Happy Anniversary

Monday 28th January 2013

Today was our 24th wedding anniversary and we had managed to 'engineer' an evening off to celebrate. Having cooked day-in day-out for the past 5 weeks for an average of 18 guests a night the opportunity for us to have someone else cook us a meal was one not to miss.

There are a number of restaurants in Les Carroz and we have had feedback from clients about the cost, service and standards of food at a few of them. The Bistro Du Gron came highly recommended by one of our groups and as it is tiny with a maximum of 20 diners we had already booked our table over a week ago.

It's really a place for meat lovers and the owner and chef Philippe brings your raw meat to your table for 'approval' before slapping it on the open fire and cooking it to your liking. Dave had the Cote de Boeuf and I plumped for the Cotelette d'Agneau, both were served up with an oven roasted jacket potato and salad. We also shared a Salad Savoyarde starter and a Tarte Tatin pudding.

At  80 for the meal with 2 glasses of wine and a juice it's not cheap but the quality of the food was very good, the atmosphere of the bistro is very intimate and it was for a very special occasion!   


Thursday 24th January 2013

We had driven around Lake Annecy on our way to Les Carroz  in December but hadn’t spent any time in the town itself. Arriving late (9.30pm!) at the Aire on the lakeside wasn’t a problem and we quietly reversed into one of the 10 campervan parking spaces at this Aire in amongst another 4 vans already parked up. A ‘rules and regulations’ sign indicates vans can only stay 1 night here - I imagine spaces are very hard to come by in the summer months. 

After a nice lie in we walked the mile or so into the town along the lakeside passing various rowing and sailing clubs. With the temperature hovering around freezing we were surprised to see one solitary and hardy rowing crew out on the water. Sticking our noses into one of the rowing club buildings we had earlier noticed an indoor training pool complete with an ‘integrated’ rowing boat  – seemed like a much more sensible option to me!!

The old town of Annecy reminded me the Mailbox area of central Birmingham with a myriad of shops and restaurants lining the two ‘canals’ and pretty bridges criss-crossing the area. We’ll probably go back in the spring and spend more time walking around the town when it livens up a bit.

We drove on around the western side of the lake taking a circular route back to Les Carroz - sadly we will soon have exhausted all the places we can manage to get to on a day off! We always enjoy ‘getting out’ of the resort in the campervan though just for a change of scenery – looks like the ladies in this old photo of Lake Annecy aren’t too impressed with their mode of transport around the lake!!

Sixt, Samoen & Morillon

Friday 18th January 2013

With an empty chalet, 2 days off owing and my poorly leg we decided to head off in the campervan whilst our colleagues in resort stayed behind to enjoy the fresh snow and peace and quiet before our next groups arrive. Early evening on Tuesday Dave put on the snow chains and we gingerly made our way down the valley only for him to have to ‘whip them off’ again at the bottom where the roads were snow free. I say ‘whip them off’ like it’s a doddle – it’s not and I hope never to have to do it myself!

We parked up in the centre of Cluses, our nearest main town, and found the Turkish restaurant we had spotted on a previous drive through and enjoyed a lovely Iskender kebab (sliced meat on bread with a yogurt and tomato sauce). Back in the van we settled down for the night – waking up to yet more fresh snow the next morning. 

The main roads are normally kept really clear and once the sun and traffic had cleared the remaining slush we ventured over to Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval. The name refers to the huge limestone amphitheatre which forms the eastern end of the Giffre valley with steep 700m cliffs. The area is also famous for its abundant waterfalls of which there are over 30 in the area.

Sixt is a pretty little village, surrounded by these high mountains and is also the end point of a 14 km blue run called Cascades (waterfall) which starts at the Les Grandes Platieres at the top of the Grand Massif skiing area. Probably one to aim for once I am back on my skis and more experienced. Dave got out on a few of the lifts from Sixt while the sun was shining – it’s a quiet area but served well by a free ski-bus back to Samoen and Morillon.

We stayed overnight in the Telecabine car park at Morillion (along with 3 other hardy campers). It was a very cold night but with the heater on full blast, extra duvets and bed socks we were snuggly and warm. The view was amazing but the downside of stopping in an otherwise empty car park is that the local youngsters use it as a skid pan normally at about 1am in the morning – and tonight was no different! They always sound really close and you pray that they are experienced enough to do whatever it is they are trying to impress their friends / girlfriends with and avoid sliding into the van!


Saturday 12th January 2013

Fridays final skiing lesson ended rather abruptly and the result is I am now hobbling about with a damaged calf muscle and can't go skiing for another 30 days according to the doctor!

