Despite what Dr. Johnson may have said about London, there does come a point when it is necessary to leave. If only for a short period and for a good reason, (skiing is as good a reason as any!) it is necessary. Even if it is only to remind yourself how lucky you are to live there and that it is the greatest city on Earth.
With that in mind, every year I like to pack my bags and head for the Alps for one of my favourite methods of R&R; skiing. In 2014 I headed off to the Three Valleys with some friends hoping, as always, for deep powder and blue skies.
Having lived in France and near these mountains I am quite familiar with the region, and better yet, how to get there. Ryanair, Easyjet and Swissair fly into Grenoble, Geneva and Lyon airports for a very reasonable price and the drive, either by taxi transfer or self drive takes between 2 and 4 hours depending on where you are flying from. Within three hours travel you can be skiing in the Alps. Easy.
Regardless of what level of skier you are, the Three Valleys will have something for you. It is the largest ski area in the world and it really shows – you can easily not ski the same piste twice during a week’s holiday. This remains true even after quite a few trips. And that’s without touching the off piste.
Every time I go I hope for those magical conditions that get skiers salivating; bluebird skies and feet of powder. Thankfully, this year I was in luck. Despite a couple of days of cloud and snowstorms, we had several days of beautiful conditions and lots of fresh snow.
As with any extreme sport, part of the fun is pushing yourself to your limits, so finding myself at the top of a mountain heading over what looked like a potential cliff edge with no idea of what was beyond, only to find fresh virgin snow was a welcome surprise and something of a relief. My friend, a seasonnaire, had neglected to tell me we’d be going down that particular route, but I’m glad we did!
It may come as a surprise if you’ve never been, but skiing is pretty seriously physical exercise, despite the fact that you are essentially going downhill for half the day. At the end of the day you’ve definitely earnt yourself a spot of apres ski. Apres ski is best with a few cool beers, some vin chaud or even just a good old glass of red wine or two, in one of the many resort bars and restaurants. Meribel offers some fantastic après ski in the form of one of the infamous La Folie Douce bars on the slopes, as well as many pubs, clubs and bars at the bottom of the slopes.
All in all, if you’re after a week of high quality skiing in France, hundreds of kilometres of piste and with some excellent apres ski, you could do a lot worse than pick one of the Three Valleys.