When we first came to Méribel last February, it was one of the best weeks we have ever had as a family. It was the first place we had ever visited where we would spend an entire week in one place. Ever. Even in the summer, back home, limited vacation time meant maybe 5 days at the beach, but never a full week!
Whether it was the absolutely beautiful scenery, skiing together as a family, or both, it was something special and we knew by the 2nd day that we had to come back. But what would be more fun than coming back with family? Over Christmas! I called both of my sisters a few nights after we got there and begged them to promise me we could all come back the next year. Together!
Jen and her family were in! Even Maureen, out in California, over 6000 miles away was game. Despite the 9 hour time change, and it being their first time skiing, they had planned to come too! But in the end, the home they had spent years searching for out in LA was finally theirs and the timing of things was not going to work, so they had to back out. We were all so disappointed, but of course, thrilled for them and understood.
Jen, Pat and the kids decided to visit London the few days after Christmas before flying to Geneva to meet us in Méribel.
We got up super early the Saturday after Christmas and drove the 4 hours to Méribel. The 4 of us begged Chuck to let us leave super early that morning. I’d heard lots of nightmare stories about major traffic jams on the way to the Alps leading to 6, 7, even 10 hour drives! He was skeptical, but we worked hard to get everything ready the night before and we were on the road by 8!
Other than getting a free pass through a tollbooth the gilets jaunes had taken over, it was an uneventful trip!
When we got to Méribel, it was around noon and we had 5 hours to kill before we could check in, so, like last year, we headed back to Scot’s, a pub we went to last year that had the only buffalo wings we’ve ever been able to find in France. But we struck out. They had run out! And the sweet potato fries I still remembered from last year, too! Oh well.
The whole staff are super laid back and let us camp out for a few hours in a warm restaurant while we waited around. And they speak English! We ended up visiting a few more times during our week, and finally got our wings and fries!
There wasn’t as much snow this year at Méribel, in fact they hadn’t had snow in over a week before we arrived, but it was still a beautiful view!
I went back and looked at pics from last year. Look at the difference in snow on the roofs. There was a crazy amount of snow!
To kill even more time, we visited a few more spots we loved from last year and then it was time to check in.
Our condo was on the main street through Méribel Center, so though it was much smaller, it was really convenient and close to the slopes and meeting place for ski school.
The Springharts arrived late afternoon and it was so great to see them! We met up for great meal at Barometer.
It was SO good to see our fam. Face Time is great, but there’s nothing like sitting next to the people you love and have missed so much.
Knowing I now had an adventurous eater among us, I got Uncle P to eat snails with me. Honestly, really I could eat anything covered in garlic butter with bread to go along…
They totally rallied but it had been a long day, everyone was tired, and ski school started the next morning…
Somehow we got our wires crossed and Jen had signed Auggie up to start Sunday, but we had signed the boys up to start on Monday, so Augs was the first of all of us to hit the slopes that Sunday morning.
Our first day, it took us a little while to find our sea legs, but then we were off!
It was so fun skiing with Aunt J, Uncle P and Hope. But we sure missed Auggie!
What we didn’t realize about Uncle Pat until recently is that he is essentially an expert skier. It was so great to have our very own ski instructor who was so patient and helpful all week whenever anyone needed it!
The first day, our little man struggled a bit to get his confidence going and after a few big falls with Chuck, Uncle P (AKA Saint) took over..
Each day, we stopped mid-morning for a coffee/snack/whatever and the first day, we went to Rond Point, our favorite après-ski spot!
By the time we were ready to grab lunch, the kids were tired, so we went to a really great Crêpe restaurant on the main street, Le Crêperie, and had (in my opinion!) some of the best ham and cheese crêpes we’ve had in all of France!
Late afternoon, Jen and I took Wells and Owen to the grocery store while Charlie and Chuck skied and Hope, Pat and Auggie took a nap (poor Hope was sick the whole trip and totally rallied all week).
Once again, the crew was tired, so we headed for an early dinner at The Brewer’s Den- a Craft Beer and smokehouse- it was a close (and freezing!!!!) walk from the Springhart’s chalet and had a great meal! They had things like pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, and wings. Which of course we ordered again. But this time, with Alabama White Sauce that was different and quite yummy. We also had a good chat with one of the owners, a super nice Scottish guy who had never actually been to Alabama. But he was so hospitable and chatty which was nice for a change to be able to have a good decent conversation with a waiter. This has been totally unusual for a restaurant here in France For a minute, it felt like we were back in the South.
