I am on the top of a mountain, fastened into skis and staring down a near vertical slope to the town below.

Above, the sky is a bright blue, the rays of sun catching the surrounding peaks and turning them shades of gold and orange. All would be a pretty standard day on the slopes were it not for the fact I am also sporting a harness attached to another skier – who is presently spreading out a very large parachute.

After a few words of banter, I grip my harness, grin helplessly and follow his orders to ski over the precipice.

We push off, hurtling down to the, admittedly rather pretty, rooftops below... then – whoosh! We are yanked up, and are airborne.

It doesn’t seem real, and for that reason it is not remotely scary.

The mountains gather round, and the world below slides further away, then a little nearer – then back into the distance.

My first experience of ski paragliding – or ‘parapente’ to the French – is a surreal, and surprisingly relaxing experience. Zen-like, even.

Cliches abound – racing through my mind as I make nervous small talk with my instructor, who pretends to understand, replying with a series of cheery whoops. “This is how birds must feel!” I gasp.... “It’s like being an eagle... How long can we stay up? How far can we go?”

Eventually we descend, slowly, and again unrealistically – the houses, roads and tiny cars below growing gradually bigger between my skis.

I brace for a crash landing, but we touch down gently, with a flex of the knees, in the soft snow.

I grin yet more widely and feel elated; the buzz lasts for days. It hasn't really gone.

Paragliding is a signature activity of the French resort of Les 2 Alpes – with daredevils taking off on skis at this time of year and without in the summer – when you can glide on the thermals above the deep green valleys for half an hour or more.

Dramatically perched along a ridge, the town lends itself to jumping off steep slopes. The location is among the most beautiful in the whole of Europe; towering peaks surround in all directions.

Almost uniquely in France, Les 2 Alpes offers practically year-round skiing on its 3,600 metre-high glacier – making the season longer than most and guaranteeing excellent conditions, even on light years. There are snowmakers between 2,100 metres and 1,300 metres, and efficient snow-trapping techniques. That’s no concern right now, of course, with the Alps experiencing the highest snowfall for two decades or more.

Having recovered from the adrenaline rush of my taste of air, I joined friends in the lively bars which buzz all night in this hip mountain town. I am joined by a friend who is almost as experienced in the resort’s lively nightlife as my parapente partner was in the delights of jumping from peaks. There were drinks and there was dancing. Lots of dancing. Suffice to say, it was a long night.

The next day, we hit the pistes early, any hint of a hangover evaporating in the cold Alpine air on the lift to the mountain top.

Being one of France’s largest resorts, the ski area is large, with 425 hectares of groomed slopes and 96 runs (12 blacks, 20 reds, 47 blues and 17 greens). To get around, there are 47 lifts (including 18 ski lifts, 20 chairlifts and four gondolas, as well as a cable-car and funicular among other means of getting around).

There’s plenty to keep the most adrenaline-addicted free-rider satisfied as well as beginners and everyone in between – with big fat unthreatening blues offering easy-going skiing, without the crowds.

And if you fancy a break from skiing and jumping off things, it also offers unparalleled snowshoeing. We hit the slopes after dark, tramping up a hillside with headtorches in search of a legendary cabin said to serve the best tartiflette around.

An hour of tramping through crisp snow later and, with thighs burning and noses numb from the cold, we found it, welcomed by bright lights, the comforting smell of wood smoke and an interior festooned with vintage skis and snoeshoes.

And the food? Delicious! A piping hot Alpine feast of tartiflette served with tastebud-tingling charcuterie and local wines and washed down with a throat-burning shot of the local botanic-flavoured digestif Genepi - was every bit as good as its reputation.

In fact, well worth jumping off a mountain for!

Les facts:

  • GET THERE: The closest airport is Grenoble, but the resort is also easily accessible from Lyon or Chambéry. Grenoble is the closest train station.
  • STAY: Relax in homely Alpine surroundings at the rustic Hotel Chalet des Champions: chaletdeschampions.com. From €110 for a single with breakfast
  • DO: Ski: Les 2 Alpes is open until April 28.

* Paragliding: €75 for a tandem flight with ESF (book in advance at the Tourist Office).

* Snowshoeing by night followed by dinner: €22 for the snow shoeing tour + €25 for dinner from guides2alpes.com

* Ski School: europeanskischool.eu

INFO: les2alpes.com/en

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