Well, we are in the French Alps enjoying a season in the snow and perfecting our turns on the hazardous bumpy moguls. Europe has been experiencing one of the coldest and harshest winters on record. It’s bloody cold and even colder on the motorbike. We don’t have a car and the public transport system is a joke so we take the motorbike up the mountain every day.
Yes – we are crazy!
We are just like this scene from Dumb and Dumber
We plan to be here till mid-late March and then will hit the road again. We are renting an apartment in the village of Bourg d’Oisans which is at the base of Alpe d’Huez (home of the famous 21 turns of Tour de France) as it’s cheaper than a campsite at this time of the year, a damn site warmer and a load more room.
Alpe D’Huez – L’ile au soleil (island in the sun) boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year and we can certainly vouch for that. At times it’s been cold & dark in Bourg d’Oisans & by the time we’ve ridden the bike up the mountain and above the clouds, its china blue ski’s and warm sun. And for the winter that Europe is having its certainly good for the soul.
Pic Blanc is the highest point in resort at 3300 m above sea level & has the most spectacular array of mountains as far as the eye can see. On clear days it’s said you can see one third of France. In the distance we can see Les Duex Alpes & Mont Blanc. It’s just breath taking & I only hope some of my photo’s can do it justice.
From here we can ski La Sarenne (our Favourite run) down the mountain. There is also the longest black run in Europe, at 16km and is definitely a must-do when in Alpe d’Huez. On a good day it will take around 1.5-2hrs to complete.
Some of the runs are so beautiful & at times we have to stop, take it all in and make sure we don’t rush the experience or miss anything. At the very top is Pic Blanc, with views across to Mont Blanc & is where we can ski on a Glacier…it’s HUGE! Further down we ski through the Gorges of Sarenne with views across to Les Duex Alps….it’s amazing. And around the other side of the mountain towards the resorts of Oz and Vaujany, we ski past frozen water falls and through Pine Forests…just beautiful!
The fresh snow has been so deep at times that we’ve had some pretty spectacular stacks, but with such deep snow it makes for soft landings & we have not had any injuries. I’m sure we would have been good contenders for Funniest Home Videos.
It’s been a dramatic couple of weeks here on the mountain, which always makes it interesting and are certainly not to have been caught up in any of it. 60 people were rescued from the Pic Blanc cable car/gondola (which normally carries 160 people at a time) when a mechanical problem left them stranded for 2 hours. They had to abseil to the ground, approx 70m below after the cable car got stuck half way between the stations. Apparently the high winds caused the cables to cross over….how scary!
Also, a Russian snow boarder died aftering choosing to go ‘off-piste’ in dangerous terrain…and jumped off a cliff. His mate on ski’s stopped & held back as soon as he spotted the dangerous terrain ahead, however the snowboarder kept going and died on impact!
To keep warm during all this cold weather we’ve discovered the art of making Vin Chaud. It’s a traditional wintertime drink that is a favorite in the cozy cabins of the Alps. Vin Chaud aka French mulled wine is easy to make, so give it a go.
Vin Chaud Recipe
- 1 Bottle of Cheap Red Wine (your choice of dry or sweeter)
- Coarsely ground cinnamon or 4 cinnamon sticks
- A few cloves (optional)
- About ¼ cup of honey (or more–sweeten to taste)
- 2 thinly sliced oranges and teaspoon of orange zest
Combine ingredients and heat on the stove over medium-low heat and let simmer. Do not allow wine to boil. After several minutes it will start releasing beautifully spiced vapors that fill the kitchen space with intoxicating aroma. Serve hot.
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