FRENCH ALPS: A ski trip for beginners

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When I was offered the chance to learn to ski in PeiseyVallandry, French Alps, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive. It filled my head with questions; Am I too old to start? Can you learn in just a couple of days? Is it too risky? Well I soon found out…

After a short flight to Geneva and an hour-long car ride to France I started the climb to the top of the mountains; twisting and turning along the snow covered paths. Fields of pine appeared, unveling a picturesque view as I reached the beautiful ski village of Peisey-Vallandry. The quaint hamlet was dotted with charming chalets, open clearings, historical chapels and majestic views – I was ready to slalom through the glades.

Going off piste

french alps
Photo: Alex Booker

The second largest ski domain in the world, Paradiski is not only home to Peisey-Vallandry but also Les Arcs and the Olympic village of La Plagne, all within the Savoie region of the French Alps. With such a wide variety of slopes I was intrigued to try as many activities as I could fit in to my short stay. So before unpacking I joined my team, strapped on some snow shoes and hit the beaten track. Covering a few miles along narrow paths and icy climbs we went off-trail across the idyllic back country. Gathering a little more confidence, I turned back to take in the incredible view of rolling hills, merging into snowy mountains and disappearing into the distance. I took a deep breath in and inhaled the clean, thin air – why hadn’t I done this before?

Vallandry
Photo: Flora Neighbour

First timer

Without time to spare I was booked in for my first ski lesson. A little wobbly and fuelled with adrenaline, I was kitted out and ushered onto the snow. Like all first-timers, I was unsure and nervous to start with but it only took three morning sessions (and a lot of concentrating) until my group were heel-to-toe following each other down the mountains and beaming with an amazing sense of achievement. Our instructor was incredibly patient and I definitely wouldn’t have had the self-confidence to finish the week, gliding from side-to-side (even a very small jump on the flatter descents) without her, and believe me, you will need an instructor, so don’t even think about going it alone. At around 300 Euros for three sessions, it’s not cheap, but beginners should consider it an essential part of the experience.

french alps
Photo: Sjoerd van Oosten

This trip ignited a passion I never thought I had; a passion for flying down a mountain on skis. Paradiski offers a wide range of activities and I discovered slopes and skiing isn’t just for the young, it’s available for all ages and abilities. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to get incredibly toned and fit, while having a huge amount of fun, especially if you’re the type who can’t stand holidays of sitting about doing nothing. I, for one, will definitely be hitting the piste again soon.

french alps
Photo: Flora Neighbour

French Alps

ALL THE DETAILS YOU NEED…

We bunked at: Chalet Forsythia, Alpine chalet in Vallandry, close to the centre of village and main ski lift (three minute walk). Sleeps 10 (five bedrooms) en.ski-france.com

For more information on all resorts in Paradiski and prices, visit paradiski.com

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