We are ABTOT members so you can book with peace of mind.This means that in the event of our insolvency financial protection for your money is provided by our ABTOT bond.

Ski lesson levels and badges for children and adults

At Family Ski Company, we use the ‘Ecole de Ski Francais’ (ESF) for all the children’s and adult’s ski lessons and we have built a very strong relationship with the ESF. The instructors always assess everyone’s abilities on the first day and will move you/your child into a more appropriate class if need be.

At the end of the week our childcare team will do a presentation of the badges for all the children. The children in the Pups crèche will obtain a certificate as well that way no one misses out.

We hope this guide will help you choose the most suitable level for your skiing ability or that of your child.









Achieving the Piou-Piou level means you can move onto the Ourson class.

Ability to recognise their own ski equipment, move with skis on their feet and slide straight down the easy slope.

Start getting used to skis and sliding.

The ESF instructors are there to help your children enjoy themselves in this new environment.



Achieving the Ourson level means you can move onto the Flocon class. Descent of a green run making a minimum of 4 or 5 snowplough turns indicated by poles (a mini slalom)

Ability to travel with parallel skis in a straight line downhill, then to turn in snowplough.

NB. If this level is not attained then a Piou-Piou award will be given.

Knowledge of Ski equipment.

Ability to put on and take off skis alone.

Ability to use the initial ski lifts.

Control of speed in turning by following the snake formation.

Awareness of the action of sliding on gentle slopes.




Achieving the Flocon level means you can move onto the First Star class. Ability to link a minimum of 7 or 8 snowplough turns and bring your skis back parallel after each turn on an appropriate slope.

Test of balance whilst in motion (hopping on skis, skiing on one foot then the other, skiing on small bumps).

Control of speed with snowplough turns.

Ability to ski parallel between turns facing across or down the slope.

Awareness of balance.

Ability to slow down and stop, and begin to sideslip.

Premiere Etoile

(First Star)


Achieving the First Star means you can move onto the Second Star. Ability to link wide sideslip turns on an intermediate slope.

Ability to traverse the slope and rise on the other side by putting weight on the uphill ski.

Ability to link sideslip turns whilst staying aware of the slope, snow conditions and other skiers.

Awareness of balance on intermediate slopes.

First sideslip turns.

Deuxieme Etoile

(Second Star)

Achieving the Second Star means you can move onto the Third Star. Ability to link 10 tighter good quality turns on an intermediate slope.

Ability to ski in dips and bumps.

Move forward on flat ground using ice-skater style steps.

Ability to link good quality parallel turns.

Skier awareness.

Balance on dips and bumps.

Curved sideslip motion.

Troisieme Etoile

(Third Star)


Achieving the Third Star means you can move onto the Bronze Star. Ability to link 10 turns on a specific slalom course on an intermediate slope.

Development of technical sideslip into a parallel turn.

Ability to pick up speed on an intermediate slope in direct parallel descent and come to a halt in sideslip.

Ability to link tighter and neater parallel turns, remaining aware of and adapting to surrounding conditions (type of snow, other skiers etc…)

Master balance in race stance on differing terrain.

Etoile De Bronze

(Bronze Star)

Achieving the Bronze Star means you can move onto the Gold Star. A non-timed Slalom course of 15 to 20 turns alternating between tight and open, testing the quality of these turns over a varied slope.

Ability to jump over bumps either on a regular piste or on a specific skier cross piste.

Refinement of parallel turns by reducing the sideslip in each turn.

Awareness of and adaption to conditions.

Etoile D’Or

(Gold Star)


Achieving the Gold Star means that you can move onto competition skiing. A small Super G Style Slalom is timed. Entrants time must be within the Opener’s time and 50% on top of this time. So, if the opener’s time is 60 secs, the entrant must complete the course within 90 secs.

Linking together of technical turns achieved in varied conditions.

Understanding of all forms of Alpine (cross, free ride, slalom etc…)

Ski without stopping on long descents, on all kinds of snow, being aware of conditions, obstacles and people, respecting the skier code.

Ski in specific pistes (skier cross, half-pipe, big-air).




Class for beginners who have never skied before. Becoming familiar with the equipment and snow. Balance while sliding over smooth terrain on a gentle slope.
Snowplough turn.
Controlling speed using a snaking trajectory.
Using ski lifts.


Ability to go down a slope doing snowplough turns. Descending in an elementary turn on a gentle to moderately steep slope.
Elementary direct line.
Elementary side slipping: uphill swing, at an angle.
Step turns sliding uphill.


Ability to sideslip and learning to do parallel turns. Descent with a basic parallel turn on a varied, moderately steep slope.
Basic direct line.
Basic sideslips and garlands.
Basic high-speed turns.



Ability to parallel turn anywhere. This class helps refine your technique to move freely on any kind of snow, bumps and on sustained slopes. Descent with perfect turns on all types of piste.
Perfect direct line.
Perfect high-speed turn.
Experience of skiing in all types of snow and terrain.



Ability to turn well and do short swings on all types of snow on the marked turns.

Off-piste: discovering the off-piste area, controlling your skis in any kind of snow, terrain and visibility.




Christmas is a magical time of year especially in the French Alps – why not enjoy skiing with your family and new friends in one of our chalets. They are all beautifully decorated with their own Christmas tree so do bring your presents to increase the festive cheer. You can enjoy all the trimmings of Christmas and none of the work, our staff will do it all for you, no cooking and even better no washing up. Father Christmas will make an entrance, usually by snow plough – sadly not by reindeer!

Christmas Day starts with a breakfast of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and buck fizz (if wanted!), the ski lifts are open and ski lessons continue as normal – as do our childcare clubs.

When you are all back from skiing sparkling wine will be served along with canapes before everyone sits down in your own beautifully decorated chalet to a Traditional British Family Ski Christmas meal at the same time in the early evening. Crackers, funny hats then turkey will be served with all the trimmings.  Christmas pudding is served after along with mince pies.  All this and there is no washing up – what more can we say!

Our Two French Resorts are amongst the best and most extensively linked ski areas in the French Alps, you can choose from Les Portes du Soleil and Les Trois Vallées – and we are especially proud to have found excellent family-friendly locations in every one.

All have runs suitable for beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers. If you are new to skiing or want to brush up your technique you can book group or individual tuition with English-speaking instructors direct with the ski school.

Enjoy the slopes or relax on sun-filled terraces safe in the knowledge that your children  whether skiing or in our crèche will also be having a fantastic time, making friends and enjoying a wealth of games and activities.

Family Ski Company has specialised in providing catered chalet holidays with a flexible programme of childcare since 1993. Throughout our 21 years in business, our core ethos has never changed; to enable every member of the family to have a wonderful experience in the mountains by offering excellent childcare as a priority for parents who wanted to ski. Family Ski Company has expanded over the years to keep up with demand and continues to offer the flexibility and attention to detail that only an independent company can provide.


Our Food

Food and wine is a vital aspect of any ski holiday and we pride ourselves on providing great quality food and wine for you to enjoy.   Our food is well thought out, freshly prepared and cooked in the chalets. Where possible we use local butchers, bakers and greengrocers and we provide a locally sourced, delicious cheese board.

DIETARIES – Unlike some other companies we can cater for all dietary requirements with no extra charge. This must however. be booked before you travel to enable our staff to source alternative ingredients and accommodate the menus to suit your dietary needs. If you have any other requirements, please discuss before booking.

Breakfast – In our larger chalets a member of the chalet team will be with you from 7:30am to prepare fresh eggs, cooked to your preference – boiled, scrambled, fried or poached along with bacon and porridge to sustain you on the slopes. Freshly delivered French bread, a selection of jams, yogurts and cereals are also available for you to help yourself to, alongside freshly brewed tea and coffee. In our smaller sole occupancy chalets (Cosy, Falaises, Rulens, Camille, Upper and Lower David) breakfast is self-service with the same delicious options available.  Please note in some of our larger chalets if everyone comes to breakfast at the same time a degree of patience may be required!

Children’s lunch  Lunch is an opportunity for adult guests to try the fabulous piste side offerings whilst for those children booked into our fabulous childcare clubs there are two courses of freshly prepared, hot and wholesome food – great for hungry young skiers and tobogganers!

Afternoon tea – When you return from skiing there will be a freshly baked cake or biscuits waiting for you with baguette and fruit as well as tea and coffee left out for you to prepare. First person back puts the kettle on!  For gluten-free guests we will provide a gluten-free option every day but please note that you may be served the same cake or biscuits more than once in a week.

Children’s supper – Our children’s menus use tried and tested recipes from cooks like Annabel Karmel and Rachel Allen. We make purées for babies, we don’t offer jars of food, it’s all fresh! Children’s supper is usually served at 5.30pm and will be a two course meal prepared  using wholesome freshly cooked ingredients – we do ask that parents supervise this meal but staff will be on hand to clear away.


Adult’s dinner – A glass (or two) of wine followed by our carefully planned three-course, dinner-party style, supper menu served from 8pm onwards – what better way to end the day? Our menus are designed to appeal to everyone with:



The delicious main course

And our mouth-watering desserts.

We also offer fabulous local cheeses to finish – if you have space!

Family food option – We appreciate that some families like to eat together, particularly when children are older and can wait until a little later! In our smaller sole occupancy family chalets (Cosy, Rulens, Camille, Upper and Lower David) guests can have either the above separate dining option or can choose to eat together a delicious meal of canapés, freshly prepared homely style food and comforting desserts. Example main courses include golden topped cottage pie, succulent roasted pork and all the trimmings, home-made gourmet burgers. Desserts include tarte tatin, brioche bread and putter pudding and white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. The Family Food option is served between 6pm and 7pm along with the same selection of high quality wines for adults. This option must be pre-booked before your arrival and sadly can’t be offered in larger chalets due to service and seating constraints.

Cook’s night off – Catered food is available in the chalets 6 days of the week with our hardworking chalet cooks receiving a day and night off on either a Wednesday (Les Coches & Reberty) and Thursday (Ardent). Families can either eat out together at a choice of local restaurants or parents can enjoy time alone, with babysitters available to look after your children in the chalet with a pre-ordered takeaway delivered.

Allergies – We take your health seriously and are aware of many allergies. We can cope with most but, you must put your requirements in writing to us to enable us to pass the information over to the staff in resort who will be preparing your food.  If you have any questions please do call us in advance, not the day before you go as it can be hard to source some items in France.

Dietary requests – If you or your children have any dietary requests these must be put in writing to us to enable us to let the staff in resort know and allow them to put these requests into practice.  Specific ‘dislikes’ for instance, no peas or carrots, are not considered to be valid requests.  If you have any questions please call us to discuss.  We can provide gluten-free cakes but you may have the same one again in your time with us.  Please note that we can source gluten-free bread in France as well as pasta, however gluten-free flour can be harder to come by.  We can usually source soy and goat’s milk, soy yoghurts and dairy-free spread.  We cannot provide organic meat or vegetables.  We strongly advise you to bring gluten-free biscuits etc. as we may not be able to provide them.

Our Wine

We offer a wonderful choice of 3 styles of red and white house wines that are sourced locally. It is of good ‘quaffable’ quality and is bottled, not out of a box into a carafe. We offer wine before, during and after dinner – please feel free to drink it whenever you like.  We want you to enjoy it as much as we do! We have a small supply of Champagne in resort for you to purchase if you have something to celebrate or even if you haven’t!  You can pre-order before you leave, just call us.

