Last month, Gallery tested out our very own short-hop ski operator, weekendskitrips.com. A spur of the moment call saw us turning up at the Elizabeth Terminal after a lost passport fiasco with our dinner in Tupperware. There?s nothing like good planning.
We were off to a good start, I was already having a brilliant time and we hadn?t even reached the snow. I don?t know if we were just lucky, but we were with a fantastic group of people. There were a group of seven lads, some who had never been skiing/snowboarding before, some individuals who were avid skiers, a family, two girl friends and a few couples ? all who seemed to have the same idea of heading off for a break ?away from it all? in the mountains. The whole experience has completely changed my view of ?group holidaying? – it is brilliant to travel with a load of like-minded people.
At 11 o?clock I was utterly fascinated watching what appeared to be a normal coach turn into a travelling hotel. It is hard to explain but the seats transformed into totally flat bunk beds. The television was turned off , the lights dimmed and curtains drawn, and everyone happily chatted until sleep tookover.
Waking naturally in the morning I looked out to see high snow-capped mountains either side of us, as our coach drove along a winding mountain path. Shortly we arrived at our destination, Hotel Le Chantilly, in Cauterets. The English-speaking owners Mary and Phil greeted us all and got us into the right rooms. Then we all headed downstairs for a traditional continental breakfast.
After breakfast lift passes were distributed, we popped into the hire shop on the way to the ski-lifts and then we ascended in the gondola directly up into the snow-covered mountain tops. By 11am we were off on our first runs. Cauterets is surrounded by the Pyrenees National Park and as I headed down the bright white snow-covered piste it was hard to take in the stunning backdrop. There really is something therapeutic about being in the mountains ? it is literally a million miles away from the world of work. My only tasks were to try and cover the 36kms of runs Cauterets has to offer and to improve my parallel skiing style. Bliss.
After an idyllic lunch, watching European skiers jet by in their patchwork/neon/all-in-ones, I headed off to my ski lesson with Mr ?ben za neeezz ?, and my friends went to practice their jumps in the snow park. At 5 our group met up in the bar at the bottom of the slopes and exchanged stories of the day. One of the lads who had never been boarding before was already racing down reds and another beginner had (purposefully) pulled off his first jump, unlike me, who managed to get quite a lot of ?air? but totally unintentionally.
At 6pm we all headed back down the mountain and through the quaint picturesque, Spanish-influenced town (via a traditional boulangerie which made foot-long chocolate twists!) back to our hotel. After a siesta I headed down to the dining room ready for a big dinner!
On Sunday we had breakfast in the hotel, and spent the day on the mountain. After another delicious dinner we left Cauterets for the overnight trip back to St. Malo. We checked our baggage in at the harbour and i had a lovely day; strolling along the beach and then settling in for a long lunch. Then we hopped on the ferry and arrived in Jersey at 6 o?clock.
As a group we managed to get off relatively injury-free; bar a black toe, several bruised buttocks and sore thighs all round. After repeated goodbyes to our new found friends, we all returned to normality from our fantastic weekend trip.
The cost of the trip was £305 per person which includes: ferries, sleeper coach, hotel accomodation, breakfast and dinner on Saturday and Sunday, 2 days ski lift pass, and winter sports insurance.
The extras are 30 euros for snowboard hire / 40 euros for ski hire. For 5-13 euros you can leave all your boards/skis etc up the mountain ready for you and if you fancy a private lesson with an English-speaking instructor, it?s 33 euros per hour. We had a great time, give it a try.