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Monday 13 March 2023

First Ski Trip In Four Years

The overnight snow turns out to not be as bad as forecast, as it usually isn’t, and we make it to the kennels and then on to Birmingham airport in good time. We are hoping of course that they put the heating on for the Lad during his stay. 

Then we learn of the four hour delay to our flight due to the French air traffic control strike. So we go for breakfast in Giraffe or rather brunch as they don’t do breakfast. Their brunch is everything you’d have on a breakfast plus chips but they won’t do you a breakfast, only brunch. Go figure.

We finally land in Geneva at 7pm. We have booked car hire with Hertz and they shut at 5pm although every other car hire company stays open until at least 8pm. So we know who not to book with in future but Hertz do kindly leave our keys with another company.

With the car collected we have the usual hassle escaping the airport complex in the dark, with the added complexity of being on the ‘French’ side of the airport to which the entry\exit of that side of the airport is practically a farm track, off an obscure roundabout that always has roadworks on it. Then once escaped we drive to the resort with the mad Google Maps woman in dubious charge of proceedings.

We arrive at our hotel Les Granits in Combloux at 9:15 after they close at 9.00 but again folk were nice and they waited for us. They don’t have any food though and as we doubt we’d get any at that time anyway, we go without.

Les Granits do however do a very good breakfast. Then we collect our ski gear from Skiset Ski and Bike hire shop in Combloux. We have tried hiring this year after everyone kept laughing at my out of date gear in previous years.

We may not do so again. L is horrified at how long her skis are. In fact we both much preferred our old own 'out of date' skis. We are also both horrified at how clunky the boots are. They are such a faff to do up, just like they were the last time I hired a pair in the 1980s and nothing seems to have improved since. Except that rear entry boots like mine came in and then went away again. I love my rear entry boots even if no one else does. Now I find out that rear entry boots may be making a comeback as Nordica launched a range in 2020. Might get some or I could just bring my old pair. 

Dubiously kitted up we head to the Le Princesse Gondola just outside Combloux in the rain. Sadly the weather isn’t great. Then we have to figure out how to pick up our ski passes from the automated machine. Which we do eventually. Then we finally get to ski.

Up the top of the gondola the rain turns to snow and although the visibility isn’t great we get to do some skiing.

At the end of the day we find that nowhere is open to eat before 7pm in Combloux and it’s only 5pm. Our hotel also doesn’t do evening meals. So we grab a load of cheese, meat, bread, biscuits, crisps and beer to eat in as we don’t really want to have to drive back in from where we are staying and it’s too wet to walk.

We notice that the Lad’s photo has appeared on Facebook, posted by the kennels. He seemed to boycott this service last time but this time he has participated and looks very contented with his lot. That’s not supposed to happened.

On Saturday we head to a different area and go up the Rochebrune cable car. It is slightly higher, so less rainy but more snowy. We drive into Megeve afterwards where there are also no early meal options, not that we could find. So we eat in again.

On Sunday we head to Le Princesse Gondola again and as the day goes on the weather improves and the sun finally comes out.

We even get a rainbow and joyfully we can now see where we are skiing.

In the evening with the weather improved we take a stroll out of the hotel and take the signposted shortcut into the village which really is quite a short route. If only we’d found this earlier... and the weather hadn’t been so foul.

We eat in the Au Village restaurant in Combloux. It’s the best meal of the holiday but also the only meal of the holiday. We drink a very nice beer from Mont Blanc Brewery called Le Rousse. Meanwhile another smiling photo of the Lad appears on Facebook. I’ll have words when we get home.

The flight back is a lot more straightforward once we find the obscure farm track into the airport. I know we ought to join this EU thing but perhaps Switzerland should too and then we wouldn’t have this ridiculous French Side-Swiss Side airport straddling the border. I guess persisting with the farm track is France’s way of twisting the Swiss arm but it doesn’t seem to be working.

There is one more cock up to come when we land back at Birmingham. I had incorrectly collected a car parking ticket when we arrived rather than relying on the ANPR to pick up our booking so the car park tried to charge us a horrifying £280 rather than the still appalling £118 I’d paid in advance but eventually they sorted it out for me. Seems they’re well used to people messing this up.

Then we collect a rather grateful Lad from his lodging and then drop in on my Dad to see how he’s coped in our absence.

(Monday 13th March)

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