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LIVE TR: Evasion Mont Blanc (St Gervais+), 19th-26th Jan 2019 - now with photos

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Congratulations, @denfinella, another epic trip and great reports, great reading. snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Summary

- a very enjoyable and hassle-free trip, decent weather and snow, and no days disrupted by poor weather. Our chilliest trip to date, so we were grateful that we were skiing one of the lowest major ski areas in France!
- the skiing: The Evasion Mont Blanc ski areas are a varied bunch, and complement each other perfectly. The biggest area (Mont d'Arbois, Mont Joly, Rochebrune) probably had the most interesting pistes, and perhaps the best choice of mountain restaurants. Across the valley, the Portes du Mont Blanc sector had (unexpectedly) the loveliest views, and a great sensation of travel on the journey to La Giettaz. Les Contamines had the best snow and the slickest lift system. Cordon was friendly, affordable and perfect for arrival day. None of the areas are perfect, but taken together they form a very compelling whole. A car is required to get the most out of the area.
- things we especially liked: stunning scenery; perfect snow quality (even if a bit thin in some spots); consistently good food in mountain restaurants (but see below); good value lift pass; pistes of all types and gradients (99% of which were open); getting 8 days skiing from an 8 day holiday
- things we weren't so keen on: lack of snowmaking on some key runs into Megeve; high food prices; lack of decent boardercross courses


Costs (total for 2 adults, 8 days):

Flights (Easyjet EDI-GVA, incl. 1 hold bag): £162
Car hire (Enterprise from Swiss side, incl. winter tyres / fuel / toll roads): £184
Accommodation (5-person apartment in St Gervais town centre): £208
Lift passes (Evasion Mont Blanc 7 days, Cordon afternoon pass): £450
Ski & boot hire (7 days - though used for 8 days): £112
Total: £1116

Comparison with previous trips:

This is our 7th ski trip together (discounting Scotland day trips). Previous trip reports are linked below if I wrote one. Prices are in total for 2 people, for flights (incl. baggage) + transfer (incl. petrol, tolls, snow chains etc. if hiring a car) + accommodation + lift passes + ski & boot hire. Food is excluded. Trips have all been DIY except 2014 (Crystal) & 2017 (Sunweb for accommodation and passes only). Most have been 7 days skiing, except 6 days in 2014 & 2015, and 8 days in Jan 2019.

Feb 2014: Soll (SkiWelt), Austria £1125
Jan 2015: Alpe d'Huez, France (+ day trips to Les 2 Alpes) £1098
Jan 2016: Les Carroz (Grand Massif), France £1036
Mar 2017: Belle Plagne (Paradiski), France £1148
Jan 2018: Notre Dame de Bellecombe 1150 (Espace Diamant), France £1094
Mar 2018: Ponte di Legno (Passo Tonale), Italy (+ day trips to Pejo, Monte Altissimo & Aprica) £1043
Jan 2019: St Gervais (Evasion Mont Blanc various areas), France (+ day trip to Cordon) £1116


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Mon 25-02-19 22:52; edited 1 time in total
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@denfinella, excellent report on an area too often overlooked by UK snowsport regulars. Don’t tell everyone though.

Really enjoyed reading it. Very useful trip price comparisons too.
snowHead
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After Sunday night, any concerns about lack of snow no longer be needed
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@denfinella, How in God's name did you find a 5-person apartment for 208 pounds for a week in St. G? Likewise, ski and boot hire for 112 pouinds for 2 people for 7 days? The other prices seem in line, but those are crazy low.
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"his wife runs front of house. I like her but she can be fierce and takes a dim view of people turning up without a reservation!"

Sounds to me like an ar5e who is in the wrong job and doesn't deserve any business.... Shocked
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Thanks all. Yes, looks like they've had another big dump which is great news. Though not sure how much sun we'd have had if we were there this week!

@Pasigal, apartment was through Airbnb (2 bunks, double sofa bed and a single pull out mattress - but there were only 2 of us staying there so might have brought down the price?).

Ski hire was through Skiset in Combloux, booked online with a discount code, and the 7th day is free. £112 for 2 is actually a little more than we usually pay.

The real bargains in my opinion were the EMB lift pass, which included a day free, and car hire (by Geneva standards).

Bergmeister, are you sure you've posted in the right thread? Laughing
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
T Bar wrote:
@pam w,
Completely agree about the excellent reports, maybe it's a bloke thing. Puzzled


And here's me thinking Denfinella was female (like Barbarella...) Embarassed
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@denfinella, Well played, sir, on the accommodations. I have tried for years to convince my wife that we can go cheap and cheerful but she always insists on more creature comforts...

