The skiing in Les Deux Alpes holiday had got off to a rocky start. Expat in Provence Susana Iwase Hanson chose the ski resort of Les Deux Alpes, Rhone Alpes because it offered everything for the family. However she’d suffered from altitude sickness, the holiday apartment was miles from where she wanted to be and disasters seem to be occurring at an alarming rate, Susana was sure that the week could only get better (read Part 1)…
Day 3 – Accidents Happen: I thought it couldn’t get much worse but I caused an accident on the slopes. I was going down an icy red run and expected this lady to move out of the way, instead she stopped dead in the middle. I screamed and smashed straight into her body, saw my skis go up into the air (one had come off completely) and felt my head (without the helmet) hit the snow – all in slow motion. The impact made the woman fly at least 10 metres forward. Very fortunately no one was hurt but the shock prevented me, psychologically, from going on more red runs the rest of the week.
Day 4 – In sickness and in Health: Our five-year-old woke up with a fever which made her miss her class and of course I had to stay and look after her which was excruciatingly boring without internet. I mean, what holiday-apartment comes without Wi-Fi? The laptop I had bought was unusable and even my phone had no reception. But things could have been worse, like bad weather, so I stopped winging and sat watching the birds at the window sill of our apartment. The others happily continued their ascents and descents that day but did mention that they encountered windy conditions and minus 16 degree temperatures making being up at the top rather uncomfortable…
Day 5 – Queue for the bunny slopes: I had a blast going up and down the challenging bunny slopes over and over again. Of course it was cumbersome to have to line up with all the beginners but I no longer had the fear of death hanging over me or the hint of a heart attack from being smashed into by an expert mini-pro snow boarder because I needed to catch my breath in the middle of a slope. While my friends, the ski-bug-crazed-wouldn’t-stop-for-a-coffee-break-bunch, continued their mission of discovering still more iced-over black run adventures and off-piste stimulation, I took luscious hot-chocolate breaks and enjoyed watching my kids practice their moves so that one day they can become ski-champs like their Papa.
Day 6 – Everything perfect: On our last day (still sunny) we all had lunch together al fresco. My husband developed an attachment to his “Avalanche burgers” and we all shared in his enthusiasm for this breaded and herbed-chicken-with-bacon-and-rosti-potato-burger with a pint of Heineken. I finally felt free of altitude nausea and life was good despite having our faces burnt to a crisp and looking like inverted pandas; the unattractive result of not slapping on enough Factor 30. We didn’t want to leave the following morning and I didn’t want to face cleaning the apartment or packing again.
Day 7 – Can’t wait to come back: We drove down to meet our friends – who couldn’t start their car. The battery was dead, most likely from the extremely low temperatures and from not having been driven for the week. But after an hour of waving our arms in the air, we found a “reliever” making his rounds and for €15 their car was jump-started. Catastrophe thwarted…
But no, the nightmare was just beginning. As soon as we got out of the village the clouds set in, the traffic was moving at no more than 10 km per hour down the mountain and the weather got progressively worse on the way to the auto-route. It started to snow, the roads became icy and it took almost 10 hours to get home in “vigilance orange” conditions.
Despite the drama and altitude-induced obstacles, our holiday was fabulously memorable and skiing in Les Deux Alpes was a lot of fun – we vowed to do it all again together next year!
Susana Iwase Hanson lives in Cotignac, she teaches Sushi, looks after holiday homes and is the founder and president of Provence Living.
Read our great tips for driving to your ski holiday in France
Read Part I of Skiing in Les Deux Alpes – a hilarious and truthful account of a ski holiday in France!