Recessionista snow in France

Recession, economic downturn, the glorious end of the mean green Celtic Tiger. Ireland’s naughties-eleven woes are just so last year. But the fact is that with all the penny pinching going around, a lot of people are putting away their notions of fancy holidays and opting for closer-to-home getaways, and that makes sense. But giving up your ski holidays altogether might also be a bad idea this year.

Photo: Cory Doctorow

Far from the maddening crowd: Les Gets. Photo: Cory Doctorow

Skiing (or snowboarding, for all you knuckle-draggers out there) can be a great way to vacate from the stresses of the Irish recession and rain and maybe even get a bit of fresh air and, god forbid, exercise in between apres-ski breaks.

While four years ago, you might’ve been flitting off to Vail or some other equally exotic sounding ski resort in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, nowadays, scaling back to somewhere like, say, France? is on a lot of people’s minds. It’s really not difficult to find nice and even cheap ski holidays in France if you know how and where to book. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Avoid the Anglo-Celtic ski bunnies.

Places like Val d’Isere, Tignes and Meribel, while top-notch, can become overrun with Brits and Irish Abroad, which drives up the prices and drives down the enjoyment factor. Do you really want to be battling other Irish for space at the bar to buy an over-priced, under-sized lager? Lesser frequented French ski resorts, such as the traditional Alpine farming village of Les Gets (pictured above) or Les Sybelles generally offer cheaper lift tickets and accommodation prices, as well as less crowded pistes.

Hire equipment there.

No matter what anyone tries to tell you, it’s always going to be cheaper and easier to hire your equipment – skis/boots/poles or board/boots at the ski resort than it is to pay to lug it through airports and on trains. The quality of the rentals you’ll get in most French ski resorts, even for the basic package, is quite good and shouldn’t cost you more than about €12 a day – less than you’d pay to check it in.

Go in a group.

Not too big, not too small. A mid-sized group – let’s say five or six people – is going to give you the best bang for your buck. You’ll be able to split one holiday apartment or cottage between you while still enjoying the discounted group rates on things like airfare, equipment hire and lift packages. It’s also more fun.

Self-cater.

Aside from the obvious point that self-catering is a lot cheaper than eating in restaurants, it’s also part of the ski experience. There’s nothing quite like watching huge snowflakes gently descending outside your chalet window while putting away more than a few bottles of red wine and cooking up some cheap and cheerful spag bol to really get you in the alpine mood. Perfect winter wonderland.

This post was brought to you by Inghams.

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