Now that I have made it to Val d’Isere and had a bit of time to settle in and get used to the life here with Covid-19 still at large, I wanted to write a little update on how I am finding it and what we are getting up to.
Since our arrival, we have been very lucky with the weather. Most of the days have been bluebird but still quite cold, meaning the conditions for riding have been amazing. The snow is staying fairly solid on the pistes and the off piste is not getting tracked out all that quickly. There is not a lot of snow so some of the more well known off piste lines are not accessible right now but some of the faces look perfect.
The only problem for a lot of people is that the lifts are remaining shut. In December, the French government set a target of having less than 5,000 new daily cases of Covid-19. This target meant that the restrictions would be lowered and therefore there would be a chance that the ski resorts may have a chance of being open again. However, at the present time, there are over 15,000 daily cases recorded in France, meaning the target is not reached. For this reason, the restrictions are strict but fair. Here, in the region of Savoie, the restrictions are as follows:
Curfew between 8pm and 6am, meaning that everyone must be at home between those hours and if you are caught outside, you are issued with a €135 fine
Can not be in groups of more than 6 people when meeting outside
Masks need to be worn when outside
Shops and services can be opened
Restaurants and bars can only open if they are doing takeaway
Maximum amount of people allowed to be in the store at once
You must work from home where it is possible
Schools are open but Universities remain closed and taken online
Ski resorts to remain closed
This means that if you want to go skiing, you need to make your own way up the mountain. To get up, you can either ski tour up, use a split board or walk with the help of snowshoes. We ended up going for the snowshoe option. They are fairly easy to use and help with walking up the mountain. We got ours from a shop called Killy Sport in the centre of Val d’Isere, which I definitely recommend checking out as they have a great range of items for sale and rent. So far, I have done 2 hikes up to La Folie Douce, which is about halfway up the mountain when you start from the bottom of La Daille. It is a fairly nice hike that definitely put me through my paces. My personal best time to get to La Folie Douce took an hour and a half and I was fairly tired afterwards but definitely felt accomplished as I was ready to give up half-way. When we get to the top, we normally stay around the empty La Folie Douce and have a sandwich along with water before starting the ride down. The ride down, though, feels magical. The feeling of cold air on the face when snowboarding and the feeling of sliding on the snow are definitely irreplaceable and definitely something we take for granted when lifts are open. This experience of lifts being closed has definitely put a new light on snowboarding for me and I will definitely not be taking any of the riding for granted anymore.
When not riding, I have been enjoying just walking around the resort. Usually Val d’Isere is full of people walking around, having fun, going places or just enjoying the vibe of the resort. However, now, it is very different. The hustle and bustle of the resort has definitely faded away and there isn’t the rush of tourists that want to get the most out of their vacation running around the ski resort. Currently it is mostly the locals that are roaming around to go to the shops or meet a friend for a socially distant drink at one of the takeaway spots that are open. Having this quietness has given me the time to go around and enjoy the ski resort in all its glory. Walking through the old part of Val d’Isere is beautiful but the added quietness has given it a different perspective. It has been amazing to just walk around those streets with a camera and just enjoy the nature that is often lost when there are a lot of tourists walking around.
In the afternoons the pace drastically changes. The main square becomes populated by some of the locals as they enjoy a drink from a takeaway bar called ‘Chez Jules’. This puts a smile on everyone's faces as it seems like things are almost back to normal. People are having drinks, socialising and talking about their days. Of course, you have to make sure that you are socially distancing and wearing a mask, but it doesn’t prevent people from enjoying the company of a handful of their friends while sipping on a nice hot drink. For those that are over 18, my personal recommendation to order from Chez Jules is a drink called Xante. It is apple juice mixed with cognac and comes warm, helping you to keep yourself warm in these cold months. But also do be wary that it gets pretty cold straight after the sun sets and you need to come prepared with some warm footwear and clothing in order to not freeze.
Evenings are, of course, spent at home. You are not allowed to leave your apartment after 8 pm and therefore the only option you have is to stay home, make dinner and catch up with people. I have never been very good at cooking but now I get to experiment with new dishes and new recipes, making my cooking improve drastically. I am sure that in the coming months Megan will suggest some amazing recipes that you can try at home while keeping yourself healthy and making sure you get enough energy that you need to keep yourself ready to do all the amazing activities that the mountains offer because quite frankly I also need them. But for now it is Google and Instagram research for inspirations (it is quite intimidating just how many there are out there) Pair all that with a good snowboard movie and you are definitely set for a great evening with a lot to look forward to the next day! My personal favourites are: The Art of Flight, Horgasm, and majority of the Shredbots edits on Youtube. Getting a good night’s sleep has never been easier than this season due to the bars being closed and this lets me enjoy the mountains so much more!
I hope you enjoyed reading about what I have been getting up to in Val d’Isere while being here! It has been pretty fun but pretty sad at the same time. Everyone in the ski resorts wishes that it could go back to normal and be enjoying the special moments that we get in ski resorts with all of you but for now we have to stay safe, respect the rules and make sure we can beat this virus. Let’s do this all together and like that we can get back to doing what we all love as soon as it is possible!
But for now it is goodbye from me and until the next blog post! If you need to reach me, you can do so on any of the socials.