Les Chalets de Superdevoluy
We had about five hours until we could get into our apartment, so we went for a walk around Superdevoluy to get our bearings. It didn't take very long to discover all there was to see in the resort.  It is a purpose built resort, with the main apartment block, Bois d'Aurouze, started in the 60's, and because of this, there is no typical alpine village centre.  It is however, very quiet as the main bars and restaurants are in the main apartment block facing the ski slopes.

Main road around Superdevoluy
There was one main road that swept round in a large loop down the front of Bois d'Aurouze, round the back of the Chalets du Superdevoluy and then back to where it entered the village.

This loop in the road formed a relatively flat area that was free from any buildings, where the snow was quite deep.  Here we found a couple of igloos that previous people had built.

Igloo near Les Chalets du Superdevoluy
Down near the nursery slopes, there was a children's playground with some benches.  Here, the children were surprised by how deep the snow was - the snow was right up to the bench, so that you felt like you were sat on the floor!
Sitting on a bench in the park
We found we still had plenty of time before checking in, so we went bumboarding.  [2009: boards bought locally were about 4€]  There were some nice small slopes just in front of Bois d'Aurouze, at the base of the pistes where the ski lifts start, which proved ideal for the children.  That kept them happy for a short while.

Eventually they tired of the bumboarding, so we made our way to the Skimium shop to collect the skis that we had prebooked for the children.  The staff spoke excellent english and even had little post-it notes with the childrens names on, on the equipment that they had set out ready for our arrival.  Their customer service was excellent!
Trying out the skis in Devoluy
Of course, now the children wanted to try out their new skis straight away (where do they get the energy from??).  

We did not have ski passes booked for the first day, but that did not stop them.  They just had a play on the lower nursery slopes, whilst us oldies relaxed in the glorious sunshine with a drink! 
Improving fast!
By lunchtime, everyone was feeling hungry and tired, so we went for something to eat from one of the small apres ski cafes, before walking over to the office for our apartment block.  We had about half an hour to wait until the office opened and we were able to check in.  The staff spoke excellent english and we had no problems checking in and finding our apartment.  Time for a quick siesta, before heading off to the food shopping at the only supermarket in town.

I would like to state again that there is only one supermarket [2009], and therefore the prices are astronomical!  Be warned!  There are a couple of patisseries and a small stall selling cooked food, but for general groceries you do not have any choice.   If you can, try and shop at a supermarket outside of the resort, like Carrefours or bring supplies with you to reduce your costs.  Self catering in Superdevoluy is possibly as expensive as eating out at home!  This probably the biggest drawback for the resort.  We did not eat out, so I cannot comment on the restaurant prices.  Neither can I comment on the prices in la Joue du Loup as we did not eat their either.  Maybe someone could let me know what the prices are like?
Sunset over Le Pic du Bure
We had ski passes included with our accommodation and were able to pick these up from the main ski lift office later in the afternoon, so that we would be ready for our first full day of skiing the next day (Sunday).  We did not need a photograph or need to pay a deposit.  They were the hands free type so you could put it in your sleeve pocket and just swipe your arm past the sensor to open the gates.  It makes it so much easier than having the old style card attached to your coat on a retractable cord!

Needless to say, we had a quiet evening and an early night, so that we would be ready for a good days skiing in the morning.

Veynes-Devoluy Railway StationVeynes-Devoluy Railway Station
The service that we were on did not terminate in Veynes-Devoluy, but carried onto Briançon.  Knowing this, we set our alarm to wake us up about 45 minutes before we were due to arrive in Veynes so that we would have plenty of time to get ready.  We were not sure it there was going to be a wake up call, or how long the train was going to stay in the station.  Ours was the first stop and we did not want to be carried onto the next stop at Gap!

We need not have worried because there was an announcement telling us that Veynes was the next stop in 20 minutes.  There was a final one about 5 minutes from the station.  We were already packed with all of our bags by the door by this time!

Although it was still dark outside (it was only 6am!) we could see there was some snow on the ground and were all very excited!  The train pulled into quite a small station, and we got all of the bags off quickly and followed the dozen or so passengers that got off with us to the station front.

We were not sure which was our bus to Superdevoluy, but a lady that we had met in Paris Austerlitz station who spoke a little english, showed us which one it was.  We had pre-booked the bus over the internet, so at least we had the name of the company and knew what we should looking for.  However at 6am, and still half asleep, with two children in tow, the brain wasn't working so good!  The company was called Devoluy Voyages and we had downloaded the timetable from the internet and had their telephone number and a contact name in case of difficulties.

