La Plagne + Les Arc (France)

Day two in FranceWere all sore, muscles that have been used and worked and worked hard. I've been eating chocolate eclairs for breakfast, and have declared Kids of 88 'Just a little bit' the anthem of the trip. It doesn't really get anyone excited but me, but I'm okay with that. I've been excited about lots of things - the French people who actually speak French, the purple deckchairs outside the bars, people eating fondue and melting a giant slab of cheese, eating the melted bits as they fall off. I've been repeating French phrases (and am very glad that people in our group speak French). I get excited about lots of things, actually. Another friend is doing snowboarding lessons, and its entirely possible that I'm more enthusastic than she is about it, and I got really really excited when all the skiers agreed to do a snowboarding taster session.

We've got people of variable skill in our group, and what I love most is the 'give it a go' attitude. Even if its a bit icy or steep, they'll square their shoulders, and go down slowly but surely. I love that. We have a friend that is less than keen, and we've been trying to instill some form of enthusiasm, which I hope is working but I suspect is very much not. It's kind of mind boggling, to be in France, to be surrounded by all these gorgeous mountains, to have paid for a very expensive lift pass, and to be anything other than stoked and amping to get going just seems, well, completely mad. But each to their own, really. Maybe our enthusasm will be infectious.

In saying that, we went out to Les Arcs today, and the snow is average. In that it's mostly ice with an occasional mm of snow on top. It's all very blue skies, and I can see how amazing off piste would be if there was snow, and even more so how phenomenal on piste would be if it wasn't ice. Even mash potato type snow would make here brilliant. Still, you can't tell that in the photos. Morf used his phone (android ftw) to track where we went and how fast we were going. 42.75 miles an hour was today's top speed, which was a lot fun. Also, La Plagne is ridiculously big. And they all have unpronouncable French names which I can never remember. I completely fail at navigation, and have been relying on others to go where they wish. They also have random runs, greens, blues, reds + blacks. So far the blues are more greens that I know, and reds are basically easy blacks.

We've been doing Beer Finds, and I've been nominated twice. Once for taking out a skier friend on the flat, and another for riding over a random skiers skis (he stopped in my fall line as I was moving out. WTF!). It's been alot of fun, actually. So I shouted my first round at last nights Snow Brief where we heard about (among other things) the Bobsleigh, which I'm kind of interested in. We also saw Paragliders out today, and it looked like alot of fun. So much so that I added it to The List, and tomorrow I'm going to go enquire about it. Because it looks like you just run off a mountain, rather than drop out of a plane.

We've also decided that there will be a Sailing Trip to Greece (#16 – Visit the Greek Islands!!) in the summer, which sounds absolutely phenomenal. I'm going to learn to Sail a Yacht (#87!) and I may even get to learn to Kitesurf (#2!) or try my hand at windsurfing, or even more wakeboarding would be brilliant. We'll see. I have to wait for the summer, but I'm ridiculously excited about the prospect.

Anyway, Day Two down. Four more to go.

Day four in France Yesterday was brilliant. Yesterday I hit up long empty runs really early, making first tracks over the courdry. Yesterday, I went Paragliding, and it was amazing having the world a million miles below my feet. Yesterday I got my instructing on, and was stoked to see a friend visibly improve her snowboarding technique, and grow in confidence.

Yesterday was brilliant. Today? Today was positively not.

I'd wanted to go Zip lining, but the park wasn't open because it wasn't a french holiday. And it would cost 800 Euros to open the park, or 200 to have two goes down the Zip Line.

My freestyle lesson was cancelled, beause no one else joined up. Private lessons are three times as much as group lesson. Fail.

I was knackered and sore from the past week, and took a jump stupidly on an edge. I stacked it good and proper and gained some lovely new bruises.

And then? Then I lost my Les Arc/La Plagne Paraski pass. And then some theif took it up the mountain and left me stranded on one side of the mountain, miles away from the hotel, miles away from where I could get another pass for free (instead of another 50 Euros).

I was left on my lonesome, where I cried in front of the ticket lady who only spoke French. I waited out my fate in cafe, where I struggled with a French Only menu, and picked something random hoping it was not meat, and I was very very lucky that the friends I'd travelled with were amazing, and cancelled my ski pass and managed to borrow one so I could get back. And it meant that they had to travel over an hour easily to get to me + back.

I felt like an absolute wally. Like an absolute douche.

I'm hoping that tomorrow will be better.

Day Seven in France Home today, and it appears that my body really doesn't like France at all. Day before yesterday I did my back in on the baby slope, gettin my teach on. It wasn't so bad, nothing a little codine, paracetamol + ibrofruen (and a little red wine - its France, after all) didn't fix.

On this little delightful cocktail I somehow thought it would be a good idea to rent a snow skate. Oh man, what a silly idea that was. When a n00b skier bailed in front of me, I bailed. In such a way that made my back a billion times worse.

So more of the codine + the paracetamol + the ibrofruen, a bath, and a whole of arnica. I was lucky that one of the girls is a medic (or something - she works in pharmecitucals + has a head full of medical knowledge), and knew when I could take things + how much + what I should and shouldn't do. So that was helpful.

Yesterday I took it easy. A lesson in the morning (converting skiiers to the dark side), and in the afternoon I waited in the cafe for the rest of the crew to finish their official snowboard lesson.

Add four French snowboarders (with super sexy accents) who thought it ridiculous that I was sitting by myself in the cafe for the afternoon, so we had shots. And vodka oranges. And by the time the crew had finished their lesson, I was quite happy with how my afternoon turned out.

However this morning, this morning I'd had a reaction to the alcohol + the codine. A horrific one, one that was remincsent of my day in Paris. Packing up in the apartment was awful. The coach ride was horrid, and by the time I'd made it the airport, I had sworn off ever eating anything ever again. Still, I was feeling better once we made it back to England, and the ride back to London was quite fun.

So, the last few days had their ups and downs, but it didn't make the week any less brilliant. I had an amazing time, I went to France! I went Paragliding! I spent alot of time on my board, which I was stoked with. I hung out with some amazing individuals, and it was a really really amazing week.

I'm hoping there will be more weeks like this one - though hopefully with less dire endings!

Fun side note, that's the world famous Mont Blanc in the background.