You’re going to a ski resort,” they said. “You’re just not going to do any skiing…’’
If you thought the only things you can do on a winter holiday are skiing and snowboarding, no one would blame you.
But it turns out that there’s far more to do in the ice and snow than hurtling downhill and hoping for the best.
Bobsleighing, airboarding, zip lining, fat biking, ice climbing, ski taxiing and even driving flash cars are all on offer on 21st century slopes.
The stunning French resort of La Plagne is the most visited in the world, with 2.5 million people enjoying the season every year.
It’s a two-hour drive from either Geneva or Lyon after a short flight from the UK, but the trip is definitely worth the effort.
With 261 slopes to choose from, incredible views and a welcoming atmosphere, it’s not surprising so many people keep coming back.
What is a surprise is the sheer variety of activities, especially for those of us who can barely get our ski boots on, let alone traverse a blue run without thinking we’re going to crash.
The best place to start for the novice is a ski taxi, which sees someone else do all the hard work for you.
Passengers are strapped into a seat frame on skis, then pushed downhill by a trained ski instructor as if they were doing the run themselves.
It’s particularly beneficial for disabled people, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to take part.
For thrill-seekers, La Plagne’s bobsleigh, luge and skeleton track is a definite must. It was the venue for the Winter Olympics in 1992 but now offers high-speed action for anyone with a strong stomach.
The bobsleigh track is almost a mile long with 19 turns to test your endurance. With speeds between 50-80mph you’d better buckle up tight as the ride gets pretty intense very quickly.
There’s a camera built into the sleds to catch your every terrified reaction, helpfully downloaded on to a USB when you finish.
Modern flourishes like this are part of what makes La Plagne so appealing. When you get wi-fi at the top of a mountain so you can Snapchat on a ski lift, you know the future has arrived.
Speaking of things you wouldn’t expect to see up a mountain, don’t be surprised to find visitors doing wheelspins in a brand new Jaguar on the ice and snow.
Jaguar and Land Rover have provided some of their sporty motors for visitors to test out. You only get a few minutes but it’s free of charge and you can do doughnuts to your heart’s delight.
For the more energetic, ice climbing is absolutely worth a go.
The 80ft ice tower in nearby Champagny is believed to be the only artificially created ice climbing wall of its type in Europe.
Accessible to climbers of all abilities, you wear crampons on your boots and hold two ice axes to secure your position.
After that kind of exertion, you’re going to need filling up, and the region has plenty of fine Alpine restaurants to choose from.
It goes without saying that when in France it helps if you like cheese.
From fondue to raclette, they’re big fans of the melted yellow stuff in the French Alps.
Two of the most noteworthy food options include Canada’s restaurant, a charmingly unpretentious affair that’s conveniently near the ice tower and has particularly good desserts.
The other is the Cocoon hotel’s grill, which is an experience in itself. You dine in a low-lit, circular wooden hut with an open fire in the middle, on which the chef cooks your meat as you watch.
Hugely atmospheric, it’s the kind of evening the mountains were made for.
And atmosphere is what an Alpine holiday is all about really.
With stunning scenery and cosy, inviting, chalet-style hotels like Carlina’s – complete with indoor pool and awesome views across the mountains – you won’t want to leave.
And you certainly don’t need to ski to enjoy it…
- Rooms at the 4* Hotel Carlina in Belle Plagne start at €199pn on half-board in the winter season. carlina-belleplagne.com
- easyJet flies to Geneva from Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Gatwick, Luton, Southend, Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle from £12.24 one way. easyJet.com
- Tourist info: la-plagne.com .
TIME ZONE UK +1hr
CURRENCY Euro £1 = 1.12