You’re so Flaine, I bet you think this blog is about you

Filming trips. Sometimes challenging, usually fun, always a lot of work. The week I had in Flaine before Christmas was a mixture of all three.

I was there to showcase a new Ski Club venture, Chalet Freshtracks.  The Ski Club has run their holiday programmes for many years, but it’s the first time they’ve taken over a chalet for a whole season, so the task of filming it and finding out more about the area, landed on my desk.  Not the toughest assignment in the world, I’ll admit, but you’re never quite sure what the mountain and the weather will throw at you.

I was also there to film the resort and the terrain available in the Grande Massif ski area as well as put together the Ski Club Snowcast on location. This was where the weather played a part.  We had a lot of snow. The week we were there saw Flaine at third in the list of snowiest resorts on the Ski Club website.  While this made for some great conditions to ski in, heavy snow and a total white-out aren’t easy to film in. Whilst all around you are skiing in powder up to their thighs, you’re grappling with tripods, lenses and exposure settings.

However, the weather cleared on wednesday and we had an incredible morning with Yann Westercamp, an off-piste instructor who’s worked with the Ski Club for a number of years and is one of the main reasons people re-book their trips to Flaine. Yann has an almost cult-like following and one morning with him made it clear why.  We enjoyed run after run on untouched, deep powder in the trees and open bowls that you felt Yann could have found his way through blindfolded. Some of the best skiing I did all week was carrying a tripod in one hand and my camera in the other, with no poles, in thigh-deep powder – certainly not a great time to fall over though.  Then came perhaps the toughest challenge of the week, tearing myself away from Yann, the group and the powder, to return to the chalet while the sun was out. Wednesday was forecast to be my only weather window, so I couldn’t miss filming and photographing the chalet in good light.

The chalet itself was a very nice place to spend a week. This was the first week the chalet was open, so it was treated as a dry run, with the other guests made up of  a few loyal Freshtracks regulars and a couple of Ski Club Leaders. We enjoyed some great three-course meals, a carefully thought out wine list and brilliant hospitality – all served up by Louise and Maddy, the couple running the chalet this season. Ski chalets are often the home of cheap wines and hosts who have just finished their A-Levels. This wasn’t the case at Chalet Freshtracks, both Louise and Maddy were taking a break from successful careers and the wine had been selected and tested by the Freshtracks team back in London – again, not the most arduous job in the world.

I’d read up on Flaine before we arrived and one thing stood out – it ain’t pretty. Seeing it for myself, I had to agree, there is a brutal feel to Bauhaus-inspired buildings up close, built for convenience and volume over appearance and charm, but I’ve seen worse-looking resorts in France. Ultimately though, you don’t go to the French Alps for rustic Alpine charm and traditional architecture, you go for the skiing, whilst only four lifts were open at that stage of the season, we had plenty of terrain and a lot of snow to enjoy. I would definitely go back – though maybe without my camera, tripod, scripts and laptop.

Watch the Chalet Freshtracks video:

Tom Dixon

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