With 100km of slopes, Saint-Lary is one of the largest ski resorts in the Alps and guarantees family fun for everyone, no matter the level. It is divided into three different areas catering to different needs and well connected to each other via chairlifts and shuttle services:
Saint-Lary 1700 (Pla d’Adet) is perfect for families wishing to enjoy the snow beyond the skis thanks to its dedicated family area. Aside from a magical Snow Garden, it features two toboggan runs and the snow fun KIDPARK, open for children between 6 – 12 years old.
Saint-Lary 1900 (Espiaube) is perfect for more advanced skiers wishing to have a genuine taste of the Pyrenees and all they have to offer when it comes to skiing. Those looking for never-ending runs will find themselves in 7th heaven at the wonderful 3.6km long Mirabelle piste.
Saint-Lary 2400 is the icing on the cake for snow lovers and adrenaline seekers. Home to a mogul park, a snowpark with a half-pipe and PA system and slalom stadiums there is never a dull moment at this height. Additionally, it also welcomes snow-shoe walkers hiking to the gorgeous Lake Oule.
There are 4 ski schools in the resort that vary in style to meet the demands of different type of children:
(Résidence Le Garlitz, 65170 Saint-Lary Pla d´Adet +33 (0) 562 98 11 01) “Famille Plus” certified and with offices in the village, Saint-Lary 1700 and 1900, ESF is probably the most popular and traditional one. It offers both private one-on-one lessons as well as group classes. Children from 3 to 5 years old are invited to join the fun-filled Club Pioupiou.
(15 rue vincent Mir, 65170 Saint-Lary +33 (0) 562 39 11 61) The only other “Famille Plus” certified ski school in Saint Lary promises entertainment and lots of adrenaline for the younger ones and the young at heart. They offer stages of both ski and snowboard for adults and children from 5 years old onwards, group lessons and private classes.
(Résidence Edelweiss, 65170 Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet +33 (0) 562 98 45 80) This ski school welcomes all the family with its one-to-one private lessons, children group lessons and adults group lessons. During winter you can also find them at the Bureau des Guides office located in the village.
(Résidence La Glisse – Pla d’Adet 65170 Saint-Lary-Soulan, +33 (0) 672 33 21 89) Guylaine and Franck are independent ski instructors located in Saint-Lary 1700 offering private classes and group lessons for children aged 7 years old and over and adults. Those looking for a new experience should try telemark as Franck is a highly experienced telemark skier.
Saint-Lary has great individual rates for children as well as family passes that cover between 3 – 6 family members and include 1 or 2 adults. There is a superb 6 days family pass that can be booked online in order to receive a discount!
From 18 months to 5 years old:
Municipal Nursery (Maison du Petit Montagnard, 65170 Pla d’Adet, +33 (0) 562 98 49 73). Open daily from 9am to 5.30pm, even on public holidays, it offers slots in the morning (15.90€) and the afternoon (17.10€) as well as a whole day service (29.60€). Booking recommended.
From 3 years old to 12:
Children’s Leisure Centre – Association Airel (Maison du Petit Montagnard, 65170 Pla d’Adet, +33 (0) 562 39 32 91) Open only during the school holidays and weekends, it welcomes children by the hour of half day. Booking recommended. Additionally, a list of babysitters is available from the Saint-Lary Village Tourist Office.
There are several organised snowshoeing circuits in the resort for different levels and all conducted by expert guides that will make the most of the stunning landscapes that you will discover. Dog sledging and tobogganing are also very popular with the younger ones.
Close to the village, families can relax in the benefiting thermal baths of the fabulous Sensoria Rio wellness centre (Les Thermes de Saint-Lary-Soulan, 65170 Saint-Lary, +33 (0) 562 40 71 71). It features underwater jet sprays, geysers and waterfalls as well as welcoming caves and canyons. There are also more conventional facilities such as saunas or Jacuzzis.
In the village, you can skate at the ice rink open during the ski season from 3pm to 8pm, or bounce like a kangaroo at the bungy trampoline open from 3pm until 9pm. There are also public gardens and play areas with swings.
Cultural activities include the charming Bear Museum (+33 (0) 562 39 50 83) open from 9.30am to 12.30am and 2pm to 5.30pm and the well-stocked library open from Monday to Friday and during school holidays from 10am to 12am.
If the weather is not pleasant to walk around the village, there is a cinema with discounts for children under 10 and shows starting at 5pm, making it ideal as a pre-dinner activity. Shopping may not be the most exciting family activity but the toy shop “Calin et Caline” (+33 (0) 562 39 11 87) mesmerises everyone that visits the shopping arcade.
11 km of slopes and enviable views of the spectacular Mont Blanc massif await you and your family in the wonderfully traditional Les Houches. Distributed into two main areas, this picture perfect ski resort has something for everyone, no matter if the kids are putting on the skis for the first time or if they are already pros:
Le Tourchet is located at 950m of altitude and is the resort’s main beginner’s area. It is located in the heart of the village and is the perfect place to learn and gain confidence as more experienced skiers do not set foot here. It features two draglifts and it is possible to purchase a separate lift pass just for this area. During school holidays, on Thursdays, Tourchet slope is open for an unforgettable free night skiing session (no ski pass is required to use the draglift). Music is played and mulled wine and hot chocolate served in a bar to keep the spirits up!
Les Houches/Saint Gervais extends up to 1900m and is the main ski area. At the summit, skiers can admire a unique 360° view of the Mont-Blanc but that’s not the only highlight: they can also feel like world class racers as they descend the legendary “La Verte des Houches”. More widely known between skiers as the Kandahar, it is one of the 2 black runs in the resort and probably the most beautiful downhill slope in the Ski World Cup. This area also features two nursery slopes – Mont Blanc and École accesed by the Bellevue and the Prarion lift respectively –, that are ideal for those kids who already some experience.