We also offer a Euro bar, this includes beer, soft drinks, mixers, chocolate bars and handy snacks – the staff stock this themselves, Family Ski do not make anything from this, any profits go to the staff.

At Family Ski we cater for all family sizes and ages. We understand that after a busy day in the snow at altitude, little people are often very hungry and like to eat their supper a little earlier than older children and adults. Children’s supper is served at 5.30pm – two home cooked courses of hearty, healthy food, with adults and older teens sitting down to a relaxing three course meal once the younger children are tucked up in bed.

We also appreciate that some families like to eat together, particularly when children are older and can wait until a little later! We offer a Family Food option in our smaller sole occupancy family chalets (Cosy, Rulens, Camille, Upper and Lower David), where guests can have either the above separate dining option or can choose to eat together a delicious meal of canapés, freshly prepared homely style food and comforting desserts. Example main courses include golden topped cottage pie, succulent roasted pork and all the trimmings, home-made gourmet burgers. Desserts include tarte tatin, brioche bread and butter pudding, and white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake.

The Family Food option is served between 6pm and 7pm along with the same selection of high quality wines for adults. This option must be pre-booked before your arrival and sadly can’t be offered in larger chalets due to service and seating constraints.



You might initially think that taking a baby on a skiing holiday is just one of those things that can’t be done. “We’ll leave it 5 or 6 years you think, then our child can learn to ski”. That’s all very well if you are also happy to miss out on several years of skiing while you wait for your little one to grow up. And if you have one, two, three or more children then you could be in for a long ski drought. What a shame!  No matter what age your children are, you should be able to take your baby with you so that everyone in the family can enjoy the mountains.

It is probably the baby paraphernalia that makes you think twice before setting off on holiday with a baby in tow. And you are right, but choose your Tour Operator carefully and you won’t have to take any of it with you. How can such a small person need so much equipment? A truly child-focussed company will have chalets equipped with travel cots, cot linen, baby monitors, bed guards, potties, highchairs, liquidisers, sterilisers, baby and toddler crockery and cutlery, stairgates, changing mats and toys. These items are provided as standard when we have young children booked into our chalets, and your chalet host will do everything to make sure that you have all the things you need. Worried about bulky, heavy nappies in your suitcase using up your baggage allowance?  Well, you don’t need to.  We are now offering complimentary nappies and wipes in our chalets.  That will certainly free up some space in your suitcase for your ski wear.

Choosing the resort should be done carefully. The main thing to be aware of is that babies can be affected by altitude. You won’t have a great week if you have a grizzly, upset baby because you are staying in a high resort. Choose carefully!  Our resort of Ardent is just 90 minutes from Geneva, so is often favoured by families with babies as you will soon be settling into your new home for the week.

Once you are in your chalet, you can relax knowing that you will have all your home comforts and your baby will be well-catered for. We have a special baby menu so your cook will prepare fresh and tasty purees if needed –  nothing out of a jar, just home-made nutritious meals. Fresh whole milk is always available for you to help yourselves to, and you can of course use the microwave to warm up baby’s bottle no matter what time of day or night. The chalet fruit bowl will hold a variety of tempting fruits and will be replenished throughout the week so you can encourage those healthy-eating habits even when away from home. The chalet itself is an ideal set-up for little children as you can put them to bed, and then enjoy dinner being cooked and served to you safe in the knowledge that if they wake up you won’t be far away. Unlike staying in a hotel where they will probably be on a different floor and down the corridor, staying in a chalet is like being at home. And for peace of mind we have monitors in all the chalets which you are welcome to use. Another thing worth knowing is that we have washing machines and driers available for our guests to use in our chalets so you don’t need to worry about bringing lots of spare clothes for your baby as we all know how many outfits they can get through in a day!

On the first evening our nannies will come and meet you and your baby to run through the daily routine and the activities for the week. Our childcare club for our youngest guests is called Powder Pups and we take babies from 3 months. All our childcare staff are DBS and reference-checked, and our youngest guests are looked after by qualified nannies. Our childcare rotas are carefully planned and we ensure that we keep to strict ratios of carers to babies. In our fun-filled dens are toys, games, puzzles, arts and crafts, playmats, bouncy chairs plus separate sleeping and eating areas. The childcare team will take the children out in the village – we have sturdy buggies and baby slings so they will get some fresh mountain air and if they are a bit bigger they have plenty of chances to play in the snow. Our childcare dens are separate from the guest accommodation, so you won’t be disturbing them and the children won’t disturb you if you happen to come back early from skiing. It is very tempting to finish skiing after lunch then come back to your chalet and enjoy a quiet afternoon in the hot tub or in front of the fire with a good book.

Don’t be put off from taking your baby skiing with you, it really can be done as so many of our guests have discovered. And once your little ones have enjoyed their time in Powder Pups when they’re very young, they’ll be ready to start skiing – and that’s a different story……

What better way to celebrate Christmas or beat the January blues than with family or friends in picture perfect Chalet la Ferme!

Chalet La Ferme is a superb beautifully renovated  chalet that sleeps 8-11 people, situated 50m from the foot of the piste and lift, with outdoor hot tub, 3 double/ twin rooms plus family suite, all with en-suite facilities and a cook and host to look after you!

Available for 8-10 people:
16th Dec – £589 per adult, £489 per child +  FREE CHILD place for family of 4
23rd Dec – £989 per adult, £829 per child + FREE CHILD place for family of 4
6th Jan – £359 per adult, £259 per child!!!!!

All prices based on minimum 8 guests – ideal for 2 families that know each other – for more than 8 guests please call us.

Nature in Ardent has been amazing this week as the first snows hit the high peaks. A rare black woodpecker visited the trees next to the Ardent bubble, a pair of dippers were busy in the river. No Golden Eagles spotted above Chavache but they will be there. All three species are good environmental signs: the black woodpecker needs the ancient mature forest of the Ardent valley, the dippers clean flowing water, and the eagles wild spaces. Ardent is truly blessed with the best lift in the valley and its wonderful natural setting.

Great news – Chalet Les Falaises in Ardent now has an outdoor hot-tub!

This gem of a small chalet has flexible accommodation that sleeps minimum 5 to maximum 9 people. An open plan living/dining and kitchen area has fantastic views from the large picture windows up to the mountains and is kept snug by a lovely log stove. There is a heated boot room and you can ski back to the door.

We have some limited availability remaining for this chalet so call our friendly team now on 01684 540333 or use our live availability enquiry.


We are very excited to share the news that we have a fabulous family chalet in everyone’s favourite resort of Ardent!

Chalet La Chalande is our 9th chalet in this perfect little ski village in the centre of the huge Portes Du Soleil ski area and will provide up to 4 families (15-18 guests) with superb accommodation in a beautifully renovated timbered chalet. It is located in the heart of the village only 100m from the foot of the home-run piste and gondola.

Chalet La Chalande under renovation ready for the 2018/19 ski season

Chalet La Chalande is currently being refurbished to an exceptionally high standard ready for the start of the season. Please have a look at the link to our website for more details on the chalet layout and facilities. If you think this chalet will be perfect for you please give us a call on 01684 540333.

We know this chalet will be extremely popular so early booking will be essential!

There are some great flight offers around –
now’s the time to book your Family Ski holiday.
Use our availability checker to find your perfect option.

easyJet up to 30% off and Jet2 10% off Geneva flights (and half price ski carriage!)
Examples fitting with our free transfer times:
New Year Flights (30th Dec 2017 – 6th Jan 2018)
Stansted – Geneva return £457 (family of 4) with easyJet
Bargain January Flights (13th – 20th Jan 2018)
Luton – Geneva return £145 (family of 4) with easyJet
March Madness Flights (17th – 24th March 2018)
Stansted – Geneva return £261 (family of 4) with Jet2

Further savings with our 1st week, Christmas and New Year offers
We have fantastic offers on lift passes, free and discounted child places – be quick they will be snapped up soon!


Use our online availability checker or call our helpful team to discuss or plan your perfect family ski holiday:
Tel: 01684 540333
(9:30 – 5:30 Mon – Fri)
If you’d prefer to email us, simply reply to this newsletter!

The sun may be shining and the May Bank Holiday is here but now’s the time to think about your winter ski holiday! Booking now will give you the best choice of rooms and there are good deals on flights – there is no better time to call our friendly team (01684 540333).

Go on, get that ski holiday in the diary for your whole family to look forward to!


Its Snowing Buckets!!

Conditions are amazing and so is our Offer Reberty 2000  Week commencing 18th Feb 2017 only £599 per adult & £499 per child.

Childcare must be booked to take advantage of this amazing offer. Call us now on 01684 540333 offer is limited and maybe withdrawn at any time

5 (5)

There is plenty of ‘prep work’ you can do to help your child get an idea of what to expect when they are on the slopes.  Here are a few pointers to help make that first step a little bit easier for everyone:

Ease them into the idea of skiing

Never underestimate the importance of taking the time to go through the basics of skiing.  Your child will probably have never seen a ski boot before, never mind know how to put one on, so make this ‘journey’ a fun and positive experience!

You may have been skiing yourself before so here is an opportunity to dust off some old photos of you on the slopes.  Sit down with your child and tell them of your time on the mountain.  Perhaps you have an old piste map (kids loves maps, a paper version is much more stimulating than looking at one online) and you can talk about pistes, lifts, restaurants, your funniest fall, snow angels etc.

The internet is full of photos and videos and the resorts have their own websites which are full of useful interactive maps, photos, videos etc:




Take a trip to an indoor snow centre

Many parents take their children off to the Snowdome (other indoor ski centres are available!) just so they can get a feel for what skiing is all about.  We would strongly recommend that you pay for a beginners lesson/experience and are not tempted to teach them yourself.  Give the centres a call and see what they can offer for you.  If you can get a group of you to go then even better!

When you get to a ski centre, spend as much time as you can getting your child used to ski boots.  Putting them on for the first time is difficult for us all so if you can get a member of staff to help then great, if not, it’s over to you.  Get them to walk around for a bit to get a feel for the boots, it’s a whole new world, literally!

Have a dressing-up party

Perhaps you’re at home on a rainy Saturday afternoon and you have an hour to kill.  It’s a good time to get all of your family’s ski gear out and have a party.  You can all get dressed up and it’s a lovely way for your child to know how to put on a ski jacket with all of those zips, salopettes, helmet, gloves, boots …and to see how they look (Dad’s, cue the funny ski hat).  Put on some music and get dancing around, but not for too long, you’ll get hot!

The night you arrive in resort:

You will obviously be rather tired after your journey to resort.  Before you sit down with a vin chaud it is certainly worth getting a few things sorted:

  • Make sure that you have all of your children’s clothing ready, making sure that you have gloves, socks, base layers at the ready (a checklist is below)
  • Especially if you have younger children, it’s worth just doing a recap of what will happen the next morning just so they are not totally overwhelmed.
  • Don’t forget yourself, be prepared too.
  • Try and get an early night and not enjoy the vin chaud too much!

