It’s hard to believe, but this year I turned 40. It only seems a couple of years since my 30th, which I spent blissfully on skis in Chamonix with two of my best mates (when we weren’t dancing on tables at Chambre Neuf). So it seemed only natural we go back there and do it all again for my 40th. However, as it turns out, 10 years makes quite a bit of difference…
Chamonix is hard to beat when time is of the essence, which is the case when most of your friends now have kids and don’t want to be away too long. Chamonix is easily accessed from Geneva airport (less than one-hour transfer time when the traffic is good), and has lots of short let apartments of varying sizes. We found an idyllic chalet on Airbnb, five minutes walk from the town’s main drag, Rue du Dr Paccard, where there are ski hire shops, supermarkets and numerous restaurants and bars.
An 8.15am Gatwick flight on Thursday meant we were on the slopes by 2.30pm for a few warm up runs at Brevent followed by a beer while we basked in the mountain scene.
But instead of going to another bar, we went back to the chalet and dinner was made while people had baths. In fact we were all in bed by midnight because the next day’s forecast was for a blue-sky day. We woke feeling smug to a beautiful view of Mont Blanc while we ate our porridge.
Friday we went to Le Tour – you can’t beat it when the weather’s on side. From Chamonix centre it takes about 40 minutes on the bus, and once at the top of the bubble you can see Chamonix Valley in all its glory.
Over the back is the tree-lined descent to Vallorcine, which with its narrower paths are the perfect contrast to the wide red and blue slopes of Domaine de Balme. One of our group booked a lesson with Evolution 2 for the morning while the rest of us – some more proficient on skis that others – set off to explore.
Many go to Le Grand Montets for powder, but we found some dreamy sections of white stuff easily accessed from the piste. After a pasta lunch at Le Chalet de Charamillon Restaurant we were less energetic, but managed a few runs before parking up on the slopes for a much needed beer. This was followed by a customary trip to Chambre Neuf for après ski, where we were dancing on the tables with jugs of beer by 6pm. Dinner was at Cap Horn, one of the trendiest spots in Chamonix. And despite our tiredness, we lasted until 1am.
Not feeling quite so sharp on Saturday and our limbs a little sore, the hardcore three went off to Le Grand Montets early while the rest went over to Flegere to take it easy on some less challenging slopes. We all met up at Le Chevanne for lunch and pottered back over to Brevent before heading home for baths and dinner, washed down with champagne.
Our final day was spent at Brevent – with our transfer booked for 5pm, we didn’t want to venture too far afield. It was a full day of skiing though, and as we ate our lunch at La Bergerie Planpraz with its panoramic view of the Mont Blanc, we lamented how quickly the trip had gone by, but congratulated ourselves that, yes, we’ve still got it – just on a slightly more sensible level. Hopefully we’ll be back for my 50th, with an afternoon at a spa factored in.