If you are an expert skier you may find Les Houches a bit boring, but if you want a real challenge then hopping over to the nearby Chamonix-Mont-Blanc ski resort will surely satisfy your thirst for steep and tricky slopes (check the family ski pass deals to discover more about this option).
(Place du Prarion BP 5, 74310 Les Houches +33 (0) 450 54 48 79) With 70 instructors speaking English, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian, it provides private and group lessons for adults in several modalities (ski, snowboard, telemark skiing, cross-country skiing,…) as well as 2 snow nurseries for children with little or no experience: Club Pitchoune offers lessons from 20€ for children between 2 – 3 years and Club Piou Piou from 32.50€ for children over 3 years old. Kids are placed in reduced groups to ensure they are supervised at all times.
Additionally, it also offers day care services for children between 3 and 10 years old in association with the Club Enfants Touristique des Chavants (check the childcare section below for more information about this option.)
Snowshoes courses are also available as well as more adrenaline filled mountain sports such as paragliding.
(Magasin Cyprien Sports, 211 rue des Esserts, 74310 Les Houches +33 (0) 450 11 90 22) Ideal ski school for those looking for a bit of adventure as it specialises in ski and snowboar lessons, off-piste clinics and heli skiing. It offers private instructors or group classes and welcomes children from 3 years old in its Yeti ski club. Kids between 8-14 years old can improve their skills at the junior academy. Rates start from 205€. One of their most popular activity amidst families is dog sledding.
(110 Chemin du Mar, 74310 Les Houches +33 (0) 636 66 48 10) The first eco-friendly ski school in the world is the best option for eco-tourists or anyone concerned about global warming. They offer private ski and snowboarding lessons from 200€ and students can loan a pair of Dynastar test skis for free! Paragliding courses are also available.
The best offer for the ski season 2014/2015 is without a doubt the Pack Famille. Available from 99,80€ during the low season and from 116,90€ during the season peak, it includes 2 adults and 1 child and 4 additional children who can ski for free! For the serious skiers, we also recommend the family pack for the Mont Blanc Unlimited pass which grants access not only to the whole Chamonix valley but also Courmayeur in Italy and Verbier in Switzerland. Rates start from 166,70€
From 3 months to 3 years old:
Halte-garderie municipale (Rue du Mont-Blanc 201, 74310 Les Houches +33 (0) 450 54 48 19) Located in the village centre, it is open all year round from Monday to Friday and from 8am to 6pm.
From 18 months to 10 years old:
Club enfants touristique des Chavants (+33 (0) 686 32 56 42) Open from Monday to Sunday during the ski season it is much more than a day care centre as it also offers ski lessons and several activities for children that include snow games, luge and creative workshops. Rates start from 25€ and include meal.
Les Houches is a quiet mountain village designed to spend quality time with your family without interruptions. But although it may lack the variety of other ski resorts in France when it comes to après-ski activities, there are still lots of entertaining things that you can do here.
On the slopes, you can explore Les Houches by snowshoes as there are several marked routes taking you through gorgeous landscapes without the need of hiring a guide; although we always recommend having one so that you don’t miss on local tips.
Another exciting winter activity skijoring but unlike in other resorts, in Les Houches, instead of using dogs, they use horses! We guarantee you there’s nothing quite like being towed by one of this magnificent animals while you enjoy the snowed peaks and the nearby forests. Truly unforgettable.
Guided tours of Les Houches, these ones on foot, are available during the winter season through the Heritage Guides of Savoy. Here you can learn about the history of the village and its habitants as well as a visit to the gorgeous church. Bookings and more information are available at Les Houches Tourist Office (+33 (0) 450 11 50 62)
If the weather is unpleasant, the Musée Montagnard et Rural (2 place de l’Eglise, 74310 Les Houches +33 (0) 450 54 54 74) can be a great option, especially since this winter’s temporary exhibition is focused on famous characters from children’s literature. Entrance is free for children under 18 and tickets for adults are just 3€.
There is also a library (201 rue Mont Blanc, 74310 Les Houches +33 (0) 450 54 39 83) open throughout the year with a good selection of books for both children and adults.
Parents looking for a romantic afternoon can visit the splendid Spa Ô des Cimes – Résidence CGH Le Hameau de Pierre Blanche (Allée des Diligences, 74310 Les Houches +33 (0) 450 33 10 96) where they can treat themselves to relaxing therapies.
Located in the Northern Alps, right on the border with Italy, La Rosière is much more than an international ski resort; it is a traditional paradise for families with young children where snow is always guaranteed. Furthermore, its 160 km of slopes offer entertainment for all levels and styles as aside from a dedicated kid’s area, they boast a freestyle snow park, a boarder cross park, a snow cross park, off-piste areas with powder snow, 2 slalom stadiums and 15 black runs!
The nursery slopes are conveniently located near the chalets at La Rosière 1850, allowing children to make the most of their holidays as they can stay outdoors until the sun goes down. But the best part is that they can be used without a ski pass as there are three lifts (Clarines 1, Manessier and Dahu) and a magic carpet (Lutins) available for free! Les Eucherts also has good slopes for absolute beginners.
Most of the slopes at La Rosière are wide and gentle and perfect for beginners and intermediates so children who already have some experience will have tones of fun in the green and blue runs that go through the forest. In fact, it is here that you can find the amusing “Parcours du Petit St Bernard”, a green-marked kid’s zone ideal for families where children can practice in a safe environment.
As the resort expands from 1200m to 2650m, advanced skiers are best served at the top half of the mountain where they can find steeper red runs. Crossing to La Thuile on the Italian side is also recommended as the terrain is more challenging here and you can always take a break and have a tasty slice of Italian pizza!
