So like I mentioned in The new 2018 Winter Hobby, Helen and I were invited to join the Sims family (my sister Karen, and her family) for Christmas 2018.
Ian, Karen, Jamie, Josh, and Emily (the Sims Family) go to Méribel every Christmas; so frequently that a few years back they bought their own chalet. Cool! and even cooler that we got an invite to join them. It has been, I dunno, maybe 25 years since Karen and I spent a Christmas together, so what an amazing invitation from Karen!

The Flights

Firstly, the flights.
So we flew business class with Emirates, thanks entirely to Ian and Karen, who organised our flights.
This is not the first time we’ve flown business class, but we’ve not yet grown used to it :)

The access to the lounges (free food!), the beds on the plane! Wonderful!
There was basically no timezone adjustment when we arrived at France; having a bed on the plane lets us sort out our sleeping while we’re travelling. I remember travelling economy and complaining about sleep. None of that in business, you just lie down in your bed and sleep.
If you get a chance, give it a go. It really does make long haul flights bearable (even enjoyable!).

And, since we flew with Emirates on the MASSIVE airbus A380, it has a bar on the plane !
No, we didn’t get smashed drunk :) but sitting in the bar talking with other travellers is a welcome change of scenery when you’re sitting on a plane for 16 hours (Auckland to Dubai), and then again for another 8 hours (Dubai to Geneva).

So yeah, we flew into Geneva, got the Switzerland stamps in our passports, then immediately jumped in a car that drove us to France, which is only 10kms away, then on to Méribel in the French Alps.

Cool drive through Annecy heading to south east France, then an even cooler drive up the Alps to Méribel, Les Allues, France.

Chalet Carcajou

So we arrive at Chalet Carcajou!
Here’s some links if you’re interested in seeing Chalet Carcajou

Well what can I say ?!?!? This place is BEAUTIFUL !
We’re in a double room on the second floor, opening on to the front deck, with a spectacular view of Méribel ski valley from our bed! breath taking!

The place was catered by a fabulous group of young brits from Ski Cuisine.

Jack (the Chef), Robin, Sarah, and Tom (the Chalet hosts) we’re very cool people. They all skiied and snowboarded, and described themselves as “seasonaire’s”.
They did a wonderful job making our stay as comfortable as imaginable. Great food, great people, a driver to get us to La Chaudanne (where the lifts, and bubbles start), just amazing guys ! thanks for helping make a holiday of a lifetime.

Snowboarding at Méribel

3 months away from the snow means I’m rusty ! and so is Helen.
Our first day we followed a guide to Courchevel (which is another valley in Les 3 Vallées - the 3 Valleys). There had been 2 very large dumps of snow the week before we arrived, followed by 2 days of rain. That means the snow was hard and icy. Our guide Rab reckoned the sun that hits Courchevel in the morning might soften the snow a bit, he was right.
Day two, and every other day following, we stayed in Méribel valley. The snow got softer, and softer through the week.
Helen took up an offer of lessons with Parallel Lines, and I joined in with her 3rd lesson.

We worked on carving, body position, and getting confidence up.

I had set myself a target in my head, early in the week, that I would board from the summit of Méribel valley, Sommet de la Saulire.
On day 4 Helen braved the Saulire bubble, and boarded down!
I went back and did it again by myself on January 1st 2019 (New years day snow boarding !! woohoo ).

Got a video of course ! :) I’m pretty slow, and by Jan 1st my fitness (or lack of fitness) was really starting to slow me down.

 

The last day spent on the snow with my sister was a huge highlight for me. I’m not sure Karen realises just how special that felt to me, sharing an amazing experience with my sister. Half way down I met Helen … what could be better than spending the last day at Méribel with these two ladies on the snow. Big love

Driving across france

Most of the Sims family had flown to France (well Geneva), but Ian got the job of driving with ski gear and Christmas present in the Range Rover. He asked if I wanted to drive back to England .. YES I DO!
I was excited to drive across France, so on Jan 2nd Helen and I loaded the car, and we headed to Surrey via a nights stay in Troyes, France.

So, first thing, driving on the right hand side of the road, that was fun :)
Also, speed limits ! The speed limit is 130kph, but speed is not policed like in NZ, so sitting at 90mph (144kph) is pretty standard for everyone.
I even hit the ton a few times (100mph), just cruisin’ eh :)

The view started off quite interesting, miles of plains, filled with wind turbines, and didn’t change for hundreds of miles.

We arrived at Troyes at about 7pm and checked into our Hotel, Le Champ des Oiseaux.
What an amazing hotel in the heart of Medieval Troyes.
The hotel recommended Chez Felix for dinner, so we head out for a walk through town, walking down randomly found alley ways of old Medieval Troyes, finally setting down in the restaurant for Duck and Prawns, with a bottle of red wine, followed by selection de fromages (a selection of cheeses).

Day two was full of similar scenery, hundreds of miles of plains, filled with wind turbines.

We finally reached Calais, to board the ferry.
Once again Karen had gone all out, and booked us in the club lounge, so yet another super comfortable, luxurious travel experience.

An hour later we’re staring at the White Cliffs of Dover … the White Cliffs of Dover !!
They’re big, white, cliffy, and in Dover!
What a cool view that I never expected to see in my life.

An hour and a half of sedate (65 mph) driving gets us to the White House in Tyrrell’s Wood, Surrey. That’s the Sims family home.

The Sims Family

Apart from Helen, my sister Karen is the person I text the most. So any time spent with her I really, really love.
And spending time with the kids is so much fun. They’ve grown up not really knowing me, but being in a Chalet, means every evening is spent just “hanging out” with the family. We played card games and charades, watched tv together, swapped stories of skiing, shared our future plans, and our stories from long ago; it was wonderful!

The two days in England allowed us to meet Emily’s horse Orbit, and Karen’s horse Connor. We took a walk through the gardens at Wisley with Jamie and Josh, and chatted. Nothing special, just idle chat that makes treasured memories of my nephews, and niece. BIG LOVE

I played pool with Ian, walked around the White House garden with Helen. This is the stuff dream family holidays are made of.

And Finally

This holiday may have been formed around skiing and snowboarding, but, I’m not surprised at all by this, the highlight by far was time spent with my family.
Ian, Karen, Jamie, Josh, and Emily: I love you guys.
Helen: I love you too, and this was an adventure eh ? :)

All the Photos

I took some photos :) click on them to view large version of the pics.

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