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Idiot’s Guide To Ski-ing In The French Alps


So you haven’t ski-ed in a while? Neither has our intrepid reporter but we told her, don’t worry – it’ll all come back to you once you’re on the slopes, and just as the great Einstein once said “life is like a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving…” Were we right or wrong? Over to Lucy Pitts to reveal all.

Ski-ing after a long break (or, an idiot’s guide to ski-ing)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to attempt to teach you to ski. But if you haven’t skied in a while (take 20 years in my case) or perhaps have never skied, my experience might just give you the courage you need to get back on the slopes.

A trip to French school up in the mountains


I was recently lucky enough to find myself learning French at the fabulous Alpine French School in Morzine in the Alps, and in amongst the heady world of conjugating French verbs and sorting out my tenses, it seemed like a good idea to give my body as well as well as my brain a work out. The cable car up the mountain is just a short walk from the school, and as class didn’t start until 3pm, that gave me the morning to play. And as the Alpine French School sort out all your passes and kit as part of your holiday it only seemed right to give it a go.

Rusty doesn’t come close

It turns out quite a lot seems to happen to your body between your 20s and 40s and not all of it good it would seem, when it comes to skiing. For a start, as I fell out of the lift at the top of the mountain, my brain seemed to go into reverse. I instantly remembered that I was scared of heights and not very brave which was why I’d never been a very good skier to start with and I simultaneously forgot the meaning of the different colours for the different slopes.

All of which was how I found myself, on a misty, murky Tuesday morning, trembling at the top of a red run in a pair of downward facing skis. But as there was no other way down from where I stood and I didn’t know a soul, I resigned myself to a trip to A and E, identified the nearest skier who looked even close to my standard (or what I wanted my standard to be)  and pushed off the edge in pursuit. My thinking being that if the wobbly girl of 12 who I had decided to follow could do it, so could I. I’ve had 3 children after all so how hard could it be.

Undignified doesn’t come close either

lucy-pitts-in-morzineI’d like to tell you, that as I flew down the mountain in pursuit, it all came rushing back and I parallel turned my way down the slopes with style and panache. But the truth is my skis did their own thing, my legs did another and I suspect I was more Bridget Jones than Bridget Bardot.

But as luck would have it, the French mountains are apparently teaming with good Samaritans who each one in turn, returned my poles, returned my gloves, picked me up, cheered me on, guided me down, dusted me off, returned my skis, helped me on to the chair lift, helped me off the chair lift, fixed my goggles and warmed me up with vin chaud several hours later as I stumbled into one of the on piste bars.

And the winner is …

As it turns out, skiing really is a bit like riding a bike and it did all come back (eventually). With the help of these tolerant and forgiving strangers and the ever patient instructors at the French Ski School in which I did enrol once I’d got off my red run, I managed to enjoy a phenomenal 10 hours of skiing in 3 days. The Morzine brochure promises “fresh mountain air…enchanting encounters…unforgettable moments” and “stars in your eyes” and it’s fair to say, it delivered on every promise and quite a few more – even if not quite in the way it had planned.

And with socks full of snow, cheeks glowing with sun burn and a body that felt like I’d conquered Everest, the really good part was that back in French language class at the end of the day, my mind was buzzing and inspired, my body was grateful for the rest and I just loved the boost to my French language skills that I got from the Alpine French School. Body and mind stretched and satisfied;  you can’t say fairer than that. 

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