Skiing with children: Half term week ski trip in Montgenevre, French Alps
February 22, 2017
How was your half term? I’m still adjusting to the fact we have a kid old enough to have our arrangements dictated by school holidays. We decided to spend our February half term on a family skiing holiday in the French Alps, with 9 of us over 3 generations celebrating my father in law’s 70th birthday.
We went to our usual resort in Montgenevre, France, just over the Italian border, flying to Turin and then getting a transfer. It’s part of the Milky Way Hautes-Alpes, roughly where the 2006 Winter Olympics was held and has been a ski resort since 1907. At 1,860m, the resort is good and high which means the snow is nice and reliable.
I obviously took loads of photos but I also filmed some bits and got M to as well, which I put together into the following video, if you’d like to see.
M’s family have been coming to Montgenevre since he was in ski school himself and we’ve been there several times together too. This perhaps isn’t the resort for you if your entire party are composed of expert black run adrenalin junkies (mind you, Candide Thovex, an extreme skier, was filming in the resort this week) but for mixed ability family friendly skiing we think Montgenevre has enough challenging reds and blacks combined with lovely gentle bunny slopes and some gorgeous sweeping motorway type greens all the way down the mountain to keep everyone happy.
Admittedly there is a lot of preparation in going skiing with a baby/ young children but with the right attitude and a good deal of balancing it is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing holidays we have taken.
There is no getting around the cost of a ski holiday but with some preparation it can be a moderate rather than extortionate bill. We take the middle ground between a fully catered chalet and total self catering by booking everything through a company which specialise in making ski holidays easy: Ski Etoile. We pay a little bit more for things than if we organised them ourselves but the beauty is everything is organised for us, even the chalet and transfers are booked for us. We just tell them our dates, requirements, book flights and arrive at Turin and are picked up by a driver. Ski school, ski hire and lift passes are all ready and waiting for us and there is a locker in the ski hire place for us to use which means we don’t have to drag our kit up and down to the slopes. A cot and a highchair were brought to the chalet and we didn’t have to worry about anything the whole week, whilst still have the enjoyment and freedom of our own chalet.
The two kids spent every morning in ski school, whilst I looked after Buster, hung out with my mother in law and enjoyed coffees in the sunshine. M, his brother and Dad used the 3 hours in the morning to ski hard. In the afternoons M and I went skiing together whilst the kids ate lunch with their grandparents and then we all hung out together, skiing or tobogganing, before heading back to the chalet for baths, dinner and lazy evenings.
I had a ski lesson on the first day with the excellent Barbara from ESF which Gerry at Ski Etoile organised for me. The great thing about using Ski Etoile was that we could just ask Gerry to sort things out and then we paid the bill at the end of the week – we were able to hire sledges, for example, and my father-in-law’s boot broke, so he just spoke to the ski hire shop he sorted him some boots and they were added to our invoice. Barbara really gave me confidence to ski at my preferred speed, reminding me that if I was “taking pleasure” from the experience, what did it matter what speed everyone else whooshed past at!
Pip and her cousin both did Club Piou-Piou every morning and thought it was fantastic. They made friends, spoke French and learnt the skiing basics which we then put into practice together. I will probably follow this with another post on the specifics if anyone is interested?
Buster, on the other hand, spent a lot of time Alpine napping but also seemed to thoroughly enjoy his first ever snow experience. Next year he will join the childcare in the mornings which will mean M and I can do some more skiing together – we didn’t book anything this time as I wasn’t sure how much skiing I could or wanted to do, as I haven’t really done any exercise of that impact since he was born as my pelvic floor has rather been in recovery mode since delivery a 10lb 8oz baby!
There is so much more I want to say, so I think I will split this into two posts, including some of my top tips for skiing with kids, and recommendations of things to pack!