7 (4)The morning of the first lesson:

  • Do not be surprised at how long it will take you all to get ready on the first morning.  Getting your children out of bed, fed, dressed and ready by the front door is no mean feat and there will always be a stray glove to find etc!  Try and leave an extra 30 mins for such eventualities.
  • Remember to double check that their lift pass is securely zipped up in a pocket in their jacket and that you have packed a snack too.
  • Try and get to the ski school meeting point/jardin with time to spare so that you can ‘check-in’ your children and ask any questions you may have.
  • A word of advice – do not hang around at the ski school meeting point as your child will only see this as an opportunity to be distracted or decide that they would rather stay with you, and that’s not conducive to a full day’s skiing for you, nor does it help your child’s ski instructor!
  • These are all tried and tested points of advice… say no more.

Soon enough you will all settle into a routine and those apprehensions will become a distant memory!

It is worth mentioning a couple of other things:

Our Ski School Helper:

Our Ski School Helpers are an essential part of our team.  They a valuable pair of hands for your child who is at beginner level.  They will literally pick your child up off the snow if need be, take them off for a hot chocolate if they’ve had a ‘wobble’ and they will also give you feedback from the ski instructor.  They are a godsend!  You will often see them jumping, dancing and singing, it’s all part of their job description!  

And finally, don’t get on the slopes and teach them yourself!

If you’ve skied before it’s easy to think that you can pass on your skills to your child but we strongly suggest you stay clear!!!  As well as passing on bad habits and advice, keeping the family in a positive frame of mind is paramount. As much as it may squash your idyllic idea of teaching your child to ski, let a qualified instructor take charge, they are qualified for a reason.  There will be no family arguments, leaving you ending your holiday on the proverbial high rather than one that has hit rock bottom.

Our childcare clubs are the ethos of our company and we have built a great relationship with the ESF in all 3 resorts, meaning your child will get a great English-speaking instructor who in turn knows of the high standards we expect.  

Checklist of what to pack for your child (this list could be endless but here are the essentials):

Skiing essentials:

  • Base layers – try and not rely on everyday cotton tops as base layers are designed to keep your child warm and dry at the same time.  Tights are good for girls too
  • Ski jacket – must be water and wind-proof with plenty of zipped pockets and an inner ‘skirt’ if possible to stop the snow from reaching the torso
  • Salopettes – again these must be water and wind-proof, with braces if you see fit
  • Ski gloves/mittens – at least two pair of waterproof gloves, keeping one dry pair close to hand as once a pair is wet your child’s hands will get cold quickly
  • Ski goggles/glasses – dependant on the weather your child will need one of these, but if you just want to pack one option, then goggles are best!
  • Ski socks – specially designed socks are great for children’s feet and worth every penny
  • Ski equipment – if you child has their own helmet, boots and skis then great.  Please make sure that they are checked thoroughly and in full working order before you go on holiday.  If you are hiring equipment then you will have to give the ski hire shop your child’s height and weight so they can gauge the right skis, boots and helmet for your child. Poles are only needed for children in 1* lessons and above; for those starting out they can be a distraction. The ski hire shops we recommend are great with our guests and dealing with any questions they may have.

Non-skiing essentials:

  • Suncream – you will all need a high UV cream and lip balm
  • Snacks – to put in their pockets for a much needed energy hit on the slopes
  • Snow boots – waterproof outdoor footwear for fun in the snow
  • Clothing – for the evenings in the chalets, don’t forget slippers!


What to pack








  • Ski Jacket: This needs to be a ski jacket and not just a waterproof jacket. Remember it can get very cold in the mountains
  • Ski trousers: These need be be warm and waterproof, beginners especially may spend a lot of time falling over onto the snow.
  • Leggings or tights: These are good to pack and have for those really cold days.
  • Base layers: This is a really important layer to keep you warm by wicking moisture away from your body. Do not use a cotton t-shirt as a base layer, you will be very cold.
  • Mid layer: A good fabric for a mid layer is a micro fleece, you may not need to wear this everyday.
  • Helmet: If you are a beginner and want to wear a helmet but don’t want to buy one, you can hire one in resort.
  • Hat: Regardless of choosing a hat or a helmet for skiing, you will want to take with you to wear when you are doing non skiing activities. Make sure you get one that covers your ears.
  • Gloves or mittens for skiing x 2 pairs: It’s personal choice what you prefer to wear. Gloves are easier for dealing with fiddly ski boots and using all your fingers and mittens can sometimes keep hands warmer but are not always as practical. It is highly recommend that you take 2 pairs of ski gloves in case one pair gets very wet and needs to dry, you will have a dry pair for the next day and then alternate between the pairs.
  • Gloves or mittens for après-ski: If you don’t want to wear bulky ski gloves when not skiing then pack a pair of warm gloves with you.
  • Glove liners: These are not essential but a lot of people swear by them as a combination of a good ski glove and ski liner can keep your hands extra warm and a bonus is that when you remove your ski gloves you have another pair of gloves on so your hands won’t be terribly cold.
  • Ski socks: It is worth investing in some good pairs of ski socks to keep your feet and toes warm, cotton socks are not recommended for skiing, they absorb moisture and your feet will get cold.
  • Sunglasses: Even if you ski wearing goggles, packing a pair of sunglasses is useful as you may want to wear them when you stop for a spot of lunch and if the sun is still out when you finish skiing for the day.
  • Goggles: If you ski wearing a helmet, goggles fit on top of your helmet and are the best thing to wear in bad skiing conditions, especially when it is snowing and in low light. Sunglasses don’t work when it’s snowing, so don’t even try!
  • Neck warmer: A neck warmer is great for keeping that bit between the top of your jacket and your face warm, and the lower part of your face if you pull it up. You wouldn’t believe how cold your neck and face can get, especially when it’s snowing and when you are sat on a chair lift.
  • Balaclava: More of another optional extra layer to keep your head, neck and face warm when it is really very cold.
  • Tissues in individual packs/handkerchiefs: If you haven’t skied before, don’t underestimate how much your nose can and will run when skiing. Individual packs of tissues are great to stick in one of your many pockets. If you do own a handkerchief that is even better as it won’t disintegrate like a tissue will.
  • Sunscreen: You can buy ski specific sunscreen, but regular sunscreen of a high UVB and SPF factor like 30 or 50 will be just fine. A good idea is to buy a small tube so you can take it with you on the slopes to reapply it through the day. If you opt for a ski sunscreen, you can get handy small tubes with a lip balm on one end.
  • Lip balm: The cold will make your lips very dry so it’s a good idea to have lip balm on you that you can reapply throughout the day.
  • Camera: Don’t forget to pack your camera so you can capture great holiday shots. Why don’t you take your selfie stick too!
  • Insurance: The last thing you want to think about is having an accident on the slopes, but sadly they are a reality and you must have valid insurance for winter sports. Your insurance will also cover you for any inconveniences or cancellations of flights.
  • Pre-booked equipment: If you have pre-booked equipment, remember to print and pack your confirmation to take with you to the ski hire shop in case you are not sure what you chose.
  • Ibuprofen/paracetamol: It is a good idea to take painkillers with you.
  • Deep heat: If you know you are prone to aches and pains, taking deep heat with you is wise as it will help at the end of your day skiing.
  • Wrist guards: If you are really afraid of breaking your wrists then by all means pack them!
  • Hip flask filled with your favourite tipple: Now this is a great thing to have with you on the slopes. Your options of what to fill your flask with are endless, cheers!

Don’t forget your non skiing essentials:

  • Slippers: Take your favourite slippers with you and be extra cosy in your chalet.
  • Clothes: Remember that there will be times when you are not skiing and you need ‘normal’ clothes!
  • Any supports you need to wear when exercising: If you wear supports for exercising it would be a good idea to also wear these when skiing.
  • Phone/Camera/Gadget chargers: Don’t forget a charger for each of your gadgets, you wouldn’t want to miss out on taking a great shot because you couldn’t charge your camera.
  • Contact lenses and contact lense solution: If you wear contact lenses these are better to wear than glasses when skiing.
  • Snow boots/winter boots: Boots you can wear to walk on snow and sometimes ice without slipping. Trainers are really not any good on snow and ice and the last thing you want is to fall over and hurt yourself during your ski holiday.
  • Swimwear: Most of our chalets have a hot tub and you wouldn’t want to arrive and not be able to get in because you forgot your swimwear! Or you may want to go for a swim in one of the resort’s swimming local or nearby pools.
  • Pyjamas: So easy to forget! If you are in a shared chalet with other families it’s probably best to have some PJ’s!
  • Plug adapter for French plugs: If you forget this then you won’t be using your phone or gadgets much!

What to take if you have room in your suitcase:

  • Your own ski boots: If you own them and have room for them you may aswell take them! Remember you can hire skis and wear your own boots.
  • Your own skis: Same applies to your skis, if you own them and have room for them, you may aswell take them and if you don’t own your own boots you can hire those and still use your own skis.
  • Walkie talkies: These are really useful when skiing to contact one another without using your mobile phone.
  • Small rucksack: If you are confident skiing with a small lightweight rucksack it is really useful to put some essentials in: water, sunscreen, lip balm, snacks, hat, gloves, phone, wallet etc
  • MP3 player: Some people like skiing listening to music, but it is not the safest thing to do as you will not hear other skiers around you as clearly. Or you may just want an MP3 player for when you are chilling out in your chalet.
  • Snacks: Skiing makes you really really hungry, and even after a big breakfast you may want a snack before lunchtime. You will love having a cereal or chocolate bar with you on the slopes.
  • Hand warmers: Disposable hand warmers are designed to keep hands warm whilst skiing (or doing other activities). Ideal to place inside your gloves or pockets to keep your hands warm.

The Technical stuff on ski equipment (not skis or boots) – An in depth description of the items to pack.

So you’ve booked your skiing holiday, and the time has come to pack and you suddenly think: what do I need? Top of the list is warm clothes, waterproofs and lots of layers. You will probably start packing a few days before you leave and the weather in the alps can change so quickly there is no way of knowing for sure if you will have bright sunshine everyday or snow or a mixture of both, so your best bet is to be prepared for all eventualities. And remember that one day you could be skiing without a cloud in the sky and the next day you won’t be able to see 1 metre in front of you. So, the best thing to do is to pack lots of layers so that on the sunny day you just put one layer on and the colder day you can put several layers on.

