It's all going downhill fast after skiing lessons in the French Alps and how our Sun woman conquered mountains

Somehow, I do and give a yelp of joy when I realise I’ve just made it all the way down a piste without crashing headfirst into the powder or wiping out my entire group.

A few days before I would not have thought this possible.

I am on my first skiing holiday, in Plan Peisey, in the resort of Les Arcs in the French Alps, and as I waltz about in the snow I feel like I’m in Wham’s Last Christmas video.

I’m staying in a cosy, wooden chalet, which sleeps 14 and is run by friendly live-in hosts Sue and Simon, who are basically our surrogate parents for the week.

From my bedroom window I have breathtaking views of the mountains and the valley between Les Arcs and La Plagne. Every morning, we rise to a delicious cooked breakfast, before strolling across the road to ascend the ski lift.

Day one of seven, I am Bambi on ice and no one downhill of me is safe. I fall over so many times, I am more battered than a cod when I reach the bottom.

After limping back to the chalet, I soothe my aching muscles and nurse my bruised ego in the chalet’s sauna, before being treated to a freshly-baked cake made by our hosts.

As skiing uses so much energy, you have to eat lots of calories to keep you going. Sue and Simon really spoil us, so my diet went out of the window and I gorged on cake every day (relatively) guilt-free.

After a lovely home-cooked three- course dinner with bottomless wine, I hit the local pubs and bars with the rest of my group.

Plan Peisey has some lovely restaurants and lively bars open until the early hours.

The next day, I return to tackle the slopes once more.

Even the ski lift is a treat — feeling the cool air on your face, the sun on the back of your neck, as the beautiful landscape glides by. Lesson two starts more or less where the first finished.

“Skiing is all about confidence,” explains my instructor Fred, picking me up for the tenth time in as many minutes. “Loosen up. Go with the flow. Maybe a gin and tonic will do the trick.” To test the theory, we stop off at a bar and enjoy a gin and slim. When I return to the slopes I feel warmed up and raring to go.

Now I am flying downhill at 30mph. It’s terrifying but exhilarating and I scream the whole way down.

As I have never been skiing or snowboarding, it is all totally new.

The biggest obstacle is fighting your natural inclination to lean back towards the mountain as you cut across the slope. Your body wants to lean that way because you won’t have far too fall if you lose your balance, but this turns you back down the slope. In fact you have to lean down towards the valley to complete a turn.

A couple of days later my confidence has grown, I’m starting to go faster and become more fearless.

“I’ve even conquered death mountain,” I squeal to my chalet buddies at the end of one day, as I rip off my boots and sink my teeth into another freshly baked cake. “Death mountain” as I called it is a lethal (by my standards) section of black slope at the very end of a fairly tame blue slope, which caused every one of my group to fall over and injure themselves on day one.

By day seven we could all do it without falling, and it became our favourite section.

As skiers know, a winter holiday is just as much about the apres-ski as it is about whizzing down the slopes.

On our final day, we hit mountain restaurant Aux Enfants Terrible at the top of a Vallandry chairlift and tucked into pizza and mulled wine while enjoying panoramic views of the snowy mountains. Then we danced to a live band and knocked back cheap drinks.

The next morning, we rose fuzzy-headed for our breakfast with our hosts. As usual, there was an array of fresh fruits, yoghurts, cereals or a cooked breakfast to choose from.

“Here, take this cake with you for later,” said Sue and Simon, wrapping the Victoria sponge in tissue paper and tucking it into my pocket. “You need to keep warm.”
If only I could sneak Sue and Simon in my pocket too — and take them home to bake for me forever.

Go: French Alps

GETTING/STAYING THERE: One week’s fully hosted ski holiday in a chalet at Plan Peisey, Les Arcs, is from £609pp including return Gatwick flights, transfers, cooked breakfast, homemade afternoon cakes and tea, three-course evening meals with wine and the services of a friendly chalet host.

See or call 01273 855100.

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