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An effortless skiing holiday

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Millions of people across the world cannot wait for winter to come around again and bring with it tonnes of snow on which to muck about.

Indeed, it seems while we are always complaining about how cold the weather gets, these days everyone's off for a week in the Alps or Rockies at some point over the winter months and the once minority sports of skiing and snowboarding have become as common as hobbies such as gardening and knitting among Britons.

Quite why, I have no idea.

Not even the glamour of freestyle snowboarding has managed to convince me that a winter sports break constitutes anything approximating a decent holiday. After all, I figured, if I wanted to spend a load of money, hanging out half frozen with upper-class twits I would head to the frozen section of my local Waitrose.

Luckily, however, the booming popularity of skiing has meant that it's possible to head to most of Europe's best resorts and have a great time enjoying the stunning scenery and best of the après-ski activities without running the risk of at least breaking a leg.

That's not to say that I didn't take out a full-on travel insurance policy before hopping on a cheap flight to Les Deux Alps, as being evacuated by ambulance would cost the same whether you broke your ankle somersaulting on the half-pipe or slipping in the shower.

The brochure's claims that this was one of the leading winter sports resorts in the whole of Europe and certainly one of the most raucous were bang on the mark.

The small town was composed solely of chalets in which to sleep and dozens of bars and clubs in which to while the evenings away.

When there's no pressure to get up for the pure snow of the morning, the nights become even more fun and, contrary to popular opinion, drinks and meals are all reasonably priced.

So, when everybody else was off speeding down the icy slopes, I was free to potter around town and head into the outskirts to get a feel for real Alpine living without the impact of tourism.

Heading off into the mountains for walks, I was far more able to appreciate the natural beauty of this part of France and, not surprisingly, travelling slowly and quietly has its advantages when it comes to observing the local wildlife as well.

Though a day's hiking may not make for any tall tales in the bar in the evening, it was all too obvious that most people were forcing themselves to stay up and would rather be resting their aching limbs in bed well before the clubs even opened their doors.

The Alps really do offer a winter wonderland, but it's best experienced with a little less adrenaline and a little more tranquillity.


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