Monday, October 22, 2018

Val Cenis, French Alps: Strolling Lovely Lanslevillard during a Blizzard Snowstorm

On our 5th day in Val Cenis, which was a Wednesday, a massive snowstorm fell. It was our first time to experience an official snowstorm in the Alps.

Walking in the snowstorm.

We've had our fair share of heavy snowfall and mini-blizzards in the past, but this was the first time we experienced that the whole Val Cenis ski resort and I guess the whole Haut-Maurienne mountain region, was closed down because of adverse weather. We saw on the news many stranded holidaymakers not being able to get into and out of the ski mountain resorts north of us.

Dutchman and I were slightly worried that the snowstorm will continue to Saturday when we leave. Luckily it didn't but we lost one (1) full day of skiing to the bad weather. It was howling outside and the winds were so strong. Snow was not only falling down, but it was also whirling around and falling sideways!

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The view from our balcony when we woke up in the morning.

So the big question -- What do to on a snowstorm day?

Can we just stay indoors and be lazy for a day. Like, watch TV, play a movie we downloaded, surf the net and stalk social media, Facebook, Youtube, and what have you. Snuggle up and watch winter wonderland through the big windows. Those are really nice options, however, we have very itchy feet.

Well, we thought of going to the spa too, which we thought is what everyone will do but we realised that the spa is only open later in the afternoon, so we have several hours to fill in the gap. We really loved the sauna and the hammam, you know.

So we decided to go out for a stroll to the Lanslevillard village. We have been here the night before and have visited a part of the village near the ski arena and gondola station, so I was curious to see what the village looks like during the day.

Snow blowing very hard. Those chairlifts were swinging hard in the air.


Then perhaps we will have a drink, a hot cup of choco in a cafe or restaurant. We just hoped there is one that is open to serve us.

Strolling in the Alps while there is a snowstorm is quite a surreal experience. The unleashing power of the wind was intimidating to undertake and I have to stand steady and lean forward in order to walk. It felt like fighting against a hard wall of wind, and if  I let my guard down, I could pretty easily be blown away to the corner street. The wind was really that strong! And the wind was blowing snow sideways so I have to wear my shades to protect my eyes. The wind chill and the snow slapping on my the cheeks can really feel pain and literally robs you of a few seconds breathing time.

Can you imagine going on an arctic escapade? Or joining the Mount Everest climb even to only the base camp?

A few people were out and about.

A snow plow truck with humongous snow chains on the tires.

In addition to all these, Dutchman and I were also always on the lookout for any (unidentified) flying object. You never know if a huge trash bin, a big pine tree debris or a French cow comes flying around the corner towards you! Mind your head indeed!

Although we saw some people walking around, the village felt like it was a ghost town. Most people stayed inside and we were one of the few crazy ones out and about. We did saw a group of people taking sleigh rides down the small slope on the ski arena. They were fun to watch.

Later in the afternoon, the kids came out with their parents to build snow castles and snowmen.

One of the main streets with shops, cafes, and restaurants in Lanslevillard.

The lower part of the village by the river.

The restaurant with a cow =)

There was supposed to be an open-air street marche (market) on the riverside but it was canceled due to the snowstorm and blizzard. Too bad really, because I love markets. Its one of those many reasons why I love going to the French Alps, because there's you know, culture, cheese, and saucissons. Simply wonderful to combine a skiing holiday with a visit to a local village market.

We also managed to take shelter at this lovely church. We have been walking for more than an hour outside so this was a nice and warm treat. We read that at this church, sometime in 1846, the Virgin Mary appeared to two (2) shepherds. It's a pilgrimage site, one that is not as popular as the one in Portugal (Fatima), France (Lourdes), and Bosnia (Medjugorje).

I haven't been to Fatima and Lourdes but I have been to Medjugorje, not on purpose though. I was passing by and the friend I was with was a practicing Roman Catholic. She begged to go. I don't believe in god and religions but always open for some (religious) adventure. Why not?

The round building on the river is the local tourist office. Really cool.

You will not get lost with all these directions here.

We also checked out this bar-restaurant in the middle of Lanslevillard village by the river. We were craving for some hot (chocolate) drink and perhaps a warm pastry. But the lady wait staff greeted us so rudely (at least that's how it came across to us), so we decided not to stay.

She basically said, in a not friendly voice and face, "What do you want?". We thought she was barking at us? Like we were bothering her and her almost empty cafe restaurant. And trust me, we are Dutch, so we are not easily offended. She needs customer service 101 training.

It was such a major turn-off. You know, the French desperately needs to improve their customer friendliness. I know I am generalising here but there is massive truth behind this in France. The country is known for bad customer service and that comes for no reason at all. We have been coming to France for years and it is something I, rather we, cannot deny but agree.

We have been walking around for more than an hour so we took shelter in this beautiful little church.

The Notre-Dame de la Salette. The story goes that the Virgin Mary appeared to 2 shepherds in 1846. The small church is now a pilgrimage site,

Footbridge connecting the villages. 

So these are the pictures during our stroll, after which we had some hot chocolate drink at a cafe in Les Champs, which was not too far away, before going back to our chalet apartment to prepare another relaxing afternoon of spa time. Someone is getting super spoiled here, haha.

Down days like this was not bad at all. The wind howls and blows and it stops. Then it howls and blows again and it stops again. Repeat every few minutes.

Don't you think Lanslevillard in Val Cenis is pretty?

One of the cars is totally snow submerged. The others were recently used.

 This is the bar restaurant we would have loved to have a drink but since the waitstaff was not very helpful at all, we left.

We went to the bar cafe in Le Champs instead for some hot choco (and some whipped cream on top). Super delicious on a day like this.

Guys playing with the sleighs and their Go Pros.

Travel Period: January 2018
Destination: Lanslevillard, Val Cenis - Savoie (Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes), France

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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