As a mother of two boys addicted to the computer game Fortnite, I asked my husband what he thought life would be like without PlayStation.
His reply? “Remember the week we spent skiing in the Alps, when there was no phone signal? And we actually had to talk to one another? And we played board games and told each other jokes? Well it would be like that…”
Spring is an amazing time to ski the Alps. The weather is often better than at February half-term, so you can leave the thermals in the chalet and get the suntan lotion out instead.
At the bar terraces up the mountain, deckchairs are like gold dust and skiers are making that all-important decision: Another run before lunch to practise those parallel turns, or top up the tan with an ice-cold beer?
Les Arcs has more than 200km of pistes, most above 2,000 metres, so you’re practically guaranteed great late-season snow. The slopes are varied, with plenty to suit all standards from beginner to expert. There are some seriously steep black runs (I still don’t understand why my children take such great pleasure in seeing me fall over!), but plenty of easy cruising too, which is much more my style, and the ski area is linked to neighbouring La Plagne, which forms the huge Paradiski area and is well worth a visit.
The original Arc resort village is 1,600 metres high and one of the French traffic-free, purpose-built resorts built in the 1960s and 1970s.
It’s not the prettiest place I’ve visited, but more aesthetic low-rise chalet styles, including Arc 1950, were built in the early 2000s and the two are connected by a short gondola that runs until late at night. It’s a very pleasant place to stroll around and grab a hot chocolate.
The Les Arcs ski area is served by a well-oiled lift system with lots of fast chairs. The link to La Plagne is via the two-way double-deck Vanoise Express cable car from Plan Peisey, high above the intervening valley and with fantastic views.
The joint Paradiski area has a total of 425km of pistes, so well up there with some of the biggest ski areas in the world.
Your choice of where to stay in Les Arcs is varied, because of the resort’s set-up. This time, we broke with tradition and tried the chalet experience despite threats from the children that they wouldn’t eat with strangers.
A ski chalet holiday is a fantastic choice for anyone who enjoys a social skiing experience. The fact I could walk to the Friday-night dinner table in my tracksuit and slippers and barely a smudge of make-up was a dream.
Sadly, some of the friends with whom we were due to travel pulled out a few weeks before, which meant we had no idea who our flatmates would be. We were lucky. A Scottish family laden with board games and two school teachers with plenty of tips on child discipline provided the perfect recipe for a successful week.
But you do have to be careful. If you want the chalet experience but don’t have enough people to fill a whole one by yourselves, give some thought to the fact you may be sharing a close space with people who want a very different ski experience from you. Some of the rooms tend to be pretty basic too, so if it’s luxury you’re after you’ll have to pay extra pennies to get it.
Having said that, chalets provide the perfect setting from which to enjoy the snowy mountains and rest those tired limbs after a hard day on the slopes. The crackling log fire and freshly-baked cakes waiting on the table also help of course – as does the nightly glass of prosecco and endless bottles of red wine. I do wonder why I always sleep so well in the Alps.
The specialist tour operator Inghams offers a wide choice of chalets which include large lodgings for 30 as well as more intimate accommodation for eight guests.
Each chalet has a dedicated host or hosts – in our case, two young men on their gap year. I’m under no illusions that their main objective was to get in as much skiing in as possible (their red noses gave it away), but they had certainly paid attention during their cookery lessons.
Three courses every night, a ton of vegetables and a mound of French bread meant we often rolled into bed. All dietary requirements are catered for too, with a vegetarian option offered each day.
Apres-ski in Les Arcs is fairly quiet. Arc 1800 is the liveliest place to be, with a couple of night clubs, and there are some cosy bars in Arc 1950. For drinks on the mountain, there’s a fun ice bar and ice grotto with sculptures in the igloo village above Arc 2000.
However, the best entertainment we found by far was watching those mad enough to test their skills (and nerve) by skiing downhill to a pool and then surfing across it. The pool is located just above Arc 1800 in the Arpette area and is a real crowd pleaser, as long as you’re not the one being laughed at!
The freestyle park is worth a visit too. With all sorts of graded jumps to choose from, it attracts children young and old as well as their parents.
The parents sit on a big cushion at the bottom of the park, waiting for their children to appear safe and sound. From apres-ski to shpilkes, all in one day!
Charlotte’s travel tips
Charlotte and her family were guests of Inghams. A seven-night holiday on a catered basis (including buffet breakfasts, afternoon tea and cake, and evening meals with complimentary wine for five nights) costs from £989 per person, based on two adults and two children, departing on 30 March 2019. Price includes return flights and airport transfers. To book, visit inghams.co.uk/ski-holidays or call 01483 791 114.