We’ve completed our third week in France and with it welcomed much warmer temperatures. We’ve exchanged the cold, somewhat dreary days for sunny, blue skies, outdoor lunches, and the ongoing explanation to our kids that the pool isn’t warm enough to swim in yet.
We are starting to settle into a somewhat normal routine, with interesting surprises here and there. One such surprise is that Redford is more than willing to watch Saturday morning cartoons on Disney in French. Actually all the kids are willing to tolerate a fair amount of shows in French, but they still prefer for me to download the occasional American shows in English.
On Sunday, we headed up to the closest ski station to our house, Gréolières-les-Neiges, which is about 17km from the Medieval village of Gréolières. On the way up, we were surprised to find ruins on the hillside above the village and decided to delay our skiing and take a look. We parked the car and took a short walk up the hill to explore the ruins, which gave us a great view down onto the village of Gréolières. The ruins we explored included a 13th-century chateau and the rebuilt 13th-century Romanesqe Saint-Etienne Chapel.
When we got to Gréolières-les-Neiges we were surprised how many people were enjoying the sun and snow (quite crowded). From a quick observation, it seemed like more people were snowshoeing, sledding, and building snowmen, than skiing. It was a common sight to see families hiking around together in the snow, having picnics under the larger pines, and the adults drinking wine. It was interesting to see so many enjoying the snow without any type of ski or snowboard strapped to their feet- not a common site in the US.
Here’s a quick video showing our drive from Gréolières to Gréolières-les-Neiges:
Gréolières-les-Neiges reminds me of a French version of the Colorado resort just up the road from Boulder, Eldora. There are obvious differences between the two ski areas, but that general ambience of a local ski hill was present. Gréolières-les-Neiges has 16 lifts (1 chair lift, 13 surface lifts), 30 pistes, and 1300 vertical feet. The lift tickets are very reasonably priced at 15 euro for the kids and 22 euro for an adult- very reasonable for a full day of skiing. We will definitely be back before the season ends, unless the recent warm temperatures cause the ski station to close.
After an eventful day of exploring and skiing we returned home to the neighbors playing pétanque and drinking rosé amidst the smokey air of burning olive tree branches. Learning how to play pétanque (and then beating them) with some of the French locals is on my bucket list for the year we are here.