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Published: March 24th 2008
Polar bears everywhere!
Percy the Polar Bear at the campsite
We trust that everyone is well. Can you believe we are deep into March already, how the time flies when you are having fun?
Well since our last blog we have spent over 6 weeks in one destination...yes six weeks. No, we will not be making this place home! We intended to only ski here for a few days and incidentally, a few days turned into over six weeks. The ski area of Les Arcs is situated in the French Alps and our majestic little campsite positioned in the Peisey-Nancroix village, the pistes accessible by a free ten-minute bus ride. Camping Les Lanchettes is placed in a stunning valley and is next door to a cross country centre with plenty of walking and cross country tracks.
We had an awesome 6 weeks in all with a heady combination of a great destination, fantastic people, early morning skiing, late night boozing with a bit of rest and gambling thrown in for good measure, well only a little rest I might add. We will not go into all the gory details, Oh ok only some of them then, so where do we start.... at the beginning we suppose?
Let it snow; let it snow...
Our beloved van encountering the snow for the first time.
The first day we spent skiing to get rid of the cobwebs and that evening met another English couple at the campsite, Simon (alias Gay Boy, Alias Egg Boy-sorry Simon I owed you that!), Rachel and Howard (their trusty pooch). Rachel was flying back to the UK the following day for a week to attend a wedding so we ended up spending the next full on week with Simon. So it was late nights as he introduced us to poker (Hey Cousin Paul watch out) and early morning skiing which seemed to set the tone for the next 6 weeks. We soon found we all had allot in common as we both enjoy the malt and hops, love the outdoors and the propensity to stay out of work for the longest time possible. Well needless to say they have to return back to the rat race before us however they win the prize as they have been doing this for almost 2 years, damn we knew we were doing something wrong!
Just before Rachel returned we had a quick two day sojourn to St Martin de Bellville in the 3 Valleys to meet up with two of Rob’s former
Rob keeping busy, clearing the snow off the van.
work colleagues and their partners, John, Chris, Caroline and Lynn. We free camped in the parking next to their hotel. It was awesome to see them again, catch up on all the work gossip, ski and of course the compulsory apri ski. Hey guys thanks for a great two days.
So back to Les Arcs and one evening we returned from another great day of skiing and were just about to jump into the showers when we heard familiar voices??? Rob, wrapped in only his towel, went to investigate and low and behold it was Peter and Narelle, the Aussie couple that we had met in Sicily in November. If you recall they were also the only crazy ones heading north when everyone else was migrating south for the winter. Also their son Tony was out from Aus for a few weeks and he was a snowboarder which meant Rob had a play mate for a change. There went any slim chance of at least one dry night.
At around the same time Simon and Rachel had friends, Mike and Stella, over from Hong Kong so we ended up as the “United Nations” with South Africa, England, Australia
These shoes were made for walking!
trekking in the snow, check the funky snow shoes.
and China making up the quartet. Among many a great nights the ones that stand out were the evening we all crammed into our van for pre dinner drinks. That meant 9 adults and Howard (the pooch). What a great selling point for the campervan, comfortably seats 9 with pets, check pic. Also we had to help celebrate Narelle’s birthday so we decorated Mike and Stella’s chalet for drinks, had cake and pressie opening before heading off to the village for dinner. As the restaurant was on the slopes we finished off with speed trials down a groomed slope at 11pm on one of Narelles’ presents ...a mini sled. Thank goodness no one was injured.
The arrival of the Aussies and Chinese seemed to bring a change in the weather as it started to snow. This was fantastic news for us as this is part of why we were here. So after a few days of snow we hit the ski slopes early to find fresh powder, every skiers wet dream come true. What a great morning as one could throw oneself into the turns and have total control, Hee Ha. Unfortunately we took no photos. Of course the
Another day at the office with Chris, John and Rob, all ex work colleagues
change in weather also meant a change in temperatures and time to test ourselves living in a campervan in extreme temperatures. At one stage it reached around minus -25 deg. The problem with low temperatures in a campervan, besides freezing to death, the water pipes freeze and can lead to the pipes bursting. We ended up coping very well and our little fan heater purchased in Italy together with our gas heating certainly worked overtime. Of course coming from South Africa where we do not get snow we were very apprehensive about these conditions so many thanks to all the advice from our PRAWNS - Personal Route Adviser to Wandering NomadS, Martin and Judith. The couple we met in France way back in October when South Africa won the world cup rugby, yes you do remember. Hey guys pity you could not join us and thanks for all the advice. We were due to meet up with them in Alpe d’ Huez in February and unfortunately Martin injured himself, part of the reason why we never left Les Arcs.
Once the Aussies and Chinese departed we settled down with Simon and Rachel again. Well settled down in the sense
everyone in action, well besides the camera girl Wendy, St Martin DE Bellville - 3 Valleys
that the skiing became a mix of messing around with skiing backwards and attempting the jumps at the snow park (see pics), more late nights of poker and when the girls had had enough Rob and Simon were demoted to the Boot Room, literally where the ski clothes and boots are dried. Needless to say we had some unbelievable nights battling it out for high stakes of around one euro. Well more for pride than anything else.
You can take the African out of the bush but you can not take the bush out of the African! Yes, the national past time in South Africa is the braai (bbq). So it seemed appropriate to do the deed in the snow. So one fine afternoon we sparked the fire and introduced the English to how it should be done. Of course the evening would not be complete without drinking “Springboks” so after tanning a few chops we mixed the shots consisting of Baylies cream and peppermint liquor, thus green and gold (the colour of the SA rugby team). Needless to say, a good time was had by all, if I can remember?
One of the other activities we, well
Short back and sides!
Great place for a hair cut! Rob getting what hair he has left hacked off.
Wendy, succeeded in was the Via Ferrata. Unfortunately Rob injured his wrist (a common snowboard injury) so could not partake and in fact put him out of action for almost 2 weeks. The first via Ferrata were built in the Dolomite mountain region of Italy during the First World War, to aid the movement of mountain infantry. Fortunately Simon is an avid mountaineer with all the gear so he agreed to introduce Wendy to the sport. Also this is predominantly a summer sport however the sun shone on the righteous for the past few weeks which meant it was possible. So plenty of ropes, snow shoes, crampons, pick axes and a will to succeed later meant Wendy had the time of her life climbing, scrambling and willing her way to the top of a mountain with cables, wires and ropes. Check the awesome pics. Thanks Egg Boy.
So finally before we departed this fine countryside and having our feet firmly on the ground it was time for our final challenge, Parapenteing. Basically hang gliding with our skis/snowboard. Before you get alarmed it is done with a qualified person that basically flies you. It was truly surreal floating over the
Up close and personal!
Van for sale - comfortably seats 9 adults and a dog. The United Nations having a drink in our van, cosy or what?
French Alps being controlled by an able guide and held up by a big kite! We took off at the top of one of the ski slopes and then ambled around in the thermals as the rest of the skiers did their thing below us. In all honesty it was a great experience and contrary to what it looks like it is certainly not an adrenalin rush.
Well enough of our jabbering and thanks for sharing our experience with us thus far.
Cheers for now,
The Wandering Nomads
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