It’s the final day of our trip here in Alpe d’Huez. We’re leaving mid-afternoon to start the six hour journey back to the Haute-Garonne. Although Therese at the Chalet Solneige has kindly offered to ‘babysit’ Monty for us, I’ve decided not to ski. Monty and I are going up on the slopes to check out the selection of walking trails, whilst my husband skis.
The weather’s glorious. The thin layer of high level cloud that marked the start of the day has disappeared by 9am, and the sun is striking sparkles off the snow. At Vaujany, I buy a pedestrian pass that will give me access to the ski lift. There are several tiers of pass, depending on how far into the network of lifts I want to go, and I settle for the second cheapest at around 11 euros, which gives me access as far as the Dôme des Petites Rousses at 2800 metres.
The platform of the lift is made from a metal grille, and Monty’s not too keen on walking on a surface that he can see the ground through. However, he hops onto the lift happily enough, and we squeeze into a corner away from stray ski poles and boots.
As we emerge from the lift at the other end, the walking paths are clearly marked. In a few seconds, we leave the lift and skiers behind, and we’re out in what feels like the middle of nowhere.
Although it’s not particularly early, we’re the first ones out on the trail. The neatly-pisted path is softer than it looks, and my boots dig in a little. The snow builds up on Monty’s feathers, and we stop a couple of times to pull the ice balls from his legs.
There’s no-one else in sight apart from a couple of cross-country skiers in the distance, and I let Monty off the lead. He scampers about happily, kicking up little plumes of fresh snow then galloping through them. There’s a boucle, or circular path, that runs round a frozen lake, but we don’t have time to do it as we’re meeting the skiing half of the party. Having reached the crest of the hill, we turn round and head back to the lift.
There are people behind us on the path now, wearing snowshoes and cross-country skis. Monty is nonplussed by the snick snack of the snowshoes, and the swisha swoosha of the skis, and retreats behind my legs. He can’t work out how the skiers are moving, and gives a series of surprised yelps whenever we meet one.
Back at the Auberge de l’Alpette, Monty enjoys the specialité de la maison for canine customers – a bowl of (chilled) water.
After lunch, we take the next lift up to the Dôme des Petites Rousses, to see the views.
After Monty’s photoshoot, we head back down to the Alpette lift for another hour’s walking along a different path, before taking the lift back to Vaujany.
Back in the resort, Monty successfully pulls his ‘I’m-absolutely-starving-look-you-can-see-my ribs-if-you-look-really-hard’ act on a group of dog-loving Brits, who kindly share the ham from their sandwiches.
What with the ham and the snowy walks, the whole of our six hour journey home is punctuated by the sound of snuffly spaniel snores from the back.