Cost of living: How to do a family skiing holiday on the cheap in the French resort of Les Contamines

Swapping a luxury chalet for bunkbeds and shared bathrooms can make for an affordable (and surprisingly enjoyable) snowsports break, finds Rachel Ifans

Sunday 06 November 2022 20:45 GMT
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<p>Les Contamines’ quiet ski area</p>

Les Contamines’ quiet ski area

Having spent two years unable to ski, I found myself feeling differently about the prospect in early 2022 when borders opened and Macron finally said my son was allowed to ski without taking a test every morning before we got on the lift. (We can barely get him up in time to boil up some porridge and eat a banana, so how on earth would we have traipsed to the pharmacy for an LFT on the daily?)

The climate crisis and the Covid-enforced travel break reset my priorities; it’s made me want to feel better about my travel choices. As a result, our family ski holiday needed an overhaul. First, I hate the exclusive nature of skiing and the air of privilege – sorry, but it makes me feel icky to follow the entourage of designer Moon Boots marching through the airport departures lounge. Second, I now want to be as green as possible with my holidays and give my money to not-for-profits where I can. I want a ski trip that is affordable, authentic and local, one where the money goes back into the ski region itself and where I “do” skiing like the French do – which, for the avoidance of doubt, is not a catered chalet run by an English family from the Home Counties. I’m starting to rant, but you get the idea…

A whole heap of googling later, I found Action Outdoors, a company set up in 2004 by two British men who wanted to offer inclusive ski holidays to young people at affordable prices. Action Outdoors doesn’t run its own holidays; rather, it’s the British travel agent for a not-for-profit French organisation called UCPA, which was set up 65 years ago to get young people outside and doing sport. Most ski weeks in UCPA centres are for 18 to 45-year-olds, but there are a few family weeks during the season too.

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