Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Steve picking out a snack!
Where we stayed
Ahhh.... the French Alps!
On top of the ski hill at Bernex
After a full day of riding
Sure Dana, your outfit is cool
In Thonon
Walk in the forest
Beautiful forest walk together
Steve driving the tractor!!

We travelled all day to get to Evian les Bain. Despite a train being cancelled and some other issues we eventually made it, although later than scheduled. We called Philippe from the train station and he came to pick us up right away. There is no snow in Evian but, up the mountain where they live there is lots of snow and mountains! It is so beautiful! Fact of the day: Evian les Bains is where Evian water comes from. We met everyone in the morning after breakfast; there is also a family from Hungary who is staying here. Steve got to drive the tractor and helped move wood, bee hives, and a heating system (he really enjoyed it). Dana plugged up gaps in the wood with paper and glue. Throughout the week we helped close in a room by building walls, putting up doors, and putting a wood stove in to help keep us warm (we are working in a large building not insulated, so heat was very appreciated). Philippe and his wife Cecille have two girls; Camille (Ca-me) who is 11, and Morgane who is 8. They speak mostly French but, they do speak and understand some English so we can still communicate.
It has snowed most of the time here which we have really enjoyed! It has been around minus 7 on average. On our time off in the afternoon we have gone for a number of walks in the nearby forests, and also to the towns of Evian and Thonon. On Friday we were invited to Morgane's School play, which was really cute with lots of good food and drink. Saturday we went snowboarding in the French Alps all day!! Dana made a fashion statement with her colourful snowsuit kindly borrowed to her. It felt good to go out and snowboard again, even though we waited a couple of times while they did avalanche blasts (it was opening day and they were not ready!) Also not having goggles made visibilty difficult when passing by the snow making machines. We are sore now but it was totally worth it! In the evening Philippe took us and the girls to Montreux, Switzerland! There is a really good Christmas market there that they go to every year.
On Sunday we went to see Philippe sing in the men's choir group he is apart of. We heard Christmas carols in French. We really felt at home here. It was wonderful to sit by the fire, have a christmas tree, and have lots of SNOW!! The family made us feel so welcome and were so generous with everything. Now it's off to Paris for Christmas!! So Merry Christmas to you all!! We love you and will miss not being around this year but, will be home soon!

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