Family ski holidays to France

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Whether you’re a novice at skiing or experienced, France for Families is packed with useful hints and tips for family ski holidays to France. 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.

Family ski holiday France

Booking Ski Accommodation in France

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 a family holiday to France, if you are travelling with younger children, check out if there are plenty of nursery slopes nearby and if there are companies that offer either childcare facilities or can recommend a ski class for the younger children.

For more information, about accommodation available in the Alps, see our Gites in the French Alps page.

Planning Travel

On a family ski holiday, if you can afford it then flying must be preferred.  Either book a package holiday where transfers are included or consider hiring a car from the airport.

If hiring a car from an airport you must ensure that your car has snow tyres.  For example, if you fly into Geneva and hire a car from the ‘French’ side, the car doesn’t automatically have snow tyres or chains etc including in the hire.  The cars also tend not to have a motorway toll pass included.  So our recommendation is always hire from the ‘Swiss’ side – it may be slightly more expensive but well worth it!

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).

Skiing Lessons in France

If you are taking children or beginners on your family ski holiday 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.  Look for the ‘International’ classes – these lessons tend to be taught in English.

Lift Passes

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.

Ski Clothing for a family ski holiday in France

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!

Choosing Equipment

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: