If there’s one thing you want from a ski holiday in the French Alps – other than snow, of course – it’s breathtaking views.
And this view, 2,680m from a peak in Savoie Mont Blanc, does just that as I’m launched at 80mph on a 1,800m zipline through the sunny slopes of Les Arcs resort.
I’m too terrified to take the Superman-style face-to-face option, choosing instead to sit up straight – just to have something to hold on to.
I strangle my harness, I pray that my toastie doesn’t make its own descent on the skiers below, and I hear my countdown: Three, two, one. . .
Damn it !
I’m thrown outward, a touching distance from the clouds above, before staggering down, my icy face flapping like a bulldog with its head sticking out the car window.
My eyes stream with tears that seem to freeze on impact with my cheeks.
View? I catch blurry glimpses between my life flashing before my eyes, then – less than a minute later – phew! I am suddenly stopped.
I let a deep puff of relief escape my cheeks, glad it was over but exhilarated at the thought of going back.
This adrenaline-filled adventure is just one of the highlights of the Paradiski des Alpes family area which includes the resorts of Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry and La Plagne.
I’m spending four days here on a beginners ski trip.
Our first of the two bases is the quaint and quiet Hotel Emeraude Vallandry in the village of Peisey-Vallandry.
It gives us a taste of the quieter side of life at high altitude, with its small selection of shops but world-class food scene.
The cheese fondue at El 56 restaurant is a must.
La Table D’Emma is also an excellent address (I still haven’t told my children that I had the reindeer tartare).
The pace of life in this neighborhood is gentle, the activities tamed.
They range from electric scooter and walking trails to a horse-drawn sleigh ride and a visit to the Museum of Mountain Animals, which introduces us to over 30 local species crucial to the ecosystem here.
Throughout our journey, sustainability is a big message, and it’s easy to see why.
During an energetic snowshoe hike after our move to Les Arcs, our guide points to the summit of fascinating Mont Blanc and reveals that in 2021, for the first time in history, the famous mountain REDUCED by one meter in height .
Residents can see, feel the impact of climate change.
To preserve the purity of the mountain air, essential to the biodiversity of the Alps, the Paradiski area is forbidden to cars.
You move easily between the 425 km of network of slopes thanks to the ski lifts, gondolas and cable cars.
And the 111 resorts of Savoie Mont Blanc, including our second base, the Hotel Club Belambra Le Golf, are directly on the slopes, so on skis.
That is, of course, if you can ski.
Our group is full of novices. You fall while putting on your skis or coming out of a chairlift.
But, with just two three-hour lessons, we quickly fall in love with this thrilling yet surprisingly relaxing sport, progressing from baby slopes alongside toddlers to blue slopes, inspired, frankly, by just being part of this skiing paradise. .
The bustling and architecturally appealing resort of Les Arcs, with five sites at different altitudes, clearly offers a more adventurous holiday if that’s what you’re looking for.
Along with a great spa to soothe those inevitable bumps and bruises, there are world-class skiing and snowboarding.
There’s also a huge selection of shops, restaurants – it’s practically legal to enjoy a cheese raclette while you’re here – and lively bars.
After skiing, tobogganing (the toboggan run really takes you back to childhood), eating great food, drinking great wine, and sleeping at such altitude for days, we were ready for our final sightseeing must-do.
It was a walk over a bridge to La Passerelle viewpoint at the top of the Aiguille Rouge mountain – 3,226 meters above sea level.
But as experienced skiers, it felt more like an enjoyable rush than a daredevil challenge.
It seems like I’ve become a mountaineer with an unexpected passion for skiing, and as I take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks, I breathe again.
Well, it’s either the view or all that cheese I ate. That’s life.