Day 1. The coach, the coach, the coach.
The first thing to know about France is that it is much further away than you thought it was. Mid-Christmas bop, beglittered and weighed down with frantically and ignorantly packed bags, your two intrepid first-time skiers made it onto a coach bound for somewhere in the French Alps (we’re still a little unsure where, exactly).
10 hours in, the glitter was starting to itch and the five magazines we had optimistically brought to ‘fill the hours’ were already finished. As were the party rings. However, perks included practicing advanced French at service stations (“Un lasagne, s’il vous plait”, “J’ai beaucoup d’excitement pour le skiing”) and listening to the utterly bizarre conversations of other Varsitonians (“Tell your worst sex story!” “This one time, there was this girl, and I really liked her, and then she didn’t want to have sex with me.” “Lad.”)
Eventually, we arrived on schedule and were met by a suitably alpine, wood-panelled chalet (well, a flat in one), albeit with an oddly triangular bathroom – perhaps it’s a French thing.
Day 2. Wearing skis, moving on skis, falling over on skis
Contrary to popular belief, ‘Beginner’ classes are not for those starting at the beginning, which is instead the domain of the ‘Absolute Beginner.’ We sensibly classed ourselves as the latter, while one friend was swiftly dragged into our class, having been left in the wake of the vastly more experienced pros in the Beginner class.
We spent a long time learning to put on skis, and eventually managed this. A successful first day, topped off by the Opening Night Party where we drank Varsity Punch as we danced to A Skillz and the Correspondants on our somewhat aching legs.
Day 3. Avant-ski, ski, après-ski
Our second day of lessons brought fresh challenges, mostly in the form of fresh snow. As our eccentric French instructor Michael put it, “The slope is very deep. We have two solution: you will walk or you will fell down.”
When we eventually donned our skis again, we set off down the mountainside (well, nursery slope) to calls of “Allez!” from Michael and admonitions of “Miss. Why you fell down?” whenever gravity conquered us.
After the physical exertions of a morning’s lessons we dipped our toes into the world of après ski at the pun-tastic ‘Var-city’. On offer were hot chocolate and fatigued skiiers set against a backdrop of mountains, dance music and enthused afternoon clubbers.
Day 4. Getting steamy
Our final lesson yielded yet more helpful advice from Michael: “These ladies have problem with their googles. They steam. Always, with the googles, buy the two lens” and “We have the champagne now? Yes?” along with the fun but arguably useless skill of skiing backwards.
With these new tricks up our waterproof-and-extensively-padded sleeves we felt ready to tackle new, unfamiliar terrain. We decided to leave the final green run for another day as the blizzard intensified and instead snow-ploughed our way (it’s a skiing term, look it up) straight into our accommodation’s spa. Here, we perfected our skills in similarly water-based activities, though our sauna, hot tub and steam room techniques would definitely not place us in the Absolute Beginner class.
Next time: More skiing (and spa-ing) adventures from the rest of the week