Saturday, January 17, 2009

Skiing on Mont Ventoux...Who Knew?

When I saw my friend Angela Billows the other day, she looked positively radiant, all rosy and glowing. Turns out she had just returned from skiing. “In the Alps?” I asked, but Angela—a costume designer for film and TV who lives in Tarascon--had actually been much closer to home, on Mont Ventoux. I had no idea there was skiing there so I asked her for all the info...and she sent this.

If, like me, you enjoy skiing, but have a husband who hates the cold and won’t be enticed to take a ski holiday, then the answer is to look for something closer to home. I found it about 20 kms north of Carpentras, on the north side of the mountain. The resort is called Mont Serein. I went last week Tuesday (before the heavy snow fall) and had a great day out. I haven’t skied for at least ten years, and so I stayed on the lower green slopes, which were perfect for getting my ski legs back. My friend ventured to the higher red and black slopes. There are nine lifts in all, all of them button lifts (also called platter lifts or téléski), which can be a bit tricky at first if you’re not used to them. (I gave much cause for hilarity as, time and again, I fell splat on my face with my skis crossed behind me having let go too quickly or too soon!) There’s a lovely old traditional hotel on the slopes, to the right of the green runs, called Chalet Liotard, where we had lunch. It had a huge roaring fire and beautiful views onto the snow-covered surrounding countryside. I had the plat du jour, which was biche (roe deer), for €11. My friend had steak and chips. It can get very cold and windy at Mont Serein, I’m told, and busy at the weekends. The day we went, however, there were few people and no queues! Everyone was very friendly and helpful and we felt we knew the entire ski staff by the end of the day. There are a couple of ski-hire shops--my skis and poles cost just €16 for the day--and the ski pass cost just €15. And we were home by 6 p.m., in time to get to the shops to buy cheese to make fondue! 

Station de ski du Mont Serein Mont Ventoux versant Nord, 04-90-63-42-02, www.stationdumontserein.com.  

Chalet Liotard au Mont Serein 04-90-60-68-38.

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