The French Alps holiday with reindeer tartare and scary 1,800 zip lines

IF there’s one thing you want from a ski holiday in the French Alps – apart from snow, of course – it’s a view that takes your breath away.

And this vista, 2,680m up a peak in Savoie Mont Blanc, does exactly that as I am launched at 80mph down a 1,800m zipline through the sun-glistened lopes of Les Arcs resort.

The Les Arcs resort in the French Alps will give you breathtaking views and eye-watering thrills

The Les Arcs resort in the French Alps will give you breathtaking views and eye-watering thrillsCredit: Juliette REBOUR
If you're brave enough you can zipline Superman-style, going face-first instead of sitting upright

If you’re brave enough you can zipline Superman-style, going face-first instead of sitting upright

I’m too terrified to take the Superman-style, face-first option, choosing instead to sit upright — just to have something to cling to.

I throttle my harness, pray my croque monsieur lunch doesn’t make its own descent on to the skiers below and hear my countdown: Trois, deux, un . . . 

Sacre bleu!

I’m hurled outwards, in touching distance of the clouds above, before lurching down, my ice-cold face flapping like a bulldog with its head out of the car window.

My eyes stream with tears that feel like they’re freezing on impact with my cheeks.

The view? I catch blurred glimpses in between my life flashing before my eyes, and then — less than a minute later — whack! I’m brought to a sudden halt.

I let out a deep, relieved puff of my cheeks, happy it was over but exhilarated at the thought of going again.

That adrenaline-pumping adventure is just one of the thrill-seeking highlights in the family-friendly Paradiski area of the Alps which comprises the resorts of Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry and La Plagne.

I am spending four days here on a beginners’ ski trip.

Our first of two bases is the quaint, calm Hotel Emeraude Vallandry in the village-like Peisey-Vallandry.

It gives us a taste of the quieter side of life at altitude, with its small selection of shops but world-class gastronomy scene.

The cheese fondue at El 56 restaurant is a must-eat.

La Table D’Emma is also an excellent place to try (I still haven’t told my kids I had the reindeer tartare).

The pace of life in this area is gentle, the activities tame.

They range from electric scooter and walking trails to a horse sleigh ride and a visit to the Museum of Mountain Animals, which introduces us to more than 30 local species crucial to the ecosystem here.

Throughout our trip, sustainability is a big message, and it’s easy to understand why.

On an energetic snow-shoe hike after we’ve relocated to Les Arcs, our guide points to the top of the mesmerising Mont Blanc and reveals that in 2021, for the first time in history, the famous mountain REDUCED in height by one metre.

The locals can see, can feel, the impact of climate change.

To keep the mountain air clean — crucial for the Alps’ biodiversity — the Paradiski area is car-free.

You move easily between the 425km network of slopes thanks to ski lifts, gondolas and cable cars.

And the 111 resorts in Savoie Mont Blanc, including our second base, the Hotel Club Belambra Le Golf, are directly on the slopes, so it’s ski-in, ski out.

That is, of course, if you can ski.

Our group is full of novices. We fall over when putting our skis on or exiting a chair lift.

But, with just two three-hour lessons, we quickly become enamoured with this heart-racing yet surprisingly relaxing sport, progressing from the baby slopes alongside the toddlers on to the blue slopes, inspired by, frankly, just being part of this skiing paradise.

The bustling, architecturally alluring resort of Les Arcs, with five sites at different altitudes, clearly offers a more adventurous holiday if that is what you are after.

Alongside a stunning spa to soothe those inevitable bumps and bruises, there are world-class ski and snowboard runs.

There is also a huge selection of shops, restaurants — it’s practically law to enjoy a cheese raclette while you’re here — and lively bars.

After skiing, sledging (the luge run really takes you back to your childhood), eating outstanding food, drinking fine wine and sleeping at such altitude for days, we were ready for our final tourist must-do.

This was a walk out on to a bridge at La Passerelle viewpoint at the top of the Aiguille Rouge mountain — 3,226m metres above sea level.

But as experienced skiers, this now felt more like a pleasurable rush than a daredevil challenge.

It seems I’ve become a mountain man with an unexpected passion for skiing, and as I take in the jaw-dropping panoramic view of the snow-capped peaks, there goes my breath again.

Well, it’s either the view, or all that cheese I’ve eaten. C’est la vie.

GO: French Alps

GETTING THERE: For the Paradiski resorts of Les Arcs, La Plagne and Peisey-Vallandry, fly to Lyon, Geneva, Grenoble or Chambery, the closest.

Or take the train from London St Pancras to Bourg-St-Maurice via Paris.

STAYING THERE: Rooms at Hotel Emeraude Vallandry are from £119 per night B&B. See hotel-emeraude-vallandry.com.

Rooms at Hotel Club Belambra Le Golf from £112 per night full-board. See belambra.com.

MORE INFO: See en.peisey-vallandry.com; en.lesarcs.com and en.france-montagnes.com.

The La Passerelle viewpoint at the top of the Aiguille Rouge mountain is 3,226m metres above sea level

The La Passerelle viewpoint at the top of the Aiguille Rouge mountain is 3,226m metres above sea levelCredit: Raj
A  horse sleigh ride is a great way to explore the area

A horse sleigh ride is a great way to explore the area
Steven spent four days in the French Alps on a beginners’ ski trip

Steven spent four days in the French Alps on a beginners’ ski tripCredit: Getty