BACKPACK – To backpack or not to backpack that is the question! If you are comfortable skiing with a backpack it is not a bad idea to pack a light one, although it is not recommended for beginners as it affects your balance and posture. It is great to have on days when you are not sure what to wear, put extra layers in your backpack. On that note it’s important to remember that the weather can also change a lot during the day, not just from day to day and a backpack is great to have if you do ski with your children so you can put extra clothing in for them and some snacks and water.
SKI TROUSERS – But back to basics, what are salopettes? Salopettes, ski trousers and ski pants are all trousers that are worn for skiing. Traditionally salopettes would have a high waist with a bib that braces can be attached to whilst ski trousers stop at the waist but can also have braces. Braces can be frustrating if they slide down the sides of your arms and they make going to the toilet such a hassle (remember that when buying ski trousers for your children: NO BRACES), but they do have the benefits of keeping snow from getting in if you fall over and keeping your trousers up! Whatever you go for, they need to be comfortable when standing and sitting down as you will spend a lot of time going up chair lifts, just something to bear in mind when trying them on.
SKI JACKET – Bottoms are sorted, so what do you wear on top? It is essential to have a ski/snowboarding jacket and not just a waterproof coat. They all come with different amounts of pockets and weird and wonderful extras like a secure place for your lift pass, somewhere to put your ipod and a snow skirt (this is an extra piece of material with elasticated edge and snaps on the inside of a ski jacket that can be fastened to prevent snow from entering at the bottom of the jacket. It acts as an additional barrier against wet or powdery snow, stopping you getting damp while out skiing. Snow skirts can be integrated into the jacket or detachable). Choosing the right Ski Jacket really depends on weather conditions, your level of ability, your budget and your personal preference in terms of style, fit and colour. It is worth going into a specialist store and trying them on, you need it to be comfortable and remember you may be wearing a few layers of clothing underneath so make sure it’s not too snug. Different types of insulated ski jackets include down Ski Jackets or synthetically insulated ski jackets and like many things, what you choose depends on how much you are prepared to spend.BASE/THERMAL LAYER – Underneath your ski jacket you may want to wear one or 2 layers, depending on the weather. Let us explain the difference between a thermal top and a base layer: A thermal top is essentially the same as a base layer but designed more for winter sports and activity. The thermal properties means they are better at keeping your body warm, as well as wicking away sweat so that you don’t overheat. Base layers are the equivalent for warmer conditions as they are often more lightweight. Choosing the right layers when on the slopes or taking part in any outdoor activity is crucial. A good base layer is necessary for maintaining the right body temperature and will wick away moisture (often caused by sweat) from the skin to stop dampness and you getting cold. A base layer can refer to both tops and bottoms, so it may we be wise to also have a bottom base or thermal layer for those extra cold days. Different types of fabrics work in different ways to keep your body at the optimum temperature when out in the cold. Synthetic fabrics and merino wool are the most common fabrics used for base layers. Cotton is unsuitable for a technical base layer as the fabric soaks up moisture and draws heat away from the body leaving the wearer cold and uncomfortable. Got it? Cotton is a no no!

Ok so how do I choose? It all really depends on how much you want to spend. If you know it will be cold and you are happy to splash out then you can’t go wrong with Merino Wool, but if your skin is sensitive to wearing wool or you just don’t like the feel of it, you can get Bamboo base layers that are a relatively new invention made from bamboo extracts sometimes combined with cotton, Lycra and even merino wool or your cheapest option is polyester and polyester blend tops. A bonus of wearing merino wool is that it is naturally antibacterial, it keeps skin dry and can be worn for longer periods of time without smelling too bad. They have natural UV resistance which is ideal for cold but sunny ski resorts. One the best thing about merino base layers is that they retain heat and their thermal properties even when wet. Great if you get snow up your jacket from a fall!They can easily be used for a week long ski break, giving you even more space in your case.

HELMET – The majority of people now choose to ski with a helmet. You have different options here again, go and buy your own or hire one in the ski resort, you choose. It you choose to buy a helmet the fit will be much better as you have been able to try various options on beforehand and it’s a good idea to try the helmet on with the goggles you will be wearing. With a rented ski helmet it is impossible to know how well the helmet has been looked after and if it has been worn in an accident. If a ski helmet has been knocked and damaged, it will not be effective at protecting your head should you fall. Lastly, rented ski helmets will be worn by various people and although they might wear a skull cap the idea of someone else sweating in your helmet isn’t appealing to most people! Helmets not only protect you if you have an accident but also keep your head nice and warm.

HelmetsGetting the right fit for your ski helmet is the most important factor when buying a helmet. A good fit is vital for your safety on the slope and comfort all day long. A helmet should be a snug fit and fully cover the forehead. Helmet sizes are measured in centimetres and you need to know the circumference around your head. You can use a tape measure to calculate the circumference of your head about 1inch/2.5cm above your ears and eyebrows ( if you don’t have a tape measure just use a piece of string to wrap around your head then measure that). A ski helmet should cover your forehead, finishing just above the eyebrows and your goggles. Most ski helmets have a ‘fine tuning’ adjustment system allowing you to get a perfect fit. Adjust your helmet to a close, but comfortable fit. Finally you should adjust the chin strap, so it comfortably fits under your chin. To check you have a good fit do the ‘shake test’. If you give your head a shake your helmet shouldn’t budge. Put your palm on the outside of your helmet and push your helmet from side to side – again your helmet should not shift about on its own. If it does, your helmet is too big. You are looking for a snug, comfortable fit.

There are two main types of helmets:

Full shell helmets have shell protection over ears and tend to be worn by ski racers

Half shell ski helmets are the most popular style of helmets. They provide a great combination of safety and comfort.
All helmets will have some level of venting, to allow excess heat and moisture to escape. Some helmets also offer ‘adjustable vents’ which allow the user to increase/decrease the vents, to control airflow through the helmet. This gives an extra level of temperature control and comfort.

HAT -If you choose to wear a hat make sure you have one that covers your ears. It is a really good idea to pack a hat even if you ski with a helmet so that when you stop for lunch or when you undertake non skiing activities you can keep your head warm.


GLOVES – Gloves are a must have and can be one of the most difficult items to get right, but having a pair of gloves that fit well and keep your hands dry and warm even on the coldest days is invaluable. But what do you go for, gloves or mittens? Ski gloves (with fingers) are ideal for skiers who need to use their fingers to adjust things, say your boots or clothing (or to help your children). Ski Mittens can potentially be a better option if you do get very cold hands. As there are no fingers, you can clench your fist to increase hand heat. But mittens make holding ski poles a little trickier.


How to Choose Ski Gloves
Ski Gloves are essential when taking part in any snow sports as you tend to lose heat quickly from your extremities. The last thing you want on a ski trip is very cold hands and numb fingers! It is important that you pick the right ski gloves for your activity to offer maximum warmth, comfort and flexibility. Some key features to look out for include:
Adjustable cuffs & wrist loops. These allow you to secure your gloves so snow does not enter from the cuff. A quick stop adjuster (toggle) allows you to pull your gloves tight and close with one pull. Wrist loops are handy for attaching the gloves or mittens to your wrists when you take them off. Makes them harder to lose, and you really don’t want that to happen!
Heat vents improve breathability but also allow you to breathe hot air into your gloves for times when your hands need an instant hit of warmth.
Textured palm and fingertips – The fabric in these areas can be reinforced to give extra grip for holding poles or ski lifts.
Goggle Wipe – A rubberised plastic piece that you use to clear water and snow from your goggles.
Nose Wipe – A softer fabric on the glove which you can use to wipe your nose if it gets a bit runny!
Fleece Lining- Fleece lined for added warmth.
Snowproof ski gloves means that fabric is treated with a waterproof coating to make fabric water resistant, but this does not make the glove fully waterproof. This type of glove would be best for dry conditions, and for those who won’t have as much contact with the snow, i.e. skiers or more intermediate snow sport enthusiasts. These could also be used for keeping your hands warm on winter walks.
Waterproof Ski Gloves are made with snowproof fabric and combine an additional waterproof membrane inside the glove.
Insulation is really important to create and maintain the right temperature. You can get gloves that have a padded insulation layer to help retain heat as well as a soft fleece lining inner for warmth and breathability.
One last bit about gloves (who would have thought there was so much to know about gloves!) You can just wear your ski gloves when out on the slopes, however a pair of glove liners underneath can provide extra protection from the cold and wet. Ideally you want your liners to be lightweight and breathable. A pair of silk gloves are a good choice as they provide warmth without making your hands too hot. Some great things to know about silk are that the natural fibres regulate the temperature of your hands and silk gloves will also maintain thermal properties even when wet. If you have a pair of snowproof gloves on these could offer the ideal layer to stop your hands getting too cold or wet.
Ok, this is really the last bit about gloves! Most people now have a mobile phone and will take it with them when skiing. If this is the case for you, then a pair of touchscreen liner gloves will keep your digits extra toasty inside your ski gloves and still let you use your phone when you take your gloves off, awesome right? A less bulky liner is also great when you leave the slopes and head for a coffee or drive home and you still need to keep your hands warm, this way you don’t need to have another pair of non-skiing gloves with you all day.

GOGGLES/SUNGLASSES – Goggles vs sunglasses: whatever you choose, they are absolutely essential for protecting your eyes from the sun and snow glare. At high altitude UV rays are stronger (as there is less atmosphere to filter them) and the sun’s reflection off the snow is much brighter. Ski goggles and sunglasses also provide protection from falling snow and wind when whizzing down the slopes.
Sunglasses are well suited if it is sunny and the conditions are good. Goggles will however provide better coverage all round protecting your eyes from the wind as well as bright light. If it is cloudy, foggy or snowy goggles will offer better protection than sunglasses. Goggles also cover a bigger area of your face than sunglasses, so when it’s cold, they protect your face much more.
Goggles fit over the helmet, so if you are wearing a helmet, go for goggles as they will be much more comfortable. All that will happen if you wear sunglasses under a helmet is that the sides of the glasses will dig into your head and that is not very nice. You can get goggles with different lenses to suit different levels of visibility.
The choice between wearing ski goggles or sunglasses for skiing will more often than not depend on the conditions. For this reason we would recommended that you always take goggles on a ski trip so you are prepared for all conditions. Whether you pack sunglasses as well will be a matter of personal preference. Many skiers like to wear sunglasses when the weather is fair and switch to ski goggles if the conditions deteriorate (it is a good idea to carry both with you as weather conditions can change quickly and frequently, see how the backpack comes in handy!)
What to look for when choosing goggles:
UV Protection: Try to choose ski goggles or sunglasses with a minimum filter category of 3 to ensure your eyes are suitably protected on the slopes. A filter category of 2 is suitable for kids as a filter category 3 can impede their vision in low light.
Polarised lenses will reduce the glare from light reflected from the surface of the snow, whilst increasing contrast. This prevents your vision from being strained and impaired. Polarised lenses may not be suitable for use in low light as they can make things appear darker than they are.
The colour of the lens also needs to be taken into consideration. Dark lenses, such as grey, dark brown or mirrored, are best for bright, sunny conditions. Pink, yellow or green lens are suited for days where there is poor visibility. Amber lenses are particularly helpful for depth perception, making bumps and different surfaces easier to distinguish.
Goggle lenses can be cylindrical or spherical. A spherical, or curved, lens will provide better peripheral vision and mean less distortion. Goggles with spherical lenses will often be more expensive than those with cylindrical lenses.
If you wear contact lenses you may find that sunglasses do not offer enough protection to prevent your lenses from drying out. If you wear vision glasses, it may be worth getting ski goggles that are a size bigger so you can wear your glasses underneath whilst still offering you protection from the sun.
Why do goggles fog up? Condensation can occur as warm air from your breath condenses on the colder surface of goggles and sunglasses. Sunglasses will tend to fog up more than goggles. Goggles will have a ventilated frame which means there’s an air vent at the top and bottom of the frames to allow air to flow through. Ventilated frames and anti-fog treatment will help prevent the lenses from fogging up. Double layered lenses act as another barrier to internal fogging. If ski goggles are fitted correctly they should not fog up. Make sure they fit tightly to your face and the vents at the top of the goggles are not blocked by headwear like hats and snoods.

NECKWARMER/BALACLAVA – Neckwarmers are great to seal the gap between your jacket and neck, especially in a blizzard or very windy conditions as the snow or cold could sneak in. It is also great to have for your chairlift rides when you often get the coldest. There is a big range of fabrics, the fleece ones are extra soft and warm. You could think about taking a balaclava that goes over your head and covers a bigger area of your face.

