Not everyone wants to ski!
Believe it or not, many people come to ski resorts simply for the fresh mountain air and fabulous scenery… or because they’re dragged kicking and screaming by various members of their family.
For any non-skier, the great news is that Monêtier, and much of Serre Chevalier, is also ideal for those wanting a relaxing and convenient holiday which doesn’t involve skiing, but which might involve walking, shopping, snow-shoeing, swimming, morning coffees with a good book or simply relaxing at the thermal spa or on your sunny balcony! Yes, you can be warm on a skiing holiday!
Don’t let anyone tell you that winter holidays are always cold and that you’ll freeze the whole time. In fact, being wrapped up in your woollies with the sun beaming down on you, surrounded by the most magnificent scenery, is a wonderful feeling. And, if you come to ‘Serre Che’ mid to late March or in April, you’re almost guaranteed lovely warm temperatures. P.S. The local tourist office says that the resort generally has more than 300 days of sunshine each year!
If everyone else in your family is skiing and you’re not, don’t despair! The villages are small enough that it’s very easy to meet near and dear for lunch at the bottom of the pistes. It takes approximately seven minutes to walk from the centre of Monêtier village, for example, to the ski lifts and only two or three minutes to walk from one end of the village to the other – and you’ll pass the butcher, two bakers, a handful of bars, a tea room, a supermarket, sports shops, hotels and and all sorts of souvenir and ‘home-style’ shops along the way!
Why not meet your group at altitude by riding one of the chair lifts ‘on foot’ for a spot of lunch or a coffee? There are a handful of mountain restaurants accessible this way. You could even take some snowshoes and walk one of the snowshoe itineraries too. Serre Chevalier has special lift passes for non-skiers. You’ll pay 8-12 € for each ‘uplift’ (you can also use the lifts to make your way down).
With bikini, swimsuit or some lycra shorts in hand (see later), visit Les Grands Bains du Monêtier. This is one of Europe’s largest thermal spas and definitely worth a visit. Two large thermal pools, plunge pools and waterfalls, sauna, hammam, Roman Irish baths, the list goes on and all of this with a view of Monêtier’s ski area and very own glacier. Note: bermuda surf-style or even shorter versions of swimming shorts are not allowed, it’s lycra all the way. We’ve summarised the thermal spa here, have a read!
A spot of culture mixed with some shopping – visit Europe’s highest town Briançon at 1350 metres. The best bit is that there are no winding roads or complicated bus systems to negotiate. Simply drive and park or use the ski bus which is free with your ‘on foot’ lift pass or with the guest card that is provided by your accommodation supplier. The new main town is just 200 metres from the Prorel bus stop and the magnificent old town is not to be missed, itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site (souvenir shops, cafés including Café Turin with its home made patisseries, restaurants, impressive views of the valley and south, old fortifications perched above, guided visits in various languages, little play parks for children up to 12 years, …)
Visit the area with Linda, a former UK secondary school language teacher, and speak/learn French at the same time. Speak French together as you wander round the market in Briançon, have a drink at a café, shop in the old town (see Number Five) or take the chairlift up the mountain to eat at a restaurant at altitude. You will practise general conversation so you can: converse more confidently with the locals, go shopping and order meals in restaurants, and even practise MR VANS TRAMPED verbs to help you talk in the Past Tense! You could always have a more formal lesson as well – in the comfort of your own
apartment/chalet or ‘chez Linda’ with a nice cup of English tea. Lessons are tailored to your own particular needs and at your level, and a summary of the lesson will be emailed to you so you can practise what you have learned at your leisure. Contact Linda here or call (+ 33) 04 92 43 59 61.