Nice is located at the base of the Southern French Alps. The ski resort of Valberg is about two hours away and so it seemed that Morgan and I had no excuse to not spend one of our days in Nice to go skiing.
The bus ride may be two hours, but it is two hours through some gorgeous alpine scenery. As we climbed higher and higher into the mountains, snow began to appear, as did skinny pine trees and little stone chalets hugging to the cliffs and rocks against the wind and the elements. Morgan remarked that the rocks looked more like home than anything we had seen in France thus far. I agree.
After a few intermediary stops, Morgan and I had arrived at Valberg, a popular ski resort with a lot of slopes. We had arranged our ski rental in advance, which as students meant it cost practically nothing. Students also get a discount on lift tickets, so we couldn’t have been happier about our great luck. Skiing in France is evidently a lot more affordable than it is in Canada, luckily for us.
The morning started off cold, windy and wet. The falling snow wasn’t really snow, but more like sleet. The wind caused it to blow right into your eyes and made it hard to see without squinting at times. Morgan and I weren’t sure how we could stay the whole day at this rate, since we were fairly wet, very cold, and a little wind burnt. We didn’t need to be so concerned however. We headed inside a chalet to warm up and eat, and when we returned outside again, the weather had completely renewed itself. I cannot picture a better place nor a better afternoon to be skiing. From the summit of Dreccia, 6,600 feet high, with the blue skies and the absence of clouds, we could see across the Alps to Nice, the Mediterranean, Italy, and even across the sea to Corsica. Every slope seemed to give a more beautiful view than the last. We were in absolute awe by the beauty of our surroundings.
A word about the slope “levels” in France – they are definitely underrated rather than overrated in terms of difficulty. Back home in Canada, I ski black diamond. I have done a double black diamond before, albeit with a touch of hesitation. But usually, I can ski nearly all the slopes on offer. In Valberg, Morgan and I took one look from the top of the red slopes (a 3/5 in terms of difficulty) and looked at each other with huge eyes. We were stuck up on this mountain with the only way down being this slope, the supposed easiest one on that mountain. This was rated a red course? The French seem to like their skiing the way they like their espresso – no sugar. You go big or stay home. Us Canadians must have looked like a pair of wimps!
We did make it down the mountain and we did do all the red levelled runs on offer, we just had to warm up to them at first. Even the family runs were no bunny hills – little French children were speeding around like demons and a few times I thought they were going to clip my skis and send one of us down the mountain face much faster than intended.
Being in France, you can get away with a few things you can’t do in Canada. Most of these involve wine. You can bring wine almost anywhere in France, so Morgan and I brought up a bottle of sparkling Muscat Rosé with some jetable champagne glasses to enjoy at one of the summits. We were living a dream.