Ski trip to Isola 2000 March/April 2009

Ski Trip Monday 30th March - Thursday 2nd April 2009

We have only ever done day trips to Isola 2000 from Nice but the snow has been so good this year we wanted more skiing after our Feb trip to Meribel so we decided to stay in Isola 2000 for 3 nights and take advantage of the great conditions

Sunday 29th March 2009

Left Liverpool in the afternoon swapping blue skies and sunshine for heavy rain and grey skies in Nice. Sunday night, pouring with rain, we stayed in our studio and packed for Isola 2000. Quickly transpires that just as much needs to be packed for 3 days skiing as a week in Méribel, fewer thermals perhaps plus we travel wearing our ski gear which took away some of the bulky packing. I refuse to go without my Nespresso coffee machine.

Monday 30th March 2009

The rain continued overnight easing off a bit in the morning and the next day we trudged to the Gare Routière in misty drizzle. Very depressing. Went to counter to buy the tickets I reserved on Friday. The assistant took no notice and merely sold us a couple of tickets for one euro each, booking in advance carried no truck with her although to be fair, it was a Monday morning, during the French school term and near the end of the season, maybe seat reservations more urgent at other times.

The 750 arrived at 9:10 and left on time at 9:15. There were only three of us on board. A few more boarded at the train station plus a few more at the airport but it was mostly empty. The luggage loading is self service – heave your bags, skis etc into the hold at the side of the bus before boarding.

It takes at least half an hour to leave Nice and head north for the mountains. Miraculously, blue bits appear amongst the grey clouds and as the bus climbs, sunshine appears. We arrive ahead of schedule in Isola 2000 at about 11:45 am.

I booked the Hotel Druos as it was the cheapest option out of the three ski-in ski-out hotels in the main complex of Isola 2000. I booked by phoning the hotel directly and the assistant spoke great English. We were quoted about 230 euros for three nights, north-side, room only. To have breakfast was 8,50 euros each, not worth it - you can buy a croissant for 60 cents one minute away.

Hotel Druos is right at the far end of the complex though and it took 5 minutes trudging slightly uphill along the road once we got off the bus. Very friendly reception, totally in French, we were given our room straight away – on the second floor at the back, north view not over the slopes but again, cheaper than the pretty side. There’s no lift here and to be honest, it’s fairly basic and a bit scruffy and old with gloomy lighting etc but the room was a reasonable size, there was a bath and a third fold-against-the wall bed/sofa – handy if we bring our daughter who is skiing in Austria with the school this week. The ski lockers are just outside at the front of the hotel – it is genuinely ski-in, ski-out and there is access through the complex of shops, restaurants, apartments, ESF, ski pass kiosk etc at the side of the hotel without going outside, there is a code to open this door.

View from our room:

Ouside the Druos Hotel, I'm the one on the right. This was taken on our second day - hardly a sign of blue sky today although the sun made a valiant effort and it was bright in spite of the snowy conditions:

We usually use ski 2000 when we come for the day but it turned out, it was a different shop, but only around the corner, not far from the ski pass kiosks. I had booked 3 days, Tues, Weds, Thursday but we paid for this afternoon too. We needed a 3 day ski pass for forfait plus an afternoon pass for today. The half day passes are good from 12:30 pm. This was no problem but when I tried to buy a 3 day pass, we needed photos, something I never considered nor remember reading about. There was a photo booth but we decided that we would buy a one-day pass (no photo required for the one-day passes) each day over the three days – we might have the chance to test out the ski pass machine if the queues are too long in the morning.

No queues skiing or anyone on the slopes this afternoon, it was a dream, completely sunny, empty, no queues and beautiful snow although quite soft and slow – we are used to the harder icier stuff but this was perfect. I had booked an hours’ private lesson for the 2 of us for Tuesday morning so we collected the pass for this today. I booked the lesson about 3 weeks ago via fax – the French love faxes. For lunch, a Panini and salad at a snack bar - La Guerite outside the ESF. It’s so cheap here compared to Méribel – 2 euros for chips – they were 8,50 in Méribel.

The skiing was strange- we were wanting to build on our improvement at Meribel in Feb but we felt like complete beginners again, all jelly legs for the first few runs. The runs are not particularly challenging near the centre using the Pevalos bubble car but we are hoping to expand our runs and 'go over the other side' tomorrow - on day trips we have never dared go too far away from the main centre in case we got stuck and missed the bus home. I decided to try and different run and took George down a red unbashed piste which was soft and mogul-y. I got down with a few half tumbles, I won't call it falling down as my bum never touched the snow but I was on all fours a few times as were a few other intrepid soul testing out their prowess on powder. I got down and turned to see where George was - no sign so after a few minutes I moved across the slopes to see him standing about two thirds up the slope. After a few minutes I decided he had hurt himself so I abandoned my skis and started to climb up to him. At the point I had nearly reached him, he suddenly put his skis on and shot by me to the bottom having found his nerve. Leaving me to clamber down. After a couple of gentle runs to soothe our nerves, we went back to the hotel to dump our skis and go to the supermarket. We need to remember to pack a corkscrew next time - none of the wines are screw tops except the nasty stuff in plastic bottles.

