3 years, 6 months ago
It’s a strange thing, for all the ‘big fish’ tales and bar-room boasting that’s as much part of aprés-ski as schnapps and dodgy sweaters, no one, anywhere is crowing about what a brilliant job they made pulling it together and pleasing everyone on a family break. Score an off-piste triumph and you can expect at least a nod of approval from the skiing fraternity. But manage to organise a holiday where everyone is happy, no one comes home saying they never want to see snow again as long as they live and even non-skiers weren’t disappointed and that doesn’t so much as bag a free drink at the bar.
Good thing we’ve been on a family skiing trip or two ourselves and we’re more than delighted to sing the praises of anyone with the skill, patience and masterful planning to pull them off. Fortunately we’re not alone in our appreciation. Resorts all over are getting to grips with the idea that today’s nursery slope babies are tomorrow’s passionate skiers and that skiing alone doesn’t make a great value ski holiday. Our top three resorts for a family break this year are all in the Northern French Alps and all raising the standard on and off the slopes.
Saint François Longchamps
Consistently topping the list of best European resorts, Saint François Longchamps is an ideal family choice whether you’re a first timer or a confirmed French Alp addict.
Sitting between the vast magnificence of the Mont Blanc Range and the Etendart Glacier, this resort scores high for great snow and skiing conditions and is amazingly accessible – just over an hour’s drive from Grenoble Airport. Altitudes of up to 1650m come good on challenge for experienced Alpine skiers, demanding cross country skiers and extreme snowboarding types. And, for all its bright, lively atmosphere, Saint François Longchamps still holds true to the type of traditional Savoyard charm that could have the most world weary of us braiding our hair and skipping around wild flower meadows (if it wasn’t for all the snow).
From night hikes to dog sledding, trampolining, skating, climbing and just playing in the snow, Saint François Longchamps has a very inclusive attitude to children so if ever there was a place to nurture an early passion for active holidays this is it. With an excellent spa, outstanding resort style shopping and restaurants ranging from boisterous and kid-friendly to Savoyard haute cuisine, inactivity for adults is well covered too. And whether you’re travelling with one toddler or taking an entire tribe, Housetrip’s choice of accommodation in and around Saint François Longchamps is as family focused as the resort itself.
Tignes is and always has been all about just having a great time whether you’re skiing the 300m plus slopes, relaxing and enjoying the views from the spa or drying out and telling tall tales in the resort bars and restaurants. It prides itself on being Europe’s first resort to open and last to close and does great skiing conditions and reliable snow as standard. If you’re travelling with older children or teens, Tignes is the place to stake your claim to some parental cool because everything that goes down on the slopes during the day is well matched by pretty relentless activity at night all season long. Younger children aren’t left out either. Tignes’ nursery slopes attract excellent instructors and are some of the best and safest in Europe and a well organised kids’ activity programme runs from early winter to spring. Keen skiers have the Grand Motte glacier and sensational Espace Killy Tignes to keep them occupied. Non-skiers can indulge in the cutesy Alpine prettiness of the famously well planned Tignes ‘town’. And this is the Savoy area of the Northern French Alps so, in the unlikely event that you tire of Tignes, there’s always somewhere else to explore instead.
Val d’Isère is probably the best known resort in the Northern French Alps and shares the same enormous ski space as its nearest neighbour Tignes. Part of the resort’s popularity is down to the extreme prettiness of the town which shook itself up for the 1992 Winter Olympics and hasn’t looked back since. So even if you aren’t lured by the undeniable attraction of long, unbroken skiing (most of the Tignes/Val d’Isère’ slopes are naturally linked) Val d’Isère is an irresistible resort just to enjoy sheer Alpine charm and some of the region’s best restaurants.