I’m lucky enough to live in the French Alps. Although it wasn’t luck that brought me here. Sometimes I think it was just a bit of reckless foolhardiness. Since moving here my wife and I have started a family (more recklessness) which now includes 3 children. It’s hard enough affording to ski on our doorstep. I frequently reflect on the fact that if I was to attempt a family ski holiday from my old job in the UK I probably would not manage it and certainly not every year!
Since working for Alpine Property in France for the last 12 years we’ve picked up various ways to stay active, make the most of our surroundings, but that don’t necessarily involve spending all our hard earned money in one go. I probably should write a short article on each one, in fact I’ll do that in reference to buying property in the Alps they are not all family orientated but they are all much less expensive than skiing. I’m talking about activities like ski de fond (cross-country skiing), ski-randonée (ski mountaineering), snowshoeing, sledging or even just skiing but using a few techniques to reduce the cost.
Last Friday I had earmarked a few hours out of the office with my wife. The forecast was good and the snow conditions too. We drove to Praz des Lys from our house. It’s about half an hour from us, and that’s after passing through Morzine and Les Gets. On the way we passed one of the properties we have for sale - Chalet les Côtes Derrière I would have taken a picture but it was virtually buried! I took one of this nearby chapel though at Bonavaz. It’s just off the main road, click on this link to have a look a Google streetview.
Praz des Lys is one of the many “undiscovered” corners of the Alps. Well “undiscovered” by the Anglo-Saxons anyway! You may have seen signs for it on your way to Samoens or Morzine and Les Gets, in fact you can easily see it from the pistes of Mt Chery. It’s a fairly big place, linked with Sommand. The skiing here is extensive and snow sure too. The plateau is at 1450m and most of the skiing is above this level, so this makes it more snow sure than many of the big name resorts in the area.
We arrived just in time for lunch, parked right in the centre of the resort, right against the piste. For free I should add. We walked onto the piste and chose the biggest nicest restaurant, Le Farto and sat down for the plat du jour; Cod fillet in crevettes sauce with broccoli and rice, 11 euros. After lunch we hired some ski de fond equipment (14 euros for the top of the range stuff) from Twinner and bought a piste pass from the Tourist Office for 5.50 euros (from 1pm) and went for an hours skating around the utterly perfect tracks. We did see two other people, and at the most I counted the tracks of 6 other skiers ahead of us. This was on the 5km blue piste, though the green through the centre of the resort had many more tracks on it. Praz des Lys / Sommand is famous for a “marathon” ski race each February, the Traverse of the Ramaz, the tracks are world class, in fact it occasionally holds rounds of the XC Ski World Cup circuit.
So that’s a cheap day out in the snow, in a world-class resort that no-one has heard of right on our doorstep in the Haute Savoie.