Our Skiing Holiday in Morzine! (“Just Remember to Breathe”)
Bright white powder snow glistening in the sunlight, steaming sweet vin chaud, jacuzzi and sauna sessions at the end of a long day’s skiing and delicious gourmet 4-course meals each night = this was how the first week of March went for me.
Now that I’ve landed back in Madrid and and am back in reality, it all feels like a dreamy haze. At the beginning of March I went skiing with my family in Morzine, in the vast Portes du Soleil area of the French Alps, which encompasses 13 different resorts. My family are very keen skiers, and I had been looking forward to this trip for practically a year, ever since we last went skiing!
We travelled Sunday to Sunday, giving me the perfect opportunity to head back to London on the Friday beforehand after work to see people back home and pick up my skis and boots. London was looking beautiful and we ate out near Spitalfields and in Brixton Village, as well as taking a Thames Clipper boat from London Bridge to Greenwich Village (which I’d never visited before!) for a sun-kissed walk up to the Royal Observatory and Greenwich Meridian, where Greenwich Mean Time is set and where the eastern and western hemispheres meet at 0° longitude.
A few weeks later, my fleeting visit to London feels a million miles away and a distant memory, but it reinvigorated my love for the city. It’s funny how leaving a place can make you appreciate it all the more, as happens with people as well. On the Sunday my mother, my sister and I headed to Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal, gliding through Premium Security and into the No.1 Traveller lounge where we were treated to a complimentary lunch menu, a delicious light buffet and complimentary drinks. Fuelling up on white wine and gin & tonic in comfy, relaxed surroundings with free Wi-fi and views over the runway, we escaped the melee of passengers in the rest of departures and toasted to a great skiing holiday ahead.
I had previously reviewed the No.1 Traveller lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 (read my review here) before flying to Prague, and I can safely say that their Gatwick lounge lives up to the high standards set by my previous experience last year. A few hours later and we found ourselves winding our way up Alpine roads to Chalet Chambertin in Morzine. It’s one of 5 chalets run by Mountain Mavericks, an English-family-run company that are so so friendly. We stayed in Chalet Chambertin last year and liked it so much that we returned this year – something very unusual for my family! Greeted with champagne and nibbles by our two adorable chalet hosts, Italian chef Kekko and Spanish hostess Paula, we settled into the 7-bedroom chalet and met the other guests over dinner.
They provide a full service of wake-up coffee/tea, breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner, free taxi transfers every day to and from the main ski lifts and the centre of Morzine, jacuzzi & sauna, and are even able to organise ski fitting & hire to be delivered direct to the chalet via Doorstep Skis if you need ski equipment. This last bit in particular struck me as ingenious – no more waiting in queues in ski hire shops! All this, with airport transfers included, comes to just £545 in low season (or £895 in peak season) per person per week, which is an exceptional price considering how expensive skiing holidays can often be!
Weather-wise, it snowed lightly for the first half of the week, setting a good base of fresh powder off-piste, and then the sun came out for the second half of the week, allowing us some great al fresco lunches, mid-morning vin-chaud breaks in the sun and end-of-the-day drinks outdoor in mountain restaurants. Just what you need to reward those hard-working thigh and calf muscles during a day racing around the slopes and carving up the off-piste! Around 9 years ago on an off-piste skiing holiday in Chamonix, a dashingly handsome French guide (whose name I can’t remember) lead us to an incredible untouched, deep-powder snow slope. As we prepared our descent, our hearts beating in excitement, he gave us one final tip: “Just Remember to Breathe”. These words so aptly describe the feeling you get just before an incredible stretch of off-piste, and I was reminded of his advice on a number of occasions last week!
We skied with the Ski Club of Great Britain rep based in Avoriaz, Andrew Poodle, who also writes a skiing blog called PowPowPow. These reps spread across the Alps guide Ski Club members around the mountains, and as long as you have a transceiver and off-piste travel insurance, then they can also take you off-piste. It was a great way to avoid getting out the piste map at every lift, and meant we immediately found some of the as yet unspoilt parts of the Portes du Soleil where snowfields abounded. Ski Club membership starts at just £23 per year and if you’re not a member, you can still join a rep for one day to test it out and see how you feel.
Another day we met up with two friends staying in nearby Chapelle to attempt the ‘Circuite du Soleil’, a tour of all the major ski resorts on both the French and Swiss sides of the border. You have to race down the pistes to fit them all into one day, and that was actually our most intense day of skiing.
I was using the Ski Tracks app to record our outings, and that day we managed to hit a top speed of 52 mph (84 km/h), we skied a distance of 31 miles (50km), we descended a total of 7359m and our steepest slope was a 40° incline!
Mornings before going skiing were always a frantic affair of trying to lie-in, eat a full English breakfast and layer up all at once, so it wasn’t until our last day that I managed to get out my GoPro camera to try and catch some footage on my sister’s helmet. The battery promptly ran out (just my luck) so barely nothing was captured, but armed with an iPhone throughout the whole week, I still managed to get some decent photos, even of my attempts at backward skiing!
All in all, it was a brilliant week of intense skiing, stunning views, seriously good (and well-earned) food, relaxing aprés ski in the chalet’s jacuzzi and sauna, family catch-ups on chairlifts and a chance to take a deep breath of the crisp mountain air and reflect on life and the universe.