Bonne Annee avec mes amis

The best thing about France is Italy. Courmayeur is just 30 minutes from Chamonix and lived up to its reputation.
To ring in 2014, Molly and I decided to trade a proper New Year’s celebration for a weeklong trip to Chamonix with a motley mix of eight ski bums. We were not disappointed.

As the herds of skiers packed their cars and headed back to work, we rolled into town with fresh legs and awoke to some of the choicest snow I’ve ever face-planted in.

Skiers are so graceful.
More than a half dozen ski areas dot the valley of this adorable ski town, which is intricately connected by frequent, free buses. In addition, Switzerland’s Verbier and Italy’s Courmayeur ski resorts are within easy reach.

Had they banned all skiers, it would have been this snowboarder’s perfect, fresh powder dream.

We set up shop in a little chalet on the outskirts of town complete with a sauna and fireplace, and spent our evenings sampling each other’s cooking and nursing our ski-related wounds.

Each day a different pair prepared the meal.

Team Awesome took us south of the border; Molly and I broke da mouth with a Hawaii-inspired meal; Jeb and R. Eric brought the heat with a low country boil; Angela and Dave made magic Italian style; and Mike and Sonya delivered a savory Paddy’s Day delight. (We’re still waiting for Steve’s night.)

By the end of the week we were racing to find creative uses for all the leftovers, and somehow we left with more food than we brought. No toilet was safe and no toilet paper was left behind.

Friendships were forged, memories made, and we even traded one friend for a wily, piss-and-vinegar grandma (not to mention Jeb’s horizons were broadened when he was introduced to Rebecca Black’s “Friday” for the first time).

I don’t know what this year will bring, but if our first day on the slopes in Chamonix is any indication, I’m looking forward to a little slice of heaven.
Staring into the Vallee Blanche from the top of Flegere.