After 1.5 days at Isola's high-octane weekend ambiance, I headed 40 minutes directly west through the Tinée Valley to Auron, a more traditional French ski town.
Entering the village:
In yet another instance of "the trail map doesn't tell the whole story," Auron has 83 miles/135 kms of marked trails, 2,800 vertical feet, a lot of off-piste and legit black terrain, along with a north/northwest orientation that allows skiing into May -- shocking given how far south it is. While the surrounding landscape isn't as dramatic as Isola, locals argue that it offers a better overall skiing package. Open as a ski area since 1937, Auron celebrated its 80th anniversary last year.
I checked into my lodging for the next two days, the cute Hotel Écureuil (Squirrel) with a monstrous but affectionate house pooch:
For the previous week, I'd been keeping my eye on a storm that had been forecast to drop ten inches the day I arrived and it came in just as advertised with a solid foot over most of the mountain and upwards of 16 near the top. Of course, I would've liked to experience Auron under sunny skies but don't argue with a powder day, especially one this close to the Mediterranean. At the top, sightlines were tough but my local friend Pascal kept us moving toward lines near trees.
I'm often accused of not posting enough pix, especially on powder days, so here are a handful:
We stopped for lunch at one. After a couple days of standard French winter fare with lots of cheese, I suggested trying to eat sensibly.
As the day went on, we noticed that the storm was coming in upside-down. The first four hours were bone-dry blower, but heavier by mid-afternoon. Still, I was getting lots of nice knee-deep turns.
By 3 pm, our legs were shot and we headed down to the village, but not before getting the de rigueur photo op -- a shame that you can't see the gorgeous backdrop behind this sign:
Also at the summit:
For reference, here are a few pix from their website of how it looks on a clear day:
But the day wasn't over. That evening, we went out for some nighttime slednecking with a bunch of locals, 45 minutes up the mountain.
We stopped at the Grizzly restaurant for a fantastic meal: