04Slightly overdue but here it is, my Serre Chevalier Trip report, enjoy !
Europe is easy, you jump in your car and a few hours later you're on the slopes. So on a bright Saturday morning we set off into the sunrise. It's about 1000km from where we live to Serre Chevalier and not being in a hurry we decided to take it slow and do the trip in two days. First stop Dijon (that's where they invented Mustard, I think) which is a beautiful city, definitely worth going back some day. We arrived around 4pm and dropped off our luggage in search of a nice place to have a drink and then dinner. Even though the city is undergoing major road works the center is delightfully cosy and has a lot of atmosphere. All is wonderful except if you're hungry before 7pm because that's when they open. So after a few seemingly long hours of 'hanging around' we finally got fed. It was going to be an early night to leave bright and early in the morning for the last few hundred kilometers.
It's a good idea to leave early especially when you have to drive into the mountains. We were hitting the Col du Lautaret around lunchtime and from there it would be less than an hour to Club Med. That is of course if there is no snow ro ice on the road. Driving up it was becoming clear that at some point I would have to put on snow chains, but I came prepared. I had even practiced at the office on how to lay them out (these things get tangled in a second). The inevitable moment comes that it is no longer safe to drive without them so we pull over and I bravely tell the Mrs "It'll be done in ten minutes, easy". Yeah, sure. I had this eerie sensation a few hours early that I had overlooked something but couldn't really point out what. So soon I realized that the chains I had were of my previous car, which in itself wouldn't be a problem except that the size of my tires turned out to be much bigger than before. My hads are freezing, I see other correctly equipped fellow travelers putting on their chains as if it was a breeze and after more than an hour I am still struggling wondering if I'll ever manage to get over the hill. Thick rubber bands will do miracles and in the end I kinda got them attached but for one I would suggest: "Do try this at home!".
Nothing will stop us to get to our destination so we very very very slowly drove up and down, checking the contraption every 200m or so and creating huge traffic jams and angry drivers, until no snow or ice was to be found. Club Med Serre Chevalier, here we come.
It's always a relieve when you see the Club Med sign. You know you're there, the misery is over and the fun begins. Two slightly frozen but apparently overjoyed G.Os welcome at the entrance of the village and things are so well organised that we get our room key and all the explanation at once ... what a service and finally all is well. Just a quick drive to drop off the luggage at the entrance and back to leave the car in the covered parking lot for the rest of the week. It's €85 to parkl your car there but it is definitely worth it. If it starts snowing you will probably have a terrible time trying to get your car out of the parking lot. Especially for experienced snow chain massacrers like me.
The first thing you will notice about the resort is that IT'S BIG. But it's big AND very cosy. They have done a great job decorating the place and you would never feel it has a capacity of over a thousand guests. Actually we never had that feeling the whole week we stayed there and the resort was near full capacity. The roosm are what they are, you get what you see on the advertised pictures and are in local style. They are nice and quite big for french standards and have everything you will need. Flat screen TV etc ... but no fridge ! How could they. We like to have some cool drinks in the room just in case so that was the next problem to solve. No need calling the front desk, even though very friendly, they will not bring you a complimentary fridge; But being in the mountains, in a ski resort, in winter .... you have the best nature friendly freezer right there... outside. So attaching a small bag to the balcony got us our instant eco-friendly freezer. Yes, I know freezer ... that does indeed make drinks too cold and not immediately drinkeable but we're on holiday so we're not going to be picky, are we ?
Contrary to summer holidays unpacking for winter holidays is a bit more work. Basically the whole car is packed with ski suits and boots and skis and a lotta stuff to keep you warm and you have to fit all this in a closed. It will work but takes some time. Unless you thrown everything on the spare bed (we had a family room) and decide to dig for it whenever you need something.
Ski's can be dropped off at the ski center which is just one floor down from the main entrance and easy to get to. It can handle a lot of skis and a lot of boots but finding you little spot is easy as everything is clearly numbered. If you need to have your ski's repaired or checked they have all the equipment there ready to get you going.
All set time to explore the hotel. There is a pool behind the reception. It is quite big and quite cold, so we would discover a few days later. They post the water as being 27°C but I think the thermometer is broken. Seems that we weren't the only ones having trouble staying in the water for more than 3 minutes but apparently they are not allowed to heat it up more ... some regulation. I know, the kiddy pool is usually warmer, but that's another topic.
There is a pool table in front of the pool and two computers are there as well for those who decided not to bring their own. Wifi is available all through the hotel and it costs €20 for the week. Cheap but then again it is slow, irritatingly slow. Must be the high altitude ;-)
The main area where you will find the Bar, the boutique and the stairs to the restaurant, has windows all alongside it so you have a view of the terrace, the snow covered outside pool and the mountains. It's beautiful and we can't wait to get on the slopes tomorrow. Time to get a drink at the bar from a very friendly Bar team. You nae it and if they can they will make it for you. We have travelled far and dangerously but as we sip on our first cocktail stretched out on a very comfortable couch looking at the snowy mountains, life is good and all the worries disappear like snow in the sun.
The sun, it will be there all week and the weather predictions are great. Not a could in sight for the next 7 days and temperatures not even that could. Barely -9°C up there. BUT ! Unfortunately the hotel is located on the 'unsunny' side of the mountain so whicle you will be bathing in sunshine for breakfast and lunch ... by 2PM it's gone and you can only envy the people in the hotels on the other side of the valley whose inhabitants cal us Iceheads. Wonder why? Did they try our swimming pool ?
DAY1: Seven layers of fleece swaters and socks and gloves and thermal underwear and polar grade ski suits later we are ready to slide out of there. The slopes are right there at your door. They literally start at 3m from the door ! What a luxury !!!!!! DOn't you hate to have to take an overcrowded bus with overheated people clumsily holding their ski's and poles and kids, then a 20 minute walk in ski boots to get to the elevator. Not at Serre Chevalier ! 3m and your outthere, sliding down a very easy slope up to the main cabin that will take you up there.
There you are, at the top of the world (OK, it's not mount Everest, but you know what I mean. It's beautiful, breathtakingly, nose freezingly, foot hurtingly beautiful. It's a vast ski area. And unless you're up there from morning till late afternoon you will not be able to try every slope. Just too many of them. Big boulevards from the top all the way down and because the area is so big it does