MINDFULNESS IN THE MOUNTAINS – in Les Menuires GORGEOUS ESCAPES with Sarah Tucker
You are walking along a path. It is covered in snow. The sky is blue and all you can
hear are birds tweeting. You look down. The snow is glistening in the morning light and you hear the crunch of the snow under your boots. You turn and notice a stream running past you. And further ahead there is a waterfall. You breathe in and smell the sweet clean air and stretch your arms wide and open yourself to the
beauty of the mountains. This isn’t a headspace app. This is a small part of what
you experience on a yoga week in the friendliest French resort of Les Menuires.
I got burnt doing yoga. I got sunburnt doing a sun salutation. To be fair, the sun burn
was unintentional. I was at Les Menuires (pronounced ley men weir) a hill top village, the gateway to the largest ski region in the world Les 3 Vallees, well beloved ski resort of the British who have now entrenched themselves so fixatedly in parts of this phenomenally beautiful region that there are villages which are not only all English speaking but they do not know how to speak French. Les Menuires is different. Les Menuires is French, from the language spoken - they do speak and understand English but everyone speaks to you in French because, they are.
This is one of those purpose built resorts the English consider ugly because not every building resembles one of those wooden chalets which weather dolls enter in and out. There are large tower blocks, and purpose built shopping centres with covered heated runways, which may not look as attractive as the snow coated pavements you find in Austrian and Swiss resorts, but are far more comfortable and user friendly to navigate. As for the apartment blocks, they offer
incredible views over the valley and to the mountains and are always on the piste, making it a genuine ski in ski out resort. It is also predominantly French, with French speakers, the next nationality being Belgian, German then British. There are British in nearby St Martin de Belleville but they tend to keep themselves to themselves, with a three star Michelin restaurant ‘La Bouitte’ (which means pig sty in the local patois).. I learnt all of these facts from the taxis driver who collected me from Lyons – a quick and attractive two hour drive away, although you are able to fly into Geneva, and into Chambery (there are direct flights from Manchester). For the third year running, the town hosts a yoga week, which maligns what is packed in. Thanks to a very busy Easter, I was only able to sample a few days here, but managed to squeeze in pilates, yoga (where I got sunburnt on the terrace overlooking the mountains), shiatsu (excellent – I found out I have issues with gall bladder, must take burdock, too many years of being a people pleaser and not punching people I should have). Qi Gong (becoming aware of my own energy – which is I am told, a lot like that of the mountain, powerful and transcendent!), and a (MMM) morning meditation mountain silence walk in the snow, making my own version of a ‘headspace’ app, with waterfall sounds, tweeting birds, gentle rivers glistening in the morning light, crunching snow under foot albeit occasionally interspersed with snow tractors and helicopters lifting supplies to the local refuge. I’ve got so many more inspirational visualisations to share with my yoga groups following the walk. I stayed at the hostel HO36, which is central, incredibly cool, with its pool tables, long bar, and huge vistas over the mountains, funky local art (papier mache bear heads – sounds awful but actually rather good), plethora of board games which are strictly meant for the twenty somethings, and very good music. (They have live bands there regularly in high season). The food hasn’t quite caught up with the healthy yoga week, (excellent mountain fayre – cured meats, cheeses, raclette, glorious glutenous bread), although veganism is now big in France. I also ate at the central Le Comptoir restaurant overlooking the main ski area which does exce...