The holiday started well because for the first time in a while I actually managed to get the window seat - usually Jon whinges about leg room and makes me swap. I amused myself for a while admiring a glory, then took a lot of photos during our descent into Geneva, because, well, just look at it:
clouds and snow and mountains, mmm
We arrived at our chalet in Les Gets and were immediately ushered to the table and handed tartiflette. Delicious and well timed!
This holiday also marks my first time skiing somewhere other than France - on the Tuesday we skiied to Morzine, then slogged our way over to Avoriaz via a busy slow green run and lifts with a massive queues, and eventually made it to Les Crosets in Switzerland. Worth it just for the short black run we found that wasn't full of moguls (and also didn't seem to be on the piste map?)
For five out of six days, we had sunshine. However, Thursday was a whole different kettle of fish. It had snowed heavily the night before (after the pistes got bashed), and kept snowing until about 3pm so there was loads of powder everywhere. I spent the morning feeling like my legs were on fire, and doing the occasional ultra slow motion face-plant into heaps of snow. Once I'd got used to the powder though, it was all good - and quiet! Turns out only three of us (out of 10) had left the chalet that day.
first run of the day - powder on the Belle Mouille piste
Along with others from the chalet, we tended to head to Mont Chery in the mornings, as that's where the sun was. This side of the valley is much quieter, and more of a 'locals' area. The lifts are old and slow - one chair was shut all week (had to use a drag lift instead, eww) and we spent 25 minutes sat on an uncomfortable 2-seater that had broken down. But the runs are lovely, particularly Lievre. The red back down to the town features two road crossings which I could have done without. And I don't mean 'this is actually a road in summer' - I mean actual road currently being used by vehicles. "You go first, you're on hired skis". Thanks...
I am really not a christmas person. Partly due to the whole atheism thing, but mostly because there's too much hype and expectation and it stresses me out. Bah humbug etc. This time, I avoided it all completely by spending the week playing in the snow in Courchevel.
(Though actually I think that photo was taken somewhere in between VT and Meribel)
The Three Valleys is big - the biggest linked ski resort in the world, with around 600km of piste. That's a lot, and far too much for me to cover in six days. We got area passes but mostly stayed in the Courchevel valley - went all the way to Val Thorens on one day, and to Meribel on two other days. My favourite area for skiing was above Courchevel 1650 - some really lovely and relatively quiet red runs. I also liked the tree lined runs down to La Tania.
The lifts are very sensibly laid out, but I can't say the same for piste signposts! I quite like having signposts/piste name signs at junctions, not slightly afterwards when you've already had to make a decision.
animal sculptures at the top of the Biollay lift
We had plenty of fresh snow during the week, which was lovely if rather cold and cloudy. However they seem to like piste bashing everything to within an inch of its life - very hard (and fast) pistes, even the day after snow.
Courchevel 1850 - the 'main' bit - is also rather posh and expensive - designer shops (with bouncers) next to the lifts, and ski instructors sponsored by luxury yacht insurance companies. Definitely somewhere to check prices before ordering a beer! (€12 for half a litre? no thank you)
We stayed at Chalet Barragiste in Courchevel 1550, which was a fantastic location - you could ski down to the lifts, and ski back at the end of the day as long as you didn't mind going along the luge track! The hot tub was also very good, with views of the mountain and of people crashing their sledges.
On a rather windy afternoon (thanks to storm Brian), we finished walking the Glevum Way.
We picked up where we left it last time, with familiar paths around the golf course then across fields to the A38. From here on the route was mostly new to me. More fields with really easy to follow paths took us to Sandhurst, then we walked along the road for about 1km to the river.
The riverside path was... interesting. Narrow, a bit overgrown, and tucked away between garden fences and the water. Oh, and a stile with the word 'DEATH' spray painted onto it. There was also far too much rubbish strewn all over the place, which only got worse as we got closer to the city.
it was jokingly suggested that this could be 'art'. No. it's rubbish dumped by idiots
The other thing we noticed as we approached 'civilisation' was a gradual increase in traffic noise, and the soothing sound of sirens. Ahh...
After popping out at what google maps labels the 'Westgate leisure area', it was a little wiggle of bridges to cross the Severn, walk along the other bank, and cross back at the lock. I'm not actually sure exactly where in the docks the official start/end point of the route is, but we decided that Tank would do and celebrated with burgers and beer
We walked 12km in 2.5hr, with almost no need to stop and check the map. The signposts and stickers on this section were actually pretty good, apart from at Westgate where they seemed to vanish.
The Glevum Way is certainly a varied route - very urban, but also lots of countryside. I've really enjoyed walking a lap of Gloucester.