SOCKS – So we have talked about keeping your hands nice and warm, but don’t forget to keep your feet warm. It is a huge misconception to think that your feet will stay warm in ski boots. Ski socks are designed for skiing so they are a really good investment. Ski socks( also known as tubes) are usually long in length with some padding on the heel and shins for added comfort inside your ski boots. Ski socks come in a variety of thicknesses so if you do not necessarily want a really thick pair there will still be a pair to suit you. Cotton socks are not recommended for skiing. When your feet get hot, which they will when you’re working hard on the slopes, they will soak up all the moisture and retain it, making your feet cold and that is last thing you want when skiing.
And ‘voila’, hopefully this will make your packing easier!


Hiring skis, boots and helmets is a straightforward process that we at Family Ski will help you with.  It can usually be best to hire in advance safe in the knowledge that when you arrive into resort the equipment you have hired will be ready and waiting for you.

You will need a set of skis, a pair of boots, a helmet and if you are good enough you will need poles too.

Useful to know if you are a beginner:

Ski boots are pretty solid and can be very uncomfortable – even if they fit!  You may need to try a few pairs before you find a pair that work for you.  They can feel as though you are walking on the moon to start with.


Skis – You will need a pair of skis, whilst you will not need top of the range racing skis don’t rent the cheapest pair you can find – they may be old and not easy to turn and ‘carve’.  Skis have bindings on the top of them, your boots fit into the bindings.

Bindings – these are set on top of your skis and hold your boots in place.  They will be ‘din’ set by measuring your height/weight/age and ability, this is set by an expert as you will want them to ‘release’ if you fall over so your knees don’t get damaged. Again you don’t want old bindings if possible so beware of renting ‘cheap’ old skis.  Modern bindings have had a lot of research done on them as they need to keep you safe when upright and when falling which is something that will happen!

Poles will usually be included and the rental shop will advise the length suitable for you.

Helmets – we strongly recommend the wearing of helmets for everyone. You can hire them along with the rest of your equipment.

Intermediate Skiers

Boots – You will be aware of boots and their nuances – you may have your own pair by now – this is a great idea as having your own boots is quite a luxury. It means you know they will always fit and they will have moulded to your feet.  You can buy boots with heat pads, an absolute boon for keeping toes warm on cold days.

Skis Unless you plan on skiing more than 3 weeks a year I would still recommend renting your skis. Skis have changed dramatically over the last few years as technology makes advances in things like carbon fibre.  Renting means you can get good new skis and change them if necessary.  Renting is also a good idea when travelling with your family as there are no hassles at the airport waiting for them to arrive – this can be a long time……….  When flying you will check them into the hold and most airlines charge for this.

Helmets – you will probably seriously consider buying your own, a little bulky to pack but you can stuff it full of gloves, hats, socks etc.

Expert Skiers

Well you don’t really need any advice – there are different skis for carving, on and off piste, going backwards and forwards – try some out before you buy and again rental is great as it gives you the opportunity to try different skis and you don’t have the airport hassle!

Hope that all helps.

General information

Here are some facts you should know about lift passes before we get down to the nitty gritty:

  • You won’t need a photo. The three Family Ski resorts have a “hands-free” liftpass system so you never need take off your gloves! The principle is simple: a microchip embedded in your liftpass (a credit-card size plastic card) is scanned remotely at lift barriers to release the turnstiles.
  • Keep your pass in a pocket by itself; mobile phones and the magnetic strips on credit and debit cards can disrupt the scan
  • Take a photograph of your lift pass at the start of the week so you have a record of its number. You’ll need this if you should lose it!

Which is the right pass for me?

Deciding which Lift pass to buy can be difficult particularly if you’ve never skied before! For this reason we’ve prepared a guide to the options in each of our Family Friendly resorts in France to help you make up your mind which pass is right for you!

We’ve taken the information from below from the lift operators websites. Lifts are added or taken anyway from time to time so the figures we’ve quoted below may not be 100% accurate but will give you a really good indication of what is included within each pass.

Ardent – only 2 options to choose from!

Full Area Pass = Portes Du Soleil Pass – for intermediate and advanced skiers.

Lifts = 196

Pistes = 650 km (285 slopes: 32 black, 100 Red, 122 Blue, 31 Green)
Skiing up to 2275m

250 km of cross-country ski trails.

The area includes villages in France and Switzerland but don’t worry, you won’t need your passport! On the French side you can ski in Avoriaz, Chatel, Morzine and Les Gets with Champery, Morgins and Champoussin accessible on the Swiss side.

If you’re brave enough to try out the “Swiss Wall” you’ll need this pass. It’s a piste on French-Swiss border in the Chavanette Area – a long, Steep, moghul slope, tricky enough in good conditions, almost impossible if it’s icy. Good luck!

Local Area Pass – Avoriaz – for beginners – if you’ve already skied for a couple of weeks you’ll probably need a Portes Du Soleil Pass. Children in 3 Star and more advanced classes will need a Portes Du Soleil Pass.

Lifts = 36

Pistes = 75km (51 slopes: 6 Black, 14 Red, 26 Blue, 5 Green)

Skiing up to 2275m

38 km of cross country ski trails spread over 8 loops

This pass gives you access to the Stash – a snowpark in the trees above Ardent which caters for a mixture of freeride and freestyle. Wooden and natural objects bring all-mountain riding and freestyle together. The area is suitable for adults and children. The park was enlarged last season and a new slalom course added. Great for some family fun!

Children aged 4 and under get a free lift pass in the Portes Du Soleil Area however we do need a copy of your child’s passport and a recent photo (this can be taken with your mobile phone) as proof of age if you would like us to obtain this on your behalf.

Les Coches – Two options!

Full Area Pass – Paradiski Pass giving unlimited access to La Plagne and Les Arcs – for adventurous intermediate and advanced skiers

Lifts = 141

Pistes = 425km (234 slopes – 35 Black, 67 Red, 121 Blue, 11 Green)

Skiing up to 3250m

This pass gives access to all the skiing in La Plagne and Les Arcs. You can take a many trips as you like in the Vanoise Express which crosses the valley between La Plagne and Les Arcs. It’s a double decker Cable Car with capacity to take 200 people and is the world’s biggest ski lift!

La Plagne Pass = La Plagne plus one day in Les Arcs – for beginners and intermediate skiers

This pass is the best option for those who are happy skiing the lovely pistes in La Plagne but are keen to have a trip on the Vanoise Express and explore Les Arcs for a day. Our Chalets in Les Coches are in the La Plagne Ski Area but well-positioned for access to Les Arcs, just one lift and a short ski away!

Lifts = 90

Pistes = 225km (130 slopes – 18 Black, 33 Red, 69 Blue, 10 Green)

Skiing up to 3250m

This pass is sufficient for all guests (children and adults alike) who are having lessons.

Children aged 4 and under get a free Lift Pass in the Paradiski Area.

Reberty – Two choices!

Full Area Pass – Three Valleys Pass – Intermediate and Advanced skiers.

Lifts = 169

Pistes = 600km (321 Slopes – 35 Black, 106 Red, 125 Blue, 55 Green)

Skiing up to 3230m

This lift pass gives you access to the biggest lift-linked ski area in the world, what more can we say, it doesn’t get better than that!
Local – Les Menuires/ St Martin – Beginners and Intermediates

Lifts = 34

Pistes = 160km (87 Slopes – 8 Black, 24 Red, 43 Blue, 12 Green)

Children aged 4 and under get a free pass in the Three Valleys Area however we do need a copy of your child’s passport and a recent photo (this can be taken with your mobile phone) as proof of age if you would like us to obtain this on your behalf.

Lift Pass Summary Table

ResortLift Pass TypeGreen RunsBlue RunsRed RunsBlack RunsTotal Number of RunsKms of PisteNumber of Lifts
ArdentPortes Du Soleil3112210032285650196
Les CochesParadiski111216735234425141
La Plagne1069331813022590
RebertyThree Valleys5512510635321600169
Valle De Belleville20605114145300
Les Menuries12432488716034

We hope this is all the information you will need about lift passes but if we haven’t answered all your questions give us a call!

So your skiing holiday is booked and you’re starting to look forward to it but you know there’s some work to do before you go if you are going to get the best out of your holiday. It’s not just about getting packed, sorting out skiwear, equipment and ski passes, you need to get fit!

OK, you could decide to take the easy option and pootle down the blue runs and maybe a couple of red runs with lots of stops for coffee (or something stronger!) and some long lazy lunches. No need to worry about fitness too much if that’s your plan. However if you decide to hit the slopes hard and get value for money from that lift pass you need to get in shape now! No excuses for beginners either, there’s all that falling over and getting back up again to think about, to say nothing of the leg strength required to maintain a snow plough. You also need to remember that the ski resorts are at much higher altitude than most of us are used to so, with less oxygen in the air, things seem like much harder work.

It makes sense to concentrate on improving your aerobic capacity, that means getting out of breath (puffing but not gasping for air!) a few times a week. We’ve all suffered from burning thighs on that long red run home and tired aching muscles the next day so you need to work on your legs too, specifically your quads (muscles on the front of your thigh), the gluts (buttocks!) and calves. Core muscles (stomach, lower back and sides) shouldn’t be neglected either, these muscles will help you maintain good posture and stance when skiing and they’re absolutely essential when you need to get up after a fall!

So, what should you do? Start exercising of course! Just one small proviso, although moderate physical activity is safe for most people, health experts suggest that you talk to your doctor before you start an exercise programme if any of the following apply:

You have heart disease or any symptoms of it.
You have asthma or lung disease.
You have diabetes or kidney disease.
You have arthritis.

Otherwise, no excuses, get started now! For those of you who are gym members, it’s easy. You’ve got lots of specialist equipment at hand and the advice of qualified professionals, make the most of it. Ask one of the instructors to write a special programme just for you to get you “ski fit”. You’ll need a minimum of 8 weeks to get in shape, ideally 12 weeks so don’t leave it too late!

Another option is to join some group exercise classes. Spin classes are great for improving your cardiovascular fitness and Bodypump is good for strengthening those skiing muscles.

For those of you who aren’t “gym bunnies” we’ve devised a programme to help you get fit fast at home. You’ll need to exercise for about an hour three times a week for 8 weeks before your holiday to get the most out of the programme but anything is better than nothing!

Day 1Day 2Day 3

March/jog on the spot for 3 minutes


20 mins brisk walking/running/
cycling (puffing but not gasping!)


3 sets of 15 Squats
3 sets of 10 Static lunges (1 set = 10 lunges on right leg followed by 10 on left leg)
3 sets of 15 calf raises


3 sets of 15 Hip bridges.
3 sets of 15 sit ups
Hold plank position for as long as possible (aim for a minute), if the full plank is too difficult start on your knees
Hold side plank, 30 secs on each side, easier option is to start on your knees.

Cooldown stretches


March/jog on the spot for 3 minutes.


20 Burpees
20 Squat thrusts
20 Jumping jacks

5 minutes skipping or running on the spot

Repeat above exercises and finish with another 5 minutes running or skipping.


Wall Squat aim to hold for 1 min.
3 sets of 15 sumo squats
Donkey kicks - 2 sets of 15 on each leg


2 sets of 30 bicycle crunches.
2 sets of 30 mountain climbers
2 sets of 15 V-sits

Cooldown stretches

March/jog on the spot for 3 minutes.


