We were actually not sure if we wanted to share…but…

 

STE FOY - WINTER
Sainte Foy – Photo credit (c) Holly Junak for Premiére Neige

…if you like everything that rimes on unspoiled alpine charme, well prepared slopes, perfect conditions for kids, a World of off pist options, total lack of lift queues and even more charm…

Here is a tip to the hidden gem Sainte-Foy Tarentaise in the French Alps. But don’t tell anyone……

In the midst of France’s Olympic ski area near Albertville, surrounded by Val d`Iséré, Tignes, Les Arcs and La Rosiere, the tiny town and its ski area is hidden. All who’ve been to Val d`Iséré or Tigne have driven through this small town – But it’s a sin not to take a closer look!

The dilemma of wanting to share and at the same time keeping it our own little secret…

img_0393

We visited Saint-Foy Tarentaise  for the first time last year (2 days at Easter time) and was left with nothing but an urge to come back. Why? It’s a relaxed friendly gem with both alpine charm and traditional Savoyard architecture (which is not always easy to find in the French Alps)… and it’s perfect for families with its direct ski-in-ski-out slopes and super nice accommodation – we will come back to that.

How different levels, perfect lunches and skiing with a view go hand-in-hand

We travel with 3 children (3,9,13) and the reality of very different ski/snowboard levels, but at no time during our stay were the differences a challenge. Situated on a North-Westerly bearing , the ski area of Sainte-Foy offers high quality powder snow which is renowned amongst all ski experts. In short the area is ideal for all levels; from beginner to the expert.

The ski slopes are well maintained and have a variation in level of 1000m. You have a lot of slopes with challenging “off piste” tree tracks that the more experienced skier can play at while the beginner can stay at the slopes. This was a big hit and made it possible for us to have a lot of time together instead of splitting us up in groups…But it´s not just for families…For the real pro off-piste rider, the area is a true adventure (but bring a guide!) and known to be the place where ski instructors and guides go to on their day off… and they all talk about the ungroomed black runs of “Crystal dark”, “Morion” and “Crêt Serru du Haut”.

 

Our youngest, aged 3, had her real debut on the skies (we did take a few 1 day trips already and she had a taster last year)… and what a hit. Ok, admitted… the perfect conditions made it easy to create a succes: clear blue sky, sun, fresh snow and lots of hot chocolate breaks…plus she met the nicest ski instructor who within less than an hour, got her basics in place….

And off to the slopes she went…

On the 30km of marked slopes you find an array of beautiful mountain chalets and hamlets…. not to mention the option to have really nice, well-prepared lunches and the joy of a spectacular view of the Mont-Blanc and the Haute-Tarentaise Valley. Both the restaurants Les Brevettes and Les Marquises are recommendable.

An alternative is to make a picnic on the side of the slopes…If you don´t want to bring the food your self, Les Marquises has a nice and cool “drive in” where you simply just pick up your food – and it´s made of nice quality ingredients!!

Unsorted
Picnic in the sun, photo credit (c) Holly Junak for Premiére Neige

Once you tried a chalet like this, it will be hard to go back…

Imagine coming down from the slopes, entering at nice cosy chalet where the fireplace is lit and someone has prepared afternoon tea/coffee and even baked a cake….and then… while the nicest and talented chef is preparing your dinner…you jump in to the hot tub on the balcony and watch the sun set over the mountains…

Sounds like a used phrase in a travel magazine (and you can almost see the toothpaste smile on the models sitting in the tub)….. but that is what our accommodation in Sainte-Foy was like… and here is our smile:-)

We have tried various types of accommodation on our past ski holidays. In Sainte-Foy you have everything: Hotels, appartements and chalets…but we have to say that nothing has ever been so well organized, convenient, service oriented and characterized by friendly staff as during this experience.

We stayed in a catered chalet called South Face, operated by the ski Chalet company, Premiére Neige. Conveniently located in the resort, and with easy access to the pistes and resort centre, the stunning 5 bedroom chalet delivered the ultimate in catered ski holiday luxury and relaxation. The view from the chalet was just…fantastic…Look at this morning sky… and then imagine how beautiful this view is all year around as the scenery changes…. Premiere Neige offers a number of different chalets in the resort and you can find a full list here

file-11

We shared our chalet with two other partys – each had their own floor with private bathrooms – and in the morning and evening we all had dinner together at a long table in the shared living room. A wonderful experience with fantastic food, really nice people and the most helpfull staff. Thanks to Chef Chris for involving a very curious 9-year-old boy in your cooking….. we still talk about that cheese cake:-)…and the chocolate cake and…

So….Is Saint-Foy then only a ski destination?

