I’ve always wanted to go on a winter snow holiday, after seeing my friends incredible photos on the slopes. The time finally arose for myself and my boyfriend to set off to France, and hit the slopes of Val Thorens. As a total beginner to snowboarding, this is my account of a week in the mountains!
Travel And Accommodation
For ease, we booked the whole trip with a company called Crystal Ski. This included the flights, transfer, hotel (inc half board), lift passes and full kit hire. From when we booked to the trip, to arriving the whole experience was very smooth. Although, I have a strong suspicion our travel reps weren’t very clued up on the area. As neither were particularly helpful, but very friendly nonetheless! As it was just the two of us we opted for the hotel, Les Arolles. Our stay was very pleasant, and fit the bill for a week of boarding. However another option is a chalet, which is best suited for larger groups of friends.
I’m a sucker for a great view, and I can confirm Val Thorens didn’t disappoint. We were incredibly lucky where weather was concerned, clear blue skies and beautiful sunshine. Our hotel was a perfect location, described as a ski in/out as the equipment room opened up onto the slopes. As for the town, it’s a 5-10 minute walk away and offers the usual amenities including bars and restaurants.
Learning To Snowboarding
We both decided to snowboard, which is known as the tougher option but were still willing to give it a whirl and see what happened. The first day we went to the ski shop, to collect all our rented equipment. If you’ve booked lessons, I would advise you give yourself plenty of time to do this, as it took us so long we missed our first morning of class. Once we were suited and booted, we decided to strap ourselves in and see what happened. We were like Bambi on ice, and looked like complete idiots but had plenty of fun laughing at one another.
The rest of the week, we attended snowboarding school which I highly advise if you’ve never been before. Our instructor, Dorian broke the basics down and explained how to set yourself up and then progress to finally going down the mountain with both feet strapped on. I didn’t take to boarding naturally, and found it really hard to nail the balance and breaking but others in the group found it a lot easier. So I’d say it’s really down to the individual, but learning any new sport as an adult is tough. You’ve got to be willing to embrace bumps, bruises and falls!
The cable cars and lifts were a whole other experience, and I crapped myself the first time. You had to set yourself up in the correct lane, then the seat came behind you and practically scoops you up. If you’re boarding, you’ll have one foot out and the other still strapped in. But all will come clear once you’re there, as our instructor told us what to do at each step.
In the afternoons we took ourselves off, and did our own thing as we didn’t have snowboarding school. Two of the afternoons, we went up to the highest point in Val Thorens which was 3,200 meters! The views were incredible, it was like something from a film. The photos just don’t do it justice, I would highly advise you to head up there if you head to Val Thorens. You can get a cable car that takes you up to the top and back down to the blue slopes, but if you’re more advanced you can ski or board down from the black slopes.
I follow a largely plant based diet, so I tend to resign myself to the fact I’ll be eating lots of vegetables when I’m away on holiday! But, I did prepare by packing snacks for the journey and duration of the holiday. Especially as you get incredibly hungry throughout the day, snowboarding and being outside in the fresh air certainly helps you to work up an appetite.
We’d paid for half board, and in regards to options there was more than enough especially if you don’t have any dietary requirements. As for lunch, it was the done thing to prepare a baguette from the breakfast supplies so you could have it outside on the slopes to prevent having to buy something new every day. We headed for dinner in the local town on one occasion, and I was very happy to find a Vegan burger! Although it could have been a place in London, and turned out to be a Meantime Pub. But the food, drinks and atmosphere were great so no compliments here.
The Round Up
I’ve always wanted to go skiing or snowboarding, and I can safely say it lived up to my expectations. Whilst I really enjoyed the boarding, it really was the views that made the whole experience so worthwhile. I’d been told Val Thorens was beautiful, and they were’t lying. If you’re new to a snow holiday, and looking for recommendations then get yourself over to Val Thorens! The whole experience was such a laugh and like nothing I have ever experienced before. If you’re sitting on the fence about going, don’t think a moment longer, book your holiday now!
Goggles: Dragon Lumalens
Gloves: Hestra (bought from Sweaty Betty)
Jacket: Sweaty Betty
Trousers/salopettes: Sweaty Betty
Base layers: Sweaty Betty
Equipment rental: Skiset