Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Breathtaking pistes in Saint Sorlin D’Arves


Dutchman and I on the ski lift, apart - nope, we are not fighting ;-) we just want to balance our weights

While waiting for the bus in the junction between Saint Jean D’Arves and Saint Sorlin D’Arves we chatted up with this bubbly Dutch girl who scaled the 4 corners of Les Sybelles in just 3 days. Of course, we took note of her tips. She said the summits between L’Ouillon and Les Perrons in Saint Sorlin D’Arves have the most magnificent views in Les Sybelles. The pistes there are said to be unique too. Her testimony made us so excited, we decided to take the long journey to the 2 summits the next day. Well, we did not regret it - it was superb!
 

This dog is the king of the Saint Sorlin D’Arves piste. He may not look so huge on the foto but this dog is gigantic and could easily weigh more than 60 kilos! He could have me on the snow floor in a whisk. 


Next foto are old wooden skis hanged on the wall of the La Ferme Petit cafe restaurant. The picture frame is Saint Jean D’Arves during summer - I can see the familiar black peaks.


Here are some of the views in Saint Sorlin d'Arves:



I really love this foto! I was actually an accidental object in here as you can see my mouth wide open like I am about to scream, lol. I was probably saying something to Dutchman when he captured my gaping mouth on camera. What he was actually doing was taking a picture of his boots fastened to the snowboard and not realizing that I was also in the camera angle. Well, it came out really nice, we loved it!



The awesome and breathtaking views of the pistes in Saint Sorlin D’Arves. 


The tree line in the Alps is I believe between 1,500 – 1,600 meters above sea level, and in the fotos here, trees would not live due to harsher weather conditions.

And videos of course are here:

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This is a nice video of Dutchman overtaking me and a snowboarder coming off piste to join us. I was actually startled a bit by the snowboarder and quickly used my plow/brake position.

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Another video of Dutchman overtaking me. I always get uneasy when Dutchman comes near me as we almost collided a few times before. In this video, I avoided him and went the other way, lol.

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La Saint S’o, a really cool terrace on the piste halfway from Les Perrons summit and Saint Sorline D’Arves village. A group of Bulgarians later hijacked the music master, they played Bulgarian music and were dancing in the snow.



Relaxing in the piste; as it was beautiful weather, many people were tanning themselves but in this picture the sun was hidden from the clouds.


We witnessed a big collision (see foto). There were 7 people that collided here, 2 of which are on the foreground and cannot be seen in the foto. It was a really strong crash, one after the other, but I guess no one had a broken bone as I didn’t see anything that was worrying. A few people came running to help. I think this area is accident prone and they should take out the net obstacle or widen the gap a bit.

The great thing about skiing here is the space, pistes are so wide, and moreover, there are very few people! Just spells perfect really as this is what low season is all about and its benefits. It would have been a nightmare to book our winter sport holiday during high season (read: February as kids are free from school). Can you imagine the wriggly little daredevils shooting like loose canon balls in the slopes? OMG Terrifying!

Here’s a confession - I developed this sense of fright where I immediately lose my confidence when an army of speedy skiers/snowboarders are trailing behind me. It just makes me so vulnerable and I hate it. I’m afraid of collision. Well, we all do. But I think I’m a coward skier who elected to ski in her own terms and conditions.

Dutchman and I are toying at the idea of going again in early April but we are not looking forward to the long distance driving, so we will see.

Travel Period: January 2008
Destination: Saint Sorlin D'arves (Savoie - Rhone-Alpes), France

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Glögi, the European traveler

This bottle of Glogi traveled from the north of Europe to the south of Europe and to the center of Europe cashing in a total of 5,600 kilometers in her passport before she was opened and consumed.


Glogi is the Finnish (or Scandinavian) version of Mulled wine or boiled wine. It is a spiced and hot red wine mostly drank during the cold winter season in northern Europe. This sweet alcoholic drink is very popular in this part of the world that each northern European country has its own distinct local adaptation.