(Maison du Ski, front de neige, La Rosière Centre, 73700 La Rosière-Montvalezan +33 (0) 479 06 81 26) Part of the prestigious École de ski français and awarded the “Famille Plus” award, you simply can’t go wrong with the private courses and group lessons on offer at this ski school whether you are an adult or a child, a skier or a snowboarder. For children, they have two ski clubs (between 3 and 5 years old and 6 and 13 years old) and a very dynamic programme for teenagers that goes from a timed slalom course to trying new snow sports and tricks at the snowpark.
Additionally, the school also offers a kid’s club for children between 18 months and 13 years old in association with Club-Loisir “Les Galopins” (check the childcare section below for more information about this option.)
For adults and the wild at heart, off-piste initiation and heliskiing courses are available.
Disabled skiers are more than welcome.
(Centre Commercial Le Valaisan II Le Centre, La Rosière Centre, 73700 +33 (0) 479 40 19 80) Adrenaline seekers and intrepid children need to look no further than this “Famille Plus” certified ski school. With qualified instructors with years of experience under their belts, children can enjoy private lessons or small group classes from 3 years old onwards. Adult courses are offered as well for both skiers and snowboarders. Off-piste skiing, heliskiing, paragliding, snowscoot initiation, skijoring, snowkiting and snowshoeing classes are also available for those looking for unique experiences on the snow.
Under 5s can obtain a free La Rosière pass after providing valid proof of ID at the ticket office.
Short duration passes (max. 3 days) for children between 5 -12 years old start from 21€ and only grant access to the La Rosière ski area. Those staying more days or wishing to also ski on the Italian side must purchase a La Rosière Espace San Bernardo pass. Rates for children start from 24,70€
If you are staying for 6 days or more, there is a new family pass for the 2014/2015 that costs 650€ and is valid for 2 adults and 2 children up to 17 years old. Additional children are charged the rate set for under 13 years old (no matter the age). There are also 7 days passes (730€) and 8 days passes (804€)
From 18 months to 13 years old:
Club-Loisirs “Les Galopins” (La Maison du Ski, 73700 La Rosière – Montvalezan, +33 (0) 479 06 81 26) offers both ski lessons and day care services from Monday to Sunday and from 8.45am to 5.15pm in an idyllic setting on the slopes. A group of certified professionals keep the younger ones entertained with creative activities and snow sports that include luge and tobogganing. Rates for the 2014/2015 season are 154€ for 6 half-days and 290€ for 6 days (meals included.)
There are no day care centres for children in La Rosière but during the ski season there is a fully-qualified baby-sitter available to look after children from as young as 4 months old and with flexible schedules. She can be reached on +33 (0) 479 00 45 13 or +33 (0) 668 30 98 22
Like most Alpine villages, La Rosière has an ice rink (Place des Eucherts, 73700 La Rosière – Montvalezan, +33 (0) 479 08 30 20) and although this one is fairly small, it is still perfect for a great family afternoon whether you try skating yourself (tickets cost 8€ for adults and 6.50€ for children rental included) or prefer to catch a hockey game. It opens from 3pm to 7pm during the ski season but is closed on Saturdays.
The nearby Le Kitzbühel Bowling Alley (Place des Eucherts, 73700 La Rosière +33 (0) 479 07 54 46) is also a great place to spend the evening with its modern bowling alley with equipment for children aged 4 and over, pool tables, pinball machine and table football game.
There is also a modern two-screen cinema (Le Centre, Centre Commercial Les Terrasses, 73700 La Rosière – Montvalezan, +33 (0) 479 06 86 04) offering 2 screenings every day. The programme is available at the beginning of the week at the Tourist Office (+33 (0) 479 06 80 51). Tickets are 8€ for adults and 6,50€ for children under 12.
For artistic families, there are acrylic painting workshops organised by Colette Maitre (centre station Colette Sport Chez Jean, 73700 La Rosière – Montvalezan, +33 (0) 479 06 80 56) and dance classes by Aline Mathieu (Malatret, 73700 La Rosière – Montvalezan, +33 (0) 479 06 80 11).
The local library (Place des Eucherts, L’Averne, 73700 La Rosière – Montvalezan +33 (0) 479 06 80 51) is a great alternative when the weather outside is unpleasant.
In case you need to take a break from your kids, there are several spas in the resort:
Val d’Isère is without a doubt one of the world’s most elite skiing destinations. Its 300 km of slopes that have seen skiers achieve Olympic glory and even become legends, like the magnificent Jean-Claude Killy who learnt to ski here before becoming one of France’s most acclaimed skiers. The ski resort expands from 1110m to 3456m and is divided into 5 well-connected ski areas, so there is plenty of snow and fun guaranteed for every type of skier and snowboarder:
La Daille (1785m) has a beginners area served by a free draglift (Les Lanches) but it also offers plenty of red runs for more experienced skiers. In fact, this area is home to the exhilarating Coupe du Monde “OK” slope, a well-known men’s downhill course taking you all the way back down to La Daille.
Val d´Isère (1850m) the main nursery slope in the resort is conveniently close to the centre of the village. It is serviced by a free chairlift making it ideal and almost inexpensive (except maybe ski equipment rental and clothing) for complete beginners. Solaise (2560m) for those with some experience but unsure of whether to get a ski pass or not, they can put their skills to the test with the 2 draglifts (Legettaz and Savonette) and 2 chairlifts (Rogoney and Village) that take you up the mountain for free! The Madeleine green run on this area is one of the best for those fresh out of the nursery slopes, but those on the Col de l’Iseran are also great as they are gentle, wide and do not have many people crowding them. For advanced skiers, the black slope Rhone-Alpes is a must as it is a FIS women’s downhill course.
