All about your holiday
To learn more about the UCPA and what makes the holidays so cheap read more here. The UCPA experience is very unique so let us explain what you should expect from your UCPA holiday.
To find the holiday package which best suits your needs you can use our advanced search function. Here you can search availability by date, resort, course and other important factors. To read more about each of the course options just click on the hyperlinked price in the search results.
Not sure which resorts are good for you? No problem, try our resort advisor. It takes just a few minutes to complete and will provide you a list of the resorts which best suits your needs. You can read more information about each of the resorts here.
Not sure which course to pick? No problem, read more about UCPA Ski and Snowboard ability levels below. If you are unsure what level you are, compare your experience against the UCPA levels. Remember to read the full course description before booking.
A large majority of the UCPA course options require you to be at a minimum standard.
Detailed below are the descriptions for the various ability levels.
The French piste grading system
Learning or Beginner slopes. These are usually not marked trails, but tend to be large, open, gently sloping areas at the base of the ski area or traverse paths between the main trails.
An easy trail which are almost always groomed, or on so shallow a slope as not to need it. The slope gradient shall not exceed 25% except for short wide sections with a higher gradient.
An intermediate slope. Steeper, or narrower than a blue slope, these are usually groomed, unless the narrowness of the trail prohibits it. The slope gradient shall not exceed 40% except for short wide sections with a higher gradient.
An expert slope. Steep, may or may not be groomed, or may be groomed for moguls. Black can be a very wide classification, ranging from a slope marginally more difficult than a Red to very steep avalanche chutes like the infamous Couloirs of Courchevel. France tends to have a higher limit between red and black.
UCPA ski and snowboard ability levels
You are discovering the sport for the very first time or your experience is too poor to ski on your own. You will be introduced to your ski equipment and will ski on gentle slopes in a glide and then make some gentle turns and learn to stop under control.
You have completed a week of skiing before. You can go down green slopes with confidence and certain blue slopes. You are gaining confidence to ski more quickly but are beginning to master your speed and control your skis and direction. You are developing parallel turns and starting to link turns.
You master your speed and control your skis on blue slopes. You can go down red slopes when they are even but have difficulty when there are moguls. You are starting to ski some easy black runs. You are perfecting carving technique and body positioning, tackling bumps and steeper slopes, learning to manage difficult conditions. You are able to link confident parallel turns.
You can ski confidently on any kind of slope of the ski area, even if you feel a bit less at ease on difficult slopes (moguls, ice, powder). You can carve effectively on groomed pistes, however your technique is not so consistent with steep or bumpy slopes during challenging snow conditions. You can adjust your technique and mix short and long radius turns when required. You spend time in the side country perfecting off piste technique.
Your experience permits you to adapt your technique according to all situations and you can ski the whole mountain with excellent technique; steep slopes, moguls, different kind of snow. You can link carving and big turns on any kind of terrain. You are relaxed and comfortable off piste in difficult conditions.
All UCPA bookings and payments are made online
If you book more than 8 weeks in advance you can confirm your holiday with a £100 non refundable deposit and pay the final balance 45 days before travel.
Your booking is not confirmed until you receive a confirmation email from us. It may take up to 24 hours to confirm your booking with UCPA, don’t book travel until you have received confirmation.
Log into an existing booking
At any time you can log into your booking to make further payments, add flight details, add a new person to your group or simply view your (or your) group’s booking. Either follow the link provided on the confirmation email we have sent you or use the Log In button on the homepage menu bar.
Help or Assistance
If you have any further questions you should check out our FAQs. If you can’t find the answer to your question, please contact us.
Travel insurance is a condition of booking a holiday with UCPA. Having adequate cover is absolutely vital for any foreign trip but especially so for a winter ski or snowboard holiday (or adventure holiday). As well as covering any medical expenses, travel insurance is required to compensate any costs incurred by delayed or missed travel caused by adverse weather conditions or unexpected road closures. Also some travel insurance may compensate for the closure of lifts and ski areas in the event of lack of snow or severe weather conditions.
UCPA will not offer refunds or compensation due to travel disturbances, ski area closures or factors out with our control, this is the responsibility of your insurer. Often insurance will provide cover in case of injury or personal tragedy prior to your departure which requires cancellation of your holiday. Therefore we advise you to purchase a suitable insurance policy as soon as you book your holiday. Of course it is vital you read the policy closely and thoroughly to make sure you purchase insurance with adequate cover for all unexpected events. Also ensure you know how to report an incident and make a claim in case of an emergency situation while abroad, otherwise you may risk compromising your cover.
