Of all the resorts we have skied over the years, Verbier is probably the one we have most often visited.
Verbier is sort of the St. Tropez of skiing – a little playground for the rich and famous (we, btw, are neither! 🙂 )nestled in the Valais region of southwest Switzerland. For the slight inconvenience of a twenty minute traverse from La Tzoumaz over into Verbier, we saved a whole load of money!* Following our first two Chaos-filled years skiing, in Verbier HH and I invested in semi-private ski lessons, and I can honestly say this was money well spent! Our instructor, a former member of the Swiss racing team, spoke perfect English, and within a few days, she took this bumbling car-wreck of a skier and transformed her. Using some creative comparisons to basketball, she had me turning in a tidy parallel witnin a day, adjusting my weight appropriately, skiing forward and backwards, and even making my first feeble attempts at a mogul field. Suddenly, I had a newfound confidence! Our kids were quick learners and soon outskied me. Being the family sheep-dog, I tended to be the last down the run anyway on account of not wanting to lose anyone. It’s kind of a Mom thing, I guess. We worry about things like broken necks and crushed vertebrae. Mind, the friends we accompanied on these particular trips had been skiing for years and were crazy fast, off-piste skiers who would have made most people look slow. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our days on the slopes and our nights tucked away in our chalet, huge family dinners and eating half our body weight in cheese and French bread… apres ski is one of the greatest joys of a mountain holiday!
So, to spare you too much boredom in this travelog, I shall highlight just a few of the high and low moments over the past 7 or 8 years skiing in Switzerland… There was the time I sent my 10-year-old son down into La Tzoumaz in the telecabin and intended to ski down and meet him at the bottom… and then I took a wrong turn and wound up in Verbier, all alone as darkness was falling and all the lifts had closed. Trust me when I tell you the mountain is NOT where you want to be once the sun goes down! I finally got home 4 hours later, a journey that involved flagging down a passing motorist, taking a lift to the bottom of the mountain and phoning my husband to drive an hour and a half around the mountain to collect me. (This was actually a much more traumatic experience than it sounds!) Another low point occurred when I hit a bare patch of rock on an icy slope. My skis stopped dead, but I kept moving, my first contact with the ice being my right knee…
Possibly the worst low point would have been when I contracted a tummy bug. In a 12-man chalet full of friends and family, and with walls the thickness of pine boards, there is really no safe place to curl up and be privately sick without alerting everyone. I don’t know how many times I was ill that night, (nearest guess is at least 15) but I do recall sitting on the loo with bucket in hand, my head resting against the blessedly cold porcelain sink, and praying – LITERALLY PRAYING – to die. I wish that was hyperbole. It is not. But high points? Oh my… so many! Our oldest grandson was 11-months old when he first skied. He was in a backpack on his daddy’s back, and actually, I don’t think I would have trusted anyone else to do such a thing, but our SIL is an amazingly strong skier. That little moppet stayed with us all day – and the faster we skied, the better he liked it! We would say, “Do the STARFISH, Ashton!” And he would spread out his limbs in the shape of an X, laughing as he sailed down the slopes on his dad’s back. Good times. The views! Oh, my… there is a reason this is a premier resort! The scenery is simply glorious…
Lunches at La Chotte de Tortin, sitting in a little suntrap outside our favourite restaurant, litre beers, spaghetti Bolognaise, French fries, good company and plenty of laughter. And, ironically, the trips to and from Switzerland have become some of our best times. Apart from our first holiday when things went horribly wrong with our car, we have enjoyed many, many wonderful roadtrips across Europe. We tend to view getting there and back as half the holiday. For many years, we would stop in the little village of Champlitte and stay in an ancient French hotel called the Henri IV. This was a former wine seller, and yes, there was a wine – cellar. 🙂 In the centre of the hotel stood a stone tower and a staircase winding up the three floors, with bedrooms leading off on the way up. It was a little gem we discovered one night when the fog got so thick we simply had to stop somewhere… and what a fab little find it was! No tourist brochure could have prepared us for the wonderful, wood paneled dining room, or for the chef’s offering of La Menu Surprise… basically, whatever he chose to serve us! I had escargot, yes. And frog legs… (When in France…) Over the years, we have befriended Chaos. She has led us to some of our very best adventures!
*La Tzoumaz is not the bargain it once was! Word got out and prices began to soar a few years back, driving us to choose Italy these past 2 years. Don’t tell anyone – I would hate Italy to get too rich for our blood!
Here’s a little taste of one of our adventures…
© motherhendiaries 2014, all rights reserved. Photo Credits
- Feature photo: My skis, darling daughter’s, Son-in-Law’s and HH’s, taken as we returned one day from lunch at Tortin.
- Verbier: mirabeauhotel.ch
- Verbier night: 1000lonlelyplaces.com
- Snowbathers: skiworld.co.uk
- La Chotte de Tortin: myswitzerland.com