Four Shires Magazine

Sep 01st
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Home Editorial Editorial Alpine Experience a Joy!

Alpine Experience a Joy!

alpineI didn' t quite know what to expect on this holiday - having never been to the Alps before. I have heard stories of heroic mountaineers battling their way up the north face of daunting mountains and I have seen healthy, sporty types returning from 'les vacances' telling stories of their athletic prowess. I had even heard that during the pre-war years sick people were sent to the Alps to clear their chests - the clean air proving to be the perfect tonic. With these thoughts buzzing around my head we arrived in L' Oree Des Cimes in Peisey Vallandry, not far from the alpine town of Bourg St Maurice late one evening in July with the light failing and a twisting switchback road nearly getting the better of me and our Volkswagen hire car!
Our flights to the resort had been extremely easy to arrange - we flew from Luton to Geneva in less than two hours - we could have flown from Birmingham, or any other London airport. All the flights departed at very sociable times and the return times were easy on the body too!
The drive from Geneva to Vallandry took about 2.5 hours and as we have been told many times before, driving on French 'Peages' or motorway toll roads, is nothing like the stop-start saga found on British motorways. We didn't once get caught in a queue and the scenic surroundings meant the trip was almost as relaxing for the driver as it was for the passengers!
Of course, holidays in the Alps are all about the mountains and  we were priviledged enough to have six days of beautiful blue skies in which to view them. Gazing on snow capped mountains in 32 degree heat under deep blue skies is an uplifting experience and the inhabitants of our little part of France were doing all they could to keep the 'mystical' side of things going in a nicely Gallic way. On our arrival we found that previous week had enjoyed a 'well being' week - 'bien etre'  you know  -  and a jazz week had just finished. Django Rheinhart and cow bells seemed a bit of an incongruous mixture, but in such beautiful surroundings - who cared?


Part of the attraction of the beautiful complex we were staying in was the array of healthy options available to us if we ever got fed up of the activities available away from the ski chalet. Outdoor activities are, of course, legion in the Alps and we took part in horse riding, donkey treks, hiking and white water rafting as well as walking on wires suspended 50ft up in the trees! Of course, there was rock climbing, paragliding, via ferrata and cycling as well as many other exciting things to be experienced. However, there were some days when one wanted to relax in a more traditional way. Our complex boasted a beautiful indoor swimming pool with a gym, hydrotherapy pool, hot tub and spa centre. I have to admit that I passed on the chance to be soothed by one of the young French masseueses - but my partner Kate, eagerly looked forward to the experience.
The spa and beauty centre (which is a feature of the all the CGH residences in France) offers many rejuvenating massages and treatments, guaranteed to heighten the 'feel good' factor already healthily boosted by the wonderful surroundings. Facials, body massage, body scrubs and wraps are offered as well as manicures, waxing and aromatherapy. Kate enjoyed a leg treatment 'apr├ęs la marche' which involves 'a soothing leg massage, foot massage and an application of gels from hip to toe to increase lymph circulation'. She found the experience sublime, especially as we had recently finished a hike in the mountains which left the feet feeling a little weary!
Having spoken to other guests staying at L'Oree Des Cimes it seemed that the spa treatments were better than many found in Paris with the added benefit of the Alpine experience complementing ones feeling of relaxation. Particular favourites with other guests included the body scrubs with brown sugar and grape seed oil or cocoa bean chips; body wraps with honey or chocolate and aromatherapy treatments with one of many delicious essential oils.
Whilst not indulging in the beauty treatments - I took particular advantage of the swimming pool, hydrotherapy centre and hot tub. The hot tub was wonderfully positioned on a sun deck to the rear of the swimming pool and I noticed that every morning the area was patronised by sun worshippers who lazed on loungers before spending five minutes in the tub to emerge ready for more sun. It never failed to amaze me that, despite being only 1000 metres from the snow line one could sunbathe in glorious sunshine enjoying something like a Mediterranean experience in far superior surroundings.
Our apartment at L'Oree Des Cimes was on a par with many four or five star resorts in Britain and could not really be faulted. On the nights we didn't eat out, it was a pleasure to cook in the apartment, enjoying a wonderful array of Savoyard dishes based heartily on sausage, meat, cheese and potatoes. A traditional French holiday could never be enjoyed without good bread and bottles of wine and all were easily available in the village of Peisey Vallandry or in Bourg St Maurice nearby. One has to say that enjoying freshly baked croissants, coffee and jam whilst gazing on the majestic beauty of Mont Blanc really was a highlight of the trip and something not soon forgotten.



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