We left Israel for the first time since our initial arrival to spend Christmas week in the French Alps, skiing at Val d’Isere. It was quite a unique ski experience for all of us as the terrain was very different from anything we’d ever experienced, specifically, the tree line. The “tree line” is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing and is typically well-defined. The tree line can be found at different altitudes in different parts of the world.
The skiing in New England, which we’re most accustom to, is nearly 100% within the tree line. So the skiing is almost entirely on designated trails cut through the forest. The tree line in the Alps is more than 40% lower than the tree line in North America. As a result, about 99% of Val d’Isere is above the tree line. This dramatically changes the skiing experience. There are no traditional ski trails as the entire expanse is skiable terrain and the views are truly spectacular.
If you look closely at these photos (or zoom in) you’ll be able to make out the ski lifts that extend to the top of many of the peaks:
It was a very special place to celebrate Danielle’s birthday. This was lunch with a view, about halfway up the ski mountain:
stumbled upon skied upon a very festive mid-afternoon apres-ski high up the mountain at a place called Folie Douce, famous for its rowdy atmosphere, live music, eccentric cabaret performers and table-top dancing.
A birthday dinner that evening at a charming French restaurant in town:
We had several in-depth family discussions about how we felt being away from Israel. France was beautiful and fun, but we understandably felt like foreigners in a foreign land. The people we encountered were all very friendly and welcoming, but we were visitors… tourists.
There was no containing the excitement when boarding EL AL in Geneva (where we flew through) knowing we were on our way back to Israel. And it’s impossible to describe the powerful, practically overwhelming emotions experienced when we touched down in Tel Aviv and the pilot announced, “Welcome home” and “Shabbat shalom”.
Nice to be away… Better to be home.