My very good client from Finland gave this to me when we met in Barcelona, Spain last November. He said the bottle should warm me up during the holiday season. I told him -- If I don’t get to open his bottle during the holidays, I will for sure bring it with me in January to the Alps for my winter sport holiday.

Glogi’s miles:

To Helsinki Airport, Finland – 21 KM
Helsinki, Finland to Barcelona, Spain - 2,929 KM
Barcelona, Spain to Amsterdam, Netherlands – 1,553 KM
Amsterdam to Utrecht, Netherlands – 47 KM
Utrecht to Saint Jean D’Arves, French Alps – 1,050 KM

Total traveled: 5,600 Kilometers

In mainland Europe, the drink is commonly called Gluhwein and is popularized by the Germans. They are usually drank under the freezing temperatures in the city or town’s square during the Christmas Markets season. France, Belgium, and the Netherlands embrace the same holiday tradition with the mulled wine.

They are also very popular during winter sport in the Alps. Bars, cafes, and restaurants offer the drink at après skis, or even during a lunch or afternoon break. So that’s why I brought the bottle with me to the Alps ;-)

Travel Period: January 2008
Destination: Saint Jean D’Arves (Savoie - Rhone-Alpes), France

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Le Corbier, Les Sybelles, and the heroine of the day

Wednesday – halfway to our skiing holiday, Dutchman and I were enjoying an afternoon of skiing and snowboarding in nearby Le Corbier. It was also the day, the only day in fact that week that the weather was miserable. It was snowing and the skies were a murky grey. Visibility was not great, and with the snow goggles fastened to my face, everything looked bleaker than the Dutch weather I was used to.

Click on the ski map here: Les Sybelles Ski Map.
From Saint Jean D’Arves, we went to the summit of Le Corbier, called Pte Du Corbier (2,265m), then continued our journey to L’Ouillon (2,431m), summit of La Toussuire, then climbed all the way up to the summit of Saint Sorlin D’Arves and of the whole Les Sybelles ski area, Les Perrons (2,620m) – my experiences in the summits I will post in my next entry.
For a backgrounder of this massive skiing area, Les Sybelles is considered part of the top 10 largest skiing areas in the world boasting of 310-kilometers skiing terrain. The European way of measuring skiing terrain does not include the area by volume but the length of its pistes (slopes). Officially, there are 6 Alpine villages connected to the Les Sybelles skiing territory, and which for a certain price, comprises 1 ski pas.

1) Saint Jean D’Arves (check)
2) Le Corbier (check)
3) Saint Sorlin D’Arves (check) 4) La Toussuire
5) Les Bottieres
6) Saint Columban

Official website can be found here: Les Sybelles

Directional signages in the pistes - which village are you going to ski to? On the right foto is Le Corbier - yes, buildings and (boring-looking brown) flats in the Alps. We are so glad we did not stay here, although they have more pistes in the area.
The area is quite huge and all villages are connected with each other through lifts. Some of the lifts are seat lifts which are my favorite as you can relax and watch the immaculate surroundings while being transported up to the slopes, while the other lifts are what we call in Dutch ‘sleeplift’ (sleepliften) or pull-drag lifts (not sure what’s the English term?) where you sit on this little thing on your butt with a pole or thick cord that pulls and drags you physically on the snow. A few of these pull-drag lifts in Saint Jean D’Arves and Le Corbier is notorious for launching you up in the air! It surprised the heck out of me and was I glad I didn’t fell off, ha-ha. Now, that would have been funny.
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Here is a video of Le Corbier village by the piste grounds.
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Dutchman snowboarding, in action, and at the end of this short snippet, you will see what a ‘sleeplift’ or pull-drag lift is like.
Which reminds me-there is this one particular very long pull-drag lift in Saint Sorlin D’Arves that literally takes forever. I will write about Saint Sorlin D’Arves in another entry, which I believe should also be my last entry about this winter sport holiday.
As for Saint Jean D’Arves, there are not much pistes in our little village as Saint Jean D’Arves is relatively small and if you look at the ski map (see link above), you will see that the village is channeled to Le Corbier where from there one can ski to other ski areas.


