Saturday, 31 December 2011

Something a bit different

This week we have been seeing The Three Valleys from a new angle. With our Apartments fully booked we took the opportunity to do something a bit different which finds us directly across the valley from Courchevel in a delightful place by the name of Tincave which sits in the sun (when it’s not snowing) above Bozel. 

This excellent location can make for a difficult decision for skiers – do we head straight across to Le Praz for a quick entry into Courchevel and the Three Valleys within 20 minutes or do we drive 15 minutes around the corner to Champagny en Vanoise  to access to the Paradiski ski domaine via La Plagne? For non skiers it doesn’t get any easier – a snow shoe walk in beautiful surroundings or an afternoon by the cosy open fire?

The view from the apartments across to Le Praz, Courchevel 1550 and 1650

For a larger group or just for 2 people the Apartments we stayed in are a great “out of resort” option offering more space than you will often find in a resort centre but still putting you within striking distance of the great skiing this area has on offer. Tincave is a beautiful little village, take a look at the Apartments we stayed in then go and discover it for yourself.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas in Meribel

Despite the weather forecast Christmas Eve in Meribel brought even more snow and a nasty northerly wind which nearly blew us clean off the Tougnete ridge. A half day ski was enough and although the weather did break at about 4.00pm that was too late for most people who had moved on to more festive pursuits. Santa made an appearance on a horse drawn sleigh and there was singing in the square outside the Tourist Office.

Christmas is a time when many people in Meribel are here for family reasons and not everyone is keen to ski or snowboard all day. Despite being a ski resort Meribel offers many other pursuits one of the most popular being walking on well marked and well cared for routes which criss cross the resort. Most paths can be accessed from car park and bus stop areas although some require the use of a ski lift and the sight of "Pietons" on chairlifts is not unusual. A walk through the upper area of the Altiport last week showed just how deep the last snowfall was, as you can see from this picture a snow shovel would be required before any picnics could take place here.

Christmas Day brought what most people were hoping for - a beautiful bright sunny day. We took advantage of the great conditions and skied the low areas of Courchevel including La Tania and 1550. Until well into the afternoon the pistes were blissfully quiet, this shot was taken at the top of the Renard Piste in the Meribel valley. Where is everyone? Perhaps eating and drinking their way through Christmas.

Merry Christmas from Chalet Vache Bleue

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

the snow keeps falling...........

Another snowy week in Meribel, the snow depth at the top is now over 2 metres. At any point in the season this is remarkable, to occur before Christmas is well like Christmas for everyone involved in the snow business. The conditions have created much work for the Pisteurs who not only have to groom the slopes but keep skiers and boarders safe from the threat of avalanches. the current risk is 4/5 and we have woken many mornings to the sound of blasting as detonators are set off to dislodge potentially unstable slabs of snow.
As safety work is in progress linlks in and out of the Meribel valley have been closed or at best slow to open in the mornings. Not to worry there is plenty of skiing to be had in Meribel and with such amazing conditions no one is complaining. One of the advantages of these conditions is that you explore areas you may have forgotten about or usually just fly past. On our last ski day the pick of the runs was la piste des animaux which is a lovely run through the trees at the Altiport. Complete with information posts and model animals it is a fun "bendy" run which is a bit more interesting than just flying straight down the wide Altiport run. It's tricky to find, the start is alongside the Col de la Loze chair but well worth seeking out and links straight into Lapin which ends in Meribel Village.
Start of Lapin run down to Meribel Village

Meribel Village looking very picturesque

Les Allues has not escaped the snow and we are woken every morning by the sound of the snow plough passing by. This morning the heated pavement in front of the office of the Marie was struggling to remain clear against the huge snowflakes which were falling. Last night a Carol service was held in front of the Village Bread oven - which was thankfully alight. Vin Chaud and mince pies were served until the cold got too much and most retreated to the pub to thaw out.
Carol sing a long Les Allues

Monday, 12 December 2011

Snow, Sun and a Crocodile

It was a beautiful sunny day in The Three Valleys today and time for us to find our ski legs. Today was day 2 of the season and for those few people who were out it was a real treat. The trees are laden with snow which together with the sunny skies makes everywhere look as pretty as a picture. Being so early in the game not all lifts are open but enough for us to touch Meribel, have a ski through Mottaret and get over to Courchevel to check out the lovely wide pistes of 1650 and 1850.
a good sunny spot in Mottaret for a break

lovely empty Pistes

The snow is in great condition even lower down the resort and the forecast is for snow almost every day this week so much to look forward to. One interesting thing we stumbled across in Courchevel today was a Crocodile, a red one at that. What it is doing there and where it came from are yet to be discovered.
a curious addition to the scene in Courchevel

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Signing off on our building work

Today was a hive of activity at Chalet Vache Bleue, our Architects arrived for a final meeting with the Tradespeople and we signed off on the amazing work which has been done. As with most things the process is slightly different than it is in Australia so we are grateful to have patient Architects to guide us.
One of the original features of the Barn we managed to save can be seen on the main facade, a wooden structure which would have originally been used to facilitate the drying of wood or hay. Jokes have been made in the past about putting it to use to hang Architects from, no such requirement from us as we have been delighted with the work Iain Stewart from RAS Architectes and Jean-Michel Testud from Testud Thevenin Architecte have done for us and their ability to take a joke can be seen in the picture below.