Rocher de Bellevarde (2827m) has gentle skiing green slopes on the Verte and 2 challenging black runs on the other side of the mountain. The most famous – or should we say infamous? – one is Face de Bellevarde, more commonly known as La Face, a steep run that has been used as the men’s downhill course for the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics and the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. The other one is Épaule du Charvet. Both are generally very well groomed but moguls are not unheard of either. There is also a slalom stadium where for 3€ you can pretend to be a pro and race against the clock and a snow park with rails, boxes, and jumps of all sizes. Not too far away, underneath the Borsa chairlift, kids wishing to learn some tricks or snowboard on a halfpipe can do so at the brand new Val “Kids” Park.
Le Fornet (3488m) One of the things that we like about the resort is that easy runs are located close to harder ones so a group of mixed abilities can take a chairlift together, split at the top of the mountain and meet again at the bottom. This is particularly true of this area where intermediate skiers and advanced can have the time of their lives.
If marked-runs were not enough, there is excellent off piste skiing for freeriders. We highly recommend you to hire a local guide to make the most out of the mountains.
With up to 18 ski schools and an ever-growing list of independent, highly-qualified instructors, Val d’Isère literally caters to every need, level and ski or snowboard discipline.
(ESF Val Village +33 (0) 479 06 02 34 or ESF La Daille +33 (0) 479 06 09 99) A great option for families with all members skiing as they provide group lessons for adults and children as well as private one-on-one tuition. Furthermore, they have specific programmes for children from as young as 4 years old and and a great offer for teenagers with dynamic instructors where they can explore different styles or even improve their competitive skills as there are dedicated freeride and competition programmes available.
Babies can also benefit from their superb day care + ski programmes offered at Le Village des Enfants (check the childcare section below for more information about this option.)
(Résidence Les Andes, Avenue Olympique, 73150 Val d´Isère, +33 (0) 479 04 12 71) Founded back in 1976 by former French downhill racer Pat Zimmer, this is the best school for those interested in off-piste skiing, ski touring and heliskiing. Their instructors have years of experience and know the area like the back of their hands.
Family ski pass
Under 5s can ski for free in Val d´Isère and children between 5-13 years old are entitled to a reduced pass starting from as little as 31€. If you want to cross to nearby Tignes, literally 2 lifts away, you can either extend your Val d’Isère pass or instead buy a Espace Killy pass with rates starting from 32€ for children.
The best option for families staying at the resort for 6 or 7 days is to buy a Espace Killy lift pass for all the members of the family at the same time. This will ensure you receive an attractive discount as you will be charged a child rate for every pass. This option is available for up to 5 family members only. Prices start from 832€ for 4 family members and 6 days.
From 18 months to 13 years old:
Le Village des Enfants de Val d´Isère (Rond Point des Pistes, 73150 Val d´Isère, +33 (0) 479 40 09 81) “Famille Plus” awarded day care centre and nursery with superb facilities and exciting indoor and outdoor activities conducted by professional staff members in conjunction with École du Ski Français. It is open from Sunday to Friday from 9am to 5.30pm and offers half day or weekly rates with and without meals.
From 3 years old:
Garderie le Petit Poucet (Les Hameaux de Val d’Isère BP 309, 73154 Val d´Isère, +33 (0) 479 06 13 97) is an enchanting, very flexible, nursery offering half day, whole day and hourly rates. They can pick up kids from the village and drop them off too and they also offer transportation to the ski schools in the resort. Aside from indoor and outdoor fun, they also have several computers for the kids. It is open every day from 9am to 5.30pm A private list of registered nannies is available at the resort’s website.
There’s plenty to do on the slopes besides skiing. On the left side of the Savonette lift, on the nursery slope, there is a sledging area open from 10am to 5pm. Additionally, from 5.30pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the whole family (children must be at least 6) can ride the hilarious and free Snake Gliss, a large and modern toboggan, or try bodyboarding on the snow with the Airboard.
During the ski season, several dates are allotted to organise each month the Dynastar trophy where visitors can enjoy the thrill of watching floodlit giant slalom and cross country ski races and win a pair of Dynastar skis!
Parents are in for a treat at Circuit de Glace (Les lèches, 73150 Val d’Isère, +33 (0) 679 49 49 23) where they can learn how to drive a luxurious BMW car on the snow guided by professional drivers or race each other at the snow karting circuit.
On March, the unique BMW Winter Golf Tournament takes place in Val d’Isère with pro-golfers putting their skills to the test right on the snow. An open course is available to the public on a Sunday and kids and parents are welcomed to take part.
Off the slopes, Centre Aquasportif (+33 4 79 04 26 01) is great for the kids to swim and play in the magnificent Beach World area or skate in the ice rink, while parents enjoy a massage in the Spa World or exercise at the well-equipped gym, climbing wall, the squash courts or the golf simulator. It opens every day from 10am to 9pm. On Thursdays it remains open until 10pm. Ticket prices vary depending on the activity you are interested in but if you want to try a bit of everything then the Pass Premium is the best option and it only costs 31€
There is also an additional ice rink at the heart of the village and it is almost inexpensive with tickets for children under 14 being just 7€ and 8€ for adults. For the keen skater child, there is a superb weekly rate for 22€. The rink is open from 3pm to 8pm every day.
If the weather is unpleasant, the cinema Val 1 et 2 (+33 (0) 479 06 03 43) is always an option and is ideally located on the main street.
Yoga and Pilates classes are available through private instructors. For yoga you can contact Charlotte St Jean (+33 (0) 603 10 63 95) and Christine Arzur (+33 (0) 624 18 03 90). For pilates contact Sarah Sissons (+33 (0) 687 82 33 36)
If you are looking for luxury accommodation, why not check our superb chalets in Val d´Isère?Luxury and ultra luxury ski chalet rentals in Val d´Isère
Located in the French Alps and enjoying 300 days of sunshine, it’s no wonder why Alpe d’Huez is a favourite amongst families. It expands from 1125m to 3330m and has 250 km of slopes (glacier included) that welcome all levels from complete beginners trying the skis for the first time to advanced skiers wishing to test their skills in Europe’s longest black slope:
There are two large beginners’ areas with plenty of gentle green runs served by free draglifts (Rifnel 1, Rifnel 2 and École 1) and a free rope pull (Grenouilles). Additionally, the long Jeux chairlift takes those skiers with some experience to the long Les Bergers. This green slope is one of our favourites for those skiers with some experience but not quite intermediates yet, as it has a low-speed limitation and offers a lot of terrain for beginners to improve. You can literally spend the entire morning here working on your technique without being harassed by advanced skiers!
