Adventures in France: Day Cinq in Le Brevent

Sunny, mountain views, skis unzipped from their carrying cases. It was Wednesday, Day 5,  and we were ready to ski the French Alps! After yesterday’s travel day, a great nights’ sleep, and some delicious fried eggs made by Kristi, the gang was ready to ski. Our house in Chamonix was perfectly located near the SUD (the Bus depot) but the Gondola that would take us to Le Brevent didn’t seem to be very far, so we decided to walk up.

Well, dang, it was a lot further than we thought, with the last 500 feet pretty steep.

But, we made it and it was a nice little warmup! And warm it was – spring was in the valley and we wondered what conditions at the top would be like.

The gondola shot us straight up, past the dirt patched trails, up and over the top and we finally saw snow!

At the top of the gondola, the views were spectacular and the massive Mont Blanc could be seen as clear as day. Breathtaking! We had been doing our snow dances prior to the trip, but I have to say I was incredibly grateful for the bluebird day, which allowed for the mountain views.

The afternoon was spent exploring the mountain, avoiding the European Jerry skiers (they seem to Cover the whole mountain when turning, going from one side ALL the way over to the other, so can be quite challenging to pass on cat tracks!) and frolicking off-piste.

We found stashes all over, all though the conditions were a bit varied, so I played it safe and skied in an aggressive, deliberate stance. It was an absolutely amazing day.

The mountains are extremely different in Europe, with limited boundaries, ski patrol or signs telling you where you shouldn’t be going. The resort Le Brevent had all kinds of skiers on the mountain as well – from beginners to extremists and most runs had a few of each on them. Except for the off-piste runs, where only a few brave souls would follow the ‘off-the-beaten path’ to ski the goods. These proved to be some of the best runs.

After several hours, we all agreed it was time to refresh ourselves with some lunch and beverages. Kieran left to go meet Kristi in town and Dusty, Mike, Holly and I headed to the coolest lunch spot I’ve ever been to at a mountain resort.

Le Panoramic had breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and we were happy to enjoy Apres with the views.

The day had been delicious and we decided to head down to the village to meet our group. Two other good friends, Zach and Tim, would be arriving in Chamonix, completing the Chamonix gang. We dropped our skis back at the chalet and headed to our second Apres of the day. But first, Mike stopped at a local boot shop, Sole, to get an assessment on his current set up, which was giving him quite a bit of discomfort. A London bloke hooked him up and told him to pick the boots up in 30 minutes. Gotta love a ski town!

Through the glorious town, we wandered to meet the new crew, and the night unfolded beautifully!

Drinks in back rooms filled with cozy sheepskin couches, fancy cocktails, and old Chamonix posters.

Dinner and fondue at La Moraine, a quaint French restaurant with warm ambiance and delicious cheese!

The night continued with sexy drinks at Le Cave, a nightclub under a beautiful restaurant with pulsating music and a groovy vibe. Chamonix did not disappoint us!

Adventures in France: Day Trois & Quatre

Our third day in France (Monday) and we were loving the countryside. The morning was sunny and gorgeous, and we enjoyed our freshly made coffee, fried eggs, delicious cheese, and gorgeous country views. Breakfast in France has got to be the best way to start the day.

Mike felt a bit under the vineyard after our wine extravaganza on Day Deux of our France adventure so stayed behind to sleep while Dusty, Holly and I headed out from the house onto a trail system within the Parc du Pilat.

The trail hooked up directly above the bed and breakfast, which was incredibly convenient.  Kieran and Kristie headed into Malleval, a thirteen hundred old French town they lived in in 2005, when working for Pierre Gaillard in his vineyard.

Our hike took us through the hills and valleys of the French countryside, into the town of Roisey where stone farm houses and windy trails carried us along. At times, the trail went pretty straight up the hills, and we definetely were able to work off some cheese and bread. We clocked 5.82 miles, a brisk but leisurely stroll where we really felt like we saw the country.

Trail markers were everywhere and only a few times did we get turned around. Not having internet while in Europe is really lovely, as you can truly shut off. Not having google maps however can get you in a pickle! Strava worked, so we used that as our guiding point.

Back at the house the gang showered and regrouped for some espresso and cake made by our hosts. Quite the afternoon pick me up. Kristy and Kieran were actually wrapping up their afternoon as well so came and scooped us up to take us to Malleval, the gorgeous town they lived in back in 2005.

The village took us all back to the 11th century, with winding, narrow cobblestone streets, gorgeous cottages with ornate wooden shutters, and a beautiful church at the top of the village.