The sleeplift or pull-drag lift, and the summit of Le Corbier - 2,265 meters above sea level. It is a bit odd for the French to use the sign of the cross as a landmark. Did someone die here?
So that’s it for the ski area. We didn’t get to go to the other 3 villages, but we had a nice lookout from the piste of La Toussuire. The area is massive, and requires a couple of hours to get to the other side of the mountain. Depending on the type of piste you take, it could take even longer. I never challenge myself with black pistes, NEVER (NO WAY, lol). Red I can do and I will for sure be very slow, ha-ha, but at least I can get down a red slope. The Dutchman is a good snowboarder, he can do any slopes, red, black, or even midnight black if there is one.

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Revealed!!! I hate posting this video as you can see how awkward I am with skiing. Moreover, I did not know Dutchman was following me with the camera! I need to learn to go fast, shorten my turns, and not sit on my butt like I am in the loo, lol.
Dutchman actually bribed me during this holiday. Long before during our last winter sport holiday in Austria 2 years ago, he already bribed me to take snowboarding instead of skiing. The carrot: he will pay 100% for my snowboarding lessons. I told him – even if you will buy me the complete enchilada, snowboard plank, snowboard boots and all, I will not! He really thinks its cool for a woman to snowboard but unfortunately I just don’t fancy it. Not a bit. Primarily, I hate the fact that I am standing on 1 plank with both my feet tied on to it. I want to have the freedom of standing both my feet, apart, on the ground, and with a stick to aid balance. I guess you can now say that skiing is for the cowards and snowboarding is for the daredevils, ha-ha! – I do not really care!

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Here is a nice footage of the Dutchman preparing to snowboard (I like the background)
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Dutchman hugged the camera as he can easily film and snowboard at the same time. I like this video myself.
So going back in track, how did this heroine survived gloomy Wednesday in Les Sybelles?

It was in Le Corbier, in the blue narrow slope that was not really steep but it was a long graded slope that if you go parallel ski, meaning head on straight, you will shoot down so fast like a bullet. It is narrow so there is not much option to even turn, so the best technique to use was to just swoosh through it really, which I always did when I pass through here.

So it was not my first time. And because I have had experience of this slope, I was confident enough, even if it was snowing a bit, and gloomy.


Me on the piste of Le Corbier during the fatal Wednesday. As you can see in the foto I am wearing my ski goggles. It is hazy white; quite gloomy and snowing a bit. On the next foto is Le Corbier during a bright sunny and somewhat busy day.

Here is a video of me taken I think an hour before the fall. I look and sound like a mouse on the camera really, ha-ha!

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I am speaking Dutch here so you might wonder what I am talking about. Basically I said I was a bit tired, then I said hi - waved to the camera like a little mouse, and said it is going to snow.

Fotos in my album can be found here: Le Corbier Fotos
“Get out of the way!!!”

“Oh!” Dutchman looked back surprised, and quickly gave way to me while laughing his heart out – he was not expecting for me to go at breakneck speed as he thinks I am a too careful and slow skier.

%$)#+@!*&^# WHAM!

I hit a mound when I reached the plateau and went flying into the air just like a rocket being launched to the moon. My left skis went off but my right ski did not and I went crashing down hard with it to the ground.

I was literally stunned. It came as a shock-you know when accidents happen, they are so fast, so quick that you are stuck in a limbo moment for a few seconds wanting to pinch yourself if it really happened. Deja vu - I remember when I had a car accident in Manila. I came out of the car without any scratch, and bewildered.

At any rate Dutchman saw the entire flying incident and he regretted not taking any footage of it while I on the other hand, after recovering from the shock, screamed on top of my voice -- TAKE OFF MY SKIS! QUICK! Repeating several times as Dutchman was 50 meters away from me and could not hear easily.

He didn’t know I was hurting and when he saw tears on my eyes he knew something was terribly wrong. He dashed to me and unfastened the skis on my right foot.