European Health Insurance
If you are a UK citizen it is recommended you carry a valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) or GHIC card, as well as private travel insurance. The EHIC/GHIC card is free of charge and gives you access to medically necessary, state provided healthcare during your stay in an EU country, including France, under the same conditions and at the same costs as people insured in that country. It is important to note that the EHIC/GHIC card should be used to complement travel insurance in a medical emergency and is not a substitute for travel insurance. Unlike in the UK, healthcare is not free in France, therefore you will still incur a cost when seeking medical care even if you do have an EHIC card. Some insurers now insist a valid EHIC/GHIC card is produced when receiving healthcare abroad. The EHIC/GHIC card provides no other compensation or cover for you holiday except partial healthcare cover.
If you can escape the ofﬁce for ten days, a fortnight or more (so far we have had a six week stay by the luckiest person in the world!) then why not maximise your time on the snow? If you contact the Action Outdoors team with your thoughts, we can help put them into action.
Whether you are after a zero to hero ski course, taking your piste skills into the off piste environment, to discover the world of ski touring, then we can propose a program that has this in mind. You can stay at the same centre for the period, getting to know the ski area like the back of your hand, or you can spend each week exploring a new resort, the choice is yours!
There is a small discount (the cost of the middle Saturday night) that we can take off the price of your holiday when you stay for consecutive weeks. Our computer system doesn't allow this to happen automatically so please email the ofﬁce at firstname.lastname@example.org to request this once you have paid your deposit on each individual holiday.
If you are staying at the same resort then the logistics are easy. If you are requiring transfers, please just select transfer for your first week then email the office to ask them to change the return date. If you are travelling by coach, then please select own travel and book directly with Snow Express.
If you are hoping to change resorts, then please be aware that some resorts aren't that well linked without a trip back to the airport. Here are those that are quite easy to get between:
Val d'Isere, Tignes, Les Arcs, La Plagne and Val Thorens, lie along the same valley and can be accessed by using the local bus and train. You can access these resorts from either Grenoble or Geneva airport.
You can then head to Grenoble airport and take a transfer to Les Deux Alpes or Serre Chevalier
Head to Geneva airport and take a transfer to Les Contamines, Flaine, Chamonix or Argentière, all of these resorts can be linked by train and bus.
To be looking at this page you must have at least a slight interest to strap yourself to a plank(s) and slide down a frozen hill?
Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or are looking to experience the infamous Apres Ski that the Alpine resorts pride themselves with, a winter ski or snowboarding holiday is definitely a unique one. Not really renowned for being relaxing and chances are that you will have more bruises by the end of the week than you would have achieved on a night out since your student days, but it is fun and you will laugh. Most probably at someone else’s expense. As you gain more control of your speed and your technique improves, the steeper routes will seem possible and before you know it, the whole mountainside can be explored and you will finally start to understand why people become addicted to spending a fair amount of their hard earned cash on a holiday to just dress up like a munchkin man.
Fancy a week learning this crazy sport?
Action Outdoors offers beginner instruction at all of its resorts. Therefore it is up to you to decide what is more important to you - the centre comfort, the night life, the distance to the slopes etc.
Check out our Resort Advisor to see with resort that might suit you
Why book with Action Outdoors and UCPA?
The whole UCPA set up is designed to help you, as a beginner, learn to ski or snowboard. Everything is handled in house – the ski shop, the ski school, there are even evening lectures (not compulsory but very interesting), so that by the end of the week, you are not only skiing well but talking the talk too!
If you are travelling with friends that have skied before then the UCPA concept still works brilliantly as it enables them to take a ski course for their own ability level without having to worry about you. Even those lucky individuals that have grown up on ski’s can venture off piste with a local guide. But most importantly, you will still have plenty of free time to ski together. UCPA provide ski school for beginners on Sunday afternoon so your friends don’t even need to feel like they have to teach you the basics and can instead remember what to do themselves.
What do I need to pack?
We have written a comprehensive packing list below, but as long as you own a waterproof jacket and trousers plus are willing to buy some thermal tops and bottoms, a fleece, some gloves and sunglasses, you will be fine! But ask around, you will be amazed at how many people have ski equipment hidden away in their closets. Ebay, TK Max and the supermarkets all offer ski clothes too. If you do buy, buy so that you can wear it in the UK high street too, then it is worth spending money.
