I’ve always been a fan of embracing the season and so when winter swung by London and the first snow of the season had fallen, we hopped on a train in search of the ski slopes of France.
Funnily enough, our trip to France would actually involve taking the train to Italy and then finishing the journey with a little drive back to France.
Tickets booked via Voyages SNCF, we headed off to Montgenevre in France, with a quick pit-stop and an amazing lunch at Le Train Bleu.
Little sidebar: Voyages SNCF is THE go to place for European train travel. I never really use it for the UK – I’ve just always used my Trainline app (which can occasionally be annoying as they have fees on certain journeys) or I just buy my tickets in person at the station (especially for tickets when it doesn’t make a difference in the price if I buy in advance or on the day of arrival).
For Europe however, especially with the many different languages on individual train sites (some of which are not particularly brilliantly translated and cause more confusion than it should), I just go with one site that I can get all the tickets I need regardless of the country I’m planning on visiting – ergo Voyages SNCF.
(*Wow! That sidebar ended up far longer than I’d anticipated! 😄)
Anyway, on this trip – fully intent on being indulgent, we had booked Business Premier seats (didn’t arrive with enough time to use the Eurostar lounge though, which I found out later is actually pretty decent, especially the one in Paris – they make proper cocktails here for you and everything) and when we got in Paris, Le Train Bleu was just such a perfect choice for lunch.
First off, look at that décor!
The food was also amazing. The lamb was cooked to perfection and the dessert – a chocolate-caramel explosion of taste hit the spot brilliantly!
Anyhooo, lunch over, we hopped on our train and arrived to a very snowy Mongenevre.
We checked in, went downstairs for aperitifs and braved the snow to grab some dinner (alas, didn’t have my camera with me for that one – and a bit of heads up, turns out I didn’t take my camera with me much when I went for food this entire trip so the food photos are few and far between on this trip).
The next morning, we woke up to an incredible amount of snow on the mountains and still a lot more snow falling.
Like seriously, even the balcony was covered in several feet of snow.
We had breakfast by the fire before heading up to the mountains but alas, the slopes were not quite ready for proper skiing.
I think what had happened was that it had snowed, melted a tad, then snowed again which meant that it was like a snow sandwich (snow, slush and a lot more slow) so it needed a bit more time to freeze over properly.
Even the snow-flatteners (not their official name – they’re those plough that flatten the snow ergo why I call them that) couldn’t make it up the mountains).
I kid you not, we spent the rest of that morning/early afternoon sledging down the hill, yonner sledging (which is almost like sledging on just one ski and is a harder task to balance than you’d think), a spot of fat biking and a fair bit of drinking ice cold Chartreuse, which I guarantee, will light a ‘fire’ in your belly. 🙂
Refusing to call it quits, we headed off to the nearby town of Briancon for lunch – a proper alpine meat, cheese and pickles platter affair…
…before heading into the old centre of Briancon.
Briancon is one of those places I’d never even heard about prior to arriving in Montgenevre but once you visit, you wonder how come.
It’s a gorgeous little place and its quaint streets and surprisingly colourful houses within the grey walls are just sheer French perfection.
Briancon turned out to be quite the gem of the day and made us glad the weather had led to us changing our plans and getting to visit the town.
Oh and how’s this for a random fact – Briancon is the highest town in all of France… and its old town centre is such an amazing gem that it’s been classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The rest of the afternoon was spent weaving in and out of Briancon’s many quaint streets (and shops)…
…before eventually deciding to head back to Montgenevre to relax in the hotel spa and fill up on dinner and French wine in anticipation of what promised to be a great day for skiing the next day!
More on that in the next post! (Spoiler alert – the forecast was correct and it did turn out to fantastic for skiing).