20 mins brisk walking/running/cycling (puffing but not gasping)


3 sets of 10 single leg squats on each leg.
Reverse lunges - 2 sets of 20
2 sets of 20 Squat jumps


Leg Raises - 3 sets of 10

Twisting crunch - 10 to the right, 10 to the left and repeat.
Hold plank position for as long as possible (aim for a minute), if the full plank is too difficult start on your knees
Hold side plank, 30 secs on each side, easier option is to start on your knees.

Cooldown stretches

There are lots of things to consider when choosing where go for your family skiing holiday! So where do you start? We have compiled a top 10 list to help.

Here are our Ten Top Tips!


  1. The resort must be snow sure

    Particularly if you are taking your holiday early or late in the season – what’s the point of a skiing holiday if there’s no snow! Don’t take the Tour Operators word for it either – consult impartial websites. Snowforecast.com gives resorts a snow sure star rating. the Where to ski and snowboard website can also offer useful insights about snow conditions. Remember it’s not all about altitude, other factors are important too. Have a look at the “Will there be snow page?” of our website for more information.


  2. Think carefully about how you will get to resort

    Travelling with children can be stressful and tiring! Avoid long flights and long transfers. Although skiing in Canada and America seems very appealing the long flight times make it a no no if you’re travelling with young children. Probably best to stick to Europe. You can dream about a transatlantic skiing break when the children are older (maybe they’ll be able to pay for themselves by then!) Look for short transfers, some of the French ski resorts are an easy 90 minute transfer from Geneva, others area cruelling 4.5 hour bus ride away up with twisty (nausea-inducing) ascent for the last 45 mins.The snow train is a great way to travel with kids, hop on at London St Pancras and hop off 7 hours later in the heart of the Alps. If this appeals to you then look at resorts in the Three Valleys area of France (get off the train in Moutiers) or the Paradiski Area (disembark at Bourg St Maurice).

  3. Make sure the resort gives you easy access to the piste and ski-school for the children.

    Do not consider anything where you have a long walk or even worse a bus ride to the slopes. Remember you will have to carry not only your own skis but your children’s equipment as well. Ideally you want to be in a chalet right next to the piste or a short walk from a ski lift. Don’t be afraid to quiz your Tour Operator about the exact location of the chalet. They should be able to tell you exactly how to get to the piste each day. If they can’t or give you a fuzzy answer don’t book with them! A ski in ski out chalet location is perfect!

  4. Quiet villages are best.

    If you are holidaying with young children you are best to avoid the busy resorts where Apres-Ski goes on until the wee small hours of the morning. The children will need a good sleep to cope with the physical demands of learning to ski and you’ll probably appreciate a good rest too! If the village is traffic-free so much the better!


  5. Pick resorts in extensive ski areas

    Resorts offering lots of variety are ideal so that the grown ups can have fun too! The Three Valleys Area in France has 336 runs over 600km of piste. So, ideally, you want a small village in a large ski area to keep everyone happy.

  6. Resorts with good nursery slopes and lots of green/blue runs

    are essential for children learning to ski. Examine the piste maps of your shortlisted resorts and ask questions before you book. Look at independent websites. Where to ski and snowboard gives you the percentage of blue runs in each resort and lots of other useful information!

  7. Look for good ski-schools with well qualified instructors.

    Find out if instructors are English speaking. Don’t forget to ask about class sizes and timings. Some Tour Operators include lessons within the price of their Childcare make sure you understand how this works. Family Ski Company are the only company that are allowed to have members of their staff (the lovely Ski School Helpers) working in the “Jardin Des Neiges” with the instructors. It’s amazing how having a friendly face around can put the children at ease allowing to enjoy the lessons and improve their skiing.


  8. Think carefully about the childcare

    available in resort for your children. Make sure that staff are English speaking, well-trained and DBS checked. Ask about ratios of carers to children and the sort of activities the children will be doing. It’s absolutely crucial that you are satisfied that your children are happy and well-cared for otherwise you won’t enjoy your hard-earned time on the piste.


  9. If you are travelling with babies under 24 months it’s important to think about the effect of altitude.

    Even as adults we feel the effects of altitude getting out of breath and puff and pant bit more than usual. Babies and infants often struggle at high altitude and an unhappy child will spoil the holiday for everyone. When you have little ones in tow it’s best to base yourself at a lower altitude (under 1500m) with access to higher altitude skiing.

  10. Choose a resort that offers other family-friendly activities

    just in case you want a break from skiing. Things like tobogganing and bum-boarding are fun for parents and children. Lots of resorts have swimming pools and sports centres. Ice-skating is another option, some resorts have an ice-rink but be careful not to pick up any injuries! There are some lovely walks in most resorts, try snowshoeing if you are feeling a bit more adventurous! The ultimate thrill would be a trip down the Olympic Bobsleigh run in La Plagne or a ride on Speed Mountain (a rail toboggan) in Reberty.

You’re probably aware that a skiing holiday is never cheap and although it may seem that you have to take out a second mortgage, you shouldn’t skimp on the essentials, especially when you are with children.  The more you try and save, it can make for a harder time in resort, so you have to find a balance that suits you and your family.  There are obvious things you can do to budget/save money on:

Check when payments need to be made and put the dates on your calendar

Knowing when your final balance needs to be made gives you the chance to plan when you need to make payment and if you need to put some money in the holiday pot between now and then!

money pig 2Can you pay for your holiday in instalments?

See whether you can make smaller regular payments to help ease your cash flow.  Check whether there is a charge for this.

Can another family join you to spread certain costs?

It may well be the case that the larger your party, the better accommodation price you can get and transfers may be cheaper too.  Even when it comes to lunches on the slopes, by sharing a pizza or bottle of wine this will inevitably save you a few Euros!

Time of year (peak & non-peak)

When do you go?  Peak weeks are normally Christmas, New Year, Half-Term and Easter and you should expect to pay a lot more if you are tied to these times.  However, if you are not, then January is a cheaper month to go skiing.  Potentially it’s colder than skiing in April but the slopes will also be a lot quieter!

Check exactly where your accommodation is in relation to the slopes, restaurants etc

You think you’ve found the perfect room that seems too good to be true but please do check where the room is in relation to the slopes and childcare locations.  How far do you have to walk/catch the bus to get to the slopes, ski-school, childcare?  Cheaper accommodation may well come at a price!

Travelling to resort – car, plane or train

These are the 3 main ways of getting to resort.  If you want to fly, check to see whether the flight and transfer is included in your accommodation price, but be aware, this isn’t necessarily the cheapest option.  Does the flight land early in the morning meaning you are spending hours waiting for a transfer and therefore spending far too much money trying to entertain the children (and your other half!) in Arrivals.  A private transfer up to resort will be an extra cost.

You certainly have more free-rein when you drive to resort and you can stagger the journey too.  Just bear in mind that you have petrol, toll charges (here is an example of a prepaid toll card Liber-t), the inevitable coffee stops ….. please budget for these.

Going by train is a lovely way to travel and if you are looking at going on a peak week then do check to see if the train is a viable option for you, as it could be cheaper than flying.

Book flights early

Gone are the days of a £1 flight so be prepared and book flights as soon as possible.  You can usually subscribe to the airline’s alert service so you are kept up to date with when flights are released.  Flights are nearly always cheapest when you book in advance.

Check for extra charges/supplements on all purchases (flights, accommodation, ski hire etc)

There could be numerous little hidden extras, or none at all if you are lucky!  From flights to nappies, there could be little additions that soon add up making what appeared to be a cheap holiday turn into one that literally rockets!  Do you really need to pay for a balcony, is it worth buying your own ski helmet (especially if you plan to ski more than once!)…..

Pre-book childcare, it’s money well spent

Please do not make the assumption that you can teach your children to ski yourself to save a bit of money!  It’s a big no no, for a reason.  You WILL teach them bad habits and at some point you will lose your patience!  Ski instructors are there for a reason, to teach your child in a safe but disciplined manner.  Your children will also have a great time making new friends!  Childcare clubs also mean that you can hit the slopes (in one sense or another!).

Subscribe to newsletters

Subscribe to a newsletter and you will be kept up to date with the latest offers from tour operators.  Be prepared to be inundated, but this is far better than having to trawl through every ski holiday website there is.

Pre-book lift passes and equipment

You can order your lift passes via some tour operators (us included) and instead of you having to queue in resort they can be in your room waiting for you when you arrive, doesn’t that sound great!  You may not save a huge amount of money but you will save on time and patience!

If you have your own skis, boots and helmet then great but do check if there is a charge for them on your flight.  If you need to hire your equipment then it’s worth checking what can be included in your holiday package.  An operator may have good ‘relations’ with a local ski hire shop so you could save money here, you may also get free delivery to your accommodation!

Clothing – Buy or borrow?

We will do another blog article on this and in essence, if you have the budget then you can buy jackets, salopettes etc new, but don’t be afraid in borrowing clothing or buying items off certain a certain auction site!  The actual time the clothing gets used in a season is extremely limited and you may have friends who can lend you a few bits and pieces like goggles, gloves and thermals – don’t be afraid to ask.


Self-catering, half-board or fully catered chalet – each has it’s pro’s but do not think that self-catering is necessarily going to give you the cheapest holiday, food in the mountains can be expensive.  Of course, self-catering gives you full control of your budget but if you go for a fully catered option, you may only have adult lunches to purchase (especially if your children are booked into childcare clubs).  If you put the options side-by-side, you may find that there is not much in it, especially when you consider that with one there is no cooking or clearing up involved – can you put a price on that?

And finally..

Check what is included with your operator – can they provide a pushchair in resort so you don’t need to take one thus incurring more charges, can you order nappies and wipes, do you need to take your baby monitor…  You can obviously pay for extra luggage but if an operator provides essentials in resort then this is an automatic saving.

There is a lot to think about when planning for your holiday and the above questions will certainly help you find the right holiday for you.  Don’t be afraid to ask your operator questions, you’re prep work will certainly pay off, and you will also get a good idea of what your operator can do for you!








Going on holiday is so different now you have children in tow! Getting to the Alps is no exception, and the last thing you want is to arrive tired and stressed before you even start your well-earned break. Skiing is tiring for all members of the family so the ideal start to your holiday would be with minimal hassle and worry, so you can take to the slopes on your first day feeling excited and ready for your much-anticipated stay in the mountains.

By Air

Except for one or two small airports which you’d probably want to avoid (more about that later), most airports are down in the valley. This means that you will have to make the journey up to the mountains and your resort by road. Our transfers from Geneva airport to our three resorts are carefully planned to make them as easy and comfortable as possible for our guests. Most are in modern, comfortable, safe coaches which are fitted with seatbelts.  Most coaches have an on-board toilet – we understand that children can’t always wait till the services. During the journey your Family Ski representative will travel with you to offer water and snacks and give you information about the trip, snow conditions and will be there to help with any initial queries before you arrive.

By Car

Many of our guests prefer to avoid airports and all that hanging around by driving out to their chosen resort. With a couple of comfort stops, we reckon it’s around 8 hours from Calais to Ardent and around 10 hours to Les Coches and Reberty. Given the amount of luggage, plus kit if you have your own, taking your own car means you don’t have to worry about luggage allowances. Plus you have the added bonus of being able to stock up on French food and wine en route home. You should carry snow chains but practise putting them on before setting off and do check legal requirements for driving in France. Once in resort, you can park outside or very close to all our chalets. In Reberty we have underground parking to keep your vehicle off the road.


