Week 2 of the French Family Vadeboncoeur Adventure. Chatel France, they have not kicked us out yet. We ARE having a fantastic time.
Chatel is about 4000 people on a regular full time basis. But, this week is Christmas week, and there has to be more like 20,000 people here now. It is crowded. I think that all of France is off right now, and here in Chatel trying to ski. I did not imagine that you could fit that many people on a ski run. As a result, we have not done nearly as much skiing as we had hoped. The weather is warm also, around 35 for the high that last few days, with no new snow. As you can imagine, that is not the Family Vadeboncoeur mode of skiing. We usually are the powder seeking family.
One day this week, we did go up to Pre-La-Joux and ski, with what Ali refers to as the human avalanche. I think that maybe Europeans do not have the same personal space characteristics as Americans. I do not think that I like standing amidst as many people as I have seen skiing on a ski run here. It is amazing. Probably would not be as bad if there was a bunch of fresh snow, people would get spread out. Wow.
The bus ride down from the hill is always amazing. There are guys outside the bus that are there just to push the last few people into the bus. You are literally packed in there like Sardines. There is probably seating capacity for about 40, then there are at least another 40 people packed into the aisles, all with their skis and poles with them. In the USA, a ski area bus would have your skis at least put on the outside of the bus. Here, all that stuff is in the bus with you. People in ski clothing, with their ski boots on, trying to manage their skis and poles and everything else, while the bus tears down a mountain road. It is a gong show.
Last night was New Years Eve. We made it out until midnight – woohoo! I feel like such a kid. Liz and I have not made it up for midnight for a long time. It is usually not that important. It was fun last night though. We met up with Lloyd and Louise at the Avalanche Bar and then over to L’Escalier. Feels like we have become locals (not really). But, we have been allowed to get into places that Lloyd and Louise have brought us into. It has really been fun.
We had Pizza at Hors Piste again last night. Eddy is the owner there and he has befriended us along the way. When we first came in the door, his head waitress told us that “No tables”, Eddy found us a place and served us up some pizza then sent us out so that he could get his tables turning on that important night. Seems that most places are completely booked and you have to make reservations well in advance on New Years.
That is one of the things that is different in America vs. France. In the US, even if a restaurant is booked, they take your name and say come back in an hour and we will see what we can do. Here, they put a sign on the door that says booked, deterring anyone one from coming in that does not have a reservation. Just one of those subtle differences between America and France.
One of the things that is truly great about France is the baguette. The baguette is a simple unassuming bread that goes with just about everything. You eat sandwiches on them, you have them with your pasta or soup, you crumble them up on salad when they get hard, etc… You cannot have enough baguette bread.
But, the baguette symbolizes something else. Europeans live in small places, Americans live in large places. Our cars are big, our houses are big, are grocery stores are big, our kitchen storage and refrigerators are large, etc… Here, everything is small. So small, that there is no space for anything. You must go to the market almost every day. The refrigerator holds only a small amount of stuff. You go to the store to buy that days meals. You do not buy extra, as there is just no where to keep it.
You also must bring your own bags to the grocery store. They do not provide them. That is not such a big deal, as you are only taking 2 bags home with you anyway – no space remember. You get used to this.
The baguette doesn’t keep. You really only want to eat them the day you buy them. They get too hard and crunchy, fast. So, you go to the bakery every day and get more baguettes. More baguettes.