Samantha Verant, author of the best-selling Seven Letters from France reveals how she learned to love skiing in France in the Pyrenees.
Less chi-chi and more ski-ski
When one thinks of skiing or snowboarding in France, famed or glitzy ski resorts in the Alps – like Chamonix, which hosted the 1924 Olympic games, or Courchevel, where the aprés ski scene can include shopping at Chanel or dining at Michelin starred restaurant – probably come to mind, not the pistes of the Pyrénées…
In 2009 I married a Frenchman by the name of Jean-Luc and moved from Los Angeles to a suburb of Toulouse in the midi-Pyrénées region of France. One of the best parts of living in south-western France is the ability to explore nearby areas. In less than two hours, we’re able to hit one of the thirty-eight slopes of the Pyrénées, the landscape changes from flat, sprawling city to majestic and mountainous in the blink of an eye.
But, unfortunately, I was a terrible skier. Prior to being a California girl, I lived in Chicago, where my only option to ski was on a man-made mountain of ice in Wisconsin.
The first time I attempted to ski in France was at a childhood friend’s of my then French fiancé’s ski community in the Alpes de Haute Provence, at the quiet, family station of Sainte Anne la Condamine.
Unfortunately, Jean-Luc had confused my “I like to ski” with “I can ski”.
He ignored my request to start off on the bunny hill. Panicked on a slope, I fell down, smashed my head, and twisted my knee. Then, my body slid into an orange safety net. Jean-Luc stood over me.
“You look like a trapped bird,” he said.
I was an angry and wounded bird.
Still, I was determined to conquer the sport. Because when I’d married Jean-Luc, I’d married his kids, too. Max was eleven, Elvire was thirteen, and both of the kids were fearless, excellent skiers. And, as they say, families that play together, stay together. So I learned.
by Samantha Verant, author of the best-selling Seven Letters from Paris, the true story of how seven old love letters from a Parisian to an American rekindled the romance of one passionate day 20 years before…