Not if you ask us! The area offers a lot of adventures for cyclists and hikers during spring and summer…and we are already looking at dates for our return. That is what Saint Foy does to you…

vandreskilte
Hiking routes setting of from the center of Sainte Foy

You can learn more about the summer adventures  here and also find valuable information at the Tourists office´s website here

Cold facts, insider tips and usable links:

facts-about-sainte-foy

Sainte Foy is known only to the privileged few… You are now among us… so please keep the secret:-)… We will be back…

5-ways-west-on-tour
5 Ways West – Photo Credit (c) Holly Junak for Premiére Neige

1 year in Switzerland…What an adventure!

switzerland-landscape-and-flag

One year ago on exactly this day, we got the key to our new home and so began our Swiss adventure.

Leaving Denmark behind was hard, but it has been a journey with so many fantastic experiences and learnings all summing up to a year we will never forget!! We are not flying around on pink clouds every day, but close to, and that underlines that we made a right choice. You can read about why we moved here.

New job-New School-New Languages-New Home-New Triathlon Club-New Friends-New (fantastic!!) Running Trails-Founding 5 Ways West-70 Days of Visits from back home-Exploring Switzerland-Travels to Italy, France, Spain, Denmark-Many days of Hiking, Skiing and Climbing…Living in the middle of Europe is an adventure.

Pictures say more than words, so here is a gallery of what our first year has been all about….

December: Turning an empty loft in to a home….Christmas, New Years and our first visitors from Denmark.

 

In January, real life began – and so did our Skiing season. For a Dane it’s simply fantastic to have so easy access to the mountains….

Winter turned in to Spring….. and almost every weekend was used to explore Switzerland or a neighboring country….You can read a little more about that here

The summer came later than we had expected …. but we kick-started it with a weekend at Ibiza celebrating our dear friends magical wedding, had several visits from friends and family, traveled to our favorit place in Denmark (Skagen) and France (Duniere-sur-Eyrieux), enjoyed the summer-liveliness of our own town (Solothurn – where one of us got a new haircut:-)) and rounded everything off by participating in our first up-hill mountain race. You can read about that here:

After a September with Indian Summer, Fall came….. and together with this, the most beautiful change of scenery on our hiking trips. You can see it here. Before we knew it, a year had passed and winter came back:

New adventures are waiting around the corner. First Christmas and New Year here in Switzerland, then a long weekend in Sainte-Foy-Tarenstaise (France) in January and La Santa (Lanzarote, Spain) in February.

Anna og Elli_We travel because

Thank you so much for following our adventure.

Lots of love

#5wayswest

 

From the flat landscape of Denmark to the most beautiful Swiss nature… The contrast of our lives….

 

 

file-6
Oeschinensee – The breathtaking view you are rewarded with when you climb the mountain…

Last week our family was scattered over three locations as most of us went back to Denmark for a visit. It was so nice to see family and  friends, so nice to bike around in “our” Copenhagen, but at the same time so funny to realise how much you miss the mountains, when you are not surrounded by them. So… naturally our weekend should be spend in them….. The luxery you have when you live in Switzerland:-)

Early yesterday morning we drove to Oeshinensee, which is about 1 h from where we live. We went to the lake for the first time back in early July…. So we looked very much forward to see the scenery with all the Autumn colors. Even the drive going there, is breathtaking.

file-4

 

Oeschinensee is a lake in the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) east of Kandersteg in the Oeschinen valley. At an elevation of 1,578 metres (5,177 ft), it has a surface area of 1.1147 square kilometres (0.4304 sq mi). Its maximum depth is 56 metres (184 ft). Since 2007 the lake is part of the JungfrauAletschBietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The lake is popular…. Which is not hard to understand. It is easy to access via the cable car, but if you, like us, like to hike (and avoid the crowds!! of tourists) there is the most beautiful trail from valley to the top. We sat off at 10:00 AM in minus -1 C, with clear blue sky….

The climb takes you through the most fantastic nature….