All the bags were loaded into the bus and off we went.  I was a little concerned, and so were the other passengers, when, about 5 minutes down the road, the driver pulled into a supermarket car park and just left us!  I'm sure he said what he was doing, but my french was too limited for me to understand what he had said.  He did return after a few minutes (phew!) and we carried on our journey.

The bus made one stop on the way to Superdevoluy, at the neighbouring resort of La Joue du Loup.  It did look pretty with its little wooden chalets.  We would hopefull be skiing back to visit this resort later in the week.

After dropping off a couple of people, we continued on to Superdevoluy.  

Sunrise over SuperdevoluySunrise over Superdevoluy
During the drive round to the other side of the mountain, the sun rose, and gave us our first glimpse of what would become, over the next week, very familiar mountains.  The views that we saw were quite spectacular and we were all very excited.

We finally arrived in Devoluy, where the bus dropped us off outside the main building, Bois d'Aurouze.  We got our luggage out of the boot of the bus and got ourselves organised, only to discover that everyone that had travelled with us had suddenly disappeared!  There was not a soul to be seen anywhere - it was like a scene out of the Twilight Zone!

My husband and I are quite seasoned travllers, but we were still not quite ready for our arrival into Devoluy!  It's 8 o'clock in the morning and we know that we cannot get into the apartment until 2pm.  We weren't even sure where we had to go to check in.  It's below zero and we have two young children under 12, neither of which were dressed for the snow.  Now what?

One of the problems that we had found whilst booking the holiday was the fact that there was very little information about the resort on the internet as none of the big english tour operators at that time used Superdevoluy.  I didn't even know where the shops and cafes were as we had not even found a map showing the layout of the town.  From first glance, there didn't even seem to be any obvious 'centre' to the resort.  We needed a plan of action!

Where is the first place that you go to in a strange place to find out what is available - tourist information!  According to the map in the bus shelter where the bus had dropped us off, the Tourist Information office was at the bottom of the hill at the opposite end of town.  So we headed in that direction.  

Bois d'Aurouze, SuperdevoluyBois d'Aurouze (right), Superdevoluy
The footpath that we were walking on was level with the first floor of Bois d'Aurouze and at intervals there were steps down to entrance doors at ground level.  Being a curious sort of person, I popped down to one of the entrances, and found another map that showed the Tourist Office back the way we had just come!.  

I spotted some benches by a window, that just happened to be infront of a patisserie that was just in the process of opening.  At least it was somewhere warm and dry with a view out towards the nursery slopes.

We all trooped inside, along with all of our luggage and settled the children down on the benches with something to eat and drink.  I then went looking for information.

Information board in Bois d'AurouzeInformation Board in Bois d'Aurouze
I soon discovered that the two large apartment blocks were linked together with corridors that also formed the shopping centre.  I soon found the supermarket, clothing stores, cafes, ski hire shops, ski lockers and toilets - basically everything that you would find in a typical ski resort, but under the apartments!  We have seen this design before in Pamporovo, where all of the major hotels had been linked together by underground shopping areas.  This was quite a good design as it mean't that even if its snowing heavily outside, you  don't have to get all your outdoor gear on, just to go shopping or have a drink in one of the other resort bars.  

Bois d'Aurouze, SuperdevoluyBois d'Aurouze, Superdevoluy
Although this shopping area appeared underground on one side, on the opposite side, facing the slopes, it was at ground level.  This mean't that you had easy access to all the resort faciities straight from the ski slopes.

I eventually found the Tourist Information Office at the bottom of the hill, just where that first map said it would be.  It was a new building that had just opened and it appeared that the signs inside Bois d'Aurouze and not yet been altered to show the new location.  Unfortunately it was closed!  

Superdevoluy nursery slopesThe Superdevoluy nursery slopes
Walking back to where I had left everyone else, I found a letting agency that was open and the lovely lady inside spoke english!  She was able to show me on a map where to find the office for the apartment block we were staying in and also where to find a left luggage office so that we could store our bags until our apartment was ready.  It turned out that it was next to the patisserie, right in front of where the rest of the family were waiting!

By now the sun was shinging, the kids were fed and we felt a lot more confident about our decision to come as independent travellers!  There were a lot more people around and the resort was coming alive.  We changed into our outdoor clothes, checked in the bags, which wasn't too expensive, and went off to explore our resort!