“Picture a flower on top of your head,” says our guide, Karine. “Then imagine a cord coming out of the flower and connecting you to the sky – the stars, the moon, the sun. What do you feel?”
Like I’m trying not to laugh, I think to myself. But in the name of trying to take this process seriously, I reply, “calm”.
“Now imagine a cauldron,” she says, pointing to a dip in the forest laced with snow and dappled with pine trees. “Put your negative thoughts in the cauldron, then watch them bubble up and explode into a rainbow of colour.”
I try to imagine all fears evaporating as I breathe in the fresh mountain air, the sun warming my skin, the scent of pine lulling me into a peaceful daze.
It’s my second day in the French ski resort of La Plagne and I’m practising what’s called “ski sophrology”, where skiing meets meditation, introduced to this area by Karine. She explains how the aim is to give fearful skiers more confidence on the slopes, “as well as in life”.
After three difficult pandemic seasons, a cost-of-living crisis and the existential threat of global warming, ski resorts are laser-focused on their future. Aside from addressing environmental sustainability, they’re also looking at how to attract new visitors.
I’ve come to see what that looks like in La Plagne, one of the world’s most visited resorts, with an impressive variety of pistes in the vast Paradiski area.
After my sophrology experience, I gear up to take on La Plagne’s bobsleigh. Built for the Winter Olympics in 1992, this ice-covered tunnel snakes its way down the mountain like a snow-dusted drainpipe, and is the only one of its kind in France.
I’m told the fastest option – the “bob race”, with its own driver – reaches up to 120kph (75mph). I settle for the “speed luge”, a single-person capsule that averages 90kph, and it’s intense.
For one minute and 15 seconds I twist and turn my way down the tunnel, bashing into the icy edges with unexpected force as my helmet falls over my face and my body jolts like I’m on a rollercoaster. When I step out, I’m shaking and a little shell-shocked, but also buzzing and laughing.
I’d happily do it again, but I’m on an action-packed schedule, and within a few hours I’m clambering onto a MoonBike – an electric snowmobile-meets-scooter manoeuvred by shifting your weight from one side to the other, introduced to La Plagne last December.
I’m given some time to practise on a gentle piste, headlights illuminating the snow under a twilight sky, before ascending the mountain. I conclude that my skills leave something to be desired and hop on the back of our instructor’s bike instead, flying up and down the slopes as the stars glitter overhead.
Adventure isn’t confined to La Plagne. The following day I head north to Les Menuires – part of Les Trois Vallées – to take on Roc’n’Bob, a legendary snow-covered toboggan track.
I’m handed an orange plastic sledge and anticipate being surrounded by kids on a small hill. Instead, I brace my way down an unforgiving 4km-long track with sheer-drop edges, hairpin bends and unexpectedly steep descents. I fall out countless times.
It’s terrifying but invigorating, and has me feeling pumped for my final adventure: a night-time ski-touring trip to the remote Refuge du Lac du Lou, a hostel-meets-restaurant in the middle of nowhere, reachable only by hiking, snowshoeing or touring.
I’m a ski-touring newbie, so guide Thibauld explains how to apply the “skins” – long strips of fabric you stick to the skis so you can walk uphill – before I start making my way along a gently sloped, snowy road, heels flip-flopping behind as the skis glide in front.
I start at about 6pm, monochrome peaks rising against a peachy-pink sunset sky. An hour later I’m still going; it gets steeper and harder as my energy levels wane and breaths come shorter and faster, but the setting more than makes up for it.
After what feels like several hours, I arrive at the refuge, and it’s exactly that – a warm, welcoming, wooden haven, where I gorge on raclette for three hours.
At about 10.30pm, I click back into my skis for the descent back to Les Menuires, skiing down the same winding mountain road I’d climbed up, headtorch lighting the way in an otherwise pitch-black, deserted scene. It’s charming in its eeriness, and an experience I won’t forget any time soon.
I try to channel Karine’s positive energy, throwing my fears into the imaginary cauldron. Like the rest of the trip, it shows me another side to this whole skiing thing – one that goes beyond the pistes and into the real magic of the mountains, and leaves me with a craving for more adventures in this vast, scenic playground.
Where to stay
Araucaria Hotel & Spa sits in the heart of Plagne Centre and makes for an excellent base, with a pool, spa, ski shop, restaurant and bar. Doubles from €140 (£122). araucaria-hotel.com
Four-star Hotel L’Ours Blanc reopened in Les Menuires last year after an overhaul. It features a spa, a terrace restaurant and modern rooms. Doubles from €174, including breakfast. hotel-ours-blanc.com
New for this winter, the four-star Hôtel Higalik in Les Menuires is home to 105 rooms, plus a spa, pool, restaurant, and games room. Family rooms start from €275, including breakfast. higalik-hotel.com/fr
Reopening in December, Chalet Hôtel Turquoise has been renovated with luxury apartment suites sleeping between two and 10. Expect a wellness centre and childcare facilities. Apartments start at €105 per night. altituderesidences.com
New for this winter
La Plagne is now offering “Cani-raquettes”, or snowshoeing with dogs. From €45. evolution2.com/en/la-plagne-montchavin-les-coches
More information
en.la-plagne.com
lesmenuires.com/en

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