Skiing with the family
Whether you’re a novice at skiing or experienced, France for Families is packed with useful hints and tips for family ski holidays. If you’ve never been skiing before there’s no doubt you’re best off with a ski package operator. But to make big savings organise the skiing holiday yourself using the advice in these pages.
You have a bewildering choice of skiing accommodation, especially in the purpose built resorts.
However, the choice is narrowed when you start to consider your needs – for instance, if your budget is limited then you should choose self catering in a small apartment, beginners want to be close to the nursery slopes, non-skiers need entertaining….and so on.
For more information, about accommodation available in the Alps, see our Gites in the French Alps page.
If you can afford it then flying must be preferred. Driving is the cheapest option but has some downsides – mainly the traffic in peak season and the weather! If you want your car with you but don’t want to drive then Autotrain is an option. The other choices are Eurostar from Waterloo/Ashford or taking a coach (a long journey, not ideal for kids).
For beginners we strongly recommend that you take lessons on a dry ski slope before setting our on your holiday – you will get so much more out of your holiday as a result. On the piste you have the choice of group lessons (typically 10 per group) or private lessons (expensive, booked in advance). ESF (Ecole du Ski Francais) is the main provider.
One of the more expensive parts of the holiday. Get a multi day pass for a discount. Don’t waste money on extended area passes if you’re novice skiers.
You will need special clothes for skiing – skiing gloves are essential to keep your hands warm; salopettes (a bit like dungarees) not only keep your legs warm but also help to keep snow out if you fall over; a hat is vital if the wind is up and the sun is not; the one item you can skimp on is your coat – if you have a decent winter coat, this coupled with a good fleece should be enough to protect you from the elements.
Saving Money on Ski Clothes: Quite frankly there is no substitute for sheer hard work here. Start looking early, six months or more before your holiday. There are bargains to be found, but they have to be found. We recommend:
- Look for end of season discounts, ready for next year.
- Visit all the sports shops regularly, even the expensive ones have bargains.
- For the children, buy a size too big – then you can get a couple of seasons wear from them.
- Buy neutral colours so you can pass clothes onto your younger children. Black salopettes are best for this.
- Choose carefully and you may be able to find a ski jacket that will make a nice school coat as well.
For example we bought a beautiful ski jacket in Next to Choice (Next’s seconds shop) in the middle of last July for just £14. And a Helly Hansen jacket for £20 from an expensive sport shops – can’t really explain why it was discounted. But it just goes to prove that there are bargains out there if you look for them.
Ebay is also a great place to find a bargain with ski clothes. These usually start being listed from September onwards, we’ve found some great bargains, especially for the children. Full gear for just £20 in some cases!
Assuming you don’t have your own skis or boots then you will have to hire these when you arrive at the resort. Make sure you allow time for this as it takes time to get them fitted properly. You can help by making sure that you know the height, weight and shoe size (continental number) for all the members of your family before you go. Make sure everyone takes time to get boots that fit comfortably as this greatly impacts your enjoyment. And go back if they become uncomfortable later.
It’s a good idea to pre-book your equipment before you go, you will find this cheaper that paying when in resort. We can recommend www.skiset.co.uk as a company that provides good equipment at an excellent rate.
Read more abut popular ski resorts in France: