This has been the strangest season weatherwise so far. One minute it seems almost springlike and then the next minute it does a bloody great big dump of snow. This is the season that where the opening was very delayed due to lack of snow and even in mid December, everyone was starting to wonder if it would ever snow. But it did and it has been pretty relentless since it started. This is brilliant news for those coming out on a ski holiday but not quite so good for those of us trying to get on with our ‘normal’ lives, but hey ho that’s what happens here in the Alps.
Today we are off to Alpe d’Huez with The Harper Brothers and as you can see from the screenshot here from inforoute05.fr the Col du Lautaret is marked as ‘circulation difficile’. This will be extra bad in our old Renault Traffic van laden down with the bands gear.
Anyway if you are in Alpe d’Huez today we will be playing an Apres Ski show at about 17:00 and a night time show at 22:30. This is in The Underground Bar which is beneath the Hotel Le Chamois. The Harper Brothers will be back to play at Le Bowling des Neiges in Chantemerle on Thursday at about 17:00. Hopefully see you there.
You can watch all BBC channels online if you wish.
As much as us British here in Serre Chevalier like French things, there is a limit and for many of us watching French TV just doesn’t do it for us. It’s always nice to see how miserable the weather is in Britain, watch the BBC News and even plonk the kids in front of CBeebies or CBBC when all else fails. Since I first moved here in 2001 I have enjoyed watching British TV, not really Sky at all, just the normal free channels. Originally I used an old Sky box with a Freesat Card or expired Sky Viewing Card. Since 2009 I have used a Humax Freesat HD box which has worked fine until last weekend. I first got alerted to this by a neighbour on Facebook. Here is what has happened so far…
A few people here in Serre Chevalier have been having some problems watching BBC TV as they have migrated over to the new Astra 2E satellite. ITV and Channel 4 move over to Astra 2E tomorrow. It’s in the same part of space as the old Astra 1N satellite and even the first satellite I ever pointed a dish at, Astra 2D. Astra 2E is at 28.2° East, the satellite entered in to commercial service on February 1st, 2014. All BBC services were moved from Astra 1N to Astra 2E’s UK spotbeam during the early hours of Thursday February 6, 2014.
Now then the problem seems to be that the new beam of Astra 2E is more tightly focused on the UK, so we are suffering a bit down here in The Alps. It is of course great news for those of you in the UK as you will have a stronger signal than ever, but for all us watching BBC illegally in Serre Chevalier, it’s not so good. However, here’s what I have to report so far:
Saturday 8th February, 2014 I had lost all BBC Channels
Later on Saturday I retuned my Humax Freesat box which got all BBC channels back except the HD ones, BBC3 and BBC4.
On Saturday night BBC3 and BBC4 started working again
On Monday 10th February, 2014 I can confirm that all BBC TV and BBC Radio are working again on the new Astra 2E satellite.
I am using a Humax Freesat digibox and an 85cm dish which seems to be OK. I’ll let you know what happens with Channel 4 and Channel 5 tomorrow, but I have a feeling that if the BBC channels are OK, then Channel 4 and 5 should be OK too.
If you don’t want to get a bigger dish, watching TV online is also an option, I tried www.filmon.com this morning which seemed to work just fine. If you can stand the annoying ads then it is free. I think this is the way TV will probably go over the next few years, but really here in Serre Chevalier with a 2Mb broadband connection it’s still a long way off.
This was the view up the valley at 8:30 this morning. It had been snowing continuously for a day or so and now it had stopped. The sun was rising and the sky was very blue. I had thought it would get quite warm during the day, but it has remained bright but cold. I haven’t been up the mountain since last Friday, but I reckon conditions must be ace today.
Other news is that The Harper Brothers will be doing a show at Le Chazeley in Villeneuve this afternoon at 5pm. So if you are about, do come along.
