Trip 2 - France, Spain

January 2014 to May 2014
Jackie's dad's house in Costa Blanca, Spain
Skiing in Portes du Soleil, France










Our second trip was something we have always wanted to do and that was to spend an entire winter season skiing at a large European ski resort. We chose the Portes du Soleil, about an hours drive south from Geneva airport on the French/Swiss border both for its size (ranked as the second largest linked ski resort in the world, behind the 'Three Valleys' in France, but arguably the larger of the two) and the cost. We managed to rent an apartment in St Jean d'Aulps, which is one of the smaller, outlying ski resorts, linked to the Portes du Soleil by a free ski bus, but not by linked ski lifts.

The apartment was within two minutes walk of the ski lift, but was about twenty minutes drive by car (or bus) to the main linked area of Morzine or Avoriaz. As we had driven over from the UK, the distance to the main ski areas was not a problem, particularly as there were large free car parks at several of the main areas.

After the close of the ski season at the end of April we drove South to the Costa Blanca in Spain to stay with Jackie's dad, Richard and his wife Elizabeth in Altea La Vella, where we spent a few weeks of relaxation, rock climbing and mountain climbing, returning to the UK during the second half of May.

For more details of this trip see below, it's divided into the following:
  1. St Jean d'Aulps, the actual ski season part of this trip
  2. Costa Blanca, Spain
  3. Details of the costs of this trip. It includes all expenditure of our five months away and can act as a guide should you be planning a similar trip. If you would like further details please insert a comment at the end and we will post a reply below your question.

  1. Arrive St Jean d'Aulps by car from Solihull, UK with one overnight stop: St Jean d'Aulps
  2. For further details of the ski trip click on all blog entries from January 2014 to the end of April 2014. Special highlights as follows:
  3. Visit of our friends from Solihull Mountaineering Club: SMC, SMC 2, SMC 3
  4. Visit of Brian's sister: Denise & PaulDenise & Paul 2 
  5.  Visit of ex work friends: Steve, Steve 2
  6. Via Ferrata in St Jean, red route: Via Ferrata - red
  7. Via Ferrata in St Jean, black route: Via Ferrata - black
  8. Visit of Jackie's mum, Pauline. trip to Evian: Pauline
  •  Costa Blanca, Spain:

  1. Arrive Altea La Vella, Spain by car from St Jean d'Aulps, France in one 12 hour journey: SpainSpain 2 
  2. Spanish rock climbing with Dean and Sarah: Spain 3 
  3. Visit to Cartagena: Cartagena 
  4. Depart Altea La Vella, drive across Spain to Getxo near Bilbao, stay overnight, catch overnight ferry Bilbao to Portsmouth, UK: Bilbao


  • Details of costs for this trip:

We've included this section for any readers wondering if they can afford a season skiing in the Alps, particularly at one of the largest (if not THE largest) ski area in the world. Searching the internet and reading travel books such as Lonely Planet are good at giving an indication of accommodation, tour and meal costs separately, but putting it all together to try to give an overall cost of a trip is hard to do as there are often incidental costs that are difficult to account for.

The costs below are our real and complete costs and the first figure, the 'Overall total cost' is really everything we spent for the entire trip but, to be relevant to other readers, a comparison has to be made between our expectations and requirements and those of the readers, so this is our summary.

We are a 'middle aged' couple, happy in our own company but willing to meet and interact with others. We're daytime, relatively adventurous outdoor people, preferring quiet nights in, home cooking (where possible) and modest drinking rather than rowdy nights out at expensive restaurants, clubs and bars, they just don't register on our list! When we do go out for meals we are careful on our selection of restaurants and prefer local food and places where 'normal folk' would go rather than 'chic' places, as these not only keep the cost down but give us a more authentic feel for a place.

For our ski season we stayed at an outlying resort not linked by skilifts, but linked by a free ski bus to the main areas of Avoriaz, Morzine and Chatel, in order to keep the cost of apartment rental down. As we had our own car with us the separateness of the resort was not an issue as the main areas were only a 20 minute drive away with free parking at main skilifts. We rarely ate out at mountain restaurants during the day, preferring to take a sandwich which we usually ate while sitting on skilifts. This not only kept the costs down but also maximised our ski day. We had all our own ski gear, including skis, boots, all clothing, ski touring gear and all our own rock climbing and hiking gear for the Spanish leg of our trip. We are accomplished skiers so we had no ski lessons nor hired any guides for any trips, we did everything on our own initiatives.

We drove from the UK to France in our own car and then on to Costa Blanca, Spain to stay with Jackie's father and returned to the UK on the Bilbao to Portsmouth overnight ferry. The cost of the Spanish leg of our trip is therefore not very relevant to most people as we did not have to pay for our accommodation or most meals, but we've included it for completeness. 

Overall total cost: £6966.00. Average daily cost: £50.00

Travel insurance (2 people): We arranged European insurance through 'ERV' as they specialise in skiing, but took the 'Red Rookie' option as this covered us for off piste skiing, ski touring and rock climbing (as long as this wasn't the main purpose of our trip). Cost: £323.14 for 140 days. Average daily cost: £2.31
 
 France (ski season):

Notes: 
  1. All prices from January 2014 to April 2014
  2. All prices are for 2 people
  3. Exchange rate (2012): £1.00 = €1.21
  4. Total days/nights: 117

Total expenditure: €6950.00 (£5744.00)

Average daily expenditure: €59.50 (£49.00)

Breakdown:

  1. Apartment: A studio apartment in a building with swimming pool, 2 minutes walk from the skilift station at St Jean d'Aulps (aka La Grande Terche), Portes du Soleil, France.                                                                                                                                       Total cost: €3452.00 (£2853.00), average per night: €29.50 (£24.50)
  2. Lift Pass: Total cost: €1730.00 (£1430.00), average daily cost: €15.00 (£12.00)
  3. Car fuel: €517.00 (£427.00), average daily cost: €4.50 (£3.50)
  4. Shopping: €1091.00 (£901.00), average daily cost: €9.50 (£7.70)
  5. Channel tunnel crossing: £82.00
  6. Overnight hotel on journey, Reims: £24.00
  7. French motorway tolls Calais to St Jean d'Aulps: €75.00 (£62.00)
  8. Daily expenditure: Total cost: €192.00 (£159.00). Average per day: €1.50 (£1.50)

Spain (Costa Blanca):
As noted above, we stayed with Jackie's father in the Costa Blanca, so had no accommodation and few meal expenses, so our costings in this section give a rather false view of anothers total costs.

Notes: 
  1. All prices from May 2014
  2. All prices are for 2 people
  3. Exchange rate (2012): £1.00 = €1.21
  4. Total days/nights:20

Total expenditure: €1088.00 (£899.00)

Average daily expenditure: €54.40 (£45.00)

Breakdown:

  1. Car fuel: €257.00 (£212.50), average daily cost: €13.00 (£10.50)
  2. Bilbao to Portsmouth ferry: £363.00
  3. Overnight 'airbnb' on journey, Getxo: £15.00
  4. French & Spanish motorway tolls St Jean d'Aulps to Altea: €135.00 (112.00)
  5. Spanish motorway tolls Altea to Bilbao: €24.00 (£20)
  6. Daytime expenditure: Total cost: €100.00 (£83.00). Average daily cost: €5.00 (£4.00)
  7. Evening expenditure: Total cost: €112.00 (£93.00). Average daily cost: €5.60 (£4.65) 
  8. Trips: Total cost: €441.00 (£365.00)

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