Ski for two euros a day
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Where can you ski for less than €2 a day?
When it comes to hitting the slopes age doesn’t bestow a bundle of advantages.
Bending those knees gets harder. Sore muscles need more embrocation and longer
in the bath. But in the huge French Paradiski area there is one significant
A ski pass, bought online this season, costs a mere €10 for six
days. Though I am, ostensibly, your silver ski expert, I confess I might not
have discovered this had I not asked for a couple of senior day passes recently
in Montchavin, a satellite of La Plagne which accounts for one half of that
huge lift and piste network in the Tarentaise.
“Do you have your passport?”
asked the woman at the window. No, but I had my driving licence. Just as well.
The two day price for my wife, who is … well, younger than me, was €89. For me
it was €11. Confession number two – I’m over 72, which is the minimum age for
this concession. “Dieu existe”, I remarked, open mouthed. Later I checked
online, to find that the deal became even tastier. Confession three: life’s too
short to check prices in all other resorts on your behalf – but I’ve visited a
few websites and haven’t found anything to match that so far, though further
inquiries revealed that next season, when I’ll be 74, I’ll be able to ski
absolutely free in Val d’Isère and Tignes, for example.
If we’re spared, as
your granny used to say. A recently published list of US resorts where seniors
ski free after a certain age included few big names. Cannon Mountain, New
Hampshire and Squaw Valley, California (respectively free after 65 and 76) were
among the exceptions. It’s not just about saving money but not wasting it. At
our age we’re less inclined to go out in bad weather. Cheap or free passes make
the decision to take a day off easier.
This season has been a case in point.
January conditions in the Tarentaise were as variable as I can remember.
Sunshine, rain, ice and slush all played their parts. La Plagne is noted for
long blue, intermediate cruising runs but they tend to be crowded and when
they’re hard and icy they encourage recklessness. Best stick, when possible to
red or even black pistes, which skiers and snowboarders usually treat with more
respect. Pistes graded red, in particular, are generally none too taxing. This
rule certainly applied on the home runs to Montchavin and a clutch of reds just
across the valley in Les Arcs, reached via the impressive double deck Vanoise
Express cable car.
The first complex to be built in La Plagne – Plagne Centre –
dates from the start of the 1960s, when the Zeitgeist in such purpose designed
ski areas was to develop great monoliths with accommodation, shops, restaurants
and other facilities under one roof.
Montchavin, which, along with eight other
linked centres, came later, could not be more different. It was a farming village
long before the wintersports boom. The scent of cattle still wafts from byre
near its main street. There are no high rise blocks. Walls are built using
stone from the surrounding mountains, such as schist, quartzite and sandstone.
There’s a lively bar where you can drink a delicious bière blanche and an
excellent Alpine platter of cheese and charcuterie.
Our three star hotel, the
Bellecôte – a short step from the nearest access gondola – was adequately
comfortable if not exactly luxurious Book B&B rather than half board – I
enjoyed a fine dish of wild boar, morels and gnocchi from the a la carte menu.
Besides, you might want to dine elsewhere. Notably at La Bovate, run by the
mayor, which serves an excellent three course prix fixe for €29.50, with
desserts including a tarte aux myrtilles (bilberries) with s small tot of
genepy, the local herb digestif, thrown in. With that in mind – and depending on
your attitude to the new alcohol guidelines – you could use the money saved on the
lift pass to upgrade your choice of wine. But don’t neglect to admit your age
when you go to buy it. And don’t forget to take evidence of all those lost
years – or the choice may be taken out of your hands.
For more information go to www.la-plagne.com or call 0033 (0) 4 79 09
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