A postcard from Pourchery – Monty’s Adventures in the Alps
Salut, les chiens! As a chien du monde with a holiday home in the French Pyrenees, back in January this year I decided it was time to learn to ski. Skiing is an activity practised by humans, where they clip planks to their feet and deliberately fall down mountains, and then drink lots of beer.
We’ve got several ski resorts close to us in the Pyrenees, but this year the snow there was a little disappointing, so we decided to head over to Alpes d’Huez in the Alps. It’s a six hour drive from my home in the Pyrenees, but the snow looked great, and just right for a novice ski hound like myself.
We stayed in a tiny village called Pourchery, just outside Vaujany. There wasn’t much there, but it was very picturesque. Our accommodation was the Chalet Solneige, owned by lovely Dutch people, who have a resident golden retriever called Yara. Yara and I got on pretty well – she’d never met a real English dog before, and was charmed by my accent and manners.
The Chalet is very dog friendly, as we dogs are allowed to roam all over the public areas, provided we mind our manners, and there aren’t any human guests staying that suffer from those silly allergies. Our room was in a little converted outbuilding, with a well-positioned radiator for my bed.
On our first day, my people went off for a morning’s skiing. Pieter and Therese from the Chalet offered to come in and walk me, but I decided I’d rather catch up on my sleep after the long drive. In the afternoon, we went for a walk out of Pourchery, but we had to stick to the roads as all the footpaths were snowed up.
On our second day, it was time for me to get on the slopes. Non-skiing humans can get a pedestrian pass to ride the lifts, and dogs – of course – travel free. We can only go on the gondola-type lifts though – I’m pretty cosmopolitan, but I’m not sure I could manage a chair lift.
Mike went off with his skis, and Sara and I went to the lift office in Vaujany to get our tickets for the lift. We decided on a Zone 2 ticket, costing 11 euros, so that we could go to the top of the mountain. I wasn’t very keen on the lift stairs and platform, as they were made from a metal grille that I could see the ground through. Most disturbing! I’m used to riding in elevators, so the lift itself was no problem, and the lift attendant made a big fuss of me. After a short ride up to L’Alpette, we were on the slopes at 2050 metres up!
There were several pisted pedestrian trails starting from the lift entrance, so we decided on a walk so that I could find my snow legs. I was very surprised when some humans passed us, gliding along on their planks and making a swisha-swisha noise – surely humans don’t move like that normally? It was pretty confusing for a spaniel, but I loved the feeling of the nice scrunchy snow – very refreshing on the paws.
After my morning constitutional, it was time to meet Mike for an early lunch at the Auberge de l’Alpette. The waitress bought me a refreshing bowl of iced water, which I didn’t really want, but drank a little to be polite. I don’t eat a lot of human food as I have to watch my figure, but I did sneak a couple of chips as I’d had a hard morning, and they were fried in beef dripping – scrummy!
Next stop was back on the ski lift and up to the Dôme des Petites Rousses at 2800 metres for my first skiing lesson.
Now, I can exclusively reveal that skiing is quite difficult. The plank things are a bit slippery and hard to sit on, and I soon decided that I’d rather go back to the restaurant for some more après-ski, which is the bit I’m really good at. The walking trails are fabulous though, and well worth the journey.
Skiing is very tiring. I slept all the way back in the car, and they said I snored. I didn’t.
Phileas Fact Box, Vaujany, France
- To find out about the ski area, walking trails and activities, see http://www.vaujany.com/en/hiver/accueil.php
- Chalet Solneige: Lieu dit Pourchery, 38114 Vaujany, France. Tel. +33 ( 0) 476 79 88 18 (both Therese and Pieter speak excellent English). Website: www.solneige.com. Prices start from 525 euros per person per week half board, 5 euro/day supplement for dogs. Prices per day available on request.