I thought the EMB passes were a good deal, too. We got a family pass for 4 for under 800 euros.

I have my own boots but have never paid less than 100 euros for skis, but I tend to rent at a pretty high level because I feel like the skis are in better condition.
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denfinella,

Yes - that was Jedster's description of the hostess in one of his favourite mountain restaurants. Shocked

Sounds like you had a great trip & thanks for the detailed reports.
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@Bergmeister, oh yes, I'd forgotten about that comment from Jedster! My user name is named after a place in Scotland, which is itself named after a lady, so it's a bit misleading. As for whether I'm a bloke or not...

@Pasigal, cheap and cheerful definitely the way to go, though a line has to be drawn somewhere wink This one wasn't actually too bad at all. It would have been too small if there were actually 5 people staying there though. That's a fantastic family pass price! And for such a big area. The ski hire thing is an old chestnut - we've always paid for the cheapest category but we aren't afraid to ask to swap if we're unhappy with the equipment. That's happened a couple of times with ill-fitting boots and once with skis which had a big dent in the bases. You're probably right that the skis aren't in such good condition, but we're happy with what we've got so far... maybe that's because it all seems great compared to the hire stock in the Scottish ski centres Twisted Evil
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Quote:

"his wife runs front of house. I like her but she can be fierce and takes a dim view of people turning up without a reservation!"

Sounds to me like an ar5e who is in the wrong job and doesn't deserve any business....


Yep - if you read Trip Advisor you'll see the place gets average reviews. Read more deeply and you'll see that is a case of "one foot in hot water, one foot in iced water" - reviews split between glowing and very grumpy! And both have a very reasonable point of view.
The reason I like it so much is:
a) THE BEST mountain food I have ever had outside Italy and comparable with the best in italy
b) a lovely setting / location - access by off piste, snow shoes or horse drawn sleigh makes it special

The hostess is definitely an acquired taste but it is her house and her rules. She is lovely with us but we respect her rules. Perfectly reasonable that people take a "customer is king" attitude in which case they should probably go somewhere else. They will be missing out. I think it is well worth the effort to
a) reserve (she copes well with my mangled french when I phone and there is even an on-line booking facility!)
b) not ignore the sign saying they don't serve only drinks at lunch time
c) comply with the sign that says no phones in the dining room next to a massive wooden mallet and a smashed Nokia!

Very Happy Very Happy
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
[quote="jedster"]
Quote:

c) comply with the sign that says no phones in the dining room next to a massive wooden mallet and a smashed Nokia!

Very Happy Very Happy

I could do with one of them in my house
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@jedster, it sounds brilliant! Laughing
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Photos now added to each day's post.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@denfinella, Wonderful pics, thanks. Although seeing all of that fresh snow and amazing-looking off-piste off Valeray drag and the top of Les C etc is making me feel very jealous after our week there over NY!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
loved the pics of Epaule - it's pretty atmospheric even without the inversion but with it.... Off piste dropping of it to the left is fun provided avalanche risk permits
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:

@jedster, it sounds brilliant!


I think so Very Happy
just booked flights for late friday and early monday so plan on overeating there sat or sunday lunch Very Happy
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@jma, even more fresh snow now! Hope you had a good week anyway.

@jedster, yes, we were pretty lucky to catch it like that. A few people were ducking the rope in the direction you mention - did look fun (though into the fog!). Have a great time this weekend Very Happy
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@denfinella, thanks for a great report. We are regular visitors to the area and have stayed in Les Contamines, Combloux, Megeve and many times in La Giettaz (summer and winter). We're off to Combloux in a couple of weeks with our 8 and 6 year old for their first proper ski trip and really looking forward to it. We won't be able to cover the ground you did so it's good to see the pictures! snowHead
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@NatalieG, cheers. Sounds like you must know the area very well indeed! Hope you have a great trip.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@denfinella, well, you'd think so, except I bumble around cluelessly and tend to stick to my favourite pistes. Plus I really like the pistes off the Jouty lift in Combloux so that takes out a lot of skiing time... Sounds like you covered as much ground as I ever have in your week's holiday!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I agree, those pistes off Jouty are excellent! It does take a lot of time per run though Laughing
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I can't compete with @denfinella's trip report but just wanted to add that we have just got back from a fabulous 6 nights in Combloux. We stayed in the Chalet Alpen Valley right across the road from the lifts at Le Cry (where the ESF meeting point and ski pass kiosks are, as well as a couple of hire shops and bars/restaurants). We had a family room which was €1074 for 6 nights B&B for two adults and two kids aged 8 & 6. Family room had a king size bed plus a single downstairs and another single on a mezzanine level. I was a bit worried about being on top of each other but actually it was great. Plus we had a big balcony with the most amazing view of Mont Blanc.

