Chateaus, Skiing to Italy and Snowboarding Bananas in Pyjamas: Grenoble, Route Napoleon, Montgenevre, Clavier and Sauze D’Oulx

29 Mar

The end of March 2012 marks the mid-point of this Gap Year (plus two months to compensate for the return to Oz in December to pack up our house). It also marks the changing of the year for me. My 56th birthday was March 21.

A good time to ask myself if I am tired of this travelling life. Answer: Hell no!

It was comforting to settle back into the Grenoble aparthotel for a week to do everday things like get a long overdue haircut, but I find I’m well suited to being a vagabond and home really is wherever I hang my yoga mat.

It’s been made easier by the long run of fine weather. The last real rain/snow fell in France and Spain the first week of February and there’s no sign of the sunshine letting up. Spring flowers and foliage are bursting out in the wild and in carefully manicured gardens. And even with the austerity measures they’ve adopted French city councils still budget for spring bulbs in public spaces.

This collection of photos was taken in and around Grenoble (we hiked up behind the two chateaus in Sassenage) and south-east along the Route Napoleon to find the perfect lunch spot en route to Montgenevre ski village where we’ve been chasing ever receding spring snow this week.

Our first ski holiday as a young couple was to Montgenevre in 1978 and we went to Sauze D’Oulx the following season. We’ve revisited favourite restaurants (including Il Capricorno), pistes and the site of our first major row. Well, I told Stu I didn’t want to take that horrid, icy meathook/T-Bar drag lift but he insisted so I reckon I had a right to be piste off (literally – I hopped off and skiied away).

Montgenevre perches on the French border with Italy. As much as we love most things French (not their road etiquette) we delight in driving, walking and skiing across to Italy to experience the change in language, wine, food. I’m one of those embarrassing travellers who tortures locals by trying to speak their language with the assistance of an iphone dictionary and a smile. Sometimes Spanish with an Italian inflection works but most times they have to meet me half way linguistically. Yesterday I had a conversation with a charming Italian waiter in three languages – none of them English.

Spring skiing seems to encourage folly. I’ve spotted Homer Simpson, Wally from ‘Where’s Wally Now’ and a large group of French mimes kitted out in black and whitestriped shirts, black gloves and berets. Today I caught a chair lift with snowboarding Bananas in Pyjamas (photo below) and watched two young women slalom in disco frocks. All were eclipsed by the handsome, young, bare-chested, caped gladiator skiing with spear. Sorry, no photo.

Tomorrow is our last day skiing here and as more sun is expected we plan to leave the jackets and gloves at home.

Ciao ciao!

Ski Report by Stuart:
I’m grumpy first thing in the morning because everything is perfect except the snow. There’s not enough of it low down and early in the day it’s rock hard. However Sharon loves how easy it is to ski on so she’s racing down black pistes and that makes me happy. Then there is the almost complete lack of other skiers and no lift lines. And after a good lunch the world is almost perfect, well actually perfect.

(Photo Note: Our second floor Montgenevre chalet apartment is next to the slopes – one shot shows Stuart skiing past. Video Note: Stuart is the skiier in the fluoro green jacket I’m following with my iphone videocam.)





































2 Responses to “Chateaus, Skiing to Italy and Snowboarding Bananas in Pyjamas: Grenoble, Route Napoleon, Montgenevre, Clavier and Sauze D’Oulx”

  1. Maryse Chevalier April 13, 2012 at 8:47 am #

    Hi, it seems you had a good time in Spain and also for skiing and as usual your pictures are so beautiful. Thank you Sharon to make me travel through your world tour.
    Here in Lyon things are ok, my friends from the Loft Vintage tell you Hello.
    I will be in Spain for 5 days at the end of the month and you, where will you be at the same time?
    Bye and have a nice day

    • Sharon Tickle April 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      Merci Maryse and a big hello to Michel and Denis! Our very good friends John and Margaret from Australia will be staying with them soon.

      I am going to Seville for two weeks from April 24. If you will be there then please let me know by email to and we can get together.

      Have a great weekend,


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