By Train

A favourite way of getting to the Alps for many travellers. Eurostar operate a daytime service that leaves London around 10am and pulls into Bourg for Les Coches, or Moutiers for Reberty around 8 hours later. From there it’s a very short transfer up to resort. Take as much luggage as you want, sit back and watch a film, enjoy food on board or bring your own picnic as you watch the French countryside speed by. As availability is limited and often sells out quickly on peak weeks, an alternative is to travel to Paris, then change station and take the TGV down to the Alps.

Tips for travelling with children.

Avoid Inconvenient Departure Airports.
The main advice we’d give to families is to make the journey as smooth as possible. That means don’t fly at 6am from an airport a few hours’ drive away from home. Grumpy, tired children (and adults!) don’t make for a great start to your holiday. Our holidays mean you have the flexibility to book your own flights from your local airport.

Fly into Geneva airport.
There are many airlines which fly into Geneva from all over the world. So if you are one of our many ex-pat guests, you will be able to fly with your local airline to Geneva, you don’t need to go via London.

Short transfers are good!
In normal conditions, the transfer time to Ardent is 90 minutes and to Les Coches and Reberty it’s 2.5-3 hours. Those 5 hour transfers on mountain roads in uncomfortable coaches are a thing of the past when you’re with children. Our coaches leave the airport at fixed times so neither will you be waiting hours for that delayed flight because there are guests going to your resort with no other way to get there.

Avoid airports in the mountains.
The small airport and town of Chambery is slightly nearer to Les Coches and Reberty than Geneva. However, we would recommend avoiding flying there if you can. We have had several experiences of flights being cancelled or diverted due to bad weather in the mountains. It’s not much use landing in Grenoble when your transfer vehicle is waiting in Chambery. You will then have been delayed, diverted and you’ll arrive in the chalet very late – forget your welcoming mulled wine and relaxing dinner.

Don’t take the overnight train.
The train is a great way to arrive in the Alps. The day time train service that is. There is also an overnight train which leaves London on a Friday evening, arriving in the Alps early next morning. Great you think, that gives us an extra ski day. But you may not realise that there are no sleepers on the train, just reclining seats so it’s very hard to sleep properly. You’ll arrive in Bourg or Moutiers around 6am and I’m afraid that much as we love welcoming our guests, we can’t arrange for our staff to come and meet you that early. And if you manage to get a taxi up to resort, you’ll probably find the previous week’s guests either having breakfast or possibly still in bed! So you will need to kill a few hours with your tired family, then when the lifts open do any of you really feel like skiing? Our staff are all busy on changeover day so we can’t offer childcare, meaning that your children will either have to ski with you, or hang around until the chalet is ready.

Getting to your destination is rarely the best part of your ski holiday, but we help to make it as painless as possible. And for the children it’s all part of the fun.

So, your children are nagging you to take them on a skiing holiday or perhaps you think it’s about time you got your family on the slopes.  Your first thought is, “Are the kids old enough to ski?”.  You ask Google the question (other search engines are available!) and there are quite a few comments on the subject.  Here are our thoughts on the topic and it’s a system that has worked well for us so far!

Some ski schools/tour operators will take children from when they have just turned 3 years old but we recommend they need to be at least 4-5 years old, and here’s why:

It’s physical!

Think back to when you’ve pushed your body doing a new gym class and how you feel afterwards, it’s tough.  Now imagine your little one  on the slopes for the first time, stuck in those weird things called boots and skis and scraping themselves off the snow, a lot!  It’s tiring and  can seem relentless.  They will ski for 2-2.5 hours for 6 mornings and will mostly be based in the jardin area which is for total beginners.  

 A child aged 4 seems to cope much better with the physical demands of learning to ski far better than one who is younger.  Those extra couple of months in age really do make a difference – for your child, the instructor and you!

13 (2)

It’s taxing on the brain too!

By the age of 4-5, children have a far better attention span.  They have probably been part of a reception/pre-school/nursery/playgroup setting and can therefore take instructions without having a total meltdown (well most of the time!). If they are not used to this environment, which some 3 year olds aren’t, then being left at ski school on the first morning without their parents can be very unsettling.  It can also mean that parents have to abandon a morning of skiing to collect said child, oh dear!.

Top tip – we do not recommend that you hang around once you have dropped your child off at ski school (in Les Coches, we take your children to ski school for you, lovely!).  You will be a sitting duck if your child suddenly decides he would rather stay with you for the day.  Drop off and ski off, say no more!

Our childcare clubs are expertly designed…

Our childcare clubs have been created to cater for children of all ages, whether they are of skiing age or not.  We have the following clubs (children in the latter two clubs will be skiing):

Powder Pups for children aged 3 months upto 4 years

Powder Hounds for those aged 4-6, and

Adventurers for 7 years plus

The 4-6 year olds in Powder Hounds will ski for 6 mornings, return to one of our chalets for a hot lunch and have fun activities  in the afternoons, and the activity list is endless!  They don’t ski in the afternoons as we want them to make it to the end of the  week, whereas those in Adventurers ski for a further 3 afternoons, they can handle it!

3 year olds can ski too…

Some children are ready to ski a couple of months earlier than our recommended starting age and for them we offer our Powder Pups Plus club, which is for children aged 3 years 9 months up to 4 years old.  If your child is in this age bracket and you think they will be able to ski for 6 mornings and have already been part of a nursery/playgroup setting then they are eligible.  There is a premium to pay but many parents think it’s well worth it.

In short, your child would be a Powder Hound for the week, and would ski, eat and play with the other Hounds. However, if the ski instructor thinks your child has tried skiing but is not ready yet, or your child is simply not enjoying it, then there is a guaranteed place back in the Powder Pups den.  It gives you the reassurance that if your child isn’t ready then they will be well looked after in Powder Pups and they will be perfectly happy enjoying our activities, perhaps they’ll be roaring………..  

We do not recommend that children under 4 years learn to ski, for all of the above reasons!  Our experience has shown that they are more happy playing in the snow rather than trying to ski on it.  Dare we say it, but some parents do get rather excited at the prospect of their young child learning to ski, just remember that they are young and if you are in any doubt, leave it a season.  

You’ll love our Ski School Helpers…

We are really proud of our Ski School Helpers, they are an essential part of your holiday experience and our Family Ski Company team.  They are there to help the beginner skiers and are predominantly based in the jardin area and we are the only company where this is allowed.  They act as a helping pair of hands for your little one – picking them up off the snow, brushing them off and will take them off for a hot chocolate if they’ve had a wobble. They are also there to encourage, so you will often see a Ski School Helper clapping, dancing and jumping around, it’s all part of the job description!  For parents, they will also give you feedback from the ski instructor.

A beginner can be older too!

We also have beginners in our Adventurers club too (aged 7 years plus), but as you can imagine, generally, their speed of learning is far quicker than a 4-5 year old.

Of course, there are adult learners too, but that’s for another article for another day…!

And finally, leave the teaching to the professionals!

If you’ve skied before it’s easy to think that you can pass on your skills to your child but we strongly suggest you stay clear!!!  As well as passing on bad habits and advice, keeping the family in a positive frame of mind is paramount. As much as it may squash your idyllic idea of teaching your child to ski, let a qualified instructor take charge, they are qualified for a reason.  There will be no family arguments, leaving you ending your holiday on the proverbial high rather than one that has hit rock bottom.

Our childcare clubs are the ethos of our company and we have built a great relationship with the ESF in all 3 resorts, meaning your child will get a great English-speaking instructor who in turn knows of the high standards we expect.  


Let me tell you about my first skiing experience, not a happy one, in the hope that you can avoid some of the pitfalls I fell into head first!

It was my husband’s suggestion “Why don’t we take the kids skiing, they’re a great age to learn and you’re quite sporty, you’ll soon get the hang of it”. It sounded great, all I knew about skiing was picked up from my sister who’d been on a ski trip at the age of 14. She’d had a fabulous time and regaled me with tales of fun on the mountain and a good looking Ski Instructor who’d handed around a hip flask whenever they’d stopped for a break. It all sounded fantastic, what could possibly go wrong?

We booked into a lovely Chalet in St Anton which we’d be sharing with other guests. We arranged childcare for the children which included morning lessons and afternoon activities back in the chalet. My husband and I would be footloose and fancy free until 4.30pm everyday. Preparations went well, the children got some nice skiwear from Father Christmas and I begged and borrowed equipment from friends including some ski boots from a kindly neighbour.

The holiday date came round and we got up at 2am in the morning to get to Gatwick (our Tour Operator only offered Gatwick and Manchester flights) for our 6 am flight to Innsbruck. All went smoothly and we arrived in Innsbruck on time only to find the Manchester flight was delayed and we’d have to wait for a couple of hours for the coach to depart. We eventually arrived at our Chalet late in the afternoon (me covered in the vomit of a travel sick child! Not even my child’s vomit but that’s another story!) and had to rush out to to sort out equipment for the children, not easy when they were tired and grumpy after such an early start. We managed to get some food into them and settled them in bed and then enjoyed a hearty meal with fellow guests and collapsed into bed.

Our first morning of skiing came, we were up early, just as well. It took us ages to get the kids ready with gloves, helmets, sunglasses etc. At last we were ready to go and asked for directions to the ski school where we were to drop off the children for their lessons. The host informed us that it was an easy 10 minute walk. That didn’t sound too bad until I realised that I’d be carrying my skis and the poles for the rest of the family with my husband shouldering his own and the children’s skis! It didn’t help that we had to walk down the side of a busy road on icy pavements with me wearing ski boots for the first time. The inevitable happened and I fell over in front of a group of people waiting for a bus, much to their amusement. We got to the ski school meeting point and handed over the kids who seemed to have coped with the walk and were raring to go.

Time for me to learn to ski! “You don’t need lessons” said my lovely husband “I can teach you!”. After lots of grunting and stamping I eventually managed to get my skis on and travelled up a little magic carpet up to the top of the nursery slope and managed a fairly dignified descent down a very gentle piste without any embarrassing tumbles. After several trips up and down the nursery slope without incident my husband deemed that I was ready for a chairlift and a “lovely green” run. Green runs he assured me were very,very easy and I’d have no trouble with it at all. I managed to get on the chairlift without a problem, it was a different matter getting off! I ended up on the floor under the lift which the (very grumpy) Lift Operator had to stop, snow down my salopettes and helmet sitting on my head at a very jaunty angle. Again I was the cause of hilarity or annoyance for other skiers, my husband muttering under his breath “just get up, how hard can it be!” rather unsympathetically.

By this stage I was exhausted, cold,wet,humiliated and my feet were hurting like hell, nobody told me that ski boots could be so uncomfortable! All I wanted to do was get back to the nursery slopes. We set off down the green run and it was easy to start with. Fluffy soft snow and a very gentle slope, I can do this I thought to myself but that feeling didn’t last! Up ahead the piste appeared  more crowded, it narrowed and got steeper and anxious looking skiers stood around with more confident types whizzing past them. “Don’t stop now, just keep going, you’ll be fine!” I heard as my husband breezed past. I froze literally and metaphorically. The slope looked horrendous to me, it was much steeper than anything I has previously tried with shiny icy looking patches here and there and bodies all over it. I inched forward gingerly but started gathering speed at an alarming rate heading directly for a tree. The only way to stop was to Falling Skierfall over.

