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The French Alps ski specialist

Beginners Ski Holidays

Skiing for the first time? Our ski experts answer your questions! 

Whether you're a non-skier who's never even put on ski boots, you're coming back to skiing after a long break, or you're skiing as a family for the first time, we've got the answers to the burning questions you may have. 

We picked some of the most common questions we get asked, but if we haven't answered your question here, or if you'd like to ask our ski experts something, no matter how small, then you can call us on 023 9283 9310 or drop us an email at, we'd love to help. When it comes to booking, you can also browse our selection of resorts and book online here or alternatively, tell us what you're looking for by sending us a quote request.

First-hand experience and inspiration, read our client's review of learning to ski in Les Carroz in her 60s or read about one client's experience learning to ski as a family in Valmorel!


Getting Started

Which ski resort to choose?
Do I ski or snowboard?
Which ski resort for complete beginner?
Mixed ability groups

Preparing for your ski trip

What ski clothing will I need?
Where to get cheap ski clothing
Equipment hire
Do I need to exercise before skiing?
Winter sports travel insurance

In Resort

Do I need a lift pass?
Are pistes signposted?
Options for lunch
Childcare facilities

Which ski resort to choose?

This can seem daunting but it's really a case of working out what your priorities are - ask yourself the series of questions below, then give our friendly team a call and we can find a resort that will suit your party. We've got a huge range of experience in our team so we can give you our own personal perspective too: 
• How you are going to get to the resort – take the Eurotunnel or a ferry then drive, fly or take the train...
• Do you just want to ski or do you want to try other winter activities or have a few days just to relax?
• Are you looking for a resort with lots of nightlife?  
• What level is everyone in your group? 
• Do you have young children in the party?
• When are you thinking of going?
• What is your party's budget?

Check out our resorts by theme page for some inspiration.

I've never been on a ski holiday before - do I ski or snowboard? 

It depends on what’s right for you. Generally children under 8 would learn to ski first. Snowboarding school usually starts from the age of 8, but varies by resort. It may be worth considering what other people in your group/family are doing. Either way, whether you choose to ski and snowboard, you’ll be bound to pick it up. Patience optional!

I'm a total beginner, which resort is best?

Every resort we offer has nursery slopes (gentle slopes for learning to ski), but there are some resorts that we'd particularly recommend.

Things to look for:
Greens slopes are the easiest and then you progress to blues. So look for a resort with plenty of greens and blues so you have plenty of slopes to play on as you improve. On our resort pages we have divided our skiing section into levels so you can easily see what there is for you.

In case you decide it’s not for you or you want to combine some skiing with other activities, choose a resort with plenty of apres-ski, look for ice rinks, a swimming pool (whether in accommodation or in resort), shops to walk around…plus other activities like snowshoe walking and dog-sledding.

Our recommended resorts for beginners: Samoens, La Rosiere, Les 2 AlpesSainte FoyVal Cenis, Les Saisies, Tignes 1800.

Val Cenis green run

I'm going skiing for the first time but my friends are accomplished skiers. What do I do?

Book yourself some lessons; these will build your confidence hugely and you'll be surprised what you'll be capable of in a week. Peak Retreats offers group lessons for 6 half days (or full days) or you can book private lessons just for a few hours a couple of times a week if you prefer. By booking half day lessons, if you feel confident enough you can always ski with your friends for the other half of the day. See our ski school page for details and pricing.

What ski clothing do I need?

You will need warm, waterproof clothing, including a ski jacket (these have handy pockets in the sleeve for your lift pass), salopettes (ski trousers), ski socks, thermals if its really cold, under layers such as roll necks/t-shirts, a buff/scarf, waterproof ski gloves, hat/headband (you may be wearing a helmet when skiing but a woolly hat is important off the slopes), sunglasses, ski googles. Layering your clothes under your ski jacket is much better than wearing one big jumper – you’ll stay warmer as the layers trap warm air. You will also need some sort of footwear with grip for when you're not skiing. Snowboots, walking boots or trainers work well. You'll also need to take high-factor sunscreen, and lip balm with SPF; the sun is much stronger in the mountains and it reflects off the snow. Find expert advice on what to wear skiing from our friends at EcoSki. 

