resorts opening in France this year did come with concessions. Face masks are required on all lifts, as well as showing our health pass validating we’ve received our vaccine and booster shot. The French government required boosters for all residents by January 15 if the initial shots were more than seven months old. Without the booster, our health pass would no longer be valid. That would mean no more access to restaurants, cafes, shops, and, you guessed it, ski resorts.
We are already so accustomed to showing our health pass everywhere and wearing masks indoors at all times. Wearing a mask on a lift was nothing out of the ordinary. So without delay, below are photos of the ski resorts we have enjoyed this season.
Saas-Fee is a perfect Swiss town nestled between the towering mountains of the Swiss Alps. After a couple of trains and a bus ride later, we arrived in the car-free village on Christmas day. I loved the views, and I loved the village, but I was not too fond of the ski mountain if I’m being honest.
Maybe skiing for five seasons when I lived in Colorado spoiled me. However, I was not expecting to have to take a gondola, then another gondola, walk up some stairs, take a funicular, and then walk through a long tunnel before I could take the first run of the day. Seriously. It took 45-minutes from the mountain base to get to the runs. I was exhausted before even going down the mountain. Luckily, the apres-ski scene helped me relax at the end of the day!
Worried that all resorts in the Alps would be like Saas-Fee, we researched French ski resorts that primarily had ski lifts or télésièges. Praz-sur-Arly fit the bill, and we could jump on a ski lift right from the start. The coolest thing about this resort is that it is part of the larger Espace Diamant, connecting six ski resorts. Our lift pass allowed us to ski all the lifts within the ski resorts, giving us free rein to explore!
Everything we have heard about Megève is it is a high-class, pinkies-up type of resort. Megève is similar to other resorts like Aspen, Colorado, or Zermatt, Switzerland. We didn’t feel like this resort was any different than Praz-sur-Arly, which was only about 10 minutes down the road.
However, there was one slight difference that I couldn’t overlook. The workers in Megève would immediately speak English to us after we spoke in French. It felt like they couldn’t even entertain the idea of a non-French person speaking French. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but it makes a huge difference when my efforts were immediately invalidated. Other than that, the mountain was fantastic!
Les Arc, France
I love Les Arc. This mountain is particularly special because it’s the first time Jordan felt confident to go down red runs. He had gone down one red during his ski lessons in Saas-Fee but hadn’t tried again. And while I loved staying by Jordan’s side on blues, reds are where the fun is.
Not familiar with red runs? These would fall between a blue and a black run in the US.
Jordan crushed it this weekend, and I’m so proud of the progress he’s made in such a short period of time.
La Plagne, France
I chose La Plagne solely for its logo. Jordan gave me a choice between La Plagne and two other resorts. I didn’t even compare the mountains and what they offered; a cool logo means a fun resort, right? Thankfully, my gut decision didn’t disappoint!
Our hotel at La Plagne allowed us to experience what it’s like to stay at a ski-in, ski-out location. We could walk out the back door of our hotel and immediately be on a blue run. And this wasn’t unique to just our hotel. The majority of hotels at La Plagne were ski-in, ski-out. I’ve never experienced a ski mountain wholly integrated with the hotels, and I loved it. One of the runs even went through a hotel!
But the best thing about La Plagne was how much fun it was. Every lift blasted music while we waited in line. A designated “fun course” incorporated an ice tunnel, bridge, loop, and small jumps into a run. Some lifts had selfie cameras to take photos of us while heading up the mountain. La Plagne even had a run go through a tunnel that lit up in all colors and played music. Fun fact: the tunnel was 136 meters long; that’s over a football field!
When in doubt, choose the best logo!
We are taking a break from skiing for the rest of February due to the school holidays in France for the next three weeks. The school holidays officially started today, and the mountain was noticeably busier.
We have trips planned to Finland and Venice, Italy, this month instead. But we will be back skiing soon. The ski monster is planning five more weeks of skiing in March and April. We can’t wait to get back on the mountain!