Head high to the French Alps

When you think of a family holiday to France, it can be easiest to picture a beach or a campsite or crumbling farmhouse in rolling countryside. Many people tend to think mountain holidays are just for the winter.  But it’s time to think again!

Guest blog from Catherine Cooper

Holidays in the French alps
French alps

Many French mountain resorts have plenty to offer families wanting to holiday in France in the summer. Even quite upmarket accommodation tends to be very reasonably priced compared to the winter season, resorts are uncrowded and unstressful with a (usually) pleasant climate, and most have many activities suitable for families.

This year for our family holiday to France we tried out Morzine-Avoriaz and Les Gets – my children Toby, 15, and Olivia, 13 have got into mountain biking this year and wanted to try a bit more downhill riding. The Portes du Soleil region is huge for mountain bikers (there are 12 linked resorts with 24 chair lifts) with plenty of trails for all levels. The great thing about biking in the mountains is you can get the lifts up and cycle down hill or – even better as we discovered this year – rent an electric mountain bike to power up the slopes.

There are also plenty of activities for younger children – for whom even riding on the chairlift or cable car can feel like a big adventure. There are several pools (Avoriaz has an impressive, albeit small, indoor waterpark Aquariaz), a summer luge, pony rides, ice skating and tennis. There are also many special events for children – we visited during “Morzine Plage” when there was a giant sandpit for the smaller children and Total Wipeout-style games for the bigger ones. There are also creches for the littlest ones if you want to go off hiking on your own or similar. Kids will also love the new WiBit inflatable water park on the Lac des Ecoles in Les Gets (get there early to book your spot though – it’s very popular!) and the mechanical music museum. Even high-adrenalin activities such as white-water rafting or paragliding can often be experienced by children as young as eight or so (ages vary slightly according to the school and conditions). The Multipass is a very good buy – it costs a few euros a day (or is even offered free with some accommodation providers) and gives you free access to the lifts and various other activities, plus discounts on many others.

mountain biking in the alps
Les Gets, lac des ecoles

We stayed with VIP Ski, which offers luxurious properties at very reasonable prices during the summer and are very geared up for families with family rooms available, UK TV and Playstations in all their properties and nannies (available at additional cost) for those who want them. Evening babysitting is also available.

The first part of our stay was at Altitude Lodge in Les Gets which is run on a half-board basis and ideal for those who want a total break from cooking and cleaning. Family rooms are available (some with private hot tubs) and there’s a large bar and terrace. It’s in a quiet location out of town with ponies roaming freely around – there are a couple of cafés nearby most families will probably want a car. The three course evening meals were fantastic and breakfast is very much Full English in style rather than continental – there were even baked beans, much to my son’s delight.

altitude lodge VIP ski

The second half of our stay was in the Valdez Suite – a plush self-catering apartment for four right on Morzine’s high street. It offers all the facilities of Altitude Lodge (such as a sauna and hot tub) but might be better suited to those with very young children who want more flexibility in their mealtimes (though catering can be arranged). One of VIP’s army of cheery and polite staff comes in every day to clean, so it still feels like a proper holiday.

Self-catering in the Valdez suite, Morzine costs from £50 pp per night and half board in Altitude Lodge from £75 pp per night, minimum of three night stay in each.

Catherine Cooper is a freelance travel journalist and blogger.

Search France for Families for family-friendly accommodation in the French Alps.