Thursday, 7 January 2016

Switzerland for New Year

swiss alps
This Twixmas, I was lucky enough to be treated to a family break away skiing in beautiful Switzerland, a trip which has been in the diary since April. Eight of the Beeslee clan (plus partners) ditched rainy England to spend New Year in the Swiss Alps with a few family friends.

swiss mountains panorama
Having skied with school between the ages of 14 and 17, we were a little nervous about hitting the slopes 8 years since our last snow foray. However, a quick trip to Hemel Hempstead soon sorted us out and we borrowed/bought new ski gear for our trip. If you are off skiing soon, be sure to check out my packing for a ski trip post for tips.

My parents had booked a gorgeous chalet apartment in Les Diablerets, Switzerland. They hadn't skied until they were in their 40's, and are now skiing often more than once a year. My Dad was sending daily weather and snowcast updates before the trip- the enthusiasm was fairly infectious.

Les Diablerets is a traditional and tiny ski village about 2 hours by train from Geneva. Travelling at this time of year meant the flights were a little toppy and the train in Switzerland wasn't dead cheap- around the same as you could expect in the UK for a 2 hour journey.

The village itself isn't overly commercial or resort-like, which is just up our street. The traditional restaurants, chocolate box houses, Alpine lodges and babbling brooks were perfectly quaint and super photogenic- I barely put my phone away. A few gorgeous little restaurants such as Auberge de La Poste and Chez La Croix were selling local favourites and Swiss produce including potato rosti, Raclette and fondue - ideal for tucking ourselves into for an evening of wine and food after a day on the slopes. We also enjoyed the charming Salon de The for post-ski tea and cake (how English...).

The snow itself wasn't brilliant for this time of year, our friends who ski there often said that this is a one in a few years phenomenon, and sadly we had come on a bad snow December. There were patches in the valley where our village was, however, to ski we tripped up to Glacier 3000, one of the highest points in Switzerland to get our piste on. The lack of snow across Europe meant that it was really busy on the first couple of days as our high point had attracted those in search of snow from across France and Switzerland. However, after a fresh dusting of snow on New Years Eve made January 1st 2016 the best New Years Day ever, with plenty of powder and quiet slopes!

On New Years Eve, the Glacier was too dangerous to ski on because of a white out (which we were sad about but it produced fabulous powder for the next day), so we pulled on our thermals and waterproofs and walked miles across the gorgeous landscape. Our destination was a frozen lake which had the perfect hill for sledging- Chris had his first tobogganing experience and I think he loved it! There was also the most adorable little cafe and restaurant on the edge of the lake called Lac Retaud, the perfect pit stop from some post-sledging tea! This place has impeccable views of the frozen lake and mountains and is absolutely beautiful for such an isolated location. Inside is a chic and sophisticated wooden design, picture postcard perfect.

Spending New Years Eve abroad was definitely something I was excited about, I'm such a Christmas person that New Year is always a bit... meh... This year in Switzerland was really magical; my Mum and her friend prepared delicious curries for 16 of us, and there were plenty of drinks too. We played board games (turns out that after over 7 years Chris and I sucked at Mr and Mrs...) and chatted about our plans for 2016. At almost midnight, we headed out to the village centre where a DJ was playing some music by the Xmas tree, as more and more people joined a brilliant atmosphere came about. We then counted down in French and there wasn't a chime of Auld Lang Syne in the air. We then watched the stunning fireworks displays which echoed around the valley and Chinese lanterns launched.   No super dressing up, just black jeans and a fancy top, and a fluffy hat when we stepped outside for fireworks. After the display, it was back to the chalet for some more champagne and to watch Jools Holland bring in the British new year (of course...!)

Naturally the snow came down heavily on the day we left the village. Sad to not see it utterly coated in white, but had there've been bad snow when we wanted to ski, we wouldn't have been able to, so I'm glad we got to see it in the end. We definitely have the skiing bug and I imagine it wont be long before we book up our next break - massive thanks to my parents for taking us away on this beautifully festive break!

snowy chalet in les diablerets
Are any of you off skiing or to snowy locations this winter? Would love to hear tips and see pictures!

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