Chamonix shows skiing can be a piste of cake

WHILE preparing for my on-piste debut, hearing the Alpine resort of Chamonix described as a mecca for adrenaline junkies didn’t exactly fill me with ease.

But a few days in the picturesque French resort should convince any amateur you don’t need to be hurtling down one of the many black runs at the speed of sound to have a blast.

Admittedly, there are things people don’t warn you before your first time.

It’s difficult not to appear permanently bow-legged on the first day, and carrying your skis around town without taking someone’s eye out will burden you with a nerve-racking sense of responsibility. You will also drink more mulled wine than at Christmas.

But after experiencing your epiphany moment on the snow, you won’t be able to get back up that ski lift fast enough.


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The beauty of Chamonix is not just in the literal sense, with its meandering mountain roads and sweeping white vistas, but also in the variety it offers skiers of all levels.

You’ll need some lessons and the ESF (Ecole Ski Fran�ais), offers both individual instruction and group courses beginning on the user-friendly slopes at Les Planards, close to Chamonix centre.

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The camaraderie a group offers is all part of the experience and the instructors are pretty good at pushing you off in the right direction, so to speak.

After a day or two, head to Le Tour, to test out your confidence on the slightly more challenging green beginners’ slopes.

The area also has a cable car up to several blue and red routes which offer stunning views over the valley and a good mixture of roads, steep and gentle inclines to get you practising all your skills.

After a hard day on the thighs and calves, it’s easy to see why hedonistic skiers make the most of their down time.

While it’s worth venturing into Chamonix centre for a taste of the good-time reputation Alpine resorts have earned, my partner and I were just as happy to mull over the day with a hearty bottle of red in our hotel lounge.

We stayed at the recently refurbished Les Lanchers, just a few minutes’ walk from the Flegere cable car and conveniently opposite a bus stop with regular routes to Le Tour, Chamonix and other ski areas.

Overlooking Mont Blanc, the hotel is a delightful merging of cosy lounge areas where you can drink or pick up a decent, reasonably-priced meal, alongside modern, well equipped and spacious rooms.

In the summer, owner Jon told me, the place comes alive with mountain bikers, trekkers and other adrenaline addicts.

It’s hard to imagine the place as anything but a winter wonderland.

But then Chamonix has already proved it won’t be pigeon-holed.

Getting there:

EasyJet flies to Geneva, which is under two hours from Chamonix, from London Luton, Gatwick and Stansted. Prices start from �27.99 one-way. See easyJet.com. Shuttle bus company Mountain Drop Offs will pick you up when your flight gets in and take you straight to your hotel for 50 Euros return. See mountaindropoffs.com

Where to stay:

Hotel Les Lanchers in Les Praz offers decently-sized, recently refurbished rooms with the option of half board at a great rate. Go to hotel-lanchers-chamonix.com or email vacances@hotel-lanchers-chamonix.com

Lessons:

ESF offer a variety of lesson packages for all abilities. See esf.net

Ski hire:

Praz Sports in Les Praz hire out both ski and snowboarding equipment

Information:

Information can be found at chamonix.com

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