IT WAS SOOOOO PAINFUL.

Dutchman managed to take a foto of this fast guy - if you look closely he has a shovel swung up his shoulders. Wonder what he was up to?

I could not move. I was worried that I might have broken or dislocated my right knee. I stayed immobile for 10 minutes waiting for the pain to subside before I moved it a bit. Luckily nothing was broken. The damage, we assumed was a sprained ligament in my inner knee badge as it was forced and twisted during the fall, but nothing really serious at all. The good news is the front, back and outside part of my knee were all fine, and I could still bend my knees without immediate pain.
The culprit was the little mound. It actually surprised everyone who hit it but most of them did not come down at breakneck speed like I did so they were spared from the flying-on-air drama I had.
Anyway, after half an hour of rest, we continued to ski down back to Saint Jean D’Arves. We called it a day.

That evening, I was limping and oozing with a lot of pain. I couldn’t stretch my right leg; I was bending it all the time, which was advantageous because skiing is all about bending your knees. In the morning, I woke up with my entire leg looking like a corpse. It was as if someone sneaked into our chalet in the middle of the night and cemented my right leg while I was sleeping. Not wanting to feel morose about my already dire situation by staying longer in bed, I dragged myself out of it and out of the bedroom with my left leg. The pain was enormous, uh, unspeakable. However, and thankfully, there was no swelling, just utter pain and horrid stiffness.

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Another cool video of Dutchman snowboarding on full speed, and a snowboarder overtaking him.
I prefer this type of lift than the sleeplift/pull-drag lift.

I obviously was not happy about this development as we still have 2 more days of skiing, Thursday and Friday (well our ski pas was officially valid until Saturday). So I moved around the chalet a bit trying to get as much blood activity flow on my veins and leg, and to see if there is still a possibility for me to ski. I am not the type of person to give up easily, no! If my knee was swollen, and if there was pain when bending it (very important as skiing is all about bending your knee), I probably would not have skied, and would have gone straight to the doctor however it was not the case.

Well, as expected, this limping heroine, after a flying free fall, decided to ski that day, and the next day too!

I have never ever felt so fulfilled this holiday, amidst all the pain, ouch and all, I persevered, and well enjoyed too ;-) It was however a challenge getting into my ski outfit, and oh dear me, the unyielding ski boots. They are a pain, really a pain, and for those with ski experience, I know you will understand and empathize with me.

So right now I am still limping on my right leg.

Dutch sister who is a Physio Therapist says there are no telltale signs that I should be worried of, and she advised me to apply cold press pack 3x a day, or as often as I could, and wait until the end of the week to see some developments. If there are no improvements, I will go to the doctor.

It’s getting better so far, I think. My right leg should be fine in a few more weeks. Time will heal this and before I know I will be jumping with one leg, my right!


Travel Period: January 2008
Destination: Le Corbier (Savoie - Rhone-Alpes), France

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fondue dinner after skiing in the Alps (and some restaurant/nightlife in Saint Jean D'Arves talk)

Dutchman and I had dinner a few times outside the door. There are not much choices though in little village Saint Jean D’Arves.

Eating out in Saint Jean D’Arves

We went to Les Melezes Restaurant, a fine dining restaurant serving Francophile food where I had my first taste of genepi, a liquor from the Alpine region. Then there is La Grenouillere, a bar and pizzeria restaurant serving of course Italian food. I must say, hands down, they have one of the best pizzas in town. Thin-crusted, extraordinary and yummylicious pizzas. We also went to a barbecue evening party.

Then we decided to eat indoors as well and ordered the fondue set including a bottle of wine, French bread, deli meats and pickles delivered to our little chalet.


Here is a little debate: Where does fondue come from?

Some may claim that it originates in Switzerland. While the French living in the Alps would say otherwise, as they have been concocting fondue recipes as long as they can remember. Ah, we’ll leave this to the experts to debate and we’ll just enjoy eating.


That is moi cooking the fondue and Dutchman caught me drinking water (or cola?) straight from the bottle. Gotcha!