We wandered down a grassy trail that followed a river and we all imagined out loud what it must have been like to live here. It was a glorious town!

Driving back, we stopped to buy some wine from Pierre had ‘just a taste’ then went home to cook a dinner in, as we would leave early in the morning for Chamonix!

The next morning, we awoke and all chatted about stopping in Vienne on the way out to explore. But first our last delicious breakfast in our enchanted Bed and Breakfast.  Our bags were packed, we loaded the new van and were off. First stop….chocolate croissants! OMG, the best I’ve ever had!

In Vienne, we sat and drank espresso, then wandered around teh town, hiking up to a cathedral that overlooked the whole of the town.

Below, they were doing work on the amphitheater, which apparently had large concerts. France’s own Red Rocks!

From the Cathedral, we strolled down to the Roman Ruins, through quaint side streets and picturesque cafes. Vienne was lovely, and the pizza spot we chose for lunch hit the spot. Wine & fromage!

Back in the van for tow hours, we all (except the driver!) took a nap, took a quick rest stop, then arrived in our glorious Chamonix! Our AirBnB house was down quite a narrow street, but the van nudged itself through and the location was perfect!

Unpacking, rooms selected, we were anxious to check out our new digs so headed out. The weather was beautiful and Mont Blanc could be seen clearly.

It was breathtaking in this valley, with steep mountains all around us. Absolutely stunning.

Our first beers were at an open-air bar, that looked like the hot spot for apres. We toasted to the next leg of the journey, the mountains hugging us in.

The next day we would ski Le Brevent and two more friends would join our France adventure, so we decided to shop at a local grocery to have dinner in. We ate, drank wine and glowed with the realization that we soon would be skiing the French Alps! Bon Vivant!

Travel Happy: Minimalist Packing for Chamonix, France

The countdown to our French winter adventure has begun! A good friend is turning 40 and him and his wife wanted to celebrate in style…in France! Did I mention this good friend makes delicious wine, lived and studied in the Rhone Valley and has a mentor that will be throwing us a decadent wine dinner? Yeah, sign me up for that!

So the question of what to pack has arose. This is a trip where we will combine wine tasting in the Northern Rhone region of France, near Malleval, and skiing Mont Blanc in Chamonix. Two very different vibes – both equally amazing!

Having checked the luggage policy for Lufthansa, I found out we were allowed one carry on and one checked bag (we are flying economy class – got almost free tickets using our WellsFargo business CC points!). Because we will have our skis (putting them in one bag so it’s considered one checked!) Mike and I will have to share a bag. This is really not a problem, as I’m used to packing minimalistically for long trips. I didn’t even check a bag for our ten day trip to Portugal!  The weather will be a bit on the warmer side in Malleval (50’s) where we will spend the first 4 days,  and colder in Chamonix (20’s-40’s) where we’ll spend 5 days, with snow in the forecast, yay! But, dang, what to pack! Plus, it’s France, so I have to be presentable…..

With all of that considered, I put together a simple, classic, yet practical wardrobe that checks all the boxes. The first thing to consider: outerwear. I’m hoping we’ll do some hiking/walking in both Malleval & Chamoix, so needed warm, yet functional footwear. On the opposite end, we’ll be walking around historical sites, tasting wine, being very French, so need an easy (but cute) walking shoe. And with the chance of snow, have to bring the cute hats! I choose the below, and planned my color scheme around these colors: tan, navy blue, black, grey.

I’m bringing three hats – one beret, one ski cap, one furry flap hat – and mittens that will match it all. The sporty, yet cute Cole Haan boot will be worn on the trails and the slip ons pack beautifully – and are comfy!

I then thought about our time in Malleval, France…..touring the quaint villages, dining in French cafes, sipping French wine, hiking in Pilat National Park, getting wined and dined with Pierre Gaillard. And the weather would be mild – so I opted for skirts and dresses, all having layering options.

Next, I picked pants – one pair of jeans and two yoga pants – that I could dress up or down and all could be worn with interchangeable tops. And layering with a shawl or poncho – of which I was bringing three  (a grey, creme and a olive green one) – would keep me warm.

And the rest was easy – ski clothes (that I’d wear multiple days, sorry crew!) a bathing suite (hoping to hit some hot springs!) and toiletries, undergarments and pjs.

I’m beyond excited to explore the Rhone Valley, French Alps, and everywhere in between. And I’ll have packed for any and all adventures we encounter!

Bon Voyage!