In the hive of last minute activity our plans for professional photographs of the interiors have slipped by a week or so although we have identified a Photographer and now just need to line up a date suitable for everyone. In the meantime here is a shot of the Kitchen in Apartment B which is ready to welcome our first guests this weekend.

 Les Allues enjoyed the first taste of snow for this season as the pictures below which were taken today show. The lifts in Meribel will open at the weekend so we will go out for a slide around and report back on some of the new developments in the area.

View from Chalet Vache Bleue

Les Allues Centre

La Croix Jean Claude - great spot for a drink or something to eat

Monday, 21 November 2011

Curtains, Lighting and "Bucky"

Elaine and I took the day off today from a hectic schedule and went walking.  Temperatures have dropped dramatically but the sun still shines.  The footpaths, stream and Lac de Tueda were all frozen over today on our walk up to Col De Fruit. Streams are looking like giant crystal chandeliers with several centimetres of ice covering many of the large boulders and cascading in icicles back to the water up to metre below. From our walk we could see mounds of snow where the snow making machines have been busy creating what will be the base for the rest of the season.

Most of our work in the past week has focused on curtains and lighting.   Elaine is a bit of an expert at sewing so many trips to Laurent Tissus in Albertville to select from thousands of choices for material and poles have been in order.  The work to measure, sew, hang, hem is hugely time consuming but rewarding as the final product is much better than shop bought.

I have been doing the simple, straightforward but high volume job of installing light fittings.  So far by count I have completed 20 from around 35 lights so we are on the homeward straight.  The biggest challenge has been a large rustic chandelier in the living area weighing close to sixteen kilos and needing to be hung from a ceiling close to 4m high.  A true test of balance and strength on a single step ladder when Elaine was getting artwork framed in Annecy.

Finally an interesting addition was made to the wall above the fireplace in the Lounge area of Apartment A - Bucky a large Deer trophy. Those opposed to hunting need not worry no animals were hurt in the process as Bucky is made entirely from cardboard. The construction took a while but we think you will agree he is rather handsome.


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Autumn colours and new arrivals

The Three Valleys is a riot of autumn colour although as temperatures drop and winter creeps in this will not last for long. At Chalet Vache Bleue the final touches are being added to the Chalet ready for opening at the start of the season. The Chalet has now officially been named with the addition of a sign on the most prominent wall of the building. This is helpful to the delivery drivers who are frequent visitors as the fit out is completed.

Last week included All Saints Day in France which is a national holiday. On this day many people visit Grave Stones and memorials to leave flowers, the local church in Les Allues was no exception with a mass of colour which looked stunning against the backdrop of the autumn colours in the trees.

Once All Saints day had passed we were reminded of the impending winter season by the arrival of workmen to put the Christmas Lights on the office of the Mayor. The following day a new arrival in Les Allues appeared positioned at the entrance to the village, attached is a picture taken during daylight however we are sure he will look even more splendid at night.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Winter is upon us

A winter chill is in the air. Snow has been falling on the high peaks and the Merinet Web cams are showing the seasonal progression from Autumn to much colder winter temperatures.

Chalet Vache Bleue kitchens and furnishings have been arriving and trades people have been working hard to deliver and install the largest items such as sofas and beds.

Elaine and I leave sunny Australia at the end of October to arrive in Meribel Les Allues to fully commission Chalet Vache Bleue in mid November.  We still have several weeks of hard work ahead to get things ready for our first guests arriving in December.   We have taken 9 weeks of bookings for the 1 bed apartment and 3 bookings for the 3 bed apartment which is pleasing considering this is our first season of operation and there are still around 8 weeks to go before the season opening day.

We still have several peak weeks available and expect that trade will become more brisk when we have completed a professional photo shoot in mid November and loaded the new pictures to our web site and marketing sites.

If you or anyone is still looking for a great place to stay, we are confident that Chalet Vache Bleue have two of the best Chalet Apartments in the 3 valleys.

Bon Ski

Monday, 22 August 2011

August 2011 - thoughts are turning to Winter holidays

As Summer starts to wane in Europe thoughts are turning to Winter holidays and we have started to receive enquiries and bookings for both Apartments. As detailed in our July Post most of the furniture has been selected and will be installed during October and November. First items will be the 2 fully fitted kitchens and the final touches of interior soft furnishings will be complete by mid November
Unfortunately this means our interior photographs are not very interesting and we appreciate that this makes choosing Chalet Vache Bleue for your all important ski holiday a little bit difficult. We hope that you will remain patient and understand that the time taken in choosing the interior elements will result in a great end result and give you a true home away from home.

