Fresh powder and blue skies on my last morning in Val d’Isère

9th April 2016, by Dave Watts

Powder on the Solaise pistes on Saturday morning

Powder on the Solaise pistes on Saturday morning

I had a 1.20pm departure today (Saturday) for my flight back to Stansted from Chambéry. Imagine my delight when I looked out of the window at 7am to see three inches of fresh snow on the trees down in Val d’Isere village. My delight was compounded when I looked at the web cams and saw that Solaise, Bellevarde and Le Fornet summits were in brilliant sunshine, above a layer of cloud and fog.

So 8.45am saw me joining a handful of others waiting for the first chairlift up Solaise five minutes later. And sure enough, we soon entered dense cloud and fog for most of the ride before bursting through into brilliant sunshine and blue skies a few metres below the top chairlift station.

The Solaise ski area was a magnificent sight – a few inches of fresh powder everywhere and no-one to be seen. I headed up the Madelaine chair first and got fresh tracks in boot-deep powder over the groomed piste on the Fourche blue run. Then up the Glacier chair and the same on a blue run back down.

Up again and, just as I was approaching it, the ‘up and over’ Leissières chair to the Le Fornet area opened. So I took that and enjoyed more powder runs there until, reluctantly I decided that I’d better head down to get ready for my transfer. But I’d had over two hours of fab skiing with over 3600m vertical to end my visit.

Friday had started well on rock hard frozen pistes and sun up high. But by 11am cloud and fog covered the whole mountain and white-out conditions curtailed the fun. So after an early lunch with the tourist office communications bosses, I called it a day and headed for the excellent spa in my 5-star chalet-hotel Savoie run by Hotelplan (with brands such as Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit Ski sharing it). Until this season it was run as a conventional 5-star hotel and Hotelplan is determined to maintain that 5-star service. More on the Savoie in a future blog.

Thursday was one of the best days of my season. Brilliant blue skies and cold temperatures, making for excellent spring skiing as the snow softened, first on east-facing slopes, then on south-facing and finally on west-facing. I had a great day skiing on Bellevarde and in Tignes, made extra-special by an excellent lunch in the splendid Panoramic table-service restaurant at the foot of the Grande Motte cable car – delicious food and excellent service in atmospheric surroundings with lots of wood and artefacts and the waiting staff wearing berets.

Sadly, the queues for the cable car were unacceptable. The sign said 20 mins wait. But the truth was more like an hour. They need to update that cable car – it is antiquated and can’t cope with demand.

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