This Serre Chevalier apartment is one of six in a building called La Claire Fontaine. It is a large 3rd floor apartment with a mezzanine in a converted traditional village house right in the centre of Chantemerle (Serre Chevalier 1350) and only a couple of minutes walk from the ski lifts. The apartment sleeps 6 people in 3 bedrooms. [click to continue…]
Well here we go again, it is the second day of the year and it’s snowing like a snowy thing. I’d noticed it had done a couple of inches overnight, but come 8am and it was pretty much full on.
If you fancy a bit of afternoon après ski fun, do come along to see The Harper Brothers at the Auberge Mont Prorel in Briançon at 17:00. This is the bar at the bottom of the Prorel Gondala lift in Briançon. Jan and Jules run the place and it will be great to see them for the first time this year. Even if you are staying somewhere else in Serre Chevalier it is an easy place to get to as the free SkiBus Navette stops right outside.
I’ve met quite a few people over the Christmas and New Year period who are missing The Station bar in Chantemerle and asking if it will reopen somewhere else. Unfortunately it won’t – but the best we can do is try and recreate the same atmosphere at gigs by The Harper Brothers. So if you are in the valley today do come along this afternoon.
Happy New Year by the way, a lot of people here in Serre Chevalier seemed to have had a crappy year last year, so I reckon the only way is up now. But hey, 2014 is here now, it’s snowing and the cheap ski holiday weeks start this Saturday.
If you want any help arranging anything to do with your ski holiday, get in touch and we will get you sorted.
It started snowing yesterday and never really stopped. It was supposed to rain last night, but it kept on snowing. It is still snowing now and there is drive clearing to be done now, so I better go and do that rather than blogging about it.
Serre Chevalier Ski Resort opens tomorrow, the timing is good.
This is not a particularly good sign for this time of year. It hasn’t snowed for a few weeks now. There is some predicted for Thursday afternoon, so hopefully all will be fine for when the resort opens on the 21st.
Other news is that the wonderful bar ‘The Station’ in Chantemerle is no more, so I’m not really totally sure where to recommend for an après ski drink.
Meanwhile if you are here today, The Harper Brothers will be playing at Le Central tonight at about 10pm. The Harpers will also be doing their usual Sunday afternoon spot at Le Central tomorrow afternoon at about 5pm.
You can get down the mountain on this - 120€ o.n.o.
The word from Patrick ARNAUD, the deputy director general of the Serre Chevalier Valley is that we are in for a slow start. He said this yesterday (a rough translation):
Current snow conditions are unfortunately not allowing us to consider the agreed opening of our ski area on December 13.
Thanks to investments made in snow making equipment since the beginning of the year 2000, we were able to produce more than 200,000 m3 of snow on 600000m2 produced annually.
Despite all the work done on the ground by the Serre Chevalier Valley teams and the improved methods, the snow deteriorated sharply last weekend following a violent wind at altitude and warm temperatures. The anticyclonic conditions has caused a temperature inversion phenomenon which means the production of new snow is not possible. Because if this, the opening is delayed to December 21 .
Be assured that in this difficult situation, we strive to offer vacationers who chose Serre Chevalier as a Christmas ski destination, the best performance
We will keep you regularly informed of the situation and we remain at your disposal for any further information.
So there you have it – if you are coming out before the 21st December I have a nice mountain bike for sale for 120€ – no snow required.
I decided to repost this from a year or so ago. This stair gate is up for grabs for about 5€. I’ll even deliver it for 50c/km. Please bear in mind that this is a narrow one. I think its actual official title is something like the TommyTippeToes Narrow Stair Gate or something like that.
An 11 year old domain name with one owner and is still squeaky clean in Googles eyes
For this I’d really like lots of money, but as I am desperate I will accept €2000 for the lot. If you are interested in it, please get in touch by the contact form here or call me on +33 (0) 640 128 725. This is a brilliant opportunity for somebody who runs a business in the valley, but now that is not really me. I’m going to concentrate on my new business and of course playing in the new highly portable version of The Harper Brothers, who will be playing at a bar near you this winter