In the meantime here are some interior pictures which we will add to from the end of October as the delivery vans start to arrive.

One of the en-suite bathrooms Apartment A

One of the bedrooms Apartment A. French Oak flooring and plenty of radiators to keep warm.

En-suite Apartment A

Each of the en-suite bathrooms has a heated floor together with heated towel rail to keep extra cosy.

View of the dining area from the staircase in Apartment A. Both Apartments have staircases with inset lighting

Part of living area Apartment A. The "Occulus" allows you to see who is at the front door without leaving your comfortable leather sofa

The Boot Room Apartment A - a warm dry place for your gear. Handily situated next door to a cloakroom because we all know what happens when you have all your gear on ready for a day on the slopes. It's no problem in Chalet Vache Bleue we have been skiing long enough to have thought of that one!

Oak staircase Apartment B

Apartment A living area

Apartment A built in wardrobes in every bedroom

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Searching for the right furniture and fittings

Beds, dining tables, work surfaces, light fittings art work.......the list is long and the choice is massive, so getting the right quality and the correct contemporary look is no easy matter. Selected items include high quality solutions from:

Currently under assessment:
  • Dining table with polished concrete work surface from Hemisphere Sud
  • Queen / King Beds - to take advantage of over sized rooms, large high quality beds are a prerequisite for a good nights sleepfollowing a day on the slopes
  • Curtains and blinds - always a challenge to blend modern with mountain style 
Furniture will be installed by mid November enabling interior photographs to be taken.

Example of  art work from Charlie Adam Bungalow Graphics

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The snow is falling again. June 2011

Spring in the Alps and winter in Australia although the seasons could have been reversed. On the 1st June 30cm of fresh snow fell in Meribel at village level and it was time to bring out the snow ploughs again. Sadly the lifts are all closed and the warm ground temperature meant the snow soon melted which was probably a good thing as the cows were somewhat confused.

The Chalet Vache Bleue website is now "live". The site includes prices, availability and floor plans for both Apartments, as furniture is installed and kitchens are fitted the interior photographs will be updated.

Although it is "between" seasons in Meribel the Lift Company are busy commencing their scheme of improvements for next season including phase 1 of a new Plattières gondola, the main lift from Mottaret towards Les Menuires and Val Thorens. The link between Chaudanne and Courchevel will also benefit from changes, the Saulire Express will replace the existing Saulire gondola. This new, fast 8-man gondola lift will be installed over the next two summers, cutting travel time from around 20 minutes to 12 minutes.

Plattières Gondola soon to be upgraded

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Change of Season. May 2011

 Spring arrives in the Alps and the builders return to complete jobs postponed until the threat of frost had passed. The outside steps are completed with stone and other small finishing touches are added. Bathroom accessories are added to each of the 5 bathrooms and the time and energy spent selecting them feels worthwhile. Underfloor heating and heated towel rails ensure bathrooms will be cosy warm when winter returns.

En-suite bathroom small Apartment

En-suite bathroom large Apartment

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Spreading the word. March 2011

As the builders complete the final interior finishes it's time to start thinking about sharing Chalet Vache Bleue with the rest of the world. Deciding on the name is a lengthy process, we felt the name should be unique, perhaps related to Australia, not too long, easy to translate, it became quite a task.
Finally Chalet Vache Bleue was chosen, by naming the Chalet after Blue Cow Ski Resort in Australia a little piece of the antipodeans arrives in Meribel. In recent years possibly helped by favourable exchange rates more Australians are discovering Meribel so at least there will be some who understand the name. The French meanwhile are interested to hear about the Cows which are coloured Blue and live in Australia!

Now there is a name the development of the Web Site can commence. It is not easy condensing so much information into a web format, numerous draft pages are written before we can even get to layout stage. Finally by the end of March the first draft of the Web Site is produced and yet another milestone reached.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Shopping. January 2011

With Christmas and New Year over most Europeans return to work leaving the slopes blissfully quiet and the sun shines through cold January days. Despite the perfect skiing conditions shopping is required. The Apartments will be furnished in a contemporary style with occasional nods to the more traditional mountain decor. A ceiling light discovered hanging in the stairwell of a small shop in Moutiers fits the bill perfectly and is the first purchase.

Both Apartments will have fitted kitchens the purchasing of which is a lengthy process. Having said that if you have to spend 1.5 days in a Kitchen Showroom the Alpine town of Annecy would be one of the best places to do so. Having final understood the subtle differences between French and Australian kitchen design the reward is more interesting shopping in the Town centre. Annecy is a lock town at the northern end of Lac D'Annecy just 35km from Geneva. The town is a warren of lanes, passages and tiered houses, below and between which flow branches of the canal. Annecy is the town elected for the French bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, if successful events will be held throughout the surrounding area which will boost visitors numbers dramatically.