Disappointingly, the WiFi promised freely throughout the Isola 2000 complex does not quite reach the Druos Hotel so we found a bar restaurant, the Buissoniere and got on the internet here for the price of a coffee and a beer - not very cheap here, next time I think we'll do what we've seen others do - sit around in the corridors of the complex, laptop on knee.

Tuesday 31st March 2009

Woke to fairly glum conditions - snowing gently but the light was bright so we were optimistic. By the time we had bought day passes, it was nearly time for our lesson at 10am. Our guide was Cyril - he was brilliant - spoke good English, gave us some good pointers for our skiing and told us the best routes to take to get around the mountains. Best of all, he was patience itself when I fell off a Poma lift in the worst possible place, nowhere near a run and on a very steep part. George carried on to the top to wait and Cyril leapt off the Poma and guided (dragged) me through a bloody wood in deep soft snow for about 15 minutes before we reached a piste. He was so sweet about it. We had to broach the dreaded Poma again but hung on just about this time. We only had an hour with him so after he cleared off, we played about in this new-to-us section of the resort - the Saveur valley. There are a couple of blues and a red here, all linked with a couple of chair lifts. Back to our usual cafe for lunch - La Guerite. After lunch, we re-did a few runs but although the sun broke through a few times, by 2:30pm, it was snowing a little harder and no sun anywhere. We called it a day and went back to the hotel.

We set off with our laptops again in search of a network - the best signal is inside the Tourist Office which is closed at lunch and closes by 6pm in the afternoon. They have provided a small area with seating and tables plus electric sockets - we squeezed in amongst the French yoof and settled down for a few minutes.

To return to Nice on the 750 bus, you have to buy your ticket in advance from a small Santa Azur kiosk at the end of the ski pass kiosks. We bought ours today for Tursday travel in case we forgot tomorrow. the office is only open between 12:30 and 4:30 pm. You have to be ready to catch the 16:30 bus by 16:15 hours waiting by the roundabout on the left side where you were dropped off.

Wednesday 1st April 2009

Today looked quite hopeful this morning. The snow had stopped falling and the sun was starting to break through the light cloud cover. The skiing was fantastic, we had most of the slopes to ourselves. There were a few chair lifts not working so we were a bit limited in our range and although my ambition was to make it to the view of the sea, this involved the horrible tow bar lift I fell off on Monday and George hates pomma lifts anyway so we kept putting it off and waiting for clear blue sky and sun or there wouldn't have been much of a view anyway. We still hadn't braved it it by lunchtime after which the weather took a turn for the worse, starting to snow and the clouds descended so it was completely a white out. It's not so pleasant skiing under these conditions. We persevered until about 2:30pm then gave up. You couldn't see the piste and it made me feel a bit sea sick not knowing if I was going up or down.


Mirjam de Vriend said...

Nice to read e new story on your blog. It was so long ago that there was someting new. You didn't stay in Nice the week before christmass?


AllaboutNice said...

Thank you Mirjam, we are still in Isola 2000 - snowed in, in fact and have to spend an extra day here, which would be great if the ski runs were open but it has snowed so much, there is avalanche danger so the runs are very limited. Hopefully, the 750 bus to Nice will be able to get here tomorrow, we have already had to change our flight home to the UK.

Yes, we were due to come to Nice a week before Christmas - We had to cancel as my husband was ill with flu :-(

I have just lost my homepage so I will have to set to work soon to try and limit the damage and get a link to this blog back on. I will never listen to my husband's bright idea of changing my web editing programme ever again!

Mirjam de Vriend said...

My brother in law who is living in Roure (uphill when you are in Saint Sauveur) told me about other avalanches this winter. Both times they also closed of the river near Saint Sauveur so the people had to flee higher up. It was dangerous because the water might get high. When the first one was just cleared away the second came. In the newspapers here in Holland i read about people leaving Isola 2000 by helicopter that time. We hope to come to Roure this summer and also will have some time in Nice and surroundings.

Good luck for tomorrow, hopefully the bus can reach you. I was only in Isola during summer to do shopping in the supermarket.

Mirjam, Holland

AllaboutNice said...

Hello again Mirjam :-)

The roads re-opened on Friday morning so we got an extra day's skiing which was nice, before catching the 16:30 bus back to Nice but we had the extra expense of an additional night in the hotel and we had to change our flights - that cost an extra 120 GB pounds, not sure if our insurance will cover it but it might be worth trying to claim.

How lovely that you have family in the area, I hope you have a great summer and get a chance to visit Nice, all the best, Lisa