What a week! I can’t believe it’s over. I have decided to write a blog post about our skiing trip to Les Deux Alpes, as it is the type of holiday that can leave many people confused about what to bring, where to go and how to book! I organized and booked the holiday myself as a 25th birthday present for my other half. Skiing is something that we had both said we would love to do, so I thought it would be a nice surprise for him (and it doubled as a gift for myself too – win/win!).
Obviously my boyfriend and I were complete beginners, so I did a lot of research into the best ski resorts for new skiers. After a lot of research, I decided on Les Deux Alpes as there were hundreds of reviews recommending it as the best place to learn how to ski, along with some of the best reviews about the ski instructors in the area.
Going to the Alps does mean that you are going to be paying a little bit more (for the view, and it’s France!) than if you were to go to the likes of Zakopane in Poland, which does work out to be considerably cheaper. Not knowing whether we were going to love it or hate it, I thought of our trip as a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience, so I decided to just pull out all the stops and go for the more expensive option.
We flew from Dublin to Lyon with AerLingus on the 26th of January and returned on the 2nd of February. Our flights worked out at about €350 for the two of us which was reasonable. We then rented a car from Lyon airport and drove to the ski resort. Now, the car was quite expensive (about €400 in total) but the journey takes two and a half hours, and the road can get very icy and snowy so you have to pay extra for snow tires. You could also opt for snow chains on your car, but they can be such a hassle to put on and take off.
A car came in handy around the resort too as we stored our skis in it, and our apartment was about a 25 minute walk from the resort. We could also use the car to drive to whatever ski lift we wanted to, and to bring home our food shopping. We would have been lost without it! Of course you can also use a bus to get to the resort, and there are also free shuttle buses running all around the town to bring you from place to place. We just loved the ease and freedom of having our own car.
We stayed in an apartment that I found on Booking.com called Ecrins 3. This was literally the perfect little apartment for us! It was so cozy and easy to keep clean and had all the kitchen gadgets and appliances I needed. It was also just a two minute walk from the nearest ski lift which brought us to our favourite part of the slopes. The apartment provided free parking in an underground carpark which was ideal as the snowfall was so heavy when we were there that cars literally had to be shovelled out of the snow (nobody has got time for that!). I paid about €480 for the apartment which was very good value for the week. We opted to clean it ourselves which saved us from the cleaning fee of €60. It was small enough for us to clean it in no time before we left.
We were required to pay a €400 deposit on the first day also, but this is just precautionary and it was refunded to us within 24 hours of our return home. The couch folded out into the comfiest double bed and there was loads of places for us to hang our ski clothes every night to dry out. It was so toasty too which was exactly what we needed. The view from the apartment was to die for. We would definitely stay there again!
Ski gear – Where to start.. this is the only aspect of the holiday that seriously stressed me out as I had absolutely no clue what to bring! We didn’t want to overspend on ski gear because we were unsure if we would ever be returning or if we would even like it, so we bought most of our ski gear in LIDL and ALDI. These stores release ski gear a couple of times over the course of the winter months, but you have to be so quick because the best sizes are usually gone within an hour or two of them going on sale. I bought one ski coat, one ski trousers, one pair of goggles, 3 sets of body warmers (leggings and long sleeved tops), 3 pairs of ski socks, gloves and snow boots – which we honestly would have been lost without while strolling around the town! I had one ski coat already which I bought years ago in Penneys, and I bought one more pair of ski trousers in The great outdoors store in Cork city. I bought all of my ski gear for about €200 to €250. They provided great heat and were perfect for our trip, but small things like the zips and the hand sections on the coats were of poor quality, but that is to be expected with the super low price of them!
3 sets of body warmers and socks was perfect for a week. I’m personally a very sweaty person so opted for 3 sets, but you could actually get away with just 2 sets. As well as these items, you definitely need about two pairs of gloves/mittens, neck warmers, sunglasses, warm hats and a waterproof backpack. I will definitely invest in some better quality bits before our next trip, but they served us well on our introduction to the sport!