On our walk back to our apartment, Wells and I were looking up at all the stars and realizing how it’s such a rarity for us now. City life doesn’t offer big dark skies where he can look up and hunt for the constellations he is learning all about in school. Orion is his favorite. We saw all sorts of them this week in Méribel.
The next morning, we were up early and getting everyone out the door to ski school. We were determined to recreate the same great morning routine we had last year all 6 days. Longjohns. Breakfast. Granola bar and change for a drink in pockets. Sunblock. Ski pants/coat/boots. Stop by locker for skis/poles. Walk to Ski School. It definitely felt like Groundhog Day, but it worked to get everyone ready and to ski school on time.
After we dropped the kiddos off, we all hit the slopes. This year, Hope opted out on ski school. This girl has been skiing for several years now and is a great skier! I absolutely loved having her with us all week. As the only girl cousin in the group, she is always such a trooper, so it was great to have more time with just her.
In fact, J, Hope and I had a lesson of our own for a few hours and that was super fun; just the girls. Our instructor offered lots of very technical instruction, so by the end, our brains were a bit shot, but it was definitely very helpful and gave us lots of things to think about as we move down the slopes.
We met back with our crew for lunch, which was hot dogs and fries for all the kids. Looking back at this pic made me laugh. Someone chose dog over bun.
All I know is, that there was lots of giggles, as there usually are in this family anytime anyone brings a hot dog around…..
After lunch, we went to Inuit Village, a family area where you can pet the huskies/sled dogs some afternoons. As we walked up, we heard growls coming from a few of them; they didn’t look that into being pet that day….so we just steered clear of those few and instead got to love on some really sweet ones.
Hope and Charlie especially….
Still lots of smiles 🙂
That night was New Years’ Eve and rather than trying to find a restaurant that could seat all 9 of us without a reservation, we opted to cozily squeeze into our tiny apartment.
It was nothing fancy, but we had been given some delicious cheese from Portugal and elsewhere in France by friends that we had saved and it was delicious! And being able to toast with some good champagne and even better company….. It was so special for us to be able to spend the second new years eve in a row here in France with family.
Our balcony had a great view of the slopes where we were able to watch the torchlight ski down the mountain, followed by the most incredible fireworks display I have ever seen in my life.
One beautiful sunrise the next morning, the first of a whole new year…
Everyone was a little slow moving and it took a little more work to get a smile out of the Aug dog, but when his mom wasn’t looking, I snuck a pic. Check him out.
More skiing, more beautiful views… it’s funny. The views are so addictive, we found ourselves stopping every 5 minutes to take more and more pictures.
This is one of my favorites. The tallest peak is Mont Blanc and though you can see it from most everywhere in the 3 valleys, it’s hard to really grasp how high it is. 4800 meters high (15,777 feet!) I think the highest peak in the 3 valleys is 3800 meters! In fact, it is the highest mountain in the Alps and in Europe west of Russia.
After grabbing the crew from ski school, lunch was much needed.
We chose a sunny spot outside at a restaurant thinking that since it was a warm 30 degrees, it would probably even feel balmy! But the sun moved behind the mountain and before we knew it, it was freezing! So it was a quick lunch.
Wells was done for the afternoon, so Chuck took him back and the rest of us headed back out. It’s always so fun to go out with the kiddos after ski school so they can show us everything they are learning. It’s amazing how quickly kids progress to the point where we can all ski together, no problem!
These 2…. There aren’t many things that make me realize how quickly time flies as much as seeing these 2 sweetheart cousins growing up so fast. I see it in them the most. They have always been such sweet friends. Only 3 months apart and at times thousands of miles apart, they are walking through life together… (or should I say running?) Just yesterday, they were our only babies. We blinked and they were 8.
Soon they will be teenagers.
That afternoon, we didn’t stay out long, après-ski was calling, so we went to a brasserie right near the slopes called Le Tremplin… there’s not much to it, but there is one thing really unique about this restaurant/bar…
Seriously, there were at least 3 or 4, just roaming around inside the restaurant; all from the same family!
This one literally would hop up and sit in her spot behind the bar… it was super cute!
Seriously, we can’t get enough, so when we see them we go nuts!
Back in Clermont, I had grabbed the game “Wish”, that they often sell over the holidays… I first noticed it last year because I thought the package looked so pretty, but it turned out to be a cheap, fun game to play! Similar to Headbands or Heads Up!, except that we all had to wear a crown and try to guess which famous person’s name was stuck on our crown….
