I had hoped the experience of learning to ski might be as simple and smooth as that of clicking your boots into the skis. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t the case.Balance, command of speed, steering and spatial awareness suddenly became foreign concepts once attached to semi-rigid narrow planks. Fortunately, our training ground is well equipped to handle all levels. The village resort of Les Carroz is nestled within the Grand Massif region in France, perched at an altitude of 1200m.

The fourth-largest ski-linked area in France, the Grand Massif comprises five ski resorts (Les Carroz, Flaine, Morillon, Samoëns and Sixt Fer à Cheval), offering access to 265km of downhill skiing,

with 351 marked pistes, served by a total of 78 ski lifts.

After an hour transfer from Geneva airport, Les Carroz is the easiest to reach of the five resorts. Often referred to as a perfect model destination for family ski trips, Les Carroz is suited to anyone looking for an authentic and cosy taste of the alpine region. The beautiful views and idyllic tree-lined slopes offer a choice of 139 pistes and 62 ski lifts. The town leaves you in no doubt that you are in the France Alps. The neatly stacked chocolate-box structures offer a plethora of shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and plenty of ski-themed stores.

While there is a welcome host of distractions on offer, the fresh snow and clear alpine sunshine leaves everyone itching to get on the slopes. After a short ascent via gondola lift, myself and two fellow beginners are about to tackle our

first ever slope.

We all certainly look the part at least. Thanks to a short pit stop at new rental store Netski (netski.com), and with the use of their new fancy foot scanner, we were kitted out with boots, skis and a helmet to suit our personal measurements. Like a knight with new armour, once fully equipped, the giddy anticipation began to dance with the fear that comes with diving into the unknown.

Once we make the long, awkward shuffle to the chairlift conveyor belt, we reach the top. For a moment, any sense of concern is abandoned as the magnitude of our surroundings is brought to the fore. With the countless mountain peaks, including the bold Mont Blanc, glistening in the morning sun, the beauty of the resort is effervescent.

Under the watchful gaze of our

instructor, Loic, the three of us are quickly encouraged to descend without much hesitation or room for doubt. With a lengthy yet gradual incline, this slope is ideal for beginners. To my delight, having reached the bottom unscathed there was an instant desire to go again.

Loic ensures every run we do offers some sort of new challenge. After one achievement, we are swiftly moved onto

the next task; snow plough turns around pre-set markers, making as much use of the slope as possible.

One major blessing we were all grateful for is the lack of crowds on the slopes. A few ski clubs that consisted of young children were dotted around, but never caused any interference, with barely a wait for the lifts. There was room to explore and experiment without fear of collision.

Just as turning begins to feel more fluid (if still a little too fast), we shuffled onto the neighbouring button lift to the higher slopes above. Like little naive loyal hounds, we followed Loic’s direction, despite a slight concern at the quickening pace of our teachings. At times I reach the bottom of the slope feeling disappointed with my performance and, at others, I land feeling uplifted and more confident to manoeuvre around the slope as much as I can, a smile often escaping from my lips as I begin to relax more and more.

“Commit to it!” Loic shouts after us. “Lift one leg! Try a jump!” The relaxing and encouraging nature of our instructor begins to rub off on us.

Unlike my beginner comrades, I somehow managed to avoid any tumbles. Though speed quickly became the enemy.

‘Right, maybe if I just try to lean into it more, or maybe if I move my legs further apart? No, no. Maybe a different angle…Arg! I’m at the bottom already.’ It feels like learning to drive again,” I confess.

Often we pause to watch the pros, and stare in awe at their impressive speed, particularly to the toddlers who look more comfortable skiing than walking straight.

Through trial and error, the best way to progress, I soon discover, is simply to trust your instincts, relax, lean into it, look where you want to go, and bloody well commit to it. Completing Loic’s tasks and reaching the bottom of a new peak instilled a sense of accomplishment that grew as the day went on. Loic’s enthusiastic pace meant we were never left to feel too comfortable. By the end of our first day skiing, the few green slopes that had looked so formidable to begin with now felt completely natural to ski.

“Tomorrow we tackle the blue slopes!” Loic proclaims with a playful smirk.

Despite taking a long, relaxing lunch break at restaurant Le K with its beautiful panoramic alpine views, the day’s activities are over before we know it.

We ventured back to our cosy confines at the stylish four-star CGH Residences & Spas (www.cgh-residences.co.uk) Les Chalets de Leana. The family-friendly apartments located in the centre of the village comprised of stone and wood, with mountain views from a sunny balcony. The cosy mountain retreat includes a large indoor pool, fitness room, steam room, salt cave, sauna and spa with a range of treatments for adults and children alike, which are designed to recuperate after a day’s skiing. Being new to skiing, and therefore new to a ski holiday, us rookies were to learn first-hand the meaning of après-ski.

Les Carroz left us spoilt for choice. Each venue offered something new, while always remaining respectful to the resort’s authentic charms. Highlights included La Pointe Noire restaurant, the Les Servages d’Armelle, the very quaint Les Molliets (you can ski directly to the door), and the uber-trendy Scandi-style Milk Hotel. Lively local bar Le Carpe Diem quickly became a favourite with the group where tourists and locals can come together to enjoy some après-ski drinks and live music.

Another incredibly unique experience is snow-showing under the starry sky through the forest to a tipi for drinks and cheese fondue cooked in a cauldron over an open fire, with a torchlight walk back after (lavachequiride.com). After a night

of relaxing with a spa massage, delicious meals (dessert always a must in France),

fine wines, and great company in our beautiful surroundings, another full day of skiing was on the cards.

As I began the first descent of the day, again trying to utilise the space and aim for the edges of the slope, suddenly I was skidding uncontrollably, my ski’s criss-crossing before crashing to the floor. The confidence I had accrued the day prior seemed momentarily knocked from me. Though, after another run-down, my brain felt more engaged and alert.

When the blue slope loomed below our skis, we knew this was the real test. The unnatural steepness of it made us all a little hesitant. My fellow beginner whizzed past the sign we were asked to wait at, and there was a tense moment of helplessness as he lost control of his speed before tactfully falling to stop himself. Suddenly the wildness of our landscape felt very prominent.

Despite a backward tumble from prematurely letting go of the button lift and having to edge my way off to the side, the challenges of the sizable slope made conquering it all the more thrilling. Again, the lack of congestion made it easier to ski at one’s own pace. Reaching the bottom of that first blue slope and feeling the crisp mountain air bounce off my teeth that were flashing from an inability to stop smiling, I was left feeling nothing but gratitude. Though I may not have been a complete natural, my time learning to ski in the beautiful Les Carroz opened my eyes to the addictive world of skiing.


Les Carroz

Adult lift pass 1-day: €48.50

6-day: €255

Children lift pass 1-day: €36.40

6-day: €191.40

CGH Residences

In Les Carroz, CGH has two residences: Les Chalets de Léana (in the heart of the village) and Les Chalets de Jouvence (ski-in / ski-out, at the foot of the slopes).

Apartments can host from 2 – 12 people.

Prices vary according to the season. Two-room apartment for 2/4 people, start at €707 per week.