Les Trois Vallées’, the Three Valleys. And I had the privilege of visiting one of these. Meribel: a traditional, yet somewhat commercial, French village, with wooden chalets and hearts on every piece of decor that you see.
We stayed with Meriski, the seven of us in a cosy chalet, where we had our own “house lady”, a charming British girl named Charlie. Meriski was great: we were collected by First Class taxi service in Geneva and taken directly to our home for the holidays. There were fresh French loaves with jars of Nutella and strawberry jame waiting for us. It was literally the best strawberry jam I had ever had.
Our first day saw us settling in as soft snow settled around our dwelling place.
We got fitted for our skis, and we attempted to convince my 3-year-old cousin to try it too. That was unsuccessful. We hired her a pair anyway, and she did finally decide that she didn’t want to be left out. Children are victims of FOMO too!
The weather was perfect for the whole week. Soft, fresh snow fell each night, and we had crystal clear “blue bird” days. Temperatures hardly dropped below -2ºC during the day. With such perfect conditions, we spent all day, every day taking on the slopes of Meribel Valley.
My brother was trying his hand at snowboarding for the first time. It took him 2 days and 1 private lesson, and he was tearing down the blue and red slopes with me (even challenging me to some black slopes – that was NOT going to happen for either of us). I got back into the whole skiing thing a lot faster than my mother did: she seemed as though she’d rather be sliding down the slopes on her bum – her turns were so tight, it was as though she was mowing the slopes in neat, football field lines.
As could be expected, France was far overpriced. This could also be tied to the fact that it was largely a tourist hotspot (there was an uncharacteristic amount of English spoken in the area, and far too many souvenir shops, all selling the same mugs, key-rings and T-shirts). They warned us that the higher up the mountain you went, the more expensive the food and drinks. This was also true for the quality of the food: the higher up you went, the worse the food got. BUT! The view and the slopes higher up the mountain were most definitely worth it (even though the first slopes from the tops of the mountain were horribly mogulled).
All of our breakfasts and dinners were cooked by Charlie, and all five courses each night were wonderful. On her one night off, we went out to a local cheesery, La Fromagerie, to have Raclette. I’d definitely say that the experience was more worthwhile than the food. The cheese was delicious, though a bit rich (even though we ordered mild), and the cold meats were a bit too far out of my comfort zone. I’ve never enjoyed potatoes as much as I did that night – you can’t really go too wrong with them. I think I was somewhat put off by the amount of cheese you are given: I tend to feel like I have to eat everything I am given, and it really just was not possible to do in this situation. I can’t be sure that the dreams I had that night as a result of the cheese were entirely worth it (picture a puppy named Bugel and a splitting banana…). Also, South Africa definitely pours a much weaker Vodka Orange juice…
Meribel was a dream of a holiday. It was truly a privilege to be able to spend that time with my family, the period just before Christmas, and in such a picturesque situation. I think maybe I’ll spend a season (or even a year – apparently it can get quite nice in Summer as well) working there in a few years time. What could be better than earning money to live in a place like that, with the exhilaration of flying down a mountain of baking powder snow as it sprays in waves behind you?