Wednesday 9 September 2009

Holiday in French Alps - Days 1 and 2

Good afternoon :-)

I just thought I'd pop on and make a start at the photo diary of our fab activity/fun/sun/(a bit of rain)-filled holiday in Les Gets, France

Firstly, here's a map link so you can see the location of our 'Hôtel Le Chamois‎'.

If you click on the reviews I can safely say I agree with all the bad and good ones... a real mixture of feelings towards that place, I can safely say I will NEVER stay there again, but not that I won't holiday again with Alpine Elements, or in the same region...

Sunday 30th August
This was painful, we had to be up at 04:30 to get to the airport to get our flight, ouch.

Saying that, as the flight was less than 2 hours, and the transfer from Geneva Airport (woo hoo, I've visited Switzerland this year now too! ;-) ) was only just over an hour, we were at our hotel reasonably early which meant we got to unpack and chill out for the afternoon :-)

In the evening we went down to the bar area and listened to Kelly, our rep, explain which activities had been arranged for us and to tell us some more about what we could do. Although the Alpine Elements (AE) site had said there were many other activities that could be taken, Kelly wasn't very clear on these and when I asked her about them later she was even more vague, lol!

One thing I did get out of her was that we could do paragliding... which I had seen people doing from the coach as we were approaching Les Gets.

One thing you have to realise about me is that I'm actually really bloody scared of heights! I remember the first time I climbed up an artificial climbing wall... I got to the top, looked down (big mistake) and just about managed to whimper "can I come down now, please....?"

nowadays I'm still scared when climbing high walls, but some sick part of me loves the adrenaline rush and the fierce incessant pounding of my heart in my chest... so hard it feels like it might leap out of my mouth!

Also I love the quote "do something each day that scares you" - this is usually fulfilled with my daily bike commute as I'm such a pansy on the London streets (although with good reason, it's pretty damn scary in this city if you're only on two wheels!)

So I thought paragliding, or parapenting as it's called in France, would be the perfect scary thing to try next...

We booked a session for 11am on Tuesday morning and then had dinner.

Dinner was really nice, it was beef and mushroom stew... cooked perfectly, i.e. the beef was so soft it just fell apart. the sauce was pretty bland, even after I peppered it to hell, but it was a nice meal. Afterwards was sticky toffee pudding, mmm, one of my faves :-)

We were only meant to share a bottle of red wine but one of the staff members knocked our bottle over spilling the contents of my glass on the table... thankfully not on me though. Poor lad, he was so embarrassed and took our bottle away saying he'd bring another to replace it. He did, *plus* the other bottle which still had loads in it so we ended up drinking more than planned!

Monday 31st August
Monday was glorious, weather-wise... unfortunately we slept in a bit too late so didn't end up picking up our mountain bikes til fairly late in the morning. This wasn't a problem though as we were right at the end of the season so there were tonnes of bikes available :-)

The 'continental breakfast' offered by the Chamois was puzzling to say the least. I don't think I've had a continental breakfast that didn't included croissants and cold meats but I can safely say I've never had one that didn't include croissants!!

Every day the 'continental' breakfast consisted of French stick served with big slaps of butter, coco pops, cornflakes, muesli and then some form of egg - at least twice this was greasy sloppy fried egg, blergh... not exactly sure which continent this breakfast was supposed to have come from!

Anyway, so we faffed around after breakfast for a bit and then went and got our bikes, we were all riding the Kona Firemountain which is a pretty fabulous hardtail I must say! Maybe it's just because I'm not used to MTBs with disc brakes, but I absolutely loved these. They were selling them off for £200 at the end of the holiday, really wish I'd bought one for Ryan now...

We started off by having lunch (good start!) at a restaurant called L'Op Traken, to our shame the guy running the place spoke perfect English (just as well!). This place was fab, I had a salad with egg and green beans which turned out to be enormous, my son had a fromage et jambon omelette and Joe had their chef's special assortment of meat... which was advertised as just having spicy pork sausage and cheese... in actual fact it had just about every meat you could think of (bar horse - I hope!) and came with an extra salad, huge lumps of cheese and bread!

There were some very cute and rather tenacious little sparrow-like birds everywhere... very sweet and tame to boot!!

The previous night one of the bike shop staff members had recommended we try the Port Du Soleil route between Les Gets and Morzine which is the neighbouring resort and the one most people have heard of/been to that I've spoken to about the French Alps. The dude said it was a nice run that the whole family could do... so after our mahoosive lunch we all set off.

Here's a map of the route:
If you click on the pic it'll open it up large for you to see properly. Basically the route we attempted is from the right of the Les Gets sign, through Les Nants and Les Mouilles and down towards the village - it's the 'orange' route - which means it's not graded. However... I'm pretty sure that on the map we have there was no red route running alongside it (red means difficult!! green = very easy, blue = easy, red = difficult and black = very difficult) as if there had been I'd have thought twice about attempting it!

The route started off on the road and then we hit the track which turned into a bumpy horrible gravelly stony steep bastard-from-hell route which scared the wits out of my son and I - even Joe wasn't so sure as he's a road cyclist, he's used to whizzing along on tarmac and that's it!!

The thing about the track was that it was full of loose rocks... if it had been grass or concrete we'd have had more traction but there was nothing and if we braked our wheels just went out from underneath us - very scary, we were quite high up!!

Joe didn't take into consideration that my son and I would be quite scared and had the 'well if I can do it, why can't you?' attitude which got mine and son's backs up and resulted in huge amounts of stress and arguments to boot!

Just when we'd finally got fed up having spent at least an hour stressing out, getting off bikes, pushing them down tracks, son falling off bike, then getting back on, then off, then stressing some more before I said we should just call it a day... a breakthrough came in the guise of some concreted roads - hurrah!

However, this led uphill, quite steeply too (hurrah revoked), but we ploughed up them and finally came out at this
we made it to Les Mouilles which has the most gorgeous little chapel where we were able to rest a bit.

We decided to go on but the track was even more dreadful and very steep downhill so we pushed our bikes down some more and hit the outskirts of Morzine. We couldn't see a route through which didn't involved riding on the roads, which I wasn't prepared to do as my son had never ridden on the roads before in London and these were busy main ones with people driving on the opposite side to the one we're used to!

We turned back and I managed to cycle most the way back up but my son had lost motivation entirely and was being a slow arse, which riled Joe, and made it more stressful, grr

All in all, despite the wonderful weather, it was a hugely stressful day and really tested us as a family

We got back, sat outside in the sun, had a beer (son sat on a rock, as you do ;-)) and chilled out, calmed down, and started to like eachother again.

Dinner was quite nice, we had cheesy garlic bread to start followed by lasagne which wasn't the most delicious in the world but really did the trick. The dessert I loved, it was a simple shortcrust biscuit with some fruity sauce... it reminded me of school dinners, I used to love the biscuits and yogurt we'd get, the more cooked/burnt(!) the biscuit was, the better!

So that was the end of day 2, well day 1 really I guess as Sunday was spent mostly travelling and finding our feet.

Anyway, will write some more tomorrow, have to go home now as it's quite a bit later than when I started typing this!!

More soon


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