Travel | Frog out of water – Ski Trip

Our foreign correspondent hits the slopes French-style, and finds it’s not exactly what she expected.

After enduring months of trying my best to be française and feeling more British than ever, I decided a ski trip with over 600 students was just what I needed. There are many foreign faces at the universities of Montpellier and Nimes, so I presumed that the trip would be somewhat international. Bah non. Four fellow Leeds girls and myself were not just the only English on the trip, but the only foreign students too. Somehow, everyone knew exactly who we were. I may as well have worn a badge on top of my helmet saying “yes, je suis anglaise!”

So, having heard the infamous stories about English student ski trips, I was fully prepared for a wild, crazy week. But je dois dire, it was not quite as I expected it to be…

Never underestimate the failings of French student organisation. Maybe I’m naïve, but I never imagined:

–        That I would need to drag my case in inches of snow up the mountain to the hotel. By the time we arrived and had heaved our luggage up the 5 flights of stairs as the lift wasn’t working, bien sûr, why would it), I felt like I had already done a week of snowplough.

–        The lack of itinerary. We were totalement clueless. Dropped off in the middle of the Alps with a key to a mystery room. It was only by the third day that a hand-scribbled poster appeared on the downstairs door to let anyone know what was going on. I suppose the lack of guidance was part of un aventure?

–        The major (and je mean, major) lack of health and safety. In order to get to the slopes there were the Stairs of Death. The fatal, complètement evil, icy stairs: blocks of ice where a step had once been. You were lucky to get to the slopes.

After the first couple of days getting back into it, doing a few gentle nursery slopes and avoiding a fall, I was feeling on fire, ready to tear up the black runs and ski with the frenchies. Pourquoi pas?

I’ll tell you pourquoi pas. I was NOT ready. Never listen when a French person says that they like to ski “doucement” and “take their time”. It is a big grosse lie. Out of control, poles and hair flying everywhere, I found that massive, slow and controlled turns were more mon thing. I couldn’t cope with being a speed-demon: way too stressant. The aim of the game: keep standing and smiling. Keep très cool. But ultimately I had a fantastic time. I skied until my legs were numb, partied until I was purple and met some lovely French students. Would I do it again? Oui.

Lorna Flint

Photo: Property of

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