Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Moutiers, day two

I hadn't loved Moutiers last night. It was cold and slushy, and we were wet and I haven't been as cold as that for a long, long time. But in the light of blue and radiant morning, things were sparkling and lovely. The town is ringed by achingly vertical mountains some powdered by snow, others strangely bare. Without rain, the town itself was welcoming and sweet. We ordered breakfast from our lovely host and sat to croissant and break and very good jam, and tea and juice. It would fortify us just enough to get up the mountain to see Myles' brother David.
David is staying at a resort at 2100 metres, much higher than any of us had been before. We quizzed our host, and the tourist office about driving that high, and everyone told us that it would be fine, the road were clear, the day was fine. We would make it. We considered the bus; I was for this - but the car ended up being the choice.
We cruised up the first bit, past Aime, and then into the hills proper. Everything was very fairytale, and the snow did actually sparkle - I always thought that was a Disney touch. Up and up we went. The roads stayed clear, no one else appeared to have chains. Things were looking good. And then we turned to go up the last bit to La Plagne and things went bad. The road was suddenly slippery - perhaps no salt here - and we were gliding and fishtailing all over the shop. At the first carpark, we turned in. Or tried to. A car was coming the other way, so Myles had to stop in the middle of the road. And then couldn't get traction to get going again. Paris and I had to get out and push the car across the road and into the carpark.
After some research and discussion, it was decided that Myles would drive back down to Aime and leave the car there, and come back on the bus. The kids and I would find our own way to David's resort and meet him there. Anyone see the points of failure?
There was a bus to the top of the moutain, apparently, and there were even signs with a bus and the word 'Navette' underneath. I always thought a navette was either a boat or a turnip - but here; a bus. Paris and I were dubious about what constituted a bus stop so we walked a little way up the mountain with Zelda and Niccolo until we came to the town centre proper. Here, we asked at the tourist office and discovered that we could catch a free enclosed chairlift (that carried about twenty people) called the Telemetro. So this is what we did. The boys are very frightened of heights so they weren't thrilled - it was quite a confronting trip over a deep valley and lots of carparks, but we made it. I didn't take very long. Then we had to find the right resort. Much trudging about in deep snow later and asking a series of people, we wandered into the Club Med. At reception, they knew nothing, so we went up to the bar and turned in circles a few times. Luckily we had cards. I decided that we could order hot chocolates and play cards and see what happened. And then we ran into Tanaya; Myles niece. Hooray, we were saved!
She told us that everything was free, we just needed to order whatever (trying to pay would have us deported apparently) and sit and wait for them. Which we did. Paris again kicked me senseless in Gin, and Niccolo was beginning to be a late runner for gin player of the year. The hot chocolate, I can report, we quite good.
We then hooked up with David and Gemma, and Gemma's children, and we waited and waited and waited for Myles. The many flaws in the plan settled on just this one - we had no way to contact him if we needed to leave or go somewhere else. After about an hour, he showed up, having had many adventures in the meantime; like coming close to driving over the edge of the mountain, and struggling to find the bus. The driving over the mountain problem rated slightly higher, but the bus problem was what held him up the longest.
We all had lunch - I thought Paris might genuinely hurt himself at the buffet, but he is stronger than I thought, and then it was time to get out in the snow. Zelda wasn't keen on skiing after the other experience, and elected to toboggan. When Niccolo saw the toboggans, he abandoned his plans to ski with Myles and Paris and decided to toboggan with Zelda and I. Paris and Myles glidded away into the startling whitness of the snow slopes, Zelda, Niccolo and I were left to try and find the suitable slopes for tobogganing. The problem with the toboggan is that it is a low priority vehicle on ski slopes and I was worried not only that we might tangle with a Swiss ski champion, but also that we might come to grief with some kind of ski police. So we found a small slope (peopled, unfortunately, with small children who might be flattened by our quite out of control toboggans, but not matter) and began our adventure.
[more to come]

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