Freedom, Fear, & Frost: New Year In The French Alps

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Alps

FROM COLD TO COLDER

At this time of the year, I’ve usually had it up to my plushly-covered neck with winter, and its cold, grey, and short days. Most times, I chance a quick travel respite to warmer sands and more temperate climates. So imagine the dilemma I placed myself in when I decided to head to a place I knew would be even colder than the one I was running away from!

Alps
Alps
Alps

THE FRENCH ALPS

Situated 4810 m above sea level, the French Alps encompass the parts of the Alpine mountain range that fall within the boundaries of France. Home to Western Europe’s high mountain Mont Blanc, the Alps was where I was to embark upon my first ever ski vacation. This was a trip that I had been deferring for at least a year. Just the thought of spending day after day surrounded by ice and snow – not to mention having to cover every inch of my skin to step outside – definitely gave me cold feet. 

I would be giving up my favored warm sand, crystal-clear oceans and colourful umbrella drinks, for frosty snow-capped mountains, icy slopes and hot chocolate (my one saving grace).

I was not at all convinced that this would be a fair trade off.  

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THE JOURNEY

Nevertheless, I found myself on a train, heading full speed towards the Alps. Thought it is a mere 3-hour ride from our home in Paris, I still found myself heaving three record-breaking, overloaded suitcases.

If I was going to be on the Alps, I had to have at least a fighting chance against the unfamiliar elements of its white, frosty wilderness. And so here I was, armed with a complete artillery of hats, gloves, scarves, oversized coats, snow boots, and hand warmers.

It was already dark when we took the transfer from the train station at Chambery to the hotel. The ride was dizzying, and I was grateful for the blanket of darkness that somewhat masked the hairpin curves that characterized our 1300m ascent to the resort. 

New Year In the French Alps
Alps
Alps

THE REVEAL

It was not until the next morning when I awoke surrounded by snowy peaks aglow with the early morning sun, and set against clear deep blue skies and fury pine trees, that I realized how far up we had driven.

It was

breathtaking

The refreshing mountain air, crisp snowy peaks, and warm rays of sun enveloping the slopes gave me all the reasons I needed to leave my cosy, temperature-controlled room.

Alps

A BUSTLING ALPINE MORNING

What I didn’t know is that ski resort mornings are not the best time of the day to stop and sightsee. In fact, they’re probably the busiest time, as eager skiers rush in for an early, quick breakfast before layering, gearing up, and heading onto the slopes. 

As an onlooker, it seemed very exciting, tribal, and purposeful. Though I did feel as out of place and out of my element as someone wearing pyjamas to a nudist retreat.

Still, my curiosity was piqued. Where was everyone going? Interested, but not convinced enough to join in, I decided to take a relaxed walk.

Alps
Alps
Alps

LE TÉLÉFÉRIQUE

Within minutes, I had arrived to their hub – the téléférique or ski lift. Here, fully geared skiers shuffled onto an open chassis before disappearing several feet over the icy mountains.

As I stood at the bottom of the slope, I was joined by gaggles of lightning-fast skiers creating waves of icy spray as they made their skillful stop…almost on top of me! 
Nothing I had seen so far was convincing enough to put on pair of skis and join in, but I wasn’t going to turn down a chance to coast over it all in a ski lift.

Besides, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. What was over the mountain?

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SHOCK & AWE

It didn’t take long for it to hit me. Less than 10 minutes, and several mental reruns of the movie “Frozen” later, I got it. 

The Alps were literally heaven on earth.

The brilliance of the sun made the icy mountains sparkle, and I had 360 degree panoramic view of all of it. This was freedom at its finest. In an instant, my mood lifted, my trepidation melted away, and I embraced all of it.

All -3 degrees of it!

Sure it was out of my comfort zone, but it was also out of this world! My snowy adventure had only just begun; I couldn’t wait to put on my skis. 

Alps
Alps
Alps

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