It was our intention to head up to Champ de Feu, the nearest ski station to Strasbourg, to go sledging on Boxing/St. Stephen’s Day this year, however this plan seemed hard to justify when 40 cm of snow settled in the City itself on Christmas morning; and given the fact too that the council had failed to grit any roads that night, taking a Peugeot 107 up a twisting icy mountain route to 1100m was likely to have been a regretful episode.

Despite my own disappointment, the tiny wee slope on the south side of Parc du Contades proved to be a worthy substitute for our nippers, who both being under five years probably wouldn’t have appreciated the high octane delights of the 300m+ luge piste in the Vosges anyway.

There are however a few minor niggles with the slope that is formed once the luges come out:

  • the local kids opt to form the slope on the steepest side of the hill, which thus results in the shortest slide; (and as much as I keep pointing out to them that if they flattened the snow to the right – it would make for a longer and more satisfying experience – but they just seem to ignore me)
  • at peak times a group of dark robed-mothers congregate at the top of the hill to scowl at their numerous offspring arguing over the single sledge they have been told to share, but by doing so also block off the optimum luge launching point at the apex of the hill; (though running over their toes usually gets them to move)
  • after a few days of sub zero temperatures you quickly realise that every tree in the park is surrounded by yellow snow and that the dark patches are not in fact where the snow has worn thin (but where hot dog poo has briefly melted the permafrost) which means crossing the park by sledge is something of a dog-toilet slalom
  • no draglifts
  • … and there’s nowhere nearby to buy Gluhwein nor Jaegertee

All that said, a trip to le Mont de Contades is a worthwhile journey if you have kids under eight. Older kids though, such as myself, will only be satisfied with Champ de Feu and such like.

It’s probably worth pointing out that fans of alpine skiing should not bother lugging their equipment to the park – although cross-country seems to be quite popular hereabouts.