As we had no experience in skiing, I decided to book private skiing lessons for us. This was genuinely the best decision I have ever made. I booked with Bonsai Ski School and we opted for 3 days of lessons, which lasted for 2 hours each day – from 9am to 11am. Our ski instructor, Marco was so lovely to us! We went from a beginners slope, to green slopes, to blue slopes within 3 days and even attempted bits of red slopes after we completed our lessons! He taught us really good technique and pushed us out of our comfort zones which achieved brilliant results. I paid €330 for the lessons for three days. You can also do group lessons which are much cheaper, but I think that we developed so fast because we had such one on one focused lessons. If you’re looking to get good fast, private lessons are the way to go!
Ski passes are known to be quite expensive, and it’s true – they are fairly pricey! We paid about €260 euro each including insurance. We bought the ski passes online (which works out cheaper than buying them at the slopes). The ski passes give you access to the whole ski area, an ice rink and swimming pool. The cost of the ski pass is acceptable due to the fact that the skiing paths are so well kept, as well as the ski lifts. Plus, the roads in the town are kept clear from snow by snow ploughs which work 24/7, this service is funded by the cost of the ski pass, as well as the free shuttle which operates throughout the village.
We rented our ski’s, ski boots, poles and helmets from an ‘Intersport’ store in the town on the morning of our first lesson for €220 for the entire week for the both of us. Book them online ahead of your stay to save money!
We bought food at the start of our trip and I cooked most of our meals for the week. This was to ensure that we got all of our nutrients from our food while we were away, and to save on money. We made sure to use all of our food before we left. If we didn’t bring a packed lunch to the slopes, we usually just ate chips and bread roles with ketchup. In the town, we came across one restaurant called ‘The Soul Kitchen’ which made us our own vegan meals on the two nights that we went there. You have to ring ahead to let them know you’re vegan and they will make you your own custom dishes!
The supermarkets had everything we needed and there were plenty of vegan options scattered throughout the place, including a delicious vegan hot chocolate.
Now, let’s talk about skiing itself. On the first morning I was so incredibly nervous! I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to balance with my ski’s on. Richie was reassuring though which helped. We met our instructor at 9am and had a 2 hour lesson in which he taught us the basics of skiing. I fell straight off the first ski lift we were on, but that is just because I had no idea what I was doing. Richie fell off straight after. We fell about 30 times that day, but the snow is so soft, so it doesn’t hurt one bit. Plus, it’s the best way to learn.
On the second day we really focused on turning and going on to steeper and longer slopes. We really started to feel more confident on the second day, and we even skied all the way home. On the third day we went to the top of the slopes and took the blue slopes all the way to the bottom of the mountain. This was so tough, and our legs were sore and tired at this stage, but we did it! After this day we felt so much more confident skiing and were so eager to try harder slopes! On the fourth day we were wrecked, but carried on and had such an amazing day on the slopes. We had an even better experience on the fifth day when we were less tired. On the final day the conditions were very bad. We couldn’t see 50 metres in front of us, so we only spent about an hour and a half skiing.
My advice for new skiers would be to try to be as unafraid as possible! Bare in mind that when you fall, you’re falling into powdery snow which honestly doesn’t hurt. Get lessons! Teaching yourself will force you to adopt bad habits. Learn from professionals, they have so much experience on the slopes and believe me – it’s worth the money. Cook as much as you can yourself. Eating out in ski-resort villages can be fairly expensive. Being vegan, cooking for us ensured that we received all of our nutrients while we were abroad, and ensured that we were eating enough while expending so much energy every day.
We are quite active people in that Richie trains with his soccer club twice a week, and plays matches regularly while also going to the gym. I stay active in terms of yoga, spinning, running and weight training. So we are generally fit people. This definitely did help us when we were learning how to ski. We both have fairly good cardiovascular strength so we were able to sustain a great amount of energy throughout the day. Skiing is definitely a high energy sport, so if you’re someone who rarely moves or exercises, maybe just start going walking in the evening or upping your exercise slowly but surely before going skiing.
In terms of what sort of clothes to bring: All the comfy bits! I brought too many pairs of uncomfortable trousers, when in all honesty all I needed was two pairs of jeans and a couple of tracksuit pants or leggings. Loungewear is really what you need as you will want to be in bed early every evening and will want to relax as much as possible. Big chunky knits and fluffy socks are essential.
This was honestly the trip of a lifetime. I can’t believe how much of an amazing experience it was. On the first day we were already discussing when we would return next year! I highly recommend this active holiday to you all. It’s definitely a trip to add to the bucket list.