Christmas – Chamonix Without Skiing – Part 2

Last weeks blog concentrated on the period leading up to Christmas. In particular the dilemma we all faced around whether we would be facing a ski season in Chamonix without skiing or snowboarding. This week’s blog moves us on to Christmas. Looking at what it was like to be in Chamonix during the Christmas holiday season, without our clients, friends and sports to keep us busy and entertained.

Chamonix Christmas Holiday
Chamonix New Years Day

Christmas – We Are Ready!

 

Whilst we are always ready for our clients at Christmas, as we said on our previous blog, we come second or third in terms of priorities! Don’t worry, martyrs we are not – we love what we do and seeing the results is a different, but equally amazing experience. This though means that the Christmas shopping for food and presents for our own family and close ones has to be done ‘when it can’. Running a chalet professionally, and doing it well, takes huge amounts of time and energy. The ‘when you can’ is often a day or two before, and that’s if you are lucky, sometimes it is a couple of hours before! But this year of course was not a normal year, it was considerably different. This year we had all the time in the world!

 

This year we shopped well in advance. On a sombering note, whilst the New Year was a little busier, Christmas did not have its usual buzz. Shops were considerably quieter than normal. Many retailers grateful to see you step inside and buy something! It has been a tough year for them and fingers crossed it is kinder next year – support them well if you can when you return please.

Skiing Chamonix Christmas
Skiing Christmas

Christmas Eve!

 

Christmas Eve is normally a day that is incredibly busy for us. A mad, coordinated rush to make sure T’s are crossed, and I’s are dotted. Last minute touches, presents, fresh ingredients for the chalet for the guests impending big day, not forgetting things to get for our family too. But this year, it was about just us. Food and retail shopping had all already been done – and all was calm! It really was a case of the ‘new strange’! Josh was first dropped off at La Planard in Chamonix for ski slalom training, and the dogs even got an extra long walk! On the dog walking point, if it is possible to benefit from Covid,  our bears (dogs) probably have. Bode our Keeshond, and Eskie or Samoyed always had lots of walks, but since Covid, it seems it’s permanently ‘walkies’ time!

 

The afternoon Josh returned and all were home. This meant time for cooking and games. I leave the cooking at the chalet to our wonderful qualified chefs, but I nevertheless love food and cooking in my own kitchen. Cooked gammon for carving is a Chamonix Christmas Eve traditional for the family, as is a home cooked hot pot of sumptuous food. Normally such indulgences are more an evening thing, once we know our staff and guests are good, but with no clients, it started early afternoon. Helped by a couple of fine bottles of red wine too, life was good, and as by magic, snow started to fall late afternoon to make it even better!

 

NB: And before we move onto Christmas Day, Christmas Eve hot pots – a big shout out to the recipe Spezzatino di Agnello (spicy lamb casserole), what a way to start Christmas – thank-you Italy (photo below)!!

Home Cooked Winter Food
New Year Chamonix

Christmas Day

 

It is always a special day for all of us – living in Chamonix, I guess it is hard not to be. Our two children are now young adults, but there is still that excitement in the air. That little bit of magic that makes it wonderful for the rest of us. This one we knew however was going to be different, but nevertheless, we were determined to make it just as good!

 

In Chamonix, as we allude above, we feel we are privileged, a white Christmas is pretty much guaranteed. This normally means the day starts with an early dog walk for the parents and bears. Youngster are by then awake when we return, which means a couple of presents are soon opened. Breakfast follows, typically porridge, cream, brown sugar and a little malt whisky on top. It sounds strange, but if you go easy on the whiskey, it tastes amazing. Once breakfast is done, it off to catch up with friends. A morning skiing, snowboarding and a glass or two of hot wine on the ski slopes. A morning full of laughs and fun as all ski and snowboard in and out of the trees, and around the snow parks. It really is so special, with a Santa or two to be found in the restaurants for good measure on the frequent stop-offs! We then head home early afternoon, more presents, Christmas dinner and lots of champagne and wine!

 

But 2020 was going to force us to be different this Christmas…..

Ski Training
Skiing Chamonix Town

Covid and the inevitable restrictions meant that this year there would be no skiing or snowboarding. But undeterred, we were determined to make it a magical day. Grab the moment as they say. The weather played its part beautifully, snowing through the night for the perfect postcard start. If you have ever woke up to a white Christmas, you’ll will know what a unbelievable atmosphere and ambience it creates.

 

With no skiing and snowboarding, the day started at a leisurely pace, first with a present or three, and then smoked salmon, scrambled egg, and bucks fizz! The bears (dogs) looked impatiently, Covid isn’t all good we were sure they were thinking as they were made to wait a little longer than normal! We appeased them an hour or so later, a good walk in the fresh snow to get them back onside! Back home, more presents were opened, parents and daughter Tors enjoying a glass of wine as the packaging went flying! Present unpacked, we left the youth to enjoy their gifts, whilst we prepared dinner.

Christmas in Chamonix
Chamonix Christmas

So onto Christmas Day dinner. Normally we would go venison or goose, but for some reason this year it was turkey and façon (stuffing), all prepared by the Grand Frais butcher. If you ever go self-catering at luxury Chalet No.5, we recommend you shop at Grand Frais in Domancy, Sallanches. Vegetables and fruit are amazing, and the meat counter is excellent too.  Anyway, back to dinner, it didn’t disappoint, nor did the excellent Saint Aubin red wine! Perfect portions, not overwhelming, melt in the mouth turkey, stuffing to blow ones mind away, and great traditional vegetables. Christmas pudding wasn’t bad either – an hour of three later when we got round to it that is!

 

The evening is always games and fun in our family, and covid was not going to put paid to this traditional ending to a special day. Blokus, followed by Chromino, and finally pontoon (21)!  We may have missed the skiing and snowboarding, but we made up for it in other ways. It was a wonderful day, made all the more special by the stunning scenery and snow that surrounded us. Thank-you Chamonix, it wouldn’t be the same without you!

 

Next week we look at New Year, and the impact Covid had. In particular how it made us realise how special New Year is in Chamonix in normal circumstances really is!

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