Saturday, 9 August 2014

Skiing Flaine - with Action Outdoors and UCPA

I love skiing. It's always fallen into the category of "one of those things that I like, but that I struggle to improve at". So this year, with the proximity and relative inexpense (compared to a similar ski package, from New Zealand) of the French Alps I decided it was about time I dusted off my ski jacket and got outside.
I elected to go with UCPA via Action Outdoors as it was the most convenient option for me and I didn't mind paying a little bit more for the convenience of having only to organise my flights to and from Geneva.

UCPA is a French organisation intended to encourage young people to participate in outdoor sports, and they own hostels/resorts throughout France. They offer package deals for long weekends as well as full weeks, including gear hire and tuition for all levels. Action Outdoors is their official UK partner and basically has set up packages that make it slightly easier for people coming from the UK, with airport transfers able to be organised with them and most packages including Saturday night accommodation rather than starting on Sunday. They also make it super easy if you don't have a group of people to travel with, as they will sometimes organise weekends specifically for single travellers and offer extra discounts.

I finally made it to Flaine, in late January - this cost £448.93 including half-time tuition and airport transfers, with flights around £80 return via Luton airport.

I called Action Outdoors for a recommendation to start with as I hadn't been skiing for quite some time and wanted to go somewhere suitable for an (improving) intermediate skier, and Flaine was one of the options they gave - and what an awesome recommendation! Although people rib on the architecture (it's a polarising concrete jungle) the UCPA resort there is 50m away from the pistes, you can return for a cooked lunch or choose to take a picnic, and all the rooms are twin share so you only have to share space with one other person. The hostel itself is not the newest, but the facilities are clean and well maintained including the all-important central heating - in fact it was almost too hot some nights!
The weather was fantastic as well, with snow at night -> powder in the morning, and I met (and skiied with) a whole group of lovely people there via my room-mate who was the 'odd' person in the group. The runs are mostly intermediate (blue and red) with a smattering of black and green runs.
This is honestly what the weather was like the entire time!
I think if you're keen on off piste or more challenging skiing that it's probably not the place to be - the off piste is considered quite dangerous because of the number of holes, and I skiied most of the field and found it manageable having not really done a lot of skiing for a few years. I probably wouldn't go back to Flaine since there's so much more of the Alps to ski, but I would definitely recommend it to someone who wants to learn or improve.

I'm looking forward to exploring more of the ski areas in Europe, maybe once December rolls much as I like mountains, I vastly prefer them with ski lifts and groomed pistes as opposed to walking up them!