STANDING at the snow covered summit of a wide, treeless run in Les Deux Alpes, I am madly trying to remember everything our French ski instructor told us earlier today.
Feet shoulder width apart, toes pointing inwards, bent knees, slightly bent at the waist, arms out wide – and I’m ready to tackle my first green (a.k.a. beginners) run on the mountain. As I slowly edge down the slope, small French children are whizzing by me with the ease that only the very young or very carefree can muster. I barely notice the spectacular scenery, the clear blue sky or the crisp mountain air as I focus on keeping my skis parallel. Remembering my French instructor’s helpful advice that I should “let gravity do its work”, I gather a little speed, hold my breath and arrive at the bottom of the run in one piece. I am now officially a skier, and the exhilaration immediately makes me realise that the skiing bug really does exist!
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With the winter ski season about to start in Europe, Les Deux Alpes in the French Alpes is a winter wonderland which caters for all levels of skiers. Situated on one of Europe’s largest glaciers, the ski slopes boast guaranteed natural snow all year round — even in the height of summer! With 220kms of skiable terrain containing over 100 pistes, 55 lifts, 2 board parks, a half-pipe and 25km of cross-country trails, Les Deux Alpes is the largest ski resort in France’s Dauphine region.
But it’s not just the skiing which makes this break such a great experience. Our package includes our hostel in the centre of town and within walking distance to all the ski lifts, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner every day we’re at the resort, which means not only are we kept full and warm between runs, but we’re also not spending our skiing savings on expensive meals in town! The aprÃ¨s ski is legendary, with pub crawls, live bands, and more places to go out in town than we can possibly visit in our week’s break. And for those days when our inexperienced muscles have taken a particularly intense pounding, our ski pass includes access to a heated swimming pool where we can relax and unwind.
By the end of the week away, and with 12 hours of included skiing lessons under my belt, I feel like a pro. I’ve started braving the blue runs, and have even caught a lift over to look at a black run — though am certainly not ready to attempt that one yet! All that matters over the course of the week is getting another run under the belt, and another, and another…
On my final day, before handing back my ski equipment and heading back to London, I head out to take on one final slope. More carefree than when I first started, with the wind whipping through my hair, in my mind I look exactly like the Olympic skiers I’ve seen on television. At least that’s what I thought, until an unexpected patch of ice sends me over in front of a group of young French children. With a bruised ego, I continue to the bottom of the slope a little more carefully, with a new understanding of my ski instructor’s first words of wisdom – “if you aren’t crashing, you aren’t skiing”. Though a few bruises aren’t going to stop me – the ski bug has well and truly taken hold!