Its major selling point is being ski-in, ski-out. It’s hard to impress on anyone who hasn’t been skiing before the pain of walking 100m in ski boots (snowboarders have a slightly easier time of it), waiting 10 minutes for the bus, then catching a gondola for another 10 just to get to a slope. At Flaine, you just grab your stuff and trot 50m to the nearest ski lift or slope. As part of the Grand Massif, one of the biggest ski areas in France, there are certainly a few lifts and slopes to choose from in Flaine.
While Cameron got to grips with his board on the beginner slopes, I busied myself with a group keen to take on the more challenging slopes. I say challenging, but it’s all relative. Maybe it was just me, but the slopes seemed more difficult than at other resorts, and while this was good for getting the skill level up, it wasn’t so good for the brag factor. I found myself limited to blue slopes, which I’m sure would have been labelled red at other resorts (in Europe pistes are graded green, blue, red then black). The next test was the draglifts – some were a little temperamental while others had the lighter members of our group airborne.
Despite these hiccups, over the next couple of days my ski buddies and I explored as much of the ski area as we could, making the most of the excellent snow for which the resort is renowned. Keen to improve my technique, I also took daily lessons – but no class could prepare me for what was to happen.
A failed jump landing had me in a mangled wreck of skis, feet and twisted knees. Then and there, with the ligaments in one knee completely torn, my competitive skiing career came to an abrupt end – not that it had actually started, but there were always hopes and dreams. After being stretchered off the mountain, X-rayed and dressed in a fetching black knee brace, I was given a set of crutches and sent on my way.
Although the skiing chapter of my holiday had come to a crashing end, there was no need for the fun to stop. Instead I hopped slowly around the bars and restaurants, working my way through drinks menus until my friends returned from the slopes to regale me with stories of valiant attempts to stay upright (the beginners) and off-piste adventures (the experts). They showed me their photos and videos – smiling faces on a backdrop of soft, white snow and glorious blue skies. From this perspective at least, no one could say Flaine wasn’t beautiful.
» Amanda Tomlinson travelled to Flaine as part of TNT SKI 2007, provided by Action Outdoors and TNT Magazine (0845-890 0362; www.tntski.co.uk). Register for TNT SKI 2008 at www.tntski.co.uk
Trouble at the top
Getting injured on the slopes is not cheap – everything has a hefty price tag – so it certainly pays to have adequate winter sports travel insurance.
If, after an accident, you can make it down the mountain without causing yourself more injury, it’s worth doing so. Even a 30m ride on a stretcher can cost 130 euros, and that’s cheap compared to being transported from the top.
If you need to be stretchered, you’ll be taken to the resort’s medical centre regardless of whether you actually want to go. The doctor’s bill won’t be cheap, especially if you have X-rays. Expect anything upward from 100 euros. Crutches, painkillers and medicines will also dent your bank account. A knee brace, crutches and a box of paracetamol could set you back 150 euros.