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A guide to the French Alps

Yan Yan Chan

For Club Med [photo diary]

I've done some pretty epic things, and been to some truly beautiful countries - a lot of ones I never thought I'd be able to ever experience. Skiing in the French Alps with Club Med and experiencing it with a whole bunch of new friends is one I'll never forget.

Val Thorens

Val Thorens

Where to stay;

Peisey Vallandry

Peisey Vallandry

Club Med Peisey Vallandry

Recommended for families/couples. 

Notes: I personally prefer the stay here a lot more, the view from the room is epically beautiful - each person gets their own balcony depending on what room you've picked, and the lodge/cabin style of the accommodation makes it super cosy. There's a beautiful look out and rooftop, where we spent majority of the afternoons sippin on Aperol Spritz, playing chess and soaking up the sun. If you're after a more relaxed accommodation experience, Peisey Vallandry is your best bet.  

Club Med Val Thorens

Recommended for groups of friends/couples. 

Notes: The overall skiing experience is better here as Val Thorens offer one of France's highest mountains, it's a lot colder but the snow is fresher. There's a lot more entertainment and night life activities, so if you're planning on non stop skiing/snowboarding and a little bit of partying (or a lot), Club Med Val Thorens is the way to go. I recommend coming here with a few friends. There's La Foulie Douce, every afternoon in the slopes - which is basically a huge party in the middle of Val Thorens, so you can à votre sante! with a well deserved drink or two.. or three,  after your morning run in the snow. On one of the last nights, we also booked in a wine and cheese tasting in the resort which is a must do. I brought home 2 bottles of vin de rouge. There's a buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner included in the accommodation package at both stays (Club Med Val Thorens and Club Med Peisey Vallandry) - for a hotel buffet, the food is actually really good. After first's we'd all go back for 2nds and 3rds. The chocolate croissants were delicieux. 

Personal notes on the trip;

  • Feeling epically small and insignificant amidst the immense mountains within the French Alps is a feeling so strange and scary, yet weirdly comforting. 
  • Learning how to fall, watching your friends fall multiple times in front of you, falling multiple times with your friends, or tumbling into your friends - not sure which is more hilarious.
  • Having constant butterflies from feeling super thrilled/exhilarated because A. you're about to ski down a very steep and new mountain, and there's no way of getting down but skiing down and B. you're going up a 2,500 Ft rocky mountain on a chairlift, you turn around to see how high you've gone up and you think "Fuck. Not this again".
  • For beginners.. having a ski instructor guide you through the week is the greatest thing you'll ever do in the slopes.
  • Having no ski instructor on the last few days of skiing and thinking you're a full pro is also great. This will push your body to the limits and will also cause you to make reckless (but memorable) decisions.. AKA skiing down the mountain in a really really drunken state, in a blizzard. LA FOULIE DOUCE. That is all. 
  • Partying in the snow with full snow gear is more than OK. Getting really drunk on champagne and mulled wine is also more than OK. However, skiing down after all this is not really ok. (At one point, I had to be piggy backed down by a ski instructor, sorry.) This was probably one of the most hilarious things I've ever had to experience.. stopping for help and looking back up at the mountain, with a dozen others in the same situation, all trying to ski down, giggling and failing miserably. No regrets though.
  • By the end of it, your body will be so sore and your legs will be so tired, but you will probably develop a love and slight addiction (like I did) to the adrenalin rush you get when you've conquered a new steep run without falling (!!), and continue to push through it.
  • Also, you will never really want to ski in Australia after skiing in France. Thinking Japan next though?

Important tips;

  • If you're planning a trip to the snow, try and check what times are low season - we went during the Spring, and got super lucky as the Winter started late. A lot of the runs were empty and we luckily got a fresh batch of snow. 
  • Start the day early when there's frasssh powwwwder. 
  • Make sure you pack all of the necessities - and more. When you're up on the mountains, it gets REALLY cold, the last thing you want to be feeling when you're skiing/snowboarding is freezing. 
  • Drink LOTS of water. It's super dehydrating up in the slopes, make sure you're eating lots of fruit, and bring a little heat flask of hot water when you're out in the snow. And.. for the skin - smart to bring super hydrating face masks and moisturisers. Your skin will thank you. I recommend the SK-II hydrating face mask.
  • Don't forget sunscreen and a lip balm with SPF 50+!! This is very important. 
  • Ski goggles, the sun rays that reflect off the snow is super damaging to the eyes, and it is not fun crashing into someone else because of the brightness/lack of eye sight.
  • Slow down on the drinks, the altitude will make you intoxicated a lot quicker. We had to learn it the hard way haha.
  • If you're a beginner I definitely recommend spending 1 or 2 days with a ski instructor. You'll learn SO much. It also sucks skiing by yourself/getting left behind if your friends are a lot more experienced. It's better to stick with a group of people/or a friend who is on a similar level - it's much funner. 

A huge thank you to the team at Club Med and Dec PR for organising such an amazing trip.