Going down, but I managed to keep up
Sharron Livingston was new to the slopes but had enough help to stop her holding the others back
The black piste at Brévant proves challenging for a grade four level skier
Toppling over the edge of a ledge of the black piste at Brévent, skis asunder, was a little demoralising for my holiday companion, Samson. He was one of a party of six in the top-level grade four ski group, speeding down the Charles Bozon slope from a height of 2,525 metres, so perhaps he should have known better than to hang back from the posse.
When guide Eric Bertrand asked him to pass the skis up to safety and then walked away proffering nothing more than a Gallic shrug, the beleaguered Samson knew he was dealing with more than the froideur of the French snow he had fallen into. But this was Bertrand's hardline coaching style which was, according to his students, strangely motivating.
Meanwhile, on the nursery slope, all I received in the beginners' ungraded class were smiles as sunny as the bright alpine light and oodles of praise whenever I so much as achieved a successful snow plough to slow down my already tortoise-like speed. With so much reassuring fluffiness from both the snow and our coach, our waddling group of nine finally made it on to the dizzy heights of a blue slope at La Tour, and amazingly, down again unscathed within five days.
There is no doubt about it. The skiing (and snowboarding) experience at Club Med is sensational. It caters for all ski abilities from beginners (ungraded), through to intermediate and seasoned skiers (level four) which meant I, as a reluctant novice, could be pursuaded to holiday with a confident skier, knowing I would not hold him back and yet I was not alone.
Prices for travel on March 27 start at £1,047 per adult (£931 per child) and includes return flights from London, transfers, accommodation, taxes, tips, meals, snacks, an open bar drinks and afternoon tea. Also included are the ski pass, group lessons and ski hire and access to various fitness and spa facilities.
www.clubmed.co.uk, 08453 67 67 67. Altitudes range between 3,295m and 1,050m, 46 ski-lifts, 182 km of ski runs: 12 black , 21 red, 31 blue and 16 green.
Skiers do have the option to go it alone, but even my dare-devil companion preferred the pleasant camaraderie of group skiing with a guide who could take them off piste safely - and to safety when things go wrong.
The company has several resorts in France and we chose to holiday at their family friendly Chamonix Mont Blanc in the Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France. The trouble is, so did 500 others, many with kids, who descended on the hotel at the same time. Did I mention that this resort is family friendly?
We arrived at midday and it was a trek through throngs of people to reach the reception desk. Once there, it was disappointing to hear that our rooms were not ready. Granted, it was the festive season but we didn't get room access until just after 6pm.
Luckily, they provided us with a wrist band to denote our all-inclusive status and sent us to the bar to drink our way back to brighter spirits.
Rooms are pleasant but somewhat small and a tad basic but we did have a view over the valley and Mont Blanc.
The walls were a friendly shade of blue with a white trim to denote melting snow. There was a shelving unit and a space to hang clothes and a tiny shower cubicle and separate loo.
I longed for a bath after long days on the slopes but in the absence of this luxury, the hamam, sauna and outdoor swimming pool did the trick. I managed to squeeze in an Ayurvedic massage to relieve the après-ski muscle stress in the Cinque Monds spa, which is not included in the package.
The focus is on skiing but the company also arranges snow shoe walking groups to explore the region.
Dining is promoted as a social event and tables are for eight. A buffet breakfast, lunch, dinner with wine (one style of white and one red) and cakes and biscuits at tea time were ample and it was amazing the different sorts of people we broke du pain with: Poles, Brazilians, Cypriots and of course French. But eating in the same dining hall can get monotonous. Another restaurant, the Refuge, has an à la carte menu, but with just 50 places, getting a booking was difficult.
Entertainment comprises nightly shows and concerts, an all-day open bar and a roving numerologist who claims she has your number, but amusingly, only if you speak French.
The town of Chamonix is a minute's walk away and is, I hate to use a cliché, as pretty as a picture. Quaint architecture houses shops and restaurants along dainty streets that fan out from pretty squares. The mountainous backdrop is stunning, especially when the afternoon sun throws off an orange hue over the peaks. Hands wrapped around a hot chocolate while watching the dance of the sunset was sublime.
The Club Med holiday is all about convenience and the all-inclusive nature goes along way to relieve stress. Kids can be packed off to the crèche or ski school while parents slope off.
It is so exquisitely simple - turn-up, follow your leader, learn along the way, eat, drink and be merry.