Thursday afternoon and evening saw heavy snow falls and the pistes we had been learning and progressing on for the past four days had changed beyond all recognition. The snow was still falling, it was very deep, soft and, as at 9am, had not yet been skied on by hoards of excited (and more importantly experienced) skiers and snowboarders. It was very difficult for me, as a beginner, to put what I had learnt the previous days into practice. Our instructor took us to the top of a blue run that I was very apprehensive about going down. I really should have listened to my instinct. The first two falls were disconcerting but I managed to get up and carry on, but I landed awkwardly on the third fall, felt my muscle 'pop' and struggled for some time to get my ski's off in the deep snow. I finally managed to get up and hobbled down to the bottom of the Combe run.

I got a Bronze badge and a signed test logbook from our instructor - hopefully for my efforts Monday - Thursday not for my disastrous fall on Friday!  

Skiing lessons - Day 3

Wednesday 9th January 2013

There wasn't much to report from Day 2 - I stuck to the nursery slopes and 'honed' the few techniques I had been taught the previous day. I fell over going over the bumps - if you are young and lithe getting back up obviously isn't a problem but for me it proved to be a bit of a challenge. I also fell over at the bottom of the slope and got slightly caught up in the netting of the lift fences. Trying to get untangled without drawing too much attention to yourself isn't easy!!

Vincent and the 2 German youngsters in our group

Day 3 was another bright beautiful and warm day. I have been wearing fewer and fewer layers as the week has gone on. After warming up on the nursery slopes Vincent (our instructor) took us off to a blue run - eeeks! The two runs we went down both had steep starts which scared the living daylights out of me and I have to admit to having done the 'I can't do it' helpless female thing. Vincent guided me down the difficult bits and we were off - the photos don't show the gradient at all well!!

My first blue run!

Skiing lessons - Day 1

Monday 7th January 2013

Well I am officially a  'débutante' - no not a young lady from an aristocratic family who has reached the age of maturity ready to be displayed to an array of eligible bachelors!! Though I would love to try on one of those big ballgowns I'm not known for being very feminine.  I do however have the most flowery girly pair of ski's you have probably ever seen!

No I am a 'débutante learner' on the slopes and today had the first of a weeks worth of morning lessons. I managed not to make a complete fool of myself - Bridget Jones style - as had been my great fear. I did fall over a couple of times but by the end of the 3 hour session I was able to snow plough, go down the slope in a 'S' pattern, negotiate the button lift and even manage a bit of parallel skiing. 

I took the picture above whilst being pulled up the long button lift to the top of the nursery slope (which you can see to the right of the picture). It was a beautiful sunny day up on the mountain - high above the cloud which was hugging the valley floor below.


Wednesday 2nd January 2013

Our second day off coincided with Dave's birthday so we set off for another trip down the valley - this time turning right at the bottom of the valley. The snow is melting  fast as the weather is very mild now and we took a pretty road heading towards Annemasse / Geneva and stopped for lunch at Le Lac du Mole. 

We drove on to Thonon-Les-Bains which sits on the southern side of Lake Geneva which must be a bustling town in the summer but had a rather 'shut for the season feel' to it now. The funicular railway takes visitors up from the lakeside to the town.

Our journey back to Les Carroz was along the Route des Grandes Alpes - a road which starts in Thonon-Les-Bains passes over all the high passes in the alps and finishes at the French Riviera. The section we followed took us through a beautiful gorge and through the ski resorts of Morzine and Les Gets.

Macaroons in a cake shop window in Thonon-Les-Bains

Bonne année

Tuesday 1st January 2013
Bonne année / Happy New Year

New Years Eve in Les Carroz started off with an impressive firework display at 8pm which we watched from the chalet balcony with our guests. We carried on working up until about 10.30pm before heading off to join our friends in the 'local' for a quick drink. Dave and I listened to a bit of live music in the square (it was very cold standing around though!) before returning to our studio to see in the New Year - with 2 party poppers which failed to pop!! 

Revellers were on their way home as we set off for work at 6.30am this morning wishing us a Bonne année and giving us drunken kisses!!

Happy New Year to you all xx


It's electrifying!!

Cooking a 3 course meal every day for 20 people has been a 'challenge' on 2 small domestic ovens - neither of which were new or in great condition (broken seals, missing trays etc) however on Thursday morning, just after putting 3 chocolate cakes in the main oven, there was a loud hiss, flash and puff of black smoke. The cooker was well and truly dead! A replacement cooker was purchased later that day and the electrician turned up the following evening, wired it up and I now have a shiny new oven to get the hang of.

French electrics are 'interesting' - reminds us a bit of our former days in Turkey where you often took your life in your hands switching on lights or using sockets. However that was over 20 years ago - the electrics in France today don't seem that different to what we experienced then. The international 'shrug of the shoulders' seems to imply that you just have to accept things as they are. Below is a picture of the ceiling light in our little studio apartment.......