For anyone else on a skiing holiday in Tignes last week, it would have been a pretty frustrating week. The presence of 3000 Oxbridge students meant crowded runs, packed pubs, fluorescent paint smears throughout the lodges, a ransacking of all the bread and cheap wine from the supermarket and the general giggliness/obnoxiousness that you only get in undergrads. This made for some very disgruntled holiday-goers, like the Australian couple I met who described themselves as being “as cheesed off as hornets in a bottle” at the Varsity crowd (fair, but way to overegg the Aussie idiom pudding…)
More importantly though, we were loving it!
The snow conditions were not amazing by European standards. I think we saw about 3cm snowfall all week, and only a third of the resort was open. But it was still remarkable for so early on in the season; the fact that you can ski at all in early December is guaranteed by the lofty altitude (the top lift is at 3456m) and Grande Motte Glacier. By my standards, the snow was fantastic – 3cm is pretty much what you get over an entire Australian ski season. I’m used to skiing on ice, grass, mud and the occasional bit of manmade snow, and indulging people as they rail that Mt. Buller’s Bourke Street run should be re-named ‘Berzerk Street’ (yes, ha ha). Tignes might want to consider re-gifting its motto to KY or Durex or something, but I think it earns the right to declare itself “Tignes, official pleasure supplier!”
The accommodation was perfect for our needs. Given that the trip was so inexpensive, I was expecting a hostel-type situation with ringworm-ridden showers and multi-storey galley-slave bunk beds. The Maeva Grande Motte apartments, however, were clean, spacious and fairly modern. It was just 5 mins walk (ok, in ski boots maybe a 10 min hobble) from the funiculaire, and right on the main street of Val Claret. The apartment was self-catered, which made for lots of fun dinner parties. Of course, being French, all the crockery was so tiny that it was like eating from a doll’s tea set; evidently French Women Don’t Get Fat because they can only fit a few strands of pasta or cube of cheese on a plate.
I was also lucky to have chosen excellent roommates. One just didn’t show up, meaning I got a queen bed to myself. The other 2 girls are close friends from my course and we all got on super well. It was a far cry from the last shared ski holiday my family went on, where our family friends’ Dad cluttered up the apartment with his yoghurt maker, bread maker and espresso machine, threw a fit when he ran out of yeast and yoghurt culture, and refused to talk to me for 2 days when I didn’t allow him to play ‘erk’ in Scrabble.
There was a great group of people to ski with, and I also met some lovely Cambridge kids through my ski lessons. Our instructor Marie was hilarious, and her vivid descriptions helped hone my technique. When skiing I now visualise myself as ‘driving a turnip cart to the market’, and moving my hips like ‘a lady with the tail of a fish’.