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OUR TIPS FOR FAMILY SKIING - Ian Davis, Alpe d'Huez, France
Tuesday March 19, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

Let's be honest it can be heaven or hell. Ian Davis advises on how to make it the former as he holidays with his kids and 2 other families.

Skiing is still a sacred trip for the family in our household

This year we chose Alpe d'Huez in the southern French Alps.

Read on to get some top tips to make sure your family trip is a success and you can enjoy multi-generation winter holidays into the future.

Family fun in FranceFamily fun in France
















Choosing the right resort

Let's face it most resorts have a pretty reasonable selection of terrain, if you are a ‘mileage muncher' go big but take into account that if you are popping back to pick up from ski schools you will be restricted on how far you can spread your wings.

If you are a family looking to learn you could look at smaller resorts with less skiing as you will be concentrating on improving your skills and smaller resorts can work out better value.

This year we chose to go to Alpe D Huez, it's a real favourite, plenty of slopes to choose from, the layout of the pistes allow you to head off on short adventures but still get back to the main area to meet those who had ski school or just to meet up with other families for lunch.

Our group was made up of 3 families and a couple.

14 people with mixed levels of ability, enthusiasm, age, skiers and boarders.

Alpe D Huez worked really well, the front slopes offer something for intermediates to build confidence, they can make their way to the Berger area for lunch so everyone feels like they have been on a journey and are not restricted to a small collection of slopes.

There is also plenty to do off the slopes, the Ice rink and swimming pool are centrally located and included within the price of some lift tickets.

If its your first time I recommend choosing a resort with a pool and other leisure facilities so you can spread your time between skiing and other snowy adventures such as sledging, snow mobiles, swimming and ice skating.

Choose the accommodation to suit

Chalets are a great option, maybe pair up with another family to take a chalet for your sole use, chalet hosts will cater for you, they all have a lounge to relax in and enjoy apres ski.

You will need to book early and have a reasonably large budget to travel during school holidays though.

Hotels, try to search out hotels with family or interconnecting rooms they are a great solution but in limited supply so again book early but be aware kids that are in a separate room to you may not qualify for a child discount so best value is a family room.

Self-catering, offers maximum value and flexibility, you are not restricted by meal times, you can set your own agenda, but the flip side of that is you need sort your food.

My family trips are normally self catering it suits our style, we are usually late risers and take our time getting onto the slopes normally getting our first lift around 10.30, we eat out at lunch and get takeaway pizzas or a precooked chicken for dinner.

Apartment quality has improved of the years with most offering a good level of accommodation and facilities, always useful to opt for somewhere that has a restaurant as you can pop down and order take away pizzas or some offer BB or HB packages to book with your apartment.

We stayed at the Pierre & Vacances Villages Résidence Les Bergers in Alpe D Huez, only a short walk from the slopes.

The inhouse restaurant served traditional alpine dishes and pizza, you could also order fresh bread or croissants for breakfast, it also has an outdoor pool which is great to have a predinner dip.

Apartments give you space to hang out in the evenings, you don't have to ‘dress for dinner' and evening are spent recalling the days exploits sat around in your thermals.

Family fun in FranceFamily fun in France
















Getting there

If you book early you can make the most of lower cost flying but the airlines are wise to the peak dates and there are less and less bargains.

It is still hard to beat the value offered by tour operators if you want to secure your package early choosing a chalet or hotel specific to your family requirements.

Driving can work out a good option, book your crossing early to get the best prices and make sure you look out for early booking offers on accommodations.

Don't forget to include in the price of driving those little extras such as stop offs on route and in resort parking, most resorts now limit road side parking and charge for covered parking which can be 60 to 90 euros for a week, you will also need snow chains which can be rented or purchased for around £50.


Group lessons or privates?

As with everything else if it is a peak week book early, take recommendations from friends on ski schools and instructors.

