We stayed in an old world mountain village just down the Meribel Valley from the ski area. Our home for the stay was the Chalet Nikita, a renovated old house made comfortable without any loss of charm. It sits in Chandon, a small gathering of ancient buildings on the hillside looking up at Meribel Village and down at Les Allues.It was the ideal place for our family of four and the several adult friends who joined us. Our family took the upstairs bedrooms where we watched the stars out the skylight windows over our heads. This still left room downstairs for another couple and three of my husband’s ski buddies.
The center floor is the living space, with a large living area where we could all gather and big, informal dining room table to share our meals. The kitchen is small but well thought out, and very user-friendly. The floors are heated, so our toes were warm as we made coffee each morning.I enjoyed wandering through the narrow streets looking at the old barns and houses. Some had a single section renovated and new, tucked between aged stone and timbers and rust. Others were new construction made to look old. Some were just ancient, standing against time and snow.
Off the deck of the chalet facing the street hangs a flag in French, with a woman, ski poles, and vodka bottle that read “l’abus de serieux nuit gravement a votre santé et a celle de votre entourage.” My translation didn’t make any sense. It was halfway through our trip that a French woman explained to us this meant that, essentially, seriousness is bad for your health. That, and she pointed out the little plaque on the side of the building that said “Ministry of Vodka, Caviar, and Beautiful Women.” Looking at our glass recycling, I knew were truly in the right place, at least on the first count. A large contribution in bottles was made by the boys in the group…
We found the plaques on several of the other buildings up the hill, and a sign for the Autonomous Republic of Upper Chandon. There were many other ministry buildings in this independent state, including Aperitif, Love, Joy of Life, and Humor. There is even a headquarters for the Liberation Front of the Independent Republic of Upper Chandon. What a fun group of people must live here or own vacation homes here!
As we left we felt grateful for our cozy home in the mountains and a little sad to leave. But, as most of our friends headed home, it was also a beginning. We were off on a new part of our adventure.