Intermediate skiers will be best served further up the mountain, in the Dôme des Petites Rousses and Plat des Marmottes areas, where they can find both blue and red runs. Some of these take you straight back to the resort but others allow you to explore the ski resorts of Vaujany, Montfrais and Oz en Oisans (just make sure before getting there that you do have the proper ski pass!)
Last but not least, advanced skiers are in for a treat if they take the gondolas up to Pic Blanc (3330m) as all the black runs are found in this area. On one side of the mountain you can find the infamous Sarenne slope, the longest black piste in Europe while on the other side, the even more infamous and unforgiving Tunnel awaits the unafraid.
The ski resort also boast a huge snowpark suitable for all levels and featuring jumps, obstacles, a half-pipe and a boardercross course.
Disabled skiers are more than welcomed at the ski resort, with adapted equipment and highly trained instructors available to them. Furthermore, they are eligible for discounts on ski passes.
(Place Joseph Paganon, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 476 80 31 69) “Famille Plus” certified and part of the prestigious École du Ski Français there is very little that we can say about this school that hasn’t already been said. Their private classes are perfect for the serious skier wishing to improve his or her skills while their group lessons are great for making new friends and they are inexpensive (rates start from 46€); in fact, with teens and adults courses costing as little 11€ it would be a mistake to not put on the skis yourself!
Children with some experience will relish in the opportunity try competitive skiing with their professional competition courses (rates start from 280€) and parents wishing to explore the mountains can try ski touring (from 40€)
Special courses for disabled skiers are also available.
(497 Route du Signal, B.P 5, Quartier Le Cognet – Ref plan: F4, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 476 80 42 77) The only other “Famille Plus” certified ski school in the resort covers all levels and offers private and group lessons for kids between 4-17 years old (all levels, from 118,50€) and adults (all levels, from 156€).
They also offer courses for those interested in freeriding and a great baby ski club (check the childcare section below for more information.)
Ski equipment can be rented on the premises and they also operate a ski apartment rental service.
(Gather at: Alpesports, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 680 75 11 72) Adventure is not only meant for kids and parents looking for an adrenaline fix need to look no further. This ski school is by far the best option for anyone wishing to practise back country skiing, telemark or snowboard. They also offer private coaching and off piste camps.
(Gather at: Restaurant le Lac Blanc, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 679 67 34 56) Formed by friendly British, independent ski teachers, this ski school is perfect for those looking for private classes or group/family lessons (children must be 7 or over) in a British environment. Rates start from 70€
Under 5s and beginners ski for free in Alpe d´Huez (a free ski pass is required and can be obtained at the SATA desks.) Individual rates for children between 5-12 years old start from 31,50€ while students aged between 13-25 are eligible for reduced tickets costing €35,50€
Families staying for 6, 7 or 8 days can purchase the Family Pack which includes 2 adults and 2 children. Rates vary depending on the children’s age (up to 19 years old are admitted as children in the pack) but if you buy it online you save more than 100€!
From 2.5 years old:
ESF Nursery (Le Chalet des Enfants, bottom of Rif Nel slope, 38750 Alpe d´Huez) is perfect for those children who haven’t yet started skiing but whose parents want them to have a first contact with the snow and enjoy the experience. Songs, games and creative workshops keep children entertained throughout the day. Rates are 124€ for 6 half days.
From 2.5 years old to 3.5 years old:
Tonton Mayonnaise Baby Ski Club (EasySkI – Ski School – Alpe d´Huez, 487 route du Signal – Bp5, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 476 80 42 77) is a great option for parents who want their kids to learn how to ski in a fun filled environment. The chalet is heated so even on days when the weather outside is frightful you can be rest assured that your child will be grinning like a Chesire cat inside! The only downside is the short schedule as the club is only open from 10am to 12am; however, they compensate the inconvenience skis and boots rental are included on the price. Rates per week are 149€
From 2.5 years old to 5 years old:
Club Piou Piou (Le Chalet des Enfants, bottom of Rif Nel slope, 38750 Alpe d’Huez) is part of the magnificent ESF Alpe d’Huez ski school and all its courses and activities are conducted by qualified instructors with years of experience, so you have nothing to worry about when you drop off your kid. They have morning, afternoon and whole day packages with prices starting from 46€
Additionally, if you are looking for a nanny, there are two British agencies (Alpine Child Care and Snow Angel Nannies) that link parents with registered nannies and babysitters located in Alpe d´Huez.
Even non-skiers can have fun in the snow at Alpe d’Huez as there is dog sledging, skijoring with horses, sledding, snowmobiles, snowshoeing and up to 35km of well-marked winter walking trails.
Airboarding (bodyboarding on an inflatable cushion) and ice driving (Evodriver, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 608 06 67 22) are also available for the more adventurous ones, while the whole family can go up the DMC gondola (you can buy a Pedestrian Lift Pass) to enjoy the ever-changing sculptures of the wonderful ice cave “Grotte de Glace”. Located at 2700m, it enjoys scenic views of the valley and a restaurant and restrooms are conveniently close by.
In the village, the ice rink (Patinoire Municipale, Avenue des Jeux, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 476 11 21 16) always provides great memories. It opens from 11am to 10.30pm during the ski season and entrance is 11€ for adults, 5€ for children (skates rental included) or free if you own a Carte Premium.
