Friday, February 6, 2009

Where to rent good gear in the French Alps

I spent this week-end skiing at the Alpe d'Huez resort, a beautiful resort in Northern Isere, in the French Alps.
We were blessed with incredible weather and perfect snow - and bonus, not a lot of people on the slopes.

Although we had free lodging (my brother-in-law's parents owning an apartment there), we did not have any skiing or snowboarding gear. I started skiing at the age of 2, so that's what I was going for. B., on the other hand, had barely snowboarded 4 times in his life, and hadn't skied. The easiest solution was for me to go skiing with my sister, and for him to snowboard.

My sister recommended Alain Sports as being a great rental place. The shop is small, but the selection is wide, and the owners were very nice. I leave in the morning with a pair of skiing shoes (my sister lent me a pair of skis), and B. got a pair of snowboarding shoes, and a board.
Off we went to wonderful snow and weather. After a long morning of enjoyment, we came back for lunch (cold cuts, bread, wine). In the afternoon I decided it would be nicer if I tried snowboarding too - this way I wouldn't mind being on beginner runs, and be with B. a little more. We went back to Alain Sports, and the owner was very accommodating - I switched to a pair of snowboarding shoes and a board.

Come the evening, we got back at 5:30pm, and returned the gear. The owners asked how the day went, and if we'd want to keep the gear for tomorrow. Hearing B. in pain for an afternoon made the decision simple: we'd just be walking around tomorrow. The weather forecast wasn't so good anyway.

Came time for the bill - and both of us were floored: 39 euros. Yes, that was the total for a day. The owners didn't count my using ski gear for half a day, and just smiled. So if you're ever at this great resort - the runs are 38 euros a day (very cheap considering how large the resort it). It provides for an amazing variety of runs for all levels, and covers a very large space (the longest run we did was 25mn, but the average skier would take about 45mn), and is very beginner friendly. There are beginners-only slopes, and lifts that make it easy to just hop in and out, even if it's your first time on a snowboard.

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