An Alpine Adventure

By Rebekah Nixon, BLSA

After studying hard all term I was ready for a Christmas holiday abroad. Luckily, all was already planned and to a place I know well, Flaine. My family has been going there for about six years. Most may not know it, since it is a small ski resort in France an hour away from Geneva.

It’s a modest, independent resort unlike the well-known, flashy resorts like Verbier and Chamonix, where celebrities hang out and prices are very high. Although, we sighted Katherine Jenkins and Trinny from What Not to Wear before!

Flying into Geneva we were lucky enough to follow the sunset over The Channel, resulting in breathtaking views where the light transcended from soft pink to a radiant fiery blood orange.

With the whole Alps suffering from the severe delay in snow and abnormally warm temperatures, not much skiing was done in the first week, as all it would have done is wreck our skis.

 

Therefore we resolved to enjoy what Flaine had to offer outside of skiing. Breathing in the cool alpine air does reinvigorate you! Over those days we went to lunch at a few places. As you would expect in France the food was delicious, whether you went for a dish centred around cheese, such as Raclette or Fondue aux cèpe, or a fresh salad. Even my brother will eat the salad in Flaine, and that’s saying something!

 

Now, there is a split in opinion on whether or not you would call Flaine beautiful. The resort opened in 1968 and was the progressive brainchild of Eric Boissonnas and Marcel Breuer, resulting in a cornucopia of concrete, modern buildings featuring a huge sculpture by Picasso in Flaine Forum.

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However, it was not long until our focus shifted away from the resort town, as thankfully we got a belated Christmas present, the gift of snow. Not just a bit of snow, but a deluge! Over a foot and a half of snow in two days! We set out like powder hounds going on and off piste looking for that prized virgin snow.

This for me was made even better by the fact I got to road test capturing action packed, high definition shots on my new GoPro camera while skiing in this glorious snow.

 

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A caution to all skiers and snowboarders coming to Flaine! As advanced skiers, my family has few limits as to where we can ski. Despite this, we have to be very careful skiing off piste and need to make sure visibility is good before venturing off.

This is because Flaine sits on a chalk-based basin that reacts to create large holes or crevasses. These vary in depth and cause injuries and deaths every year. Let’s just say our family has gone through a few sticky patches with said holes, but we’ve all come out alive in the end!

Health and safety warning aside, Flaine is a high up, northwest facing resort, meaning it is likely to have good snow coverage. It also boasts spectacular views of the famous Mont Blanc. The mountain has a range of runs and ski school classes that caters well for people of all levels, from beginner to expert. I would highly recommend this tucked away, unique resort if you’re looking for a fun ski or snowboarding adventure away in France.

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Mont Blanc

One of the most well known runs on the mountain is Cascades. It can only be skied in the right weather conditions. It’s considered a special day trip through forest and frozen waterfalls for all who enjoy the scenery and tranquility of the mountains. One would have plenty of time to appreciate this, since Cascades is 14km long, making it the longest blue run in Europe!

A previous year one of my family members led us the wrong way and accidentally took us down Cascades! We were trapped in the scenario where the only way was down, which took us over an hour. It was absolutely stunning, a very scenic route to take home! When we finally worked out how to get home all the way from a resort called Sameons, we made the last bus back to Flaine by the skin of our teeth! Let’s just say while we appreciated the natural beauty, one person was in the doghouse.

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Cascades

A popular thing to do at the end of the skiing day or later in the evening is Aprés Ski. As a family this would take the form of going to the top of the gondola and having a drink at the bar before skiing down with the sunset. We would usually order the special there called a Desert Blanc, a potent but tasty mix of hot white wine, Cointreau, orange juice, and more. It’s advisable you know how to ski down the whole mountain with confidence when attempting this!

For the party animals, there is nightlife, which I explored most thoroughly during New Year’s celebrations. There is Le White Pub, which has a buzzing atmosphere for drinking, chatting and dancing with a live DJ. There is one club in the resort, which means the atmosphere tends to be lively. It is open until much later than 3am! Plus, since Flaine is quite a small resort, after a few years you become friends with the regulars that come back every year, which leads to some long, crazy, fun evenings.

Suddenly all it was over too soon! With the sweet memories of powder, family banter and French food, we headed back to the chaos of life in the New Year.

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