Voices: Forget Magaluf – the worst of Brits abroad are all skiing

Each winter, swathes of moneyed Brits take over entire alpine towns in neon one-pieces.

They greet old chums from public school in voices that sound amplified by megaphones; they’re perfectly polished, from their blow-dries to their shiny new moon boots; and they stay at chalets that cost thousands of euros a night, drinking the wine stores dry. Val d’Isere becomes Magaluf for the rich. Peeling sunburn traces the shape of ski goggles rather than the straps of a too-small Shein bikini.

Recently, in Val Thorens, I ordered a beer at apres. The bartender looked confused, and I repeated my request slowly and deliberately, cursing my inability to master a convincing French accent even after a degree and 18 months of living here.

“Sorry, I don’t speak French,” he said, with the exaggerated English accent of a 1960s BBC newsreader. I may as well have been in Surrey-on-Slopes.

While places like Malia provide the streets-awash-with-vomit backdrop for reality TV shows like Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents, Benidorm, and Once Upon a Time in Zante, the braying masses who descend upon Megeve to turn the snow yellow with bodily fluids emerge unscathed from mockery. Snow, Sex and Suspicious Parents fell flat after two brief seasons.

Is it the British obsession with class that stops us from drawing comparisons between the snowy streets of Courchevel and the strips of the Costa del Sol? The sense that, if you have a double-barrelled surname and can afford to spend €8 on a pint from La Folie Douce, it somehow elevates you above someone drinking a triple vodka and Red Bull in Ayia Napa?

Or is it the sporting element that engenders this sense of superiority? Our entrenched class system means that waving a lacrosse stick or a croquet mallet, or sliding down a mountain with two planks strapped to your feet, gives licence to day-drink and behave obnoxiously free from judgement in the way that a group of lads playing pool in Zante cannot.

My disdain for ski culture is hypocritical. At the ripe old age of 29, finally living near the French Alps, I too donned goggles and salopettes and became yet another Brit on the slopes. I quickly fell in love with it. Engaging in a sport among friends in the crisp mountain air was indisputably enjoyable, and previous attempts to coax them into trail runs or long muddy plods had fallen heavier than my first, ungainly disembarkation from a chair lift.

A complete amateur, I return from a day of skiing covered in blue and green bruises that match the level of pistes I barrel down, elated, with cheeks ruddy from mountain air rather than an over-consumption of Daddy’s vintage port. And maybe my distaste and misplaced sense of superiority comes from never having been a part of that world.

While the Henriettas and Hamishes in sleek, fur-lined Canada Goose puffers glide down black runs with ease, I dress in a combination of hand-me-downs and vibrant pieces purchased cheaply from Decathlon’s kids’ section, which gives me both the visibility and waistline of a rainbow-coloured bouncy ball. I ski like a bouncy ball, too.

Why don’t we talk about how Tignes is every bit as bad for the image of “Brits abroad” as Kavos? Loutish behaviour, the inability to learn even a couple of words in the local language, and resorts that become ghost towns out of season – there are more similarities than the snowsuit-clad Surrey brigade would like to think. It doesn’t become acceptable when seen through the rose-tinted lens of Fendi ski goggles.