I stood up and had another go and repeated the cycle several times getting more and more wet, cold and bruised. Robert (my not so lovely husband) was 50m below yelling at me to get a move on, bend my knees and keep my skis together. I tried, I really did, but I could not pluck up the courage to launch myself off the top of what might as well have been Mount Everest! I was aware of advice being bellowed at me from further down the slope but I was in no mood to listen, it was all I could do to stop myself responding with obscenities. In floods of tears I eventually managed to take off my skis vowing I would never put a pair on again and walked all the way back down to the nursery slopes cursing Robert between sobs. I was cold and wet and wanted to get back to the chalet for a relaxing bath or dip in the hot-tub. I stomped back to our accommodation took off my boots to reveal blistered feet and a squashed little toe. I’d forgotten that the children would be back in the chalet enjoying their activities, no chance of a bath and a nap for me. They wanted to tell me about their morning skiing and join in their exciting games.

Things improved after that, after much coaxing and cajoling I had some proper lessons with a qualified instructor wearing boots that were a proper fit and clothes that kept me dry and warm. We’ve had several wonderful family skiing holidays since and I even tackle the odd Black run. Now I’d choose a skiing holiday above a sun holiday every time. If you want to avoid an experience like mine just take heed of the following rules!

  • Choose your resort carefully, one which is only a short transfer from the airport with lots of easy runs for children and beginners is ideal.
  • Select convenient flights so you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn, you need to arrive in resort with lots of energy.
  • Get fit before your holiday, it will make learning to ski easier.
  • Pick a chalet close to the piste, avoid walking far in ski boots carrying skis, you really do NOT want to have to get on a bus to get to the ski area particularly with children in tow.
  • Go for a catered chalet, hotels are often too formal for children and after a day on the slopes you really don’t want to start cooking supper!
  • Get boots that fit well, hire them in resort and get them properly fitted. If you take to skiing you can buy a pair of your own, it’s a great investment.
  • Get proper skiwear, there’s nothing wrong with borrowing it but it must fit and keep you dry and warm.
  • Take 2 pairs of proper Ski gloves for each member of the family just in case you loose a pair or one pair is too wet to wear.
  • Consider taking your holiday later in the season when it’s likely to be warmer.
  • Choose a  holiday company that has dedicated creches and doesn’t provide childcare in your chalet so that you can sneak back to the chalet for “me time” and enjoy a soak in the hot tub without little people trying to climb in with you.
  • Take the family to a Snow Dome or Dry Ski slope and have a go. At the very least you’ll get used to wearing boots and skis and, who knows, you may even learn how to stop!
  • MY TOP TIP – NEVER, EVER,EVER let a husband/partner teach you to ski, it may ruin a beautiful relationship! Get professional help, book some lessons with a qualified instructor!

 The original article can be read below or on the Telegraphs website by Henry Druce

“Take a video, Daddy, take a video,” says my excitable daughter as she slides down a gentle blue run in the Alps.
Of course I oblige. This is a moment I’ve been looking forward to ever since Zoe was born, doing a ski run together for the very first time. It’s a moment her proud father is keen to capture for posterity.

We’re enjoying uncrowded well-groomed slopes above Les Menuires, France, on a warm sunny day in mid March, following heavy snowfalls the previous week. In short, conditions are perfect, especially handy when wanting to persuade your offspring to love wintersports as much as you do.

It’s the fourth day of our week-long holiday, and clearly the morning lessons Zoe, four, has been having with the Ecole du Ski Français (ESF) are paying off. She follows me down the gentle blue Paturages run just a few feet behind, sometimes holding on to one of my poles for support, sometimes skiing into me when her snowploughing technique fails.
At regular intervals she bellows at me to slow down or speed up. Half way down the run she tires, so I ski with her between my legs the rest of the way back to our chalet in the traditional-style village of Reberty. It’s a couple of hundred metres above the mega resort of Les Menuires and its super-sized apartment blocks.


By the end of the run we’re both tired, and relieved that Chalet Genevieve where we’re staying is only a two-minute walk from where we’ve stopped at the side of the piste.
But my overwhelming emotion is sheer joy that our first ski together is a success, without tantrums or tears – from either of us. Far from it, we’re both cheery. I babble excitedly about the experience to my wife, Vere, who is already at the chalet with our near two-year-old daughter Holly. They’re with the other guests, all eagerly drinking tea or fruit juice and tucking into generous portions of afternoon cake while enjoying panoramic views from the living room of Les Menuires’ slopes.

I did everything possible when planning our family holiday to give it the very best chance of success. With two kids under five, a working mother in need of a break, especially from cooking, this meant going for a fully-catered option in an environment where there were other families.

Cue the Family Ski Company, founded in 1993, whose raison d’être is to cater to youngsters’ and their parents’ needs.

The company runs catered chalets in three small French resorts – Reberty, Les Coches and Ardent – all with easy access to major ski areas and close to ski schools and lifts. As we were going later in the season I chose the highest, Reberty, at 2,000m, to give us the best chance of gaining good snow cover and a Disney-esque Frozen landscape to enchant our children. Also, selfishly for us parents, Reberty is well located for exploring the vast network of runs in the Trois Vallées – the world’s largest lift-linked ski area – and home to the enduringly popular resorts of Méribel, Val Thorens and Courchevel.

I also checked with the Family Ski Company to make sure there would be children of a similar age to Zoe and Holly staying in the Genevieve, which sleeps 20. I even ordered some thoroughly weather-proof onesie skiwear from Isbjörn of Sweden, specialists in winter wear for kids.

Everything was set, so what could go wrong? So, so much. It’s the inevitable answer when you add into the mix the anarchic variables of children. But, miraculously almost everything runs smoothly.

We quickly get into a daily routine. After breakfast with our fellow chalet guests, three other couples plus their six children, we drop Holly off with the enthusiastic young child care team in Genevieve’s downstairs nursery. Here, she joins toddlers from all four of the Family Ski Company’s Reberty chalets. As she’s used to going to nursery back in the UK, she easily adapts.
Once Zoe is all togged up in her ski wear, Vere and I help her put on her boots, helmet and goggles, then take her to the ESF kids’ area a few minutes’ walk away and fenced off from the rest of the piste. It needs military precision to get her to the lessons for 9am. She spends the mornings here with some 20 other children, three English-speaking instructors and Josh, a Family Ski Company rep. He’s on hand to make sure his clients’ children are happy and, if not, smooth out any problems.

For the first couple of days, Zoe and her class spend much of their time walking up a slope on skis and getting comfortable sliding down. They use snowploughs (aka pizza slices) to control their speed and start tentatively turning.

Later in the week, as Zoe’s class gains confidence and becomes more proficient, the instructors take the kids out of the enclosed area. We spy them on a couple of occasions snaking down as a group led by one of the ESF instructors, tail-gunned by another, with the children in varying degrees of control and disorder.

While Zoe is busily engaged learning to ski, Holly is thoroughly occupied by the Powder Pups nursery programme where activities include Lego building, kitchen play and games in the snow.
At lunchtime, Josh or one of the other Family Ski Company reps brings the children having lessons back to chalet Genevieve for lunch, where they join the Powder Pups. There are further organised activities for all the children in the afternoon. Zoe is in the Powder Hounds group for four to six year olds, and during the week gets to make masks, listen to stories and – a particular favourite of hers – paint in the snow.


This means the parents can ski unhindered every day of our week-long holiday, so long as we’re back for the kids’ tea at 4.30pm. It’s a tantalising prospect, and on a couple of occasions Vere and I ski together until 3.30pm, enjoying that glorious sense of freedom gained from whizzing down a sun-drenched slope, surrounded by jagged peaks with a piercing blue-sky backdrop. One day we manage to go out for lunch at a restaurant in Courchevel Moriond, at one end of the Trois Vallées area, and not mention our children once. Another day we ski to the other end of the area on the Glacier de la Pointe Renod near Val Thorens, which gives us a real sense of the vastness of the area, and satisfaction from gaining maximum value from our Trois Vallées lift passes.

However, most days we arrive back earlier, at around 2pm, wanting to spend time with our kids – and those experiences are ultimately the most rewarding, whether we’re taking them sledging, making snow castles or enjoying an après treat at a local café.

One of the things we all enjoy most is going to Les Menuires, a five-minute bus ride or 20-minute walk away from Reberty, where the Boules de Notes festival is taking place. This annual week-long celebration of music for children includes concerts, live music on the slopes and a collection of highly inventive musical instruments near the tourist office, which Zoe and Holly love playing.

Everyday the four of us are always back in the chalet for the kids’ tea at 4.30pm, and as the week progresses all the children become ever firmer friends and the meals become progressively rowdier. By 7pm we parents start getting the kids prepared for bed, giving us enough time to prepare for a slightly more civilised adult dinner at 8pm.

There are only two exceptions to the smooth running of the trip. One is Holly and Zoe’s erratic sleeping behaviour, waking up two or three times a night– I put it down to altitude and excitement. The other is Holly projectile vomiting near the start of the three and a half hour coach journey from the resort to the airport when we leave.

The more enriching and lasting memory, though, is of the final day when after Zoe’s morning lesson I take her to the highest point she’s been all week, the Col de la Chambre, at 2,850m. This overlooks Méribel and the next valley on one side of the ridge and Les Menuires on the other.

I want Zoe to experience the vastness of the mountains from this high point and enjoy the long twisting Mont de la Chambre blue run back to Reberty.

This time as she follows behind me she doesn’t need a pole for support, doesn’t ski into me and uses snowploughs to slow down and turn. It only takes her half an hour to reach the bottom, and while skiing she’s relaxed enough to burst into verses of Coming Round The Mountain. She’s improved hugely during the week and at the end of the run says, “I love skiing.” Result.

A seven-night chalet-board stay at chalet Genevieve in Reberty with the Family Ski Company starts from £559 for adults, £459 for children, including airport transfers. Six days of all-day child care clubs, inclusive of lunches, cost £309 for Powder Pups (three months to just under four years old), £329 for Powder Hounds (four to six years old) and £399 for Adventurers (from seven years old)

Here at Family Ski, we are very used to welcoming families who might have had a bad experience before coming to us, and so, from their feedback we have compiled the following tips for you.

We recommend smaller, independently owned companies that specialise in Skiing Holidays for Families. Independent companies have a personal touch; when you chat to them, ensure that the sales team really know the ski chalets and childcare clubs that they can better help you choose.

Make sure you get week-long childcare for the whole of your skiing holiday. Many companies will have a day when no childcare is provided during your holiday, this is impractical and will often fall midweek when your kids are not yet skiing confidently enough to ski with their parents.

Chalets located in family friendly villages are perfect for family holidays in the Alps. Avoid large hotels in the centre of large ski resorts, whilst these are great for other skiing occasions, they are not best suited for Family Ski Holidays.

The single most important element in your ski holiday with your children is their introduction to skiing and Ski Lessons. Ensure that the company you choose understand the importance of children learning to ski and have staff in the ski lessons with the kids. Beware of companies that simply take the children to ski school and do not stay in the lesson with the youngest and most inexperienced skiers in their lesson.

Food. Just because you have chosen a family ski company, does not mean that you can’t have a great experience too, hot tubs, fires and fantastic food are all essential elements in ensuring the entire family have a great ski holiday.