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L'Ours Blanc Apartments (France)

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  • Long walk to slopes
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      02.04.2002 20:55
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      • "Long walk to slopes"

      If you like to take in a bit of culture and actually spend a fair bit of time exploring the places you travel to, like myself, then you’ll know that a self-catering abode is a must have. It allows you the freedom to come and go when you will, eat what you want and when you want and it’s also a tad cheaper too! Ok, so the purpose built ski resort of Alpe d’Huez is not exactly overflowing with culture and places to explore, but the L’Ours Blanc apartments is a place I would strongly consider staying if you were to visit the resort. Run by the Pierre Et Vacances groups the L’Ours Blanc are situated right smack bang in the middle of the resort with views over the town (from the front) or “Le Signal” (from the back). This puts you in ideal reach of many restaurants in central town, and within easy walking distance of the smaller restaurants in “Old Town” (not that it makes too much of a difference... wherever you go the choice is between fondue, raclette (cheese fondue), steak entricote, pizza or tartiflette lol). This location also means there are many pubs within easy staggering location, such as Smithy’s, The Underground, O’Sharky’s and not forgetting the Piano Bar (full of french granny gropers – eeps! – oh yeah I mean french grannies that grope... not people who grope grannies, but having met some – errrrrrr – I couldn’t put it past them either!). The ice rink is right next to L’Ours Blanc, as is the swimming pool, with the sport centre about 100m down the road – making it an ideal choice for all the sporting Simons and Susans out there! Ooh can’t forget the games arcade which is under the cheezy piano bar. The only problem with the location occurs in the morning and evening when you are trying to walk to the slopes in ski boots (reknowned for being “fun” to walk in, particularly when the pavements are icy – as often occu
      rs in ski resorts funnily enough!) carrying poles and skis or snowboards and whatever else. The 300m trek round the ice rink and the swimming pool to the bucket lift is not so much fun at this point, in fact it’s positively knackering! There is however a complimentary (as long as you have a lift pass) bus service around the resort which leaves from outside the apartments approx. every 15 mins throughout the day. The bus will drop you off at the main DMC base so you can head straight onto the slopes! Onto the apartments themselves. They come in various arrangements depending on le numbre de personne: - studio pour 4 personne, apartements pour 5 ou 7 personne. Having travelled here with various parties of different numbers and my father owned one for numerable years I’ve had the pleasure in staying in all of the arrangements L’Ours Blanc has to offer and will therefore attack them all individually. 4 People Studio: The studio consists of a hallway (with beds lol) with a bathroom leading off it and then a lounge-dining area (two sofas and a small kitchen table). Within this room there is a small kitchenette with 2 electric rings and a fridge underneath, then there’s a sink, a dishwasher (yey luxury) and a cooker (cunningly hidden in what appears to be a microwave). The studios are quite small and a tad claustrophobic at times, rather than having a separate bedroom sleeping arrangements involve 2 single sofa beds in the lounge dining area and bunkbeds which are basically just in the middle of the hall! Obviously this plenty big enough if there is just 2 or 3 of you, but with 4 it can be a little cramped. Can’t recommend the bunkbeds or single sofa beds to anyone planning to get too jiggy with it though ;) 5 Person Apartment: This is a fair bit larger than the studio (and the type of apartment my father chose to purchase as a nice little investment for us) and features once again a bathroom, lounge/dining area with