…..and after 2h, 5 km and an elevation of 500m we reached the lake… in perfect time to make a fire and lunch. We were completely alone on the trail up and down…and if you turn left upon arrival to the lake (away from the two restaurants) it is almost as if you were alone on the planet………..

 

Besides offering perfect hiking trails, the lake also has a Mountain Coaster placed with a view over a crazy scenery of mountain peaks. So much fun for the kids… and Jim:-)….and for the one who was looking after the bags while the others were playing:-)

We are totally in love with the Kandersteg area and at some point we have to spend more days here…. There are so many great trails to try – both for hiking and running and Oeschinensee also offers a smaller skiing area during wintertime….Looks great for a one-day trip…So we are absolutely coming back……

A perfcet day wellspent including 12 km of hiking up and down….

Summer (Check!) – Autumn (Check!) – Winter (to come….)….

Check out Oeschinensee’s website for more info: http://www.oeschinensee.ch/english/

 

 

Why in the World would you run 14.1 km uphill on a hot summer day?!

profil_en

When we moved to Switzerland from Denmark 8 months ago we decided that a part of our new life and adventure should include “mountain running”.

We live in the middle of the beautiful city of Solothurn and every day we look at the Jura mountains. As regular long distance runners and lovers of the outdoors, we have wanted to have a go at trail running and mountain ultras for some time…..and now have the perfect conditions in our “back yard” to actually do it. Just take a look at this scenery… The picture was taken on an early morning run.

Jura mountains 3

A few month back one of us received a ticket for the “Weissensteinlauf”: 14.1 km with an elevation gain of approximately 1000 m.

Not everyday running for a Dane!! Long distance is fine, but we come from a country were the highest point is 170 m a.s.l.  – so just thinking about running up a mountain is a challenge:-). The Weissensteinlauf has been held for 26 years and the event is a beautiful mountain race that leads you through the mysterious scenery in the St. Verena ravine over the vista point at the top of the race, the “Röti”, to the finishing line at the Hotel Weissenstein. Climbing the Röti was tough, but the view was absolutely worth almost throwing up your lungs.

As one of us was participating, why not make it a family event?! Sounds so straight forward, but with our family structure it requires a bit planning in advance. So…. The World’s best Gradma flew in from Denmark to cheer and look after our youngest children. Theo, who is our oldest age 12, had expressed that he also wanted to run, but we were, honestly, a bit unsure if it would be too big of a challenge for him. On the other hand, it would be an experience for life to do it together and not the least a learning session in mountain running. Theo is a good runner and recently started to practice triathlon….but we really believe that sport and the desire to compete has to come from your children, not from the parents(!). He was very insisting and motivated and we decided to try…underlying that it was more than ok to step out of the race at any time.

Yesterday we stood at the start line with the youngest participant in the race:-).

Theo på startlinjen

We had agreed that we would run all the way together, but our little man had so much energy in his legs, so after 7 km we decided that he was the boss. Leaving his slightly slower mom behind, he climbed the rest of mountain with his dad.

Theo og far på vej op

He truly has the willpower of an ox… and the biggest heart, so even after he crossed the finish line, he had the energy to run back to meet his mom so that we, as initially planned, could finish as a team.

Målfoto alle 3

We did it!!! Ran our first real uphill mountain race….. We did it because it challenged us, because it was different from what we have tried before…. and it was such a great experience! We got epic views, outstanding scenery, mountainous terrain over a soft surface, and the great reward of completing a major challenge together…. This is why you run uphill on a varm summer Sunday:-)

If you want to learn more about the race, go visit the official website: http://www.weissensteinlauf.ch/

 

 

 

What can the World’s most Intelligent Virtual Running Coach do for you?

Emagine having your personal running coach with you on every run – no matter where you are in the World? A coach that follows every step you take, and along the way makes you both run faster, more efficiently and with a reduced risk of injuries?!

Sounds like a system that fits our lifestyle! We have tested SHFT.

Fakta om SHFT

The Virtual Running Coach is the first product in the World of its kind developed by leading Professors, Doctors, PhD’s, Professional Running Coaches, Elite Runners, Sports Scientists, Mathematicians, Data Scientists, and Developers to ensure the best approach to improve your running technique…… This is not just any kind of product. It’s a product based on years of research…. and validity is in our world a prerequisite to make a wearable interesting.

SHFT will not only inform you of basic running data like distance, pace, time, etc. (like regular apps and running watches) but will give you never before seen running data, like your impact, movement, efficiency and will coach you in real time while running, how to use these data, to improve yourself as a runner.