Fondue seems to be ready now. Let us eat!


Later that evening Dutchman and I kept visiting the kitchen because we were both dehydrated from the cheese. After going back and forth to the kitchen and bedroom 3x, Dutchman brought the whole bottle of water, a litre and placed it beside our bed. Cheese is salty and sucks the water out of your system.

OK, this is going to be the last cheese fondue we will ever eat in the next couple of months.

Nightlife in Saint Jean D’Arves

As for the almost non-existent nightlife in Saint Jean D’Arves, the busiest bar in town would have to be Paddy’s. This is where everyone goes to for après ski. The bar is manned by Dutch people so it feels like having a drink in your neighbourhood pub. Paddy’s have daily theme nights starting at 10PM. We have never been to any of these theme nights because we ate dinners early and went to bed early. We are old! Bah.

Travel Period: January 2008
Destination: Saint Jean d'Arves (Savoie - Rhone-Alpes), France

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Specialties Saint Jean D’Arves and of the Savoie Region


Having a glass of gluhwein after a 2 hour skiing binge. Next foto is a restaurant in the mountains.

“Are you two looking forward to the winter sport holiday?” Dutch sister asked looking very enthusiastic during Dutchman’s family birthday party (which was a week before we left).

“Ja, ja, ja.” Says the Dutchman nodding his head. Grinning and pointing at me he added, “But she has a different reason to look forward to. She’s excited because our chalet is located in a small village in the heart of the Alps and she found out too that there is a market there once a week.”

Well, I just love those markets!


The Wednesdays open-air market in St. Jean D’Arves - La Chal takes place in front of the Tourism Office beside the piste.

The open-air market in St. Jean D’Arves is not really that impressive, but for a tiny village in the Alps, this every Wednesday market is better than nothing at all. It was rather small, with only 7 vendors. I was delighted though, well consoled is the word to find out that 2 vendors were selling my favorite gourmet food, dried and cured sausages. It perked me up totally, especially after a tiring day in the slopes.

More fotos are here: St. Jean D’Arves, Rhone-Alpes - France


On the right is a vendor selling traditional Alpine liqueur from the Genepi plant-flower. They look like bottles of olive oil but they are not. Have a closer look at the herbs in the glass casing - this is the Genepi (Genepy) flower-plant.


Infusions des Aiguilles D’Arves in other words, tea.


The saucisson vendor from Madagascar and his brilliant €20 promo package: 7 saucissons of your choice (beaufort, pur porc, naturel, smoked, peppered, herbed, and with nuts), 1 bottle of wine, 1 pate foie de vollaile, and 1 cutlery knife.

“Where do you come from?”

“I am from Holland, but I originally come from the Philippines.” (for someone French in the mountains he does speak very good English. Yesterday, I was chatting with the Churros vendor and I found myself explaining things with my hands, making strange funny noises and speaking mangled almost unintelligible English, lol)

“Ahhh, Manila! I come from Madagascar.”

“Do you know that we speak the same language?”

“Oh really? How?” (now he speaks Tagalog as well! haha)

“Yes we do – how do you say ‘Thank you’ in the Philippines?”

“It’s SALAMAT.”

“See, we also say ‘Salamat’ in Madagascar.”

“Wow, cool!”

I left the saucisson stall with my mind a bit perplexed and wishing I had the world map in my hands. How far is Madagascar from the Philippines again? Isn’t Madagascar an island in the southern tip of Africa? How on earth and why should Madagascar and the Philippines speak the same language? So many questions on the air-or perhaps he was just being polite, trying to create a common ground between us so I will buy his sausages. Well, it would not have really mattered as I am the queen of the dried and cured sausage federation, I would buy them in a heartbeat! But the incident left me with a nagging thick thorn stuck in my inquiring brains. The task of I must google Madagascar.

“Malagasy is unrelated to nearby African languages, instead being the westernmost member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family, a fact noted as long ago as the eighteenth century. It is related to the Malayo-Polynesian languages of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and more closely with the South-east Barito group of languages spoken in Borneo except for its Polynesian morphophonemics.”