It was a fantastic place to take the kids on their first proper skiing holiday. We were very lucky with the weather and the snow (if anything it was too warm over the weekend, but the snow held up, just a bit slushy in the afternoons) and the beginner's area at the bottom of the lifts is large and manageable, served by a couple of easy drags. There are also "snow gardens" and sledging areas for the littler ones and absolute beginners. Ours had had a few lessons at the Hemel Snowcentre over Christmas and were able to practise on the nursery slope drag lifts with us on their first day and get confident enough to be taken up on the chair lift by their instructor on our second day there. There are enough easy ways down from the chair lifts for near beginners to really enjoy themselves, I think. Bit of a shame the beginner lifts aren't free as they are in some resorts but actually we would only have taken advantage of that on the first day in the end.

We found it more expensive to eat out than we remembered from previous years which was a bit painful, especially as we were staying in a hotel. Another thing that was expensive (at €29/14 per adult/child - or €22/8 in happy hour which I think started at 6pm) but great was the Balneoforme at the Palais des Sports in Megeve - huge warm indoor/outdoor pool with massage jets etc. Fun and relaxing, especially in the sunshine, and great for tired legs halfway through the week. We went back to Megeve another day for a go on the Luge 4S - a four seasons sledding thing on rails which winches you up to the top and you control your speed on the way down. That is €7.50 per go (which can be for one or two people sharing a sled) or a bit less if you buy a pack of 6 or 10 runs.

But the best thing was skiing with the kids. They loved it and we really loved skiing with them (although I can't help but find the chairlifts a bit nerve-wracking). We've looked for ski holidays with childcare before but I don't think there's any chance of that in the future and I don't think we'd want to. Which isn't something I ever thought I'd say! snowHead
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Great write up, your next worry is not being able to keep up with them, they learn so fast and have zero fear.
I love skiing behind my kids, they make it look so natural & I feel very proud
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@NatalieG, glad you had a good time and made the most of all the sunshine!
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Quote:

I love skiing behind my kids, they make it look so natural & I feel very proud



yes.
I didn't manage to get my son to fall over all week. Unlike his father Embarassed
Even resorted to skiing him from the top of the Buche Croisee to the valley via Nant Boran and the Roman Road in semi-refrozen sun crust, tight trees and stream beds.
won't be long before I'm trailing in his wake
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Really enjoyed reading this - I'm off to St G-les-B next week for 3 days and had no idea what to expect really as it is not that well known (in the UK at least.) I was already looking forward to it, now I'm looking forward to it even more. Your budgeting is very impressive, btw. One question, how long did it take you to drive from GVA to St G? We are staying in a pension and flying out in the evening, our pension owner keeps nagging me about what time we are going to arrive. Hopefully they'll be less agitated when we get there!
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You know it makes sense.
@pandora, thanks. We went via Combloux / Cordon to ski on arrival & departure day, and also stopped to shop for food in Sallanches, so I can't really give an accurate estimate.

It wasn't too far off Google Maps' estimate - though on the way to resort there was a 10-min or so jam at the border which delayed us a bit (Saturday late morning). No issue on the way back (Saturday evening). I would allow at least an hour between when your flight lands and when you expect to drive out of the airport, as car hire was a bit off a faff (and so was waiting for hold baggage, though that might not be applicable to you on a short trip).

Hope you have a great time!
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@pandora, it's just over an hour from picking up your hire car assuming you are getting hire car from Swiss side with vignette , otherwise it's approx 90 mins from French side as you have to drive through Geneva.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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we are off to st gervais for 11 wks in Jan thanks for your thread lots of places to find and great pics, never done this long before and geting really excited now, not sure my waist line will enjoy all those lunches though, or my wallet
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@robs1, top choice, le grange will be your new local
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@robs1,
jealous!
make sure you keep us posted on how you get on
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@robs1, @jedster, don't know how you feel but it would be good to put a face to the name, if you fancy a beer if we are ever out at same time
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
absolutely
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yes happy to meet up, will try and do a few posts while we are there too
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