If the weather is unpleasant and you still want to exercise or if you simply want to relax after skiing, the Palais des Sports et des Congres(Avenue de Brandes, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 476 11 21 11) is the place to go to. This modern sports centre has several indoor swimming pools as well as a heated outdoor pool, a well-equipped fitness area that includes power plates, an indoor climbing wall, the child-friendly “Parcours Aventure” circuit, basketball, badminton, tennis and jorkyball courts and an archery area. If that weren’t enough, it also offers yoga classes. Access is absolutely free for owners of a Carte Premium; an absolute bargain!
The cinema (+33 (0) 476 11 21 64) is also housed here. Tickets are 5€ for under 6s, €6,50 for children and 8,50€ for adults.
Families with teenagers will surely want to check the nearby laser tag maze (Sarl Ice Laser Game, Avenue de Brandes, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 458 00 12 18). It opens every day from 2pm to 8pm and tickets cost 10€ for 2 people for 10 minutes.
For more relaxing options, there is always the local library (Bibliothèque Municipale, Galerie Les Neiges d´Or, Route du Coulet38750 Alpe d´Huez) open from Monday to Saturday and the fabulous spas Ô Des Cimes-SPA Le Cristal de l´Alpe (Résidence CGH – Le Cristal de l´Alpe, Rue du Poutat, Lieudit Le Coulet, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 476 79 34 00), SPA Nuxe-Au Chamois d´Or (Hôtel Au Chamois d´Or, Rond Point des pistes, Quartier Le Cognet, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0)476 80 31 32), LE SPA (Immeuble du Floride, Route du Coulet, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 476 79 08 77) and Women Institut de Beauté (Route du Coulet, 38750 Alpe d´Huez, +33 (0) 661 95 25 13)
Located at 2300m, Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe and is part of the fabulous Les 3 Vallées, the largest ski area in the world with 600 km of slopes. However, beginners should not be threaten by this, as Val Thorens is a family friendly haven and has a superb beginner’s area as well as plenty of slopes for intermediate and advanced skiers:
Rond-point des Pistes is the main beginners’ area and is perfect for those trying to ski for the first time as the slopes are gentle, and there are 2 covered magic carpets (Musaraigne and Campagnols) that can be used for free as no ski pass is required for them. The only downside that we found is that the slope between both magic carpets is used by intermediate and advanced skiers who descend it to reach the chairlift and skiers with little confidence can get a bit nervous on busy days. The meeting points for most ski schools are found here.
Once you have gained some confidence, the green runs up the mountain accessed by the Cascades chairlift are great to keep improving whilst enjoying gorgeous mountain views. The 2 Combes slope directs you to the Espace Junior which is perfect for all the family.
The intermediate skier has a wide range of blue and red runs to choose from and taking them up to Glacier de Thorens (3130m.) The blue slopes serviced by the Moraine chairlift are ideal to boost the confidence of second-time skiers before they go to the nearby Portette chairlift and try the red ones there before crossing to the nearby ski resort of Orelle.
More advanced skiers will find more challenging terrain at the Glacier de Péclet (3100m) where they will find Glacier, the only black run and long red runs taking them back down to the resort. They can also get their adrenaline pumping at the Tyrolienne, a suspended steel cable between Orelle and Val Thorens that offers skiers a bird’s-eye view of the ski resort while going over 100km/h. The glide is not included in the ski pass. Tickets cost 50€ and can be purchased on-site.
It is also possible to purchase a 3 Vallées ski pass (check the ski pass section below for more information) that allows owners to ski in nearby ski resorts like Courchevel and Méribel without having to remove their skis.
Val Thorens also boasts a snow park with air tubby (a large airbag to land on after a trick), a boarder cross course and 3 slalom stadiums.
There are up to 6 ski schools in Val Thorens catering to all ages, levels and styles. We have picked the following 3 but you can check them all on the link provided at the end of this section:
(École du Ski Français, Maison de Val Thorens, 73110 Val Thorens, +33 (0) 479 00 02 86) All the family is welcomed at this prestigious ski school, however kids are the ones that have the most fun here thanks to the wide range of courses on offer. There are group lessons (rates from 124€) for those wishing to learn to ski or improve their skills while making new friends and personalised private classes (rates from 46€) for those more shy about their abilities or maybe too little to be in a group as babies can also be enrolled!
Snowboarders aged 7-12 are also in for a treat with the dedicated snowboarding programme (rates from 124€) as so are freeriders between the ages of 10 and 12 (rates from 164€). For those more serious about their skiing, we highly recommend the comprehensive competition training courses that include video feedbacks to make sure that your child improves his or her technique (rates from 139€). Meals can be arranged for an extra cost for all programmes.
For babies and children under 3, the school also offers day care services (check the childcare section below for more information about this option.)
Groups and private lessons for adults are available and disabled skiers are also welcome.
Courses + Ski Pass deals are available on the school’s website.
(Rue du Soleil, 73110 Val Thorens, +33 (0) 479 01 07 00) Approved by the French Ministry of Education, this dynamic school offers ski and snowboard classes for children from 2 years old for as little as 20€! Kids between 3-4 years old can learn to ski from 147€ in groups specifically designed for them while older children can have tons of fun both accompanied by other children (rates from 145€ for ski and snowboard) or enjoy a more personal teaching with one-on-one classes (rates from 49€).
We highly recommend the school for teenagers thank to the fantastic atmosphere of the courses: mogul, slalom, off piste, freestyle… the sky is the limit! Meals can be arranged for an extra cost for some of the programmes. Instructors speak English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish, Italian, Danish and Russian.
Small children can be looked after at their private snow garden with day care services (check the childcare section below for more information about this option.)
Groups and private lessons for adults are available and disabled skiers are also welcome.
Courses + Ski Pass deals are available on the school’s website.
