Taking a young family on a skiing holiday can be a daunting prospect, and invariably involves an element of compromise. However, the right choice of resort can keep stress levels to a minimum and ensure that each member of the family has a holiday to remember, for all the right reasons!
Most ski resorts in France are set up to cater to families with children, but certain ones stand head and shoulders above the rest in terms of their suitability for families and the facilities on offer. Here’s our pick of the top five family friendly ski resorts in France…
Avoriaz was voted ‘Best Family Resort’ in the 2012 World Snow Awards, and with good reason. The entire resort is set up with children in mind, from its layout to the facilities and entertainment on offer.
La Falaise and the centre of Avoriaz.
For starters, the resort is entirely pedestrianised, bar horse drawn sleighs and electric carts, making it a safe and tranquil environment for families. It’s also completely ski in/ski out, which makes getting your little ones on and off the slopes as easy as possible.
But it’s not just the resort’s layout that makes it such a perfect family destination. Avoriaz also offers a fantastic range of family friendly facilities, both on and off the slopes.
The ski school is superb, most notably ‘Le Village des Enfants’, which offers a wide range of ski school and child care options for children and youths aged between 3 and 16 (http://www.avoriaz.com/ski-holidays/Village-des-Enfants-Village-Snowboard.php). On snow facilities include a range of snow parks to suit children of all ages and abilities, and a huge après ski snow playground.
Younger children are well catered for in Les P’tits Loups nursery (http://www.avoriaz.com/ski-holidays/nursery.php), which offers excellent childcare for babies and children aged from 3 months to five years.
Les P’tits Loups nursery, Avoriaz
The massive Aquariaz aquatic and leisure complex is a superb facility, which is great fun for all the family. With different pools, numerous water features, a river, water slides, climbing wall, bubble massage seats, and an outdoor heated hot tub, it’s guaranteed to keep everyone happy.
Avoriaz is principally made up of self-catered apartments varying from really good value 2 and 3 star apartments to luxury 4 star apartments with stunning spa facilities. And the best thing is that pretty much every residence in Avoriaz is Ski-in/Ski-out! You can the range of accommodation in Avoriaz here - Accommodation in Avoriaz >>
Les Arcs is another fantastic resort for families. There are childcare centres in each of the four villages (Arc 1600, 1800, 1950 and 2000) and dedicated ski and sledging areas for kids located throughout the resort.
The centre of Les Arcs 1950
However, it’s Les Arc 1950 which takes the crown for being the most family friendly of all the villages. This relatively new development was built by Intrawest, the company behind the acclaimed family resorts of Whistler and Tremblant in Canada, employing the same winning formula that was used with its sister resorts. The North American influence is apparent, with large, spacious apartments; pools, leisure facilities and hot tubs in each apartment block; and daily après ski activities in village square, for both adults and children. Restaurants and bars are also extremely family friendly, with options to keep everyone happy. The entire village is also ski in/ski out, so you can get the entire family on and off the slopes with minimal fuss.
Les Arcs also has a fantastic choice of ski schools, including the British run New Generation, which operates out of Vallandry.
Another great draw for families is the fact that Les Arcs is served by a direct Eurostar train from London St Pancras. The eight hour journey is infinitely easier and less stressful that negotiating air travel with a young family, and doesn’t take much longer, door to door. The train arrives in Bourg St Maurice and from there you just have to hop on the funicular train up to the resort.
Les Arcs is principally made up of self-catered apartments but there are a few great hotels too. You can check out a full range of accommodation in Avoriaz here – Accommodation in Les Arcs >>
Val d’Isere also caters extremely well to families. As a large resort, there are loads of great facilities and a fantastic choice of family friendly amenities. The resort is also set up extremely well for families, with a pedestrianised village centre and centralised mountain base, which means everything is within easy reach.
