Although there’s been little fresh snow in France over the Christmas week, the first of the country’s ski areas have passed the two-metre-snow depth mark for the first time this winter, led by Isola 2000 in the southern Alps which has more than 2.1m (seven feet) of snow on its slopes. However the biggest snowfall of the past seven days has been at St Gervais, close to Chamonix and Megeve near Mont Blanc, which has had 40cm of snow over the Christmas period. A return to colder weather and fresh snow is expected over the New Years’ weekend.

This ‘quieter’ weather has been largely welcomed by skiers in resort, or trying to get to or from them as conditions are much more ‘normal’ making it easier to travel to the slopes and enjoy the snow once you reach them.

It won’t be quite as quiet a week on the slopes as usual for the first week of January however. After the festive excess of New Year, next week is proving a popular choice for British families who are seeking to take advantage of the fact that prices traditionally drop by 50% on the previous peak week and that with the New Year bank holidays extending in to the week, many schools don’t go back until the later-than-usual January 5th, or for many Scottish schools not until January 10th. This means family holidays can be taken for less money and without cutting in to school time at all, or at most only three days.

And let’s face it, who would want to be in Blighty anyway when one of the grimmest weeks of the calendar anyway has the added gloom of the VAT rise this year?!

One place working hard for families this winter is Méribel which has introduced new ski school, ski areas and ski passes especially for kids.

The new Mini Pass is an area dedicated to both child and adult beginners. It is made of two different zones across several easy slopes and protected from high speed skiers and boarders. It includes two chairlifts equipped with the revolutionary Magnestick system which ensure that children wearing a magnetic bib are ‘stuck’ to the chairlift by magnetism and so held in complete safety throughout their ascent with the magnetic force automatically released at the top.

The bibs required to use the system are on sale and for rent in most sport shops in Méribel and can be used in any resorts equipped with the system.

Also new for kids at the resort is the Zen area at the Doron in the heart of Méribel Mottaret. This area has been completely modified by replacing an old draglift with an easy to use magic carpet lift with the aim of creating an area completely closed and safe where young children can learn to ski.

There are also new children’s ski school courses with Snow System ski school (www.snow-system.com) which are especially designed for children and offered for a half or full day, with or without lunch cover.

Posted by Patrick Thorne on Friday 31 Dec 2010

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