Auggie’s expression was the funniest when he found out he was Kim Kardashian…
Wednesday was business as usual, except this morning, Jen and I had a rare opportunity to head out and ski just the 2 of us. Secretly a little afraid that we would not be able to find our way back to Méribel (I cannot read a map to save my life), we confirmed the back up plan that the Dads would pick up the kids at ski school if we weren’t back…
It was literally FREEZING that morning. FREEZING.
We went over to Courcheval, another valley next to Méribel to try something new. The slopes sat beneath a shadier side of mountain and that didn’t help things.
We had the best time freezing our tails off together.
As soon as we got to Courcheval, we found the nearest ski shop and headed in to load up on hand warmers. Chuck found his way over to us, we grabbed a quick coffee and then headed out.
As we found to be true all week, there were times where we were the only ones on a certain trail or slope. Being so high up near the clouds, it felt like we were on top of the world….
Thanks to Chuck, we found our way back to Méribel to get the kids. While we were waiting, Owen and Charlie came down first and mentioned that Wells had just had quite a fall on his way down. As he skied up a few minutes later, he was pretty banged up. He had a few scrapes on his face and wrist but honestly, I think it scared him more than anything. His instructor told me that Wells inadvertently went “off-piste” which means off the trail. According to Charlie he went off into a forest alongside a pretty steep blue and although his face was kinda banged up, he didn’t remember seeing him hit his head, so I decided we’d watch him and see how he was.
Poor kiddo sobbed for probably 30 minutes and didn’t say a word. He was spooked! But since everyone else wanted to go back out to ski, Aunt J and I took him to the Crêperie (his favorite spot) for lunch where he began to come back around. I found these photos on my phone; I guess he wanted to see his battle scars…
The next day would be the Springharts’ last ski-day since they were leaving Friday morning to return to Geneva and make their way back to the US. We all agreed that they couldn’t leave the Alps without having the most typical Alpine meal… fondue or raclette!
We went to Le Reserve and were seated at a really big private cozy booth upstairs in the back of the restaurant..
It’s always so nice to sit in a warm restaurant when it is 12 degrees outside. But not this warm. It was literally 100 degrees.
Wells had double dessert that night, apparently he was rewarding himself for a tough day…
The next day was the Springharts’ last day of skiing, so in the morning they kept Augs out of ski school and had a little family ski; they went up to Courcheval and skied on that side of the valley for the morning…
Chuck and I headed to a new area by way of a new lift, Legends and skied some trails that are brand new and just built since we were there last year in anticipation of the World Alpine Ski Championship to be held in 2023.
It was fun to ski a whole new side of the mountain we’d never been to… But then we returned to my favorite trail from last year, Jerusalem.
It is a nice long blue with breathtaking views which to me make it one of the best runs.
Next, back to our favorite coffee spot, Les Cretes. It was soooo cold that morning so it was nice to sit inside near a warm fire for a few minutes to thaw out!
When we picked the boys up from ski school, Wells had regained his confidence and then some…
We skiied over to Mottaret to all have lunch together. When we were finished, the kids all wanted to ride the inflatable slide… Uncle Pat included:) Here’s Hopie.
When we got back to Méribel, Uncle P challenged the kids to a one pole race back to the car…. somebody was not happy about being last.
Our last night with the Springharts, we went back to Scott’s for wings and fries. I’m not sure we have ever eaten more fries in one week. But they were sooooo good….
Then it was time to say goodbye. One the one hand, it was sad to say goodbye once again, but to say “See you next year” means when we will move home.
I met Jen for coffee the next morning before they headed out. I couldn’t believe our week together in Méribel that we’ve been looking forward to all year was finally over. I can’t even tell you how much more we hate goodbyes than we ever did living back in the US.
That morning, Chuck and I skied a little more before picking up the boys from ski school.
At the top of Saulire, there must always be some kind of animal sculpture, because last year there was a giant silver gorilla…
We couldn’t leave Méribel without a Irish Coffee. So we went back to Les Cretes, where the waiter told us you could find the very best Irish Coffee in all 3 Valleys. It was.
Once again, we were sad to leave this place. Maybe next year, all 5 of us can come up this high for lunch. I think Wells could ski down by then…
Back to ski school for the awards ceremony.
After lots of butt-sledding, we decided to head back out out for a few last runs.
There’s always something about that last run that makes us sign with relief when we pop off our skis for the last time. We survived.
Goodbye, Méribel…. You now hold your own place in each of our hearts and we can’t wait to come back next year…