Confessions of a skiing holiday virgin

ski holiday

Those who ski can’t live without their annual skiing holiday, but what happens when you’re a thirty-something who can’t ski? ETL travelled to Morzine in the French Alps to find out. 
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Ok, confession number one, I have skied once before, albeit 15 years ago and as a consequence immune teenager. Skiing now, seems terrifying, you want me to attach myself to a couple of planks and give myself over to the whim of gravity down that mountain face? Not on my watch.

In order to join in with friends and loved ones, however, it was with great trepidation that I found myself in Morzine in the French Alps this January. Arriving on a cold Sunday evening to a roaring fire and a white chocolate and blueberry cake at our home with Treeline Chalets I could see there were certainly aspects of the ski holiday I could easily get onboard with. For one the fantastic food our chalet hosts Toby and Elle continually plied us with – the luxury of being cooked for every evening never wore off.

Arriving for ski school with ESF at the Avoriaz slopes the next morning – here’s something they don’t tell you about looking chic on the slopes, walking in boots, carrying skis and poles is made to look much easier than it is. I stumbled often, and fumbled with boot bindings and once on the skis had no idea of how to actually move towards the ski lift.

My instructor Thierry eased me down easy nursery slopes, and I was fairly surprised at how much I could remember. I spent two hours with Thierry  snow-ploughing like a Moscow road clearer and leaning for safety into the hill on my turns (instead of weight forward) but I felt a sense of accomplishment. By the time I met my friends for lunch my feet were killing me in the bear-trap like boots and my thighs were screaming: “What are you doing to me?”  The wooden chalets nestled in the clefts between the blue and red runs are such a welcome respite. The food is hearty and gruyere laden and with the sun unseasonably bright for January we basked in a little altitudinal glow.

In the evenings the chalet was a welcoming cocoon and we spent our après ski drinking gluhwein in the hot tub and collapsing fireside after gorging on excellent boeuf bourginon, tartiflette and chocolate soufflés. Every desire was catered for, our hosts were so helpful it felt like staying with very attentive friends.

After a week at ski school with Thierry’s encouragement I managed to turn that snow plough into a more convincing turn, and I even got a little braver trying a more difficult red run with my friends by the week’s close. It still left my heart in my mouth for the duration of the descent, but I got there and I figure that’s the main thing.

I’ll never be Eddie the Eagle, I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy moguls or for that matter actually want to do five hours skiing in a day – these thighs were not made for perpetual bending – I do however think I can see myself taking another Alpine holiday. The food, hospitality and relaxation of the mountains were a total escape from city life. I will have another go on the skis if for nothing else but those gorgeous alfresco lunches in front of the dramatic snow-blanketed peaks. And, it seems, there’s only one way to get there, better strap those planks to my feet then.

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