Archive for the ‘France’ Category
It was a surreal experience. The first day was fine — we spent the day on the mountain battling an ice-cold wind for the sake of riding fresh tracks into the snow. But I think it was Saturday, our second day, that made Josh and I realize how fortunate we are to be able to do what we’re doing now. I wanted to pinch myself and wake up. I can hardly believe my own life.
It started as an invitation for a weekend of skiing and snowboarding in France for Dom’s birthday. Details were sparse — his friend Rob’s dad had a place near Nice. We were to be picked up at the airport by Rob and the weekend would carry on from there.
As Canadians, we hear “place in the hills” and “ski weekend” we think of log cabins nestled into the mountain surrounded in white. In the South of France, this means a villa built into the stone foothills of the alps. The place was spacious enough to hold the 10 of us that flew from Germany and various cities in England and it was stunning. If I woke up to that view, I wouldn’t complain about getting out of bed. That doesn’t mean much, but I don’t think Josh would complain about getting out of bed either.
With a stop at the Patisserie, we were ready to hit the Alpine slopes of Isola 2000. A lot of hair pin turns and some car wooziness later, we had left the Mediterranean far behind and into some weather that Josh insisted would “blow over” but battered us for the rest of the day.
Dom’s beard did its best Scott of the Antarctic impression and we stopped for lunch in a little hut that had a sign saying it had Sleeman’s beer on tap (this was a ruse! There was no Sleemans!). Adding to the Canadiana of our trip, it flew a Canadian flag outside. Despite the bitter wind that did not blow over, the snow was dry and powdery and some of the best snow I’ve seen in years.
At the end of the day, we came back to the car and the waether had iced it into the ground. I felt about that cold too. But after an apres beer, the car rolled free of its icicle stakes and we made our way back to the more-agreeable Mediterranean climate.
Once back again, we ate Raclette, one of my most favourite things to eat, ever. It involved melting cheese with meat to melt over potatoes. Fuelled by our day on the hill and drinks in celebration of Dom’s birthday, we ate a lot. It was a food coma that night.
Like I said, Saturday was the day that made it surreal. Instead of a second day on the hill as orginally planned, we went to Antibes. As we walked around the multi-million dollar private yachts, explored 15th century fortress walls and looked out onto the Ocean, it felt very hard to believe that our stinging cheeks were the fault of a cold wind and not sunburn. It was a gorgeous little town and once again, we ate well and, yes, bread and cheese was involved.
Some of our group left early to watch some sort of big-deal rugby match, but us cool kids hopped on the train to Cannes. In just a 15 minute train ride, we left little Antibes and found ourselves on the shopping streets of Cannes. A walk up and down the promenade past hotel-owned beaches made it all feel like a very different place. The kids fill the benches along the seaside, showing off the fact they have a scooter by resting their feet nonchalantly on helmets. I’m also pretty sure that wearing some sort of animal print is required for the older women patrolling the promenade.
Our trip ended on the promenade of Nice, waiting for our flight to check-in. We got a ride to the airport with the rest of our friends, whose flights left earlier. We took a walk and ate a pain au choclat as we watched unlucky fishers and brave swimmers. Josh took a handful of the Mediterranean and our feet crunched over rocks sea-swept smooth.
Finally, we boarded our flight from Nice, which was more like a scenic air cruise as we flew over the French to Swiss Alps, but I’ll let Josh post about that since he was really excited about it. He was really happy he got the window seat on that one.