To send off our last winter in Europe for now, we caught the tail end of the ski season in the gorgeous French Alps, spending a week in Europe’s highest ski field. The views of snow capped jagged peaks spreading out as far as the horizon were breathtaking. The soothing sound of skis sweeping against snow and the fresh air in our faces was the best therapy for life in the big smoke.
Richard and I booked a package with Action Outdoors to say with a non-profit organisation called the UCPA. They operate a budget-friendly hostel-style operation at Val Thoren, a ski field located in the Tarentaise Valley of the French Alps. For an insanely good price we had accommodation, three meals a day, ski hire and lessons sorted. The UCPA staff also organise activities each night and are very friendly. I would highly recommend staying here; excellent value, and great skiing on offer in the valley.
Skiing at the end of the season means the days are typically sunny. Blue skies really make everything stunningly beautiful. (It’s also a little less busy.) The downside of course, is that because the temperature is warmer, there is a fair amount of melting and refreezing that occurs over each day and night, resulting in very icy slopes. While some areas felt a little more like ice skating than skiing, it was a great way to learn fast and by the end of the week, I was pretty comfortable with it.
Skiing every day for six days allowed us to really feel ourselves improving which only motivated us to get out there more. The mountains are rugged and beautiful – so inviting with their undulating slopes and crisp air. We tried as many of the slopes as possible and various combinations of easier and harder tracks. Despite tired leg muscles, it only took a day to truly begin enjoying the rhythmic zig-zagging down the mountain, and the freedom of coasting down as fast as you can!
One of the highest points at Val Thoren is a breathless 3200m above sea level. An enormous cable car took us up and you can either ski down or catch the cable car back down if your nerves fail you.
This trip was our first (and last – for now!) time skiing in Europe. The alps offer a wide variety of tracks and slopes to keep everyone entertained all week long. We met so many friendly people and thoroughly enjoyed the escape. We will be returning to France at the end of May to enjoy a last relaxing weekend in France – keep an eye out for that blog post!