We stayed in a chalet in Méribel, the ski village across from Courchevel. “But Méribel is more intimate. Courchevel is more how do you say, ‘bling-bling’ and filled with Russians?” This was informed to me by a Hungarian-born French bourgeois lady in her mid-60’s. Her name is Anastasia, but she preferred to be called Anjou, which more or less means ‘maman’ in Hungarian. It was her chalet we stayed cozy in, also endearingly referred to in Hungarian as Mókus, meaning écureuil, meaning squirrel. Each room had a Beatrix Potter-styled squirrel painting on the outside of door. There were storybook charms in all of the details, even the wooden beams securing the structure of the chalet were not forgotten and were added to with intricately painted, stacked Russian dolls.
Such a cozy atmosphere surrounded by the snow-covered Alps made the two settings of interior and exterior a challenge to choose between. Méribel was founded by a Scotsman named Colonel Peter Lindsay. He wanted a place to escape each winter, but wanted to avoid Austria and Germany, which were both becoming increasingly occupied by the Nazi regime. After his first visit to the town of Les Allues in 1936, he imagined how the town could become a ski resort to fulfil his needs, and allow him to separate himself away from any unwanted Nazi affilation. The development of Méribel began in 1938, after the first ski lift installment. After that, chalets designed in harmony with the Savoyard-style began to be constructed and scattered throughout the mountain. The Savoyard-style includes wood and stone used for the walls, with slanted slate roofs. The result is a harmonious scatter of cozy abodes that blend well with the snow-heavy evergreens.
Les pauvres sapines, la neige est si lourd. The evergreen branches burdened by the increasing snow fall of the weekend had the children empathetic but it was something that I just thought added to the atmosphere. It efforts to relieve the weight I helped shake off some of the heavy set snowflakes on the lower limbs. We stayed cold outdoors by breaking off icicles and eating them only to go in to get warm by sitting by the fire and drinking spiced tea.
To be snowed-in, enneigé dans les Alpes, far from Paris is all I need for a weekend retreat.