-- Source: Wikipedia Malagasy


Crepes-churros vendor said he knew someone by the name Maria. It was amazing how 2 people could communicate and not speak the same language, lol. Next foto is the tourist office.

Further researches lead me to learn about the early seafaring South East Asian’s escapades to the African continent. Just like the Dutch invading Indonesia and the Spaniards the Philippines, the South East Asians were also busy themselves in another part of the world, in Madagascar. Who would have thought?

Moreover, the word ‘Salamat’ is actually ‘Salama’ in Malagasy which means ‘Hello’, and not ‘Thank you’. It sounds and spells about right but both of us had something else in mind, ha-ha. Well, it’s close enough anyway!

It never stops to amaze me how unexpected circumstances come up offering peculiar avenues in learning new things.


The fromagerie - cheese shop with a disheveled Christmas tree outside on its pavement.


Le Beaufort cheese is the big thin planks of cheese on the corner of the dairy display (upper right hand) and more dried-cured sausages as well.

Au Beaufort Saucisson with sliced augurken (pickles). Commercialized Genepi digestif drink sold at Sherpa supermarket. For the traditional version, see foto above in the market.

In the Savoie (Savoy) region, which is mainly the Alps department, Beaufort cheese is the local dairy specialty. I mentioned in my previous post about this cheese dairy farm and store by the junction of Saint Jean D’Arves and Saint Sorlin D’Arves. I actually managed to take a peek into the cheese shop but refrained from taking fotos as I was not planning to buy anything. But for the curious ones, I took pictures of the sausage and dairy section of Sherpa, the local supermarket, and Beaufort cheese was on the top corner right on the foto. Many green salads in local restaurants are sprinkled with Beaufort cheese in little cubes.

Dutchman however will only want to eat 1 type of cheese. Gouda. Because Dutch men, I found out, are fascinatingly loyal creatures of habit, and are very predictable, they are not easily persuaded to dabble into any type of cheese experimentation, or even just a simple attempt. Gouda and/or Edam are their immediate and sometimes only choices. I know, a bit boring but they are known for that anyway, and they seriously don’t mind!
Beaufort cheese is also mixed into the dried and cured sausages, which is actually a regional specialty, so this is the ultimate local gourmet you get: yummy Beaufort Saucisson

One evening, we were at Les Melezes, one of the fine restaurants in Saint Jean D'Arves offering authentic French cuisine, and I had my first introduction to this regional alcoholic drink called Genepi (sometimes spelled as Genepy). The charming and very attentive waitress in Les Melezes restaurant explained to me that Genepi is a special local digestif liqueur from the Savoie region and is usually taken after a meal. The drink which is actually a shot is colorless, less sweet than any other digestif drink I had in the past, tastes like vodka, and has a sharp trace that gives a slight burning sensation in the throat.
I also googled Genepi and found out that this is actually an exceptional aromatic alpine plant-flower that only grows in the Alps. It is not only popular in France but also in the neighbouring Alpine infested countries such as Italy, Switzerland, and perhaps Austria.


A busy lunch day in Le Bouj terras by the piste.

Travel Period: January 2008 
Destination: St. Jean d'Arves (Savoie - Rhone-Alpes), France

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The slow upward trek to St. Jean D'Arves


This foto was taken yesterday morning somewhere in the beautiful Rhone Alps region on our way back to the Netherlands.

What a great relief - the grueling 12+ hours drive from the French Alps back to the lowlands is over. We arrived back in the Netherlands last night (Saturday) around 10PM+.
Long distance driving is killing and I am so glad both of us can drive and take turns on the wheel non-stop for at least 3+ hours. As fatigue, stress, and lack of concentration can easily take its toll, guidelines for safety driving highly recommend drivers to stop, rest, and stretch out their muscles after driving for a straight 2 hours. We managed to extend our limit to 3+ hours as making frequent stops would only delay the already long journey. Both ways, we stopped twice, in Luxemburg and between Dijon and Lyon, to refuel, change the wheel command, and grab something warm for the belly (coffee or soup). 

