Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Brides Les Bains (A first timer experience)

Coming from a sunny tropical island, where you basically get summer whole year round, I can get abit gaga over snow.

For those who're not quite sure where Singapore is, it's at 1° 14'N, 103° 55'E. That places it just above the Equator. That makes Japan, Korea and even Australia popular destinations for our 'winter migration'.

Didn't get to go to these places when I was back home due to work commitments so Wife and I jumped at the earliest opportunity to ski when our schedule actually opens up.

France is a natural ski destination; it's near to London, offers a variety of good green slopes, milder weather and relatively cheaper as compared to the neighbouring Swiss slopes.

We decided on going with SkiWeekends to Brides Les Bains. No particular reasons other than the fact that it turns up right at the top in my Google search. So who says position of adverts is unimportant? :)

We flew to Grenoble, which is an hour in front of London, via EasyJet. Surprisingly, the ride was rather smooth. Wife and I sort of sworn off budget airlines after the disaster that we had with AirAsia when we visited Penang a few years back. Anyway, the flight, which took just over an hour, was rather pleasant.

I must hand it to SkiWeekends (not a paid endorsement) for the great organisation of the trip. Everything went well with our airport transfer, ski equipment rental, ski passes and even the room allocation. With a balcony view like this, who needs Mount Fuji?

The accomodation (Hotel Verseau) is not what you would call a luxury. But on a half boarding basis at a reasonable rate, I really haven't got much to complain about. However, we need to take a 30min cable car ride up to the ski slopes at Meribel and that can be a hassle for some.

Both Wife and I are absolute beginners when it comes to skiing. In fact, the instructors were abit shocked when they were told that that was the first time we see snow, or snow that was more than an inch thick anyway. Didn't realise how heavy the ski boots were until we were actually dragging them along. Reminded me of those prisoners walking around with a cannonball tied to their feet.

Anyway, the slopes were fantastic... if only we know how to ski. Half the time we were struggling to be on our feet and the other half trying not to fall off the cliff. I tried to get those morbid thoughts out of my mind while focusing on what the instructor, who was obviously more comfortable with French, was saying.

After 2 days of struggling with the ski equipment, we were ready to throw in our boots. I began to wonder whether I should have spent more time with pushups and situps instead of clicking at EntreCard widgets. :)

But after speaking to the other more experienced skiers, we realised that the problem might be the ill-fitting boots. So a word of caution for first time skiers: please, for the love of god, do not get shoes that are really fitting; your feet will expand towards the end of the day and you would end up limping around for the rest of your trip.

By the fourth day, we couldn't wait to return out equipment to the store. It was fun while it lasted but gosh, those skis and boots were really a load to reckon with.

With our burden removed, Wife and I took some time to explore the slopes of Meribel. Spent out time slinging snowballs at each other. It's pretty weird having two grown ups doing that along a busy road. But heck, we had fun!

The scenery got abit monotonous on our way up so I amused myself by putting up little snowmen along the way... lol

All in all, Brides Les Bains is great for first time skiers on a budget. But if you can afford to fork out abit more, do consider getting accomodation up at Meribel. Hotel Tremplin is the closest accomodation to the ski lifts.

However, if you were to stay in Brides, please get a locker up at Meribel. 8 euros a day is well worth not having the agony of lugging your ski equipment around.

For those experienced skiers, you may wish to forgo getting a ski pass altogether. Instead, you could just hop on to Meribus, a free shuttle, what will bring you right up to the top of the slope.

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lina said...

hahaha... we saw our first snow in Echigo Yuzawa last week. Same feeling of overwhelmingly excited.
How was the ski lessons? Myself, to chicken to try out skiing on that trip. Maybe next time.
So, Easy Jet s way better than Air Asia, huh?

C K said...

Ski lessons was great! But I think the instructor would rather go hang himself than to have us back again... lol

Anyway, the last time we took AirAsia, there was a 3hrs delay and the aircon broke down during our hour long flight. It was terrible.

But then again, budget airlines can really make a difference to the cost of the trip! We'll definitely have another go at AirAsia... :)

singwalker said...

The scenary int he first pic is nice.