After getting out of bed in the morning, I drew the curtains very slowly to take in, for a few silent minutes, the picturesque scenery unfolding before my eyes. The view from the balcony was stunning, and I could have stood there forever gazing with wonder and awe at the sheer beauty of my surroundings. To a native Mediterranean like myself, this Alpine idyll looked like the first light of dawn in another world – and it was so beautiful.

In the distance, lofty mountain peaks rose up towards the pale grey sky as drifting snowflakes settled on the dense spruce forest, falling away in steep slopes down to the river running through the village below. A small church steeple rose above all the other snow-covered roof tops as if reaching for the heavens, while smoke spiralled out of the chimneys and disappeared into dawn’s early light.

Photos by the author

It was a view that took my breath away and I couldn’t wait to be part of it. So, very snugly dressed, I ventured outdoors, my boots crunching as I trudged through layers of slush and snow. It was very, very cold out there, but it was a good time for a leisurely walk. Everywhere I looked there were pretty little chalets nestled in that magical, winter wonderland, protected by enormous spruce trees.

Snow fell gently, adding more sheets of pristine white that already covered the ground. Neither boundary walls nor pedestrian pathways were visible, but the snowplough had cleared the worst of the snow away and I was able to get along the road. Rows of parked cars were buried beneath a thick blanket of snow that had fallen overnight.

The cold, brisk air filled the village square, surrounded by small shops. The quaint old town hall was the administrative centre, but it was the baroque church and its beautiful spire that dominated the entire square. I was amused at the way locals pulled along small, plastic snow sleds to transport their shopping bags, or a young child or two sitting comfortably in them. All the eateries around served the traditional tartiflette, a baked gratin of bacon and potatoes under melted reblochon cheese, the ultimate comfort food in cold weather.

Famous chefs like tartiflette too

Once more, those mountain peaks beckoned, and I continued my walk up the hill leading to the gentle slopes, where I was met with heart-warming scenes of children and adults snowballing each other. Children on their sleds were squealing with laughter as they slid all the way down to the bottom. Like me, the freshly-built snowman stood there in knee-deep snow, watching their fun with a huge grin on his face.

Nearby, the chairlift transported skiers to the top of the run. Before gliding down those magnificent slopes, the lucky skiers would have literally stood on top of the world, where panoramic views of God’s spectacular creation stretched out to the horizon. I have stood there too, and it was an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.