(Les Hauts de la Vanoise et Rue du Soleil, 73110 Val Thorens, +33 (0) 479 00 04 92) Because not only the younger ones should have all the fun, this ski school offers women only courses that are ideal for mothers wishing to learn to ski or improve their skills away from their impatient husbands and children. For 2015 they have a “women’s special” ski therapy. Instructors speak English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Russian and Swedish.
Families of a minimum of 4 members and staying for 6 days or over can benefit from this year’s superb family pass. There are two options depending on the ski area you’d like to ski in: for Val Thorens/Orelle children between 6-20 years of age are included and prices start from 182,40€ while for Les 3 Vallées children included must be 5-17 years old and prices start from 228€. For your convenience, it can be bought online.
From 3 to 17 months:
ESF – Children’s Nursery (École du Ski Français, Maison de Val Thorens, 73110 Val Thorens, +33 (0) 479 00 02 86) has multilingual staff (English, German, Dutch, French and Spanish)and two superb, enclosed snow gardens in Roc de Peclet and Montana where kids can play in the snow in complete safety and stay warm in a colourful chalet. Morning, afternoon or whole day rates are available with or without lunch. Prices start from 86€. Please note that spaces are limited so booking in advance is recommended.
From 18 to 35 months:
ESF – Children’s Kindergarten (École du Ski Français, Maison de Val Thorens, 73110 Val Thorens, +33 (0)479 00 02 86) welcomes children in the morning, afternoon or for full days in the enchanting Roc de Peclet and Montana snow gardens. Games, songs and creative workshops take place inside while outside, children can enjoy the snow in absolute safety. The staff speaks several languages. Programmes are offered with or without lunch and prices start from 86€. Please note that spaces are limited so booking in advance is recommended to avoid disappointments.
From 3 years old:
Club Piou Piou (École du Ski Français, Maison de Val Thorens, 73110 Val Thorens, +33 (0) 479 00 02 86) is the ESF’s baby ski club perfectly suited for children putting on the skis for the first time. The staff is made of qualified instructors that will make sure that your kids not only do learn to ski but also have fun in the snow; guaranteeing that they will want to come back the next season! For the 2014/2015 season, the club is offering a new 1hr introduction to skiing from Monday to Friday in the Roc de Peclet kindergarden for just 11€. The club has groups in the morning, the afternoon and for the whole day. Rates start from 86€. Meals can be arranged for an additional cost.
Prosneige Skischool Kindergarten (Rue du Soleil, 73110 Val Thorens, +33 (0) 479 01 07 00) is another great option for parents wishing their kids to have a first experience on the snow; whether that means putting on the skis or not. The school has its own private snow garden with a magic carpet and qualified instructors with years of experience. They offer flexible catering options. The best part is witnessing the smiles on both the tots and the parents as medals and diplomas are handed out at the end of the courses!
Additionally, the UK based Alpine Child Care links parents with registered babysitters located in Val Thorens (+11 (0) 79 31 96 78 61 or [email protected])
There are plenty of activities available for non-skiers on the slopes: snowshoeing, tobogganing (a toboggan run pass must be purchased, it costs 14€ and can be bought online), snowmobiles (from 5.30pm every night) and 3 winter walking trails (there is a pedestrian lift pass available for non-skiers wishing to use the lifts).
There are also nerve-wrecking activities such as paragliding, MTB on the snow, ice diving in one of the lakes and the driver’s school, perfect for parents wishing to learn how to drive on snow.
Off the slopes, there is a bowling/amusement arcade (Bowling de Val Thorens/La Bicicleta, Place de L’Arche, 73110 Val Thorens, +33 (0) 479 07 01 47) with 8 child-friendly lanes available for children aged 6 and over, 2 billiard rooms with American pool and snooker tables, an arcade with machines for kids and adults, a sports library and a sports bar. It is open until 2am.
The cinema (Cinéma du Lac Blanc, Grande Rue, 73110 Val Thorens, +33 (0) 479 00 01 51) is a great option with 2 showing per day (at 5.30pm and 9pm) and an additional showing at 2.30pm when the weather is poor.
Another option is the pictoresque library (Maison de Val Thorens, 73110 Val Thorens) with books for all ages and the visually-impaired. The only downside is its brief schedule (from 3pm to 4pm) but they compensate it with their free admission and no-charge lending policy.
For the 2014/2015 ski season, Chalet de la Marine (TS Cascades, 73110 Val Thorens, +33 (0) 479 00 11 90) offers a unique experience for the whole family on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thrusdays. After being picked by a snowscooter, you are taken to the Yurt, a circular house delightfully decorated where you will spend a delightful evening and taste a delicious meal recommended by the Michelin Guide. Alternatively, especially if you have young kids, you can opt for a quick lunch at Le Bistro de la Marine but we feel that the view of the resort at night should not be missed and adds an extra touch to the whole experience.
Free music concerts take place every Tuesday during the winter from 6.30pm at the church and are perfect for a relaxed afternoon with the kids.
There are several spas in Val Thorens and some of them offer skiers’ packages as well as family friendly facilities and treatments so everyone can enjoy a relaxing afternoon.
While it is known for its glitz and glam, Courchevel’s child-oriented spirit is perfect for families. It has 150 km of slopes located at 1300m and expanding to 2738m, however, as part of the huge Les 3 Vallées ski area, the biggest in the world with 600 km, there’s plenty of snow and challenges for everyone:
In Courchevel, beginners’ areas are called ZEN areas (Zone for the Evolution of Novices) and this speaks volumes about the commitment of the resort to create safe environments for those just getting started to learn how to ski or gain confidence before exploring longer green and blue runs. There are 4 in total (Pralong ZEN, Golf ZEN, Mickey ZEN and Envolée ZEN) with wide, gentle slopes and easily accessible magic carpet lifts and ski lifts. Here families are guaranteed carefree ski sessions with children mastering skills at a higher rate.