This will be my first ski holiday, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on ski clothing in case I don’t go again. Can I hire? Are there any cheap shops to buy in?

You can hire ski clothing in UK and it's an environmentally friendly option too - a simple Google search will help you. Otherwise shops such as Decathlon, TK Maxx and even supermarkets offer value for money ski clothing or buy secondhand - start trawling Ebay!

What about equipment hire?

Peak Retreats can pre-book your ski equipment hire - see our ski hire page for prices and any offers.

Do I need a lift pass?

A lift pass enables you to take various ski lifts within the ski area. Some resorts have free lifts for beginners, although you will probably only use these for a day or two. If the ski resort is large, you may find there are multiple passes on offer from small beginners passes to whole area passes. We are able to book lift passes for you in each resort and we can advise on which would be best for your party. Children and seniors have a discounted pass and children under 5 are usually free. See our lift pass page for prices.

Ski Lifts

Ski Lifts

Ski Lifts

Ski Lifts

Are the pistes signposted?

The ski slopes are all signposted (except unmarked off-piste) and in France these are the gradings:
Green: Beginner - Very gentle gradient, for the first time skiers. 
Blue: Easy (Novice/early intermediate) - Improvers area. Able to snowplough turn confidently, and parallel slightly.
Red: Medium (Advanced intermediate) - Able to link together short radius parallel turns. Some parts of red runs will have a steep gradient.
Black: Difficult (Advanced/Expert) - Able to link together consistent short radius turns and vary speed and direction with ease. These slopes will be consistently steep and often have moguls on them.

Are there mountain restaurants or do I have to go back into the resort for some lunch?

Each ski resort has various mountain restaurants on the slopes where you can relax on the terrace (if its not snowing!), have a drink and some lunch and admire the stunning views across the mountains. Some resorts have picnic areas up the mountain too! All these will be marked on the piste map for your resort. 

Can pedestrians go to the mountain restaurants?  

Some mountain restaurants are accessible via gondola/cable car and can be accessed by pedestrians. No ski boots/skis needed. What you do need however is a lift pass. Whether you pay just for the return trip or you get a day pass, the choice is yours. Wear suitable shoes (and ski jacket) however as you will likely have to walk on the snow to get to the restaurant.

Are there childcare facilities in resort? What age can my child start skiing at?

Each resort has creche facilities for babies/young children and babysitters available. Normally your child can start skiing from the age of 3 (resort dependant). You can book ski lessons for little ones with us. See our Ski school page for details and get more information on skiing with children on our family ski page

Should I take some exercise before I go on my ski holiday?

Doing some sort of exercise won't hurt. It'll only enhance your experience on the slopes. You'll be using your legs a lot and burning lots of calories! See our ski safety page for more details.

What travel insurance policy will I need?

You will need a policy that covers you for wintersports, this is often an extra add-on feature so check your policy if it's an annual one. You should also get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) before leaving the UK (if you have a current European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) this will be valid until its expiry date). These are valid for EU countries. The GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. You should be prepared to show proof of travel insurance for your trip on entry to France.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip to an EU country (these are not valid in Switzerland for example). Any treatment provided in France is on the same terms as French nationals. The GHIC and EHIC do not cover all health-related costs, for example medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. As these only provide limited cover, we require all our customers to have adequate holiday insurance cover. For treatment in any country you will need to produce your passport.


Not found what you were looking for?  Our team of ski experts have tons of experience and we love to talk about skiing, so if you have any questions, about specific resorts or anything else, then get in touch. You can call us on 023 9283 9310 or drop us an email at When it comes to booking, you can also browse our selection of resorts and book online here or alternatively, tell us what you're looking for by sending us a quote request.


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