Once upon a time there lived a girl on a sunny Mediterranean island. She lived happily for eons, never really experiencing temperatures below 2° C except during an occasional Christmas trip to lands far, far away (New York and Toronto, namely). And then this girl decided that she would rediscover her Russian roots and conquer the slopes of the French Alps via the noble sport of skiing. This is how it all ended....


Skiing for Dummies: Day 1

Courtesy of Philip Volkers Photography


I should have known how dramatic my foray into skiing would be based on the trip there. 

Our flight got all sorts of messed up. GPS decided to take us on a scenic route through Switzerland, wasting about two hours of drive time. To top it all off, we literally found ourselves looking for the hamlet where our chalet was located, suspended on a precipice of a rock some 1,800 km above sea level, only to find it smack in the middle of a snowstorm. 

Nothing teaches you the value of snow chains quite like a drifting vehicle in a pitch-black swirl of snowflakes.

Just when I was about to walk the rest of the way, suitcase in tow, rather than risk getting into the death trap of our car, we were saved. Our gracious host came to retrieve us from said chalet, which, to our embarrassment, was all of 10 meters away, like a knight in furry armor.

All my concerns were calmed the very moment I stepped into the Chalet Rosière, which was to be our home for the next five days. “Eco-luxury” was not a term I fully comprehended until this point. Apparently it stands for "a spacious mansion in the middle of a winter wonderland, with heated floors in cavernous bathrooms with state-of-the-art equipment, sprawling wood-adorned bedrooms with broderie anglaise linens and a kitchen-lounge area that can feed and seat a small army."

Having been calmed down by a hearty dinner with a side of glorious red wine (French, naturally), I let the travel stress melt away while my bones slowly softened into sweet mush by the roaring fireplace. I could get used to this.

 

Skiing for Dummies: Day 2

Courtesy of Philip Volkers Photography


Our gracious hosts equipped us with the directions to the necessary stores and ski rental places, fitted our car with snow chains and set us on our way to learn the art of skiing. 

My first obstacle was at the ski rental shop, where I promptly realized that my experience of walking, dancing and, at times, running in vertigo-inducing heels had not prepared me for the agony of trying to wear a ski boot. 

Several pairs of said boots later, I managed to wedge both my feet into the respective shoes only to discover that the struggle to put them on was merely a taste of the agony that comes with actually wearing the deathly contraptions.

On the plus side, they gave me the kind of swagger that I simply could not hope to replicate in my own footwear.

So we proceeded to literally bounce our way toward the slopes for our first lesson.

Our instructor assessed our puny attempts to walk the three meters from the resort entrance to his physical location and immediately declared it unnecessary for us to:

  • use the ski sticks,
  • purchase a ski pass or
  • require a helmet for the foreseeable future.

Encouraged by this news, we proceeded to race toddlers down the tiny “kiddie slope,” learning how to “plough.”

It was while “mastering the art” that I was hit with the realization that I may have consumed too much food over the winter holidays, as I simply could not fathom how my backside was meant to balance on the adjacent ski lift. I vowed there and then not to consume a carb until June.

Our ski instructor, who had a glorious smile and a French accent, declared us “done for the day” and advised us to take the rest of the afternoon off (not that I had any intention to remain in the ski boots for a single instant longer).

“Après-ski” is a tradition that needs no introduction, but we modified it to reflect the fact that we were in the land of glorious wine, sipping on Bordeaux instead downing Jägerbombs.

Upon the return to our luxurious chalet, we were introduced to yet another ski vacation hallmark. Nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to the experience of being in a hot tub while snowflakes swirl around you in a sweeping dance. If I could, I would go back to Chalet Rosière for that alone. 

 

Skiing for Dummies: Day 3

Courtesy of Philip Volkers Photography


Chalet Rosière is a wellness retreat, meaning that the place offers more than a swanky roof over your head and a warm meal. Guests can book massages and even dabble in yoga at the in-house studio with heated floors. Which is how we started day three to prep us for the upcoming ski lesson.

Doing mountain pose is an entirely different experience when you are near Mont Blanc, and breathing exercises quite literally take on a new meaning when you are inhaling clear, crisp alpine oxygen.

Relaxed and content, we went off to our ski lesson only to discover that the art of “ploughing” was not our end goal and we had to learn to ski and turn parallel now. 

I won’t describe the exact frustration that news came with, but I will say that after my 75th attempt, I was ready to throw something at my ski instructor, who smugly chatted on the phone and smoked away (the French!) while we toiled on the slightly more advanced yet still toddler-infested slopes. If only I had the ski sticks….

With some semblance of grace and an inordinate amount of soreness in places I did not know I had muscles in, we wrapped up skiing for the day and returned to our roaring fireplace and a veritable public library's worth of books.

 

Skiing for Dummies: Day 4

Courtesy of Philip Volkers Photography


Parallel skiing was definitely mastered on this day. In addition, I discovered that my backside is not actually trying to take over the world as I experienced a ski lift for adults for a change. Lastly, I fell down several times, which did put me out of commission for the next day but did not dampen my enthusiasm. 

Oh, and I understood why ski sticks are a bad idea for beginners (apparently, dragging them behind you does NOT slow you down). Which brings me to….

 

Skiing for Dummies: Day 5

Courtesy of Philip Volkers Photography


Chalet Rosière was packed with books and board games for reasons I did not understand until this day. But when your legs refuse to cooperate and the very notion of putting on ski boots sends you into despair, this is what you do on a ski vacation. Luckily, I love reading and am apparently amazing at Cluedo! 

And that wraps up my very first skiing adventure.

Will I do it all over again? Absolutely.

Will I go back to Chalet Rosiere? Non-negotiable.


Chalet Rosière, Les Laix, 73700 Montvalezan, France; +44 79321 55776


By Bella Sovmiz

Bella Sovmiz is a bilingual Russian-born blogger who resides on the sunny island of Cyprus. She writes for a variety of online publications and is the creator, contributor and editor of The Other F-Word blog, which brings fashion, travel, lifestyle and beauty under one roof. An avid traveler, Bella loves to share all things entertainment and culture from her many urban escapes.