Intermediate skiers also have plenty of runs to enjoy according to their level as there are 34 red slopes and some of them enjoy mesmerising views and advanced skiers will find themselves at home at any of the 8 black runs found in the resort with Jean Blanc and Jockeys being one of the most beloved ones as they offer good conditions even when the weather is not so good.
For those after a serious challenge, the 3 Vallées offers more difficult slopes in adjacent resorts (you can purchase a 3 Vallées ski pass to enjoy them all).
If that weren’t enough, there are 5 fun areas that include The Fun Park (a natural canyon), The Stop Zone (an area where you can learn about how to stop safely and control your speed), the Indian Trail (an authentic Indian camp with with Tepees where the younger ones can practice archery, get their face painted and enjoy the snow in a whole new way), the Snake Park (a boarder-cross course) the Avalanch Park (an area where you can learn about avalanches), the Wood Park (an area with rails and tables to practice freestyle) and the Family Park (a snowpark with rails, tables, jumps and a boarder-cross course that is perfect for families with teenagers and is open at night on Wednesdays from 6pm to 8pm so dedicated skiers can keep the fun going even after dark.)
There are three ESF schools in Courchevel: ESF 1110 (Rue des rois, 73120 Courchevel Village, +33 (0) 479 08 21 07) ESF 1650 (Paul Richoux – Maison de Moriond, 73120 Courchevel Moriond, +33 (0) 479 08 26 08) and ESF 1850 (La Croisette, BP38 73122 Courchevel Cedex, +33 (0) 479 08 07 72). All of them offer private and group courses (snowboard and ski) as well as day care services with ski classes for small children (check the childcare section below for more information).
Teenagers also benefit from classes specifically designed for them in mind. Instructors speak English, Russian, Chinese, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Rates vary from school to school (depending on what area of the resort they are located prices for the same type of classes differ drastically. For example private lessons at ESF 1110 start from 100€ while at ESF 1650 start from 120€)
From 6 months to 6 years old:
Les P´tits Pralins de Moriond – ESF 1650 (Mairie de Saint Bon Courchevel – Masion de Moriond, 73120 Courchevel Moriond, +33 (0) 479 06 34 72) offers half-day and full day child care services from 9am to 5pm at the bottom of the slopes, making it really easy to drop the kids off before hitting the slopes. The only downside we found is that it closes on Saturday but it is open all winter long. Meals can be arranged for half-days and are included for those on a full day regimen. Rates start from 28€
From 12 months and over:
Maison des Enfants – ESF Courchevel 1110 (Rue des Rois, 73210 Courchevel Village, +33 (0) 479 08 21 07) Ideally located by the Tovets chairlift, this wonderful chalet offers a safe environment for small children to play both indoors and outdoors. The staff organises several activities throughout the day so that you can enjoy the slopes without a care in the world. They offer half-day and full day options with rates starting from 32€. Meals can be arranged.
From 18 months and over:
Village des enfants – ESF 1850 (Village des Enfants, 73120 Courchevel, +33 (0) 479 08 08 47) is ideal for those parents who want their kids to have a first introduction to winter snow fun in a friendly environment supervised by professional staff. It is part of the superb children’s village area designated specially for young children.
From 3 to 5 years old:
Club Piou Piou – ESF 1650 and ESF 1850 welcomes kids every day of the week during the winter season into their fun filled ski club where the younger ones learn effortlessly to ski and take part in a wide range of activities. There are half-day and full day programmes and those children completing a week-long programme receive a medal! All the instructors are highly trained and speak several languages.
On the slopes, segways (Plan du Vah, 73120 Courchevel, +33 (0) 677 76 56 98are up and coming in Courchevel, try hiring one of them to take you around town and on some of the more interesting paths. You can rent them every day during the winter. Prices start from 20€ and there are night tours available for a unique hiking experience!
Hiking, snowshoeing and sledging are also very popular. For parents looking for a bit of adventure, there are snowcats, snowmobiles, paragliding and hand gliding tours as well as ice climbing courses.
In the village, the Bureau des Guides de Courchevel (Maison de la Montagne – La Croisette BP 6, 73120 Courchevel, +33 (0) 623 92 46 12) is sure to be a hit with the younger ones as they offer several indoor activities such as the safe line course with Nepalese and monkey bridges (for children 7 and over, 15€, from 5.30pm to 7pm) and the Tarzan vine that lets 5 years olds swing like Tarzan (10€).
Children between 5 and 8 can unwind at the colourful La Croisette Play Area located beside the Maison de Montagne with a zone for children between 3-5 years old and another one for children between 5-8 years old to ensure everyone has a good time in a safe environment. Both areas require parental supervision. Additionally, children can go to the Tourist Offices´ Play Areas where they can enjoy some colouring.
The ice rink (Patinoire du Forum, Le Forum, 73120 Courchevel, +33 (0) 479 08 33 23 / +33 (0) 479 08 19 50) opens during the ski season and offers early sessions at 2pm if the weather conditions are not good. Prices are 3,40€ for children and 5,10€ for adults and do not include skate rentals.
If you want to celebrate a birthday, a special event or simply enjoy a fun afternoon with all the family, then Courchevel Bowling (Le Forum, BP3, 73120 Courchevel, +33 (0) 479 08 23 83) is the place to go. It features 8 child-friendly alleys as well as pool tables and arcade games. It is open throughout the ski season from 11am to 2am.
For the nostalgic ones, we recommend you not to miss the classic merry go-round located in Place du Tremplin. It opens every day from 11am and welcomes children from as early as 18 months old.
If you need to take a break from the slopes or your family, there are numerous spas in Courchevel.
If you are looking for exclusive, family friendly accommodation in Courchevel, visit our ski chalet rentals:
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