Should I take lessons beforehand?
If there is a local dry slope / indoor slope near where you live, then we would recommend that you learn the basics here so that you can progress much quicker when on holiday. Although not half as exciting, it seems a long way to travel to the Alps to spend the first morning learning how to stand up. But if time or money doesn’t allow, it really doesn’t matter, don’t stress.
Do I need specific ski insurance?
You must take out an insurance policy and we recommend doing it as soon as you pay your deposit. It is just one of those things. Ski accidents have a tendency to cost and the difference to normal holiday insurance is the costs involved with rescue from the mountain. Also, by taking out insurance it means that if you lose a ski or your bag doesn't show up at the airport, or that your elderly grandmother passes away prior to you travelling and you miss the holiday for her funeral, you are covered and should get some money back!
When is the best time to go skiing?
Obviously your work is the biggest constraint here but if you can travel anytime between December and April you will notice that the prices reflect when is popular and when is not. The cheaper weeks do mean that the pistes will be emptier (less targets to hit) though the nightlife won’t be quite as lively. Take the next statements with a pinch of salt but there tends to be lots of snowfall December and January meaning fresh powder snow (soft and fluffy) but often grey and cold days, February offers blue skies but the weather is often super cold. March is a bit of a gamble - the snow can be a bit icy meaning harder to slow down but can also have fresh snow and April offers longer warmer days, but you may find that the snow cover isn’t so thick and may be slushy in the afternoon. Not really an issue as a beginner or an intermediate skier. Those more advanced should look at ski touring (the best sport ever we think!). However, we have had some of our best ski days in May – you can just never tell!
What does a typical day involve?
08:45 Put ski boots on
09:00 Lesson begins
13:00 Next lesson begins
15:00 Meet up with friends
16:30 Aprés Ski – down to the bar
21:00 Head out to town / sleep
Standard courses – provided equipment:
- Skis/Snowboard appropriate for your level & course
- Ski/Snowboard boots
- Ski Poles
Off piste & touring courses – additional provided equipment:
- Transceiver (batteries not included – available from reception)
Off piste & touring courses – bring your own:
- Backpack (20l- 30l) to keep your Avy kit in (some centres will have these available, if you don't have one)
- Sleeping bag for any overnight stays in mountain huts (if specified in course description), sleeping bag liner required
Skiing and snowboarding clothing & kit required:
- Base layers – long thermal underwear or sports leggings & top
- Mid layer – thin fleece, sports hoodie or insulated jacked
- Waterproof outer ski jacket
- Salopettes/waterproof outer ski trousers
- Warm & waterproof ski gloves
- Ski socks
- Ski goggles
- Warm hat/beanie
- Helmet (not required, personal preference – can be rented in resort)
- Small backpack (useful for carrying water bottle & snacks)
Need to rent ski clothing? Crevasse Clothing rent top of the range outer clothing.
- Warm casual clothing for evenings
- Comfortable and warm outdoor shoes or snow boots with good grips
- Comfortable indoor shoes for wearing around the centre
- Towel (bedding is provided but towels are not provided)
- UCPA security deposit – 100 euros/£80 by card or cash
- French plug adapter for your phone & laptop charger
- Travel Insurance & EHIC card
- Ear plugs (useful for a shared dorm)
- Padlock for room locker
- Water bottle – for the mountain and in your room
- Mobile phone & charger (check it works while abroad)
- Debit/credit card – in case of emergency
- Toiletries & hairdryer
Several weeks before travel you will be sent an email with information you may require for your holiday including packing list, travel arrangements and the UCPA address. Please read this information carefully. If you don't receive the Holiday Details email contact us. Remember if you are arriving after 8pm you should contact the UCPA centre in advance to arrange access to the centre and room keys. This information is covered in the Holiday Details email.
Hire clothing for ski and snowboard holidays through Crevasse Clothing, with a discount from your Action Outdoors holiday.
Crevasse Clothing rent the full package (jacket, pants, goggles and gloves) delivered to your address in the UK before travel, and you send them back upon return.
Whether it is your first time skiing or you're well seasoned, committing to kit is expensive and requires a lot of storage for just (a couple?!) of weeks a year...
When you make a booking with us you will receive a 10% discount code to use.
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