Group lessons are a great way to learn in a social environment, if you are an improver or advanced skier look to book some private lessons, it is a great way to get some key pointers for improving your technique.

On our recent trip we booked a British Instructor through the ESF for 2 hours a day, he was used by different people each day, keeping him busy with a blend of intermediates looking to build confidence, off piste snowboarding and GCSE filming for PE course work.

It's a great solution and making use of an early lunch time slot from 1100 until 1300 made great use of quieter slopes and you don't have to rush out early in the morning.

Skis and boot rental

Rental kit is so good and ski carriage can be pricey with the airlines, renting allows you to choose skis suitable for your ability.

If you are a more advanced rider you can try the latest models.

If you book a rental package with Intersport you can swap and choose a different pair of skis each day to suit the conditions.

I would always recommend purchasing some boots if you think you are going to be a regular skier or boarder as it ensures a little more comfort.

Lift passes

Book, book, book.

The last thing you want to be doing on your arrival day is joining a long line for a lift pass.

Pre book it with your tour operator or directly on the ski areas website, most offer to deliver it to your hotel or can post it to your home address so you are ready to go with less ‘faffing' on arrival.

You can also ensure you make the most of any family deal tickets.

Top tips for a family ski trip

• Book early to get your preferred choice of accommodation and resort, pre - book all your extras such as ski rental, lift tickets.

• Lessons pre-book - look at group lessons but also consider a private instructor for a couple of hours a day who can spend time with different members of your family.

• Utilise lockers at the base station so you don't have to carry our skis back and forth

• If you are driving get your crossing and enroute hotel booked early to get the best prices, when I drive I stop overnight on the way but then drive back in one during the day.

• Do the maths on booking half board versus apartments, you have the extra costs of eating out while self-catering so take into account half board maybe a greater upfront costs but can add up to be better value.

• Don't follow the crowd, at peak times look for lesser known resorts, on the slopes try to avoid the main lifts and thorough fairs to keep away from the crowds.

Family fun in FranceFamily fun in France
















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We stayed at the Pierre & Vacances Villages Résidence Les Bergers.

Accommodation sample price:

Save 20% on ski breaks at Résidence Les Bergers in Alpe-d'Huez with Pierre & Vacances

A seven-night self-catered stay at Residence Les Bergers, in an apartment that sleeps two people, arriving 30 March 2019, is priced from £409 per apartment / £205pp (was £511 per apartment, saving 20%). Flights and transfers extra.

See here for details of special offers and deals with Pierre & Vacances.

Résidence Les Bergers, Alpe d'Huez, FranceRésidence Les Bergers, Alpe d'Huez, France















The 4-star Les Bergers residence is located in the beautiful ski area of Alpe d'Huez, where you can take advantage of exceptional snow conditions.

This Family Plus-certified holiday village is nestled in a spot that was once mountain pasture and is famous for the fantastic peaks of the Oisans mountain range.

Its wooden façades and balconies conceal cosy retreats that you'll be glad to come back to after a great day on the slopes.

Savour a hot chocolate while admiring the view of the valley or the Les Ecrins mountains or spend quality time with your loved ones at La Fondue restaurant for quality dining with the freshest of ingredients.

Ski Information

Alpe d'Huez Grand Domaine Ski Pass Lift pass:

  • A six-day adult lift pass is priced from 272€ (£236)
  • A six-day child lift pass is priced from 215€ (£187)

Ski hire

We hired with Intersport.

Its 2019 range of skis includes the award-winning Rossignol Sky 7s, Black Crows Daemons, Atomic Punx twin-tipped park skis, a full backcountry touring package.

Plus there's the amazing Nitro Q Snowboard series (for those who want to try the latest retro shapes).

Customers are free to swap and change the skis as many times as they like during the hire period so as to take advantage of any changing snow conditions during their holiday.

Prices vary but average at around €8 per day, with Intersport bi-weekly discount codes being released via facebook.

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