I went to UCPA Argentiere in March 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed my stay. I took part in the Full time lessons they provide as part of their package and was a complete beginner (had never skied before). The instruction was amazing, our instructor was called Olivier and was very patient with us but at the same time pushed us quite a lot. By the end of the week we were skiing properly doing parallel turns; didn't spend any time learning snow ploughs, just got stuck straight in.
The first day was very frustrating (still fun, but spent a lot of time falling over) and started thinking can I really get along with skiing, but then it started to click and started enjoying myself a lot more. By the end of the week we were even doing some "off-piste - between runs" powder skiing which was great fun. Also did a few small jumps on the ski cross course which was interesting!
All in all, the skiing was great fun and would recommend for anyone who enjoys being active to go as they will love it. I've just booked up a second week of lessons with UCPA with my girlfriend (who has never skied) for dec 2011 so really looking forward to going back.
Food is very good, was very surprised with it being all inclusive wasn't expecting too much but the food is a buffet style each night and its very tasty, they allow you to take your own drinks (wine) into the dinner hall so that's good. Its a hostel type environment so you do have to clear up behind yourself and wipe down your mess. The lunches are also very good, they provide a full "make your own lunchpack" table which you do during breakfast. I would recommend you get down early as the best stuff does tend to run out... They have fresh french baguettes to make your sandwiches with and are tasty!
The beds are not that great; its bunk beds and not too wide.... However after skiing you are very tired and could sleep anywhere so I never had any problems sleeping. The rooms are warm enough and the communal shower area are clean and the showers are nice and warm and powerfull.
All in all, its not the best accommodation, but for what you pay its unbeatable value and great fun with a group of friends; its a youth hostel not a hotel so don't go expecting a hotel. The facilities are good, there's a bar which has a silly ticket system where they don't accept cash, you have to buy a book of tickets and use them to buy beer; we just went up the road to one of the small bars in Argentiere where we had a few quiet drinks.
Argentiere itself is a tiny village and isn't really up to much, there's a few shops and a couple of small bars, its a nice quiet place to stay and there's everything you'll need. You can get a bus to Chamonix if you want a livelier night-life down there if that's your thing. Its worth mentioning that you get a free bus ticket that lasts the duration of your stay with UCPA so transport to and from Chamonix doesn't cost, there's also a few good shops you can visit in Chamonix if you need ski equipment or even some nice cheap French wine!
Highly recommend this place for a cheap ski trip, great value and good fun with friendly people. All sorts come here from groups to lonesome skiier's so there's always people to meet and talk to if you are coming on your own.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- All Inclusive accommodation with 3 meals per day, in house instruction and sports equipment hire on site. Modest accommodation with multi share rooms of between 4 and 7 people. High quality sports instruction with all costs covered including lift pass. Winter sports packages include off piste freeride, ski touring and snowboarding. Summer program includes climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking and walking. ... more less