We flew to Lyon and met our fellow travelers there. A local guide and bus met us at the airport. After picking up the extension crowd at their hotel downtown, our bus left in the pouring rain and headed for the mountains. As we traveled up, up, up, the rain turned to snow and the roads became treacherous. Not as treacherous as our fellow drivers, however, many of whom stopped haphazardly in the road to put on chains! Our intrepid driver was able to weave around the obstacles until arriving at one spot where BOTH lanes were almost blocked. Concerned that the bus would lose traction on the steep and slippery road, he leaned on his horn and slithered between stopped cars to much applause! We were relieved to arrive safely at our destination.

Picture

Narrative

Snow

 

The heavy snow continued for two days (this view is from our hotel room). Although most of the group made an effort to ski at least a bit, it wasn't much fun.

Our only injury occurred on the first day when one of our number slipped on the icy steps of the hotel, fell and broke his femur! He spent the rest of the trip in the nearest hospital after surgery to repair the joint. The surgery went well and he is now at home recovering -- fully we all hope!

L'Aigle des Neiges

Our hotel was quite comfortable and was well-located only a short walk from the lifts and down town. Until later in the week it was even possible to ski almost to the front door. (This picture was taken later in the week after the snow stopped.)

Pink Panther

The hotel lobby was graced by this "pink panther" sculpture. There were similar sculptures of bears, gorillas and other animals throughout the area.

Le Blizzard party The second night of our stay, Jim and I had dinner with Mike, Eloise & Inge at the aptly named Le Blizzard. It was still snowing heavily so the hotel provided us with a van to get us to the restaurant safely. After our meal, the restaurant's hotel did the same. We felt well-taken-care-of!
Val d'Isere church

On the following night many of us attended a concert as part of the Classicaval Music Festival. We enjoyed selections from Mozart, Shubert, Tchaikovsky, Fauré & Puccini. I was originally surprised that there was only one French composer, but from what I could understand of the discussion before each piece (in French, of course) all of the composers had been influenced by French connections.

The church, dedicated to St. Bernard of Menthon, dates from 1664. Unlike many parish churches, it escaped the ravages of the French Revolution.

(This picture was taken a few days later after the snow had stopped.)

 

St. Bernard, Val d'Isere

The concert was sold-out on the Tuesday night we attended. We got there early enough to get good seats. It was a lovely church and if we ever get back I hope to take the formal tour.

Following the concert we attended a reception in the city hall across the street to meet the artists. There was wine and a variety of snacks that served as supper for the evening.

Some of our group had been unable to get tickets for this concert. They were able to attend a later program.

Street Party

Thursday seemed to be the day for street parties. This "ice bar" was set up in the middle of the main square. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. There was supposed to be a parade later on, but we missed that.

Party Time!

Across the slopes in the condo village there was a much less restrained celebration going on. The boom-boom of the music was invigorating. The guys in the grey coats by the door were security guards. It wasn't clear if this was a private party or if they were just trying to keep the participants from getting smothered.

Fat tires

A number of cyclists were zipping back and forth between parties. The fat-tire bikes plowed through soft snow and ice pretty well.

St. Roch Chapel

Later in the week Jim and I spent an afternoon exploring the town.

This small chapel on the same square as the church is dedicated to St. Roch. A small plaque on the building states that it was built in 1653 as protection against the plague, which makes it slightly older than the church.

Val d'Isere streetscape

A typical street in the older part of town near the church. Most of these buildings have been adapted for restaurants and holiday apartments. Some also seemed to be residences.

Building

There was nothing to identify this old building, but it typifies a design style that I saw described elsewhere. There are doors on two levels -- the lower one is partly hidden behind the snowbank and there is another one above it. This allowed entry during times of heavy snows.

There are also mortises in the stone face where there may have been galleries and exterior stairs. The highest level door would have opened onto the gallery.

Parasail

There were numerous parasailers soaring around town. The warm day was perfect for it.

Le Brussels

We stayed at Le Brussels on our first visit to Val d'Isère in 1985. Hard to believe that was 32 years ago! Val d'Isère has changed a lot since then, but the Brussels looks the same -- at least on the outside. We walked inside and didn't recognize much in the lobby. The location is still the best in town!

On our second trip we stayed in the Mercure, which we were unable to find under that name. We think it is now named the Ormelune. It was not a place of fond memory!

Grand Marnier Creperie, Val d'Isere

No trip to Val d'Isère would be complete without a stop at the Crepêrie Grand Marnier. It was just as good as we remembered. Jim is joined by Inge, Gwen & Alice.

Lyon Airport

We had a wonderful stay in France, but were glad to be headed home. We crawled out of bed well before dawn for our bus ride back down the mountain to Lyon for the flight home. The Lyon airport had several of these green walls. I'm now puzzling over how I can do something similar at home.

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