93. The Stephanie Mystery – all is revealed

Walking down from the mountain after my final day on the slopes George, Nick and I bumped into Philippe, the campsite owner. George wondered if the bar, closed all week, could be opened for my last night. I was pleasantly surprised when Philippe readily agreed and we told him we’d be there in twenty minutes.

In the bar Philippe listed all the personally selected local beers that were available. I asked him which ones he liked and he said, ‘All of them’. Fair enough – we tried most of them and they were all excellent. We were joined by a local who described himself as a ‘saisonnier’. He had spotted the lights on in the bar and so took advantage. He drove a snow plough in the village and told us of an occasion when a particularly heavy snow storm had obscured an illegally parked car and he had mistaken it for a snow drift. (Moral of story – be careful where you leave your car when in the Alps). In the summer he operated a fork lift truck in a warehouse in Montpellier.

I felt a bit guilty about having described Philippe as a miserable git because, as he relaxed, he was good fun and he explained that he had been very stressed since before Christmas when Stephanie had her accident – on 17th of December to be exact. Apart from the impact on running the campsite they had invited both their families to stay over the holiday period. The timing could not have been worse. He described the exact nature of her injury, a ruptured achilles heel, and again I felt bad because I had, albeit in jest, wondered about the various accounts that seemed to have been given.The confusion was no doubt down to my French rather than Philippe’s attempts to cover his tracks over his wife’s mysterious disappearance.

All suspicions were emphatically laid to rest when Stephanie herself made an appearance, hobbling in on crutches with her right leg in a big pot. It was, after all, true that she had done it during a solo dance to a jazz song. Apparently it is possible to dance to jazz! She was as bright and bubbly as I remembered from the previous year and we had a fabulous few hours in that bar.  I just wish it had been open every night.

Putting the world to rights in the bar. Even Philippe is smiling! Check out Nick’s TLB jacket, got his name on the back too.

George had originally planned to sleep in the cab of Nick’s van, Herman, but he ended up in one of the well appointed apartments on the site at a bargain price of, I think, 340€ for the week. He had a balcony overlooking our two bays.

First ever picture of the newly formed TLB Ski Club – as seen from George’s balcony

Venosc, in Les Deux Alpes, will be the home of TLB skiing as the location has a number of advantages. First and foremost it is only 900 metres, so you don’t normally need snow chains etc. A nearby telecabine whisks you up 3200 metres to the slopes above, most of which are easyish blues with a few reds. You don’t have to be an advanced skier to enjoy Les Deux Alpes. You also get great service, and a campervan discount, from the ski hire shop Schuss Sport. There are loads of great bars and restaurants, reasonably priced, and crucially, just about everyone is really laid back and friendly.

George with Marc and Philippe who run Schuss Sports. Last year they told me my skis belong in the museum and this year they said my boots should be with them.

When I arrived I was having issues with my windscreen wipers. Which are pretty important in the winter in the Alps. Regular readers know I am pretty useless with the mechanical side of owning a bay but fortunately Nick and George promised to check them out for me. The bad news was that one of the wipers had seized and couldn’t be fixed on the spot. Nick had a brainwave – take it off. He said you only need one, and he was right.

Nick and George sort my wipers. Did you know that bays only really need one?
This is where George intended to sleep before he found his apartment. Notice the hand crafted oak dash? Available via TLB a few years ago. Herman is immaculate inside.
Les Deux Alpes is the perfect ski resort for campervan owners. Great intermediate level skiing and lovely views – that is Mont Blanc on my left shoulder.

On Wednesday I left Venosc hoping for an easy journey back up to Dunkirk in blue skies and sunshine. (Fat chance of that!) Looking forward to seeing the Guernsey Boys again next year, together with some more adventurous souls from The Late Bay.

About Basil John Mandy

A sixty odd year old born in Ladysmith, South Africa. Manchester United supporter and a great fan of the city in general. I worked for Kelloggs since 1982, apart from a year's sabbatical that I took to ride a bicycle to South Africa. I retired at the end of 2015 and have 2 grandsons, Lenny and Ellis. And now I've got a granddaughter as well - Dottie Joy!!


  1. Great post John said it as it was.
    We really enjoyed your company as well.
    Nice to see that Trevor made the photo shoot!!
    Hopefully meet up again next year with other Latebayers.
    Nick and George.

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