The centre of Val d'Isere
Childcare facilities are plentiful and of an extremely high standard. The Children’s Holiday Village is the biggest and takes children from the ages of 18 months to 13 years for half day or full day slots, either with or without lunch. Another option is the Petit Pouset nursery, which takes children from the age of three, and offers fully flexible hours. Children can also be collected from your accommodation or ski school, and dropped off afterwards to make things even easier.
There is also a large network of nannies and babysitters operating in Val d’Isere, details of which can be obtained from the tourist office. Another option is British run company, Jelly and Ice Cream (http://www.jellyandice-cream.com), which offers private nannies and babysitting.
Ski school options are also excellent, with a great many to chose from. We particularly recommend British run, Progression Ski (http://www.progressionski.com).
Val d’Isere has a fantastic range of facilities to suit the whole family, even non-skiers. These include a massive aqua leisure complex, spa and wellness centre, ice skating rink, cinema, sledging area and superb shopping and dining options.
Val d'Isere is full of fantastic hotels, famed for their great food and fantastic spa facilities. There are also some great apartments in the centre of town for those of you that would prefer to self-cater. For a full range of accommodation in Val d'Isere, go to our Val d'Isere Accommodation page.
Les Menuires in The Three Valleys is another excellent choice for families and it invests a lot in maintaining its reputation as a family friendly resort. It has held ‘Family Plus Mountain’ status for many years and easily surpasses the criteria required to achieve it.
The Bruyeres area of les Menuires
Part of this is a commitment to providing special deals on lift passes for families, which offer significant savings.
The tourist office issues a special booklet for families containing information on facilities, services and activities for children and families.
Ski school is excellent and takes children from as young as two-and-a-half years old, in dedicated children’s beginner zones. The resort also caters just as well for adult learners and there are free magic carpets and learners’ drag lift on the beginners’ slopes, where you can hone your skills without having to shell out for a lift pass. The resort has also invested in fitting special child safety bars to the main chairlifts used by children.
Off the snow childcare is equally good. Le Piou Piou nursery takes children aged from three months to six years and operates very flexible programmes, which can combine on and off snow activities.
Outwith ski school, there are loads of on-snow activities available to further enhance kids’ enjoyment on the slopes. Walibi Gliss is a kids’ fun park with a mini slalom, boarder cross and musical zone. Roc ‘n’ Bob is a four kilometer long toboggan run, which is great fun for all the family. And younger kids will love the snow castle slide at La Croisette.
Off the slopes, activities include a fun park and trampolines in the sport centre; swimming pool and spa; cinema; and a range of shows for kids.
Les Gets is also frequently rated among the best family resorts in the Alps. This former farming village in the heart of the expansive Portes de Soleil ski area is a far cry from the many purpose built resorts that can be found elsewhere in the Alps. The village still retains its traditional charm and the laid back atmosphere lends itself perfectly to a family ski holiday.
Les Gets ski resort
Les Gets has always placed a strong emphasis on being family friendly and this is evident throughout resort. The number of families who return year after year is also testament to this.
One of the biggest attractions for kids is the “Grand Cry” American Indian themed village, which has a mini boarder cross course for kids, totem poles, tipis, and even a face painting workshop.
Another great on-snow activity is the Mauve Piste, which is a kids’ ski run and nature trail in one.
There’s also a great programme of activities for kids off the slopes which includes an, ever popular, chocolate making workshop.
Childcare and ski school options are also excellent, and there is even an entire ski school dedicated to children, L’Ile des Enfants (http://www.iledesenfants.com). For non-ski childcare there is Les Fripouilles nursery, which takes children aged from six months to four years, and for kids aged four to twelve years there’s the P’tits Montagnys nursery.
The town of Les Gets is stunning and we have some lovely 4 star apartments with a fantastic spa as well as a great value hotel there. For more information on the accommodation that’s available in Les Get go to our Les Gets Accommodation page.
Have we missed anything here? Are there any other resorts you know of that are particularly family friendly? We’d love to hear your thoughts.