The unforgettable week reporter Harry Rutter mastered the art of skiing in the beautiful French Alps
It took just one week for reporter Harry Rutter to master the French ski slopes as he took "the trip of a lifetime" this year.
• A week’s fully hosted ski holiday to the high altitude resort of Plan Peisey Les Arcs, with direct access to the Paradiski region with its 425km of pistes, costs from £609pp in winter 2018-19.
• The price includes return Gatwick flights (Manchester + £20), transfers, seven nights accommodation in a comfortable, homely chalet, with cooked breakfast, home made afternoon cakes and tea, three-course evening meals with wine (six nights) and the services of a friendly chalet host.
• A week’s stay at the Chalet Bayona costs from £639pp. Contact Ski Beat on 01273 855100, www.skibeat.co.uk.
• Ski Beat has been organising high quality fully catered ski chalet holidays to the French Alps for over 30 years.
• This coming winter Ski Beat’s charismatic chalet hosts will welcome guests in over fifty chalets, in nine snow sure resorts.
I’d always wanted to give skiing a try, so when the opportunity came about I knew I couldn’t say no.
Where I’m from there’s not really a lot of snow… it is England after all. So I, along with 11 others, jetted out to Plan Peisey to give skiing a shot.
We stayed with Ski Beat in the beautiful Chalet Bayona and were looked after by British hosts Sue and Simon who gave us a warm welcome upon arrival.
Plan Peisey is part of a network of five villages and different slopes for all abilities. The thing that shocked me most was the large scale of the resort.
Waking up in paradise
When we arrived I went straight to mine and my partner’s room to unpack. We had a stunning view of the hills from our balcony and could see for miles.
The first thing you’d see in the morning was the sun rising from behind the mountain and people travelling down hill in the ‘crab cage’ shuttles.
Included in our trip was a cooked breakfast in the morning, afternoon tea following our ski lessons and a three-course evening meal, every day.
My first morning on the slopes
It was day one and the nerves started to kick in as I put on my much-needed crash helmet and carried my skis up to the slopes.
This is where we met our ESF instructor Fred. He had spent most of his life in France and a large per cent teaching the sport to newbies like us, I felt safe.
We started with no ski poles, just practising stopping and starting. I’d be lying if I said none of us fell over… because we did, a lot.
It wasn’t long before we all felt comfortable enough to mount the ski lift and head up to the beginner’s section half way up the hill.
We spent the morning learning how to snow plough – this is when your skis are shaped like a triangle to help you slow down and come to a stop.
After a morning of repeating the same manoeuvre to build the muscle memory, we all headed back to the chalet.
Our hosts had laid out a fresh coffee and walnut cake and baguettes for us all, a message on the table read “We hope you have enjoyed your first day”.
Taking an impromptu tour
The next day, after another successful morning on the slopes, learning how to ski parallel with the help of Fred’s right-hand girl Anais, we took a tour.
Not a guided tour, we all just jumped on the cage shuttles and went for a wonder around our home for the next week.
This is where we quickly realised we were probably the only Brits for miles and when asking for directions all we got were pan-faced looks.
We did find our way to a lovely bar where we all had a drink and got to know each other better. We were joined by the venue’s white husky pup.
“Yep, that is a real-life igloo”
After (a few) drinks at the bar we continued our walk. We stumbled across what can only be described as Pingu’s dream mansion.
Yep, a real-life igloo made with real-life snow. Of course we couldn’t resist the temptation and all took turns to sit inside the marvellous creation.
As night fell we decided it was time to head back to the chalet where we would enjoy our three-course meal with our hosts Sue and Simon.
Our confidence built
After a few days going up and down the French Alps we all realised that we weren’t actually that bad and felt we could take it one step further.
After getting permission from Fred, we returned to the slopes after our morning lessons for an after-hours ‘sesh’.
Admittedly it was more nerve-racking without our pal Fred. But we picked it up quickly and were soon ready to participate in the BBC’s Ski Sunday.
We did it!
It was the last day of our trip and we were now all skiers, it felt like a wild dream, topping 35mph down the hills.
I can not only thank our wonderful Fred, but I can also thank my skiing comrades for picking me up when I fell down, both mentally and physically.
Skiing aside, our trip really was something else. Not only have I never seen so much snow in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much as I did.
The activities Ski Beat set up for us were so much fun. This included a hilarious comedy night, a live music show and a pub quiz, to name a few.
This honestly was the trip of a lifetime. Our chalet hosts treated us like royalty and made sure everyone had a wonderful time in Plan Peisey.