Saturday, 1 February 2014

Puppy hour in the French Alps

It's that time of the day when the ski lifts are closing on the French Alps.

Weary skiers and boarders are heading inside to reheat their toes and fingers.

Some skiers are enjoying a vin chaud as part of their apres-ski ritual, and watching their kids hurl themselves down gentle slopes on their toboggans for the last time.

But the fun is just beginning for some, for this is the time of the day when the dogs come out to play.

One of the most enjoyable sights on this trip to the ski resorts Val d'Isere and Les Arcs comes between 4.30pm and 5.30pm every day.

You see this is when scores of dogs, big and small, accompanied by their owners, young and old, do a final lap of the village for the day.

I've made sure it's part of my schedule too.  At risk of looking like a dog stalker or puppy paparazzi, I go for a walk at this time to catch the dogs' antics.

Europe is a pretty dog-friendly place at the best of times, and the snowy Alps is no exception.

After spending the day inside and warm, these dogs have come out to stretch their legs in the chilly snow.

Some dogs adopt a leisurely pace, while others race around madly after balls and sticks, or try to catch snow flying through the air.

They're all well behaved (there's no fighting - perhaps it's too cold?) and they know how to dodge any straggling skier or snowboarder scraping their way down the slopes.

Just like the skiers and snowboarders, these pooches seem to love playing, rolling around and digging in the snow.

At Les Arcs this week, I was also treated to a pack of huskies getting ready to sprint off into the snow.  It was a cold, cloudy and windy day, but that didn't seem to dampen the dogs' spirits.

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