Les Bronzés font du ski is one of those cult classic films that define popular culture in France. Released in 1979, it was one of a series of ‘Les Bronzés’ movies by Patrice Leconte, a parody of the singles holiday that featured early performances from an all-star lineup of comic actors: Josiane Balasko, Michel Blanc, Christian Clavier, Gérard Jugnot, Thierry Lhermite.
I remember not really getting the film the first time I saw it: neither the slapstick, heavy-handed humor the French seem to love, nor the lightning-fast repartee. But I came to appreciate that the film defined an era – as did yours truly last time I hit the slopes.
March is a good time for skiing in the French Alps. There are fewer tourists, for one thing, as most of the school breaks are over and the Parisians have gone home.
This winter hasn’t been great for snow – seems the weather gods decided to dump it all on North America this year. So we decided on some early spring skiing last weekend while the skies were blue and the snow still fairly plentiful.
My husband was feeling ‘en manque de montagne’ as he hadn’t been skiing for several weeks – he needed a fix of thinner air. I happily dusted off my old skis and boots that had miraculously turned up after our last move. I’m not an easy fit in a ski boot so I was delighted to rediscover my comfy old Nordicas and not have to rent for once.
We went to our closest resort, Avoriaz. It was a Saturday, a good choice if you want to avoid the crowds. Most people are arriving or departing on that day and so there are fewer skiers on the slopes.
As usual, we’d no sooner geared up than I needed to hit the ladies. Hubby went to buy the ski passes while I went in search of les toilettes. Things must be improving around here: I found clean, functioning facilities right by the pistes. When I returned a few minutes later, an ESF ski instructor was holding up one of my skis and examining it.
“Ahem, those are mine,” I ventured, thinking he’d mistaken my skis for his own.
“Ah!” he sighed, setting them down. “I so regret getting rid of my old ones.”
“Why, because they don’t make ‘em like these any more?”
“Because they were such a great souvenir. Those were the days!”
Right. I hadn’t realized until then that my skis, pointy tipped and perhaps 20 years old, were considered a relic of bygone days. I was starting to feel like a fossil myself.
Hubby came up and chuckled along with the fellow, which I thought was pretty mean considering he was sporting brand new equipment. To be fair, he uses it enough to amortize the investment.
Then, as we were about to get on les oeufs (as the French called the Gondola lifts), one of operators noticed my skis and said: “Ha, those are a real collectors’ item!” He went on to advise me not to leave them by the bar too long, or they’d get nicked for sure.
How did he know I’d be at the bar?
But it’s decided: I’m getting new skis next year.