My big fat white Christmas - part 1

Posted by Kate Whittaker 3rd January 2012

Lucky enough to be skiing in two resorts before Christmas, I was watching as eagerly as anyone as the snow starting falling in the Alps. Despite that, I really wasn’t prepared for the sheer amount of snow everywhere. Even having spend two winters in the Alps I haven’t seen anything like it before. Most resorts had more snow in the few weeks before Christmas than fell in the whole of last season.

Arpette, La Plagne


First stop was La Plagne, celebrating its 50th anniversary on 21 December. The video here of our guide for the day, Andre Broche, doesn’t really do justice to just how much snow was falling. Andre has lived all his life at Macot, the closest village to La Plagne and as well as working in snow patrol and ESF, he was also head of the bob team at one point.



With very low visibility and some runs shut because of avalanche risk, Andre was definitely the right person to have taking us around the mountain! Before lunch we visited the places where the first two drag lifts were built and some of the very first slopes. (there are 171 lifts and 425km² pistes now).

sam at lunchThe resort opened with just two buildings and no mountain restaurants. Today there are over 20 places to eat ranging from self serve to luxurious. Our (very welcome) lunch stop was at the charming Chalet Verdons Sud where we fortified ourselves with lunch and a little genepi...

With that warming us nicely we ventured out again where it was STILL snowing...

That evening La Plagne pulled out the stops with a 90 minute sound and light show culminating with a super impressive 300 (!) ski instructors in a torchlight descent following four piste bashers down the Stade piste. Bizarrely the music for the finale came from Phantom of the Opera – all very dramatic, especially as the snow fell continuously and heavily. It took till Friday for the snow to finally stop and the sun to come out in style. I took the opportunity to dash madly around the mountain enjoying pristine snow conditions making everything look very Christmassy.Snowman


It was the last day in resort for many people and the first sunny day all week but even so I hardly encountered a lift queue. I did encounter quite a few snowmen though – here’s one lurking in the trees on the run down to Montchavin.

The next morning I was due to head to La Tania in the Three Valleys. I opened my curtains and guess what? It was snowing again...










About the author

Kate Whittaker is the founder and owner of Mad Dog Ski. After a career in the City she swapped commuting for chairlifts and spent two seasons in the Three Valleys in search of the perfect vin chaud. Mad Dog was born out of her passion for all things snowy and her desire to make the most of every minute on the mountain. Kate gets involved in as many aspects of Mad Dog as possible but, for some reason, particularly likes researching new resorts.

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