This is the road that splits Saint Jean D’Arves – La Chal and Saint Sorlin D’Arves. The locals often call this point as the fromagerie as there is a cheese dairy farm and shop by the corner. This spot is also where the bus from Saint Sorlin D’Arves stops every quarter, and a bus from Saint Jean D’Arves go by this junction route helaas only once in an hour (well, at least from our experience).

At any rate, I have tried to upload the 2 videos I took during our slow upward trek to St. Jean D’Arves, the village in the Alps where we stayed for our 1 week winter sport holiday but the internet in the Tourism Office was slower than a legion of happy turtles when it comes to uploading 1MB files. So it never happened and it’s just now when I got home that I managed to get this done.

See the videos below:

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We went slow as it was slippery, convoying with the rest of the cars. There is no way you can go up without winter tires or chain. For security, a group of police were down at the valley checking all cars passing through if they are equipped with winter tires or the chain.
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From the valley of Saint Jean de Maurienne we went up the zigzagged Alpine mountains for another 23 kilometers to Saint Jean D’Arves. It was a long slow trek.

Great news is I have so many fotos and videos from this holiday! But the biggest challenge I am faced right now is what and where to begin? So while I am organizing these, for now please enjoy the few impressions we took of the little pretty French village we stayed in.



The village of St. Jean D’Arves - La Chal is about 1,600 meters above sea level facing the Aiguilles D’Arves in the heart of the Alps. Foto taken from the piste.

We rented one of the homely chalets made of wood with snow-capped roofs as seen on the foto. As you can also see from the picture, the chalets are snuggled together giving an exclusive resort ambience and are also nearly situated, circa 50 meters, to the ski lift which makes it so convenient for us winter sport holiday makers. The latter is in fact one of the major reasons why we decided to book here. Our chalet is on the 2nd row from the front. To see a close-up version of this foto, please click HERE.


This is our pretty and serene view from the bedroom balcony. The chalets are identical from each other but some are larger while others are smaller.

St. Jean D’Arves in the Savoie region comprises of a few hamlets distributed within its territorial area in the Alps. The main township is Les Chambons and is the first settlement of St. Jean D’Arves visitors will reach during the upward trek. Further up ahead, less than 3 kilometers is La Chal, the town’s ski resort (where we stayed) and is part of the massive 310-kilometer ski terrain of the famous Les Sybelles.


And this is our view from the living room balcony with thick snow laced on the balcony railings which later on in the day disappeared as we had only fantastic sunny weather in the Alps except for 1 snowy and greyish day.

We found La Chal a village that is principally built from ground up for winter sport holiday makers. The restaurants, cafes, the chalets, the ski shops, and just everything about it seemed to be fairly new, very well planned, and built around the activity of skiing and snowboarding.


This foto is taken around 2PM in the ski piste grounds of St. Jean D’Arves. It is very busy here at 9AM, 11AM, and 1PM when eager ski and snowboard learners wait up for their ski or snowboard instructors. The building on the right is a cinema, and behind, you can see the village trademark, its black horns rising above the snow coated Alps.

For more information about this village, you can visit their website here (there is an English version!): St. Jean D’Arves

Here is a closer foto of St. Jean D’Arves trademark, the black Arves peaks. On some days they look like cat’s ears to me. On another day they seemed like devil’s horns burried under the Alps.

St. Jean D’Arves is indeed a small, hushed, and cozy place, and is actually more to my liking. It is a great winter sport vacation place for families and couples offering snow sporting activities, nature sceneries and tranquility. However, for the young blood or single at heart, it would be best to go elsewhere as there is not much activity to do here during the evenings. But I guess for most winter sport enthusiasts, everyone knows that France is really not the best place to party and enjoy the fun although sometimes widely known as wild après-ski festivities.

More stories, fotos, and videos soon once I have organized them all.

Travel Period: January 2008
Destination: St. Jean D'arves (Savoie - Rhone-Alpes), France

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