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tourdefranceIt’s hard to underestimate the place and affection that the French nation and its people have for the Tour De France. Cycling is almost a religion in France and in the month of July it hosts the world’s premier multi-stage bike race.

Racing for twenty-three days with two rest days interspersed within the race, the riders cover a staggering 3,500km before they reach the finish line on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

The overall winner of the race is the person with the lowest cumulative time for all the stages.

The Tour circumvents France clockwise one year and then counter clockwise the year after.

This year two stages of the race will be held in the Haute Tarentaise area each drawing huge crowds to the area and it will undoubtably be the highlight of the summer.

The race was first held in 1903. Its genesis surprisingly came out the of the infamous l'affaire Dreyfus – a French pollical scandal of the late 19th century. Until that time France only had one national daily sporting newspaper. Its owners fell out over the l'affaire and one departed to start his own sporting daily. Keen to outsell his rival, one of his staff proposed a national multi-stage cycle race that would draw readers to the paper to read the reporting of the race.

And the rest is history.

In the early years, riders had to repair their own bikes and carry all the equipment and spares to do so. Cheating was rife; riders jumped onto trains and took lifts in cars, all of which was made harder for the observers to spot as stages were raced through the night, finishing the following day.

Over the years, things have been refined and codified. Stages are now raced in day-time only, riders represent professional cycle teams instead of racing for their nation of birth and the winner is decided by cumulative time, rather than points awarded for the finishing place in each stage.

Cheating was still present until quite recently. The American Lance Armstrong won the tour no less than seven times before admitting that he took performance enhancing drugs to aid his performance.

Most recently the tour has been dominated by British riders with first, Bradley Wiggins, and now Chris Frome winning the tour.

It’s hugely prestigious for a town to host the tour – either the daily Grand Départ or the exciting finish.

Stage 11 this year is raced on Wednesday 18 July and will see the riders depart from Albertville and finish 108km later in La Rosière Espace San Bernardo.

Stage 12 will see the riders depart from Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs and race a massive 178km to finish at Alpe d'Huez.

For me, the daily Grand Départ is the best as you see all the completing riders sign in before the start of that day’s race and have time to soak up the pre-race atmosphere – usually in glorious sunshine.

Don’t miss it!

Monsieur Mogul


Monsieur Mogul – Our man in La Plagne

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author

alone and not those of Ice and Fire Ski and Snowboard Holidays

In 1932 the first advert for a ski chalet holiday appeared in the Times and the concept of the chalet holiday was born. In the early years these trips bore little resemblance to the modern chalet offering. Lift systems and pistes were minimal; skis were dangerous and the chalets themselves were often very basic with self catering and shared rooms being the norm.

Over the years the ski industry has adapted and changed with the times – offering catering to combat mountain supply issues; becoming more upmarket to compete with self catered apartments; and embracing the changes in guest expectations that came with freely available flights.

With the expansion of package travel in the 1960s came the idea of being a seasonaire as companies looked for welcoming people to staff their new catered chalets. Enthusiastic and untrained these chalet girls and boys were vital in establishing a new base line for the industry. Like fruit picking or working as an aupair these jobs brought in little in the way of financial renumeration, instead they were an experience to be lived.

Nowadays the industry has changed beyond recognition. As well as enthusiastic gap year student seasonaires, companies like Ice and Fire tend to employ professional chalet chefs and experienced hosts with industry specific qualifications; providing a much higher level of service. Likewise the requirements for chalet operators have become more professional too as the regulations relating to employment, licensing and operating have changed over time.

This year the European Posted Workers Directive has changed; and with Brexit on the horizon as well; the ski industry as a whole is increasingly looking to change the way it operates; to put itself on a more professional footing; and to remunerate staff in line with the increasingly challenging roles they are taking on. We believe that this process will ultimately massively improve the industry; driving up standards for everyone.

At Ice and Fire we will be making some changes to what we offer included in our holidays. Specifically, from 1st September 2018 Ice and Fire will be offering 5 nights catering as our standard package; instead of the current 6 nights catered. This change applies to all new bookings made on or after 1st September 2018 and won’t affect existing bookings (reserved with a deposit paid) already in place on that date. These changes are being made to ensure that we are compliant with employment laws and norms; that the package we offer our staff remains competitive and fair; and so that we can continue to offer competitively priced holidays despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

From 1st September Included In Your Ice and Fire Holiday Is:
7 nights chalet accommodation
Breakfast and afternoon tea for 7 days - continental on chalet days off
Pre-dinner drinks and canapés – 5 nights a week
A four course evening meal with bottled wine - 5 nights a week
Children's evening meals as required - 5 nights a week
Help yourself fruit bowl
Beer, wine and soft drinks in the complimentary chalet bar
Unlimited broadband wifi access
Pre-arrival booking service for ski hire, ski school, lift passes and transfers
Chamber maid and hosting service provided by your chalet staff - 5 days a week
White hotel quality linen, towels and bathrobes with a mid-week towel change
Complimentary toiletries
Use of all chalet facilities
Book exchange and a selection of board games to borrow
Free use of childcare equipment including cot and highchair
Local French Tourism Tax
Total Payment Protection (Topps) Financial Security

You can find questions and answers about our new package here or you can contact us if you need more information.

Over the next few years the ski industry expects to see some significant challenges to the way in which we work caused by a number of factors including climate change; Brexit and anticipated French regulatory changes. Ice and Fire as a company, as well as the ski industry as a whole, is working hard to address these challenges in order that we can continue welcoming guests into our industry leading catered chalets for many more years to come.

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0044 (0)1172 510 103
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