Especially the Watt measurement is one of the elements that helps to separate the SHFT from other existing products in the market. The team behind SHFT have deliberately chosen not to measure and monitor the runners’ heart rate. Pulse measurement is replaced by Watt measurement, which is supposed to be much more accurate and useful for runners who want to run more efficiently. In the cycling sport Watt has long been the cyclists most used metric as it very accurately puts numbers on their training efficiency

Take your running to the next level and run faster, stronger and longer….

How SHFT works

The SHFT Virtual Running Coach is a brand new way to learn more about your run…. and it sounds so easy! Until now SHFT has mainly been branded through their SHFT Ambassadors (semi pro or pro runners)….We are not professionals (at all) but see running as an “add on” to our active lifestyle and believed that we, every day runners, could benefit a lot from the insight that the SHFT provides. Who doesn’t want to learn to run faster while using less energy and hereby prevent injuries?!

But we were, due to more reasons, a little skeptical when we initially started our testing:

  • Practical perspective: Neither of us ever run with headphones (we like to listen to the nature:-)) or bring our phone
  • Ego perspective: Running is for us a “free space”. We run because running brings joy and energy, but what happens when you suddenly change this space into a learning session? Instead of clearing your head, you now need to relate to a lot of data – will this effect the free space negatively?!

So…the SHFT was up for a challenge!

løbeanekdote_anna_ben

Testing…. while travelling!

FullSizeRender

The pod that is strapped into a chest strap, simultaneously with the pod on the right foot, measures how much you brake your run, how much you bounce your bodyangle and how much you lean forward, and not least, measures how many watts you use during your run.

We deliberately chose to initiate our test midst of a travel period as travelling plays a big role in our life and found that it was important to record how SHFT fitted this lifestyle. Further, it allowed us to try SHFT in different environments: hot, cold, rainy, hilly, mountains, flat etc.

It is very easy to get started. Big plus! And the interface of the app works brilliantly. It is easy to access data and you quickly get a feeling about what and how you need to improve and proceed.

The first time you use SHFT, the coach will do a test as “she” subsequently uses to determine where you need help to improve. This test is then repeated after 10 training sessions. Each session lasts for 3 x 6 minuts. At the end of each session you get a very constructive report. Here is an example:

shft_eksempel på rapport_2
From a run in the Jura Mountains in Switzerland (hilly)

 

Further there is a cool detail that is worth highlighting about SHFT:

  • Graphic animation of your foot (steps): After each run you can see a graphic 3D animation of where you land on your foot, how you set off and further get exercises on how you for instance can reduce ground contact time. 

What did we learn?!

We learned a lot…for instance:

  • How to hold a constant pace, increase our numbers of steps per minute  and hereby lower ground contact time and reduce the peak mechanical stress on our body – and so reduce the risk for developing impact related overuse injuries.
  • Found a joy in having the same coach with us, no matter where we travelled. A coach who was there for you, motivated etc. despite being virtuel. A funny addition was also, that the presence of the coach made me (Anna) feel safe, no matter where I ran…. Normally I am not so fond of running alone in new places!
  • That SHFT makes a strong mark by not just giving us objective numbers, but also to give us a subjective assessment of how good our running style is (called SHFT-score). It makes SHFT very easy and really fun to work with.
  • That it’s important to leave your SHFT at home for some of your runs…. Like a baby that learns to walk… It’s good to get a helping hand, but also important to let go, so you learn to integrate the new techniques in your system.

Honestly, we still do not like to run with our phones, but it is fully compensated by the very usable instructions you get from the coach…. and probably a hassle that will be erased with time and development.

SHFT has a lot of interesting perspectives…..and is definitely not just a tool for the professional runner. Emagine if SHFT could be used to help people recover after surgery?!

SHFT allows you and me to have access to our own private running coach on a daily basis. That being said, we absolutely believe that it is very important to maintain the social perspective that running also can provide! So SHFT is not going to kill running clubs or destroy business for personal coaches, but add value as these are not always available to you.

We will continue our journey with SHFT – we have a mountain run coming up in August – and plan to let our oldest son (age 12), who is also a runner, be the next ginny pig…. everyone should learn to run right and in all fairness it would be much easier if we got it right from the start – so why not try it on children?!

Note: This blog post is not sponsored!