      kitchenette, but with a bedroom rather than bunkbeds in the hall! The bedrooms have a double bed and wardrobe but there isn’t much space for much else besides that! Once again there are 2 sofa beds in the lounge and also a sort of pull out camping bed (actually quite comfy). The kitchenette is the same as in a studio except with a 4 ring electric hob. If you’re travelling in a group of 4 I would strongly recommend you stay in one a 5 person apartment as there is tonnes more space, plus the benefit of an actual bedroom – the kids may not really want to be sleeping so close to ma and pa! 7 Person Apartment: This is where the real fun lies... because the 7 person rooms are built on 2 floors! Despite this they are basically the same as before. Sofa beds and pull out bed in lounge/dining area plus a toilet and shower (wahoo), then bedroom and bunkbeds (once again the in hall) upstairs with bathroom. Ooh a note about the bathrooms, they are equipped with a loo and bath (no shower though which is annoying) and also a hairdryer. If you have less than the quoted number of people staying e.g. 4 people in a 5 person apartment you will have to pay a supplement. This is basically about £5 per person missing per night. For example if you have 2 people sharing a studio for 4 they will have to pay roughly £10 supplement per day. Oh and by the way every apartment/studio has it’s own balcony, which is tres cool! An unfortunate annoyance is that you have to put a deposit down for sheets and towels. The refundable deposit is 160 Euros (approx. £100) per room. The overall building is quite alpine-y ski resortish (what a surpirse) but is pleasant enough inside and out. There is a small reception area where there are rep meetings etc and there are staff on hand 24hrs a day to help you out (although one is like really, really boggy and odd). There is also a ski locker in the basement, which is fairly well set out and no
      t too hard to clamber down to (the circular staircase at Les Quartier des Bergers apartments is positively a nightmare). Although the complex is lacking it’s own bar there are several within extremely close range which makes up for it. Below ground there is also a 2 tier car park which is secured – a blessing for anyone who’s opted to drive (quite good fun actually, not to mention cheap!) to the resort. There is a lovely little shopping arcade below the apartments which features a large clothes shop (I say large specifically because all the clothes in the window are absolutely mahhhhhooooooosive! Sort of a French “Evans” maybe?), a Sweaterie Puding (gift shop selling some groovy Alpey D t-shirts), another gift shop selling local and not-so local produce (not quite sure how African style sculptures came to be in a ski resort gift shop, but there must be some explanation behind it!), a pizzeria, the Cactus Cafe (try and stay high up in the apartments as after 10pm the cafe turns into a sort of bar disco and I spent a few nights lying on my sofa bed listening to "Car Wash" etc because we were right above it!) and of course... the Gaufre (waffles mmmmmmm) shop! Now this little campaign used to be run by the cool jolly old gaufre woman. However, when I returned to the resort in 2000 after a year out from visiting the place (we’re normally regulars lol) she had been replaced by an odd (but slightly sexy) man with a crazily loud whistle (he has a habit of leaning over the counter and wolf-whistling at his chum who works across the way in the Sweaterie Puding place) and also his beeyatch. Now I’m not being nasty in saying that... he said it himself! My bro and I were chatting away in the queue whilst those two tootled away in French making our crepes (most delicious, particularly those of the banana and chocolate variety) when we heard him laugh and say “blah blah* ma beeyatch blah blah” My brother and
      I exchanged glances and giggled away and from then on it was gaufre man and his beeyatch! Oh don’t forget to try they’re Cajun chicken paninis – gorgeous! Price-wise L’Ours Blanc is often the cheapest accommodation offered by British tour operators in the resort. For one week the studio for 4 starts of at around £245 per person peaking at approx. £500 (Feb half term) but generally hangs around at the £300 mark. The apartments for 5 and 7 carry more or less the same prices through out the season varying by only a few pounds on the studio. Remember prices are always higher in school holidays, because, well because tour operators are g*ts and know that most kids can’t go on holiday in term time, which means they jack the prices up at half term, chrimbo and Easter. If you fancy buying one it will set you back about 50k, however it’s a pretty sound investment that pays off if you go ski-ing tonnes and tonnes and tonnes. Over 8 years I think we probably saved about 4 grand on buying one, but the fun we had was terrific, plus we saved our friends and family tonnes of dosh too (although cramming 12 people into a 5 bed apartment isn’t always the best of ideas for a 2 week hol!). Full marks to L’Ours Blancs for location, prices, balconies and services (and of course gaufre man and his beeyatch) but black marks for the trek to the slopes, lack of showers and having to rent bed sheets and towels, oh and the boggy receptionist (she’s scary!!!). *replace blahs with some fast babbling french

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