Category: Ski Page 1 of 2

Starting Young On Skis

Start skiing early enough and the benefits will remain with you for life. That’s one theory which makes perfect sense, so when our granddaughter turned three years old ahead of another ski season, we wanted to give her the kind of start on snow we never had. Like families everywhere, we then began pondering which resort to choose for a ski break to satisfy both her and the adults in our party, who were already seasoned skiers.

ESF children’s Piou Piou Club at Les Eucherts, La Rosière

France offers a mind-blowing choice of mountain resorts, whose ESF (Ecole du Ski Français) instructors are adept at welcoming raw beginners from across the globe and getting them off to a confident start on skis. Here and there, though, some teams and facilities had particularly impressed us, and not necessarily in big-name resorts. When we began to factor-in considerations like transfers from budget flights, dependable snow conditions and proximity of self-catering accommodation to debutante areas we opted for La Rosière. It’s a medium-sized, family-friendly resort with extensive cross-border skiing for the adults and the prospect of returning clinched it.

Toddlers learn to snow plough on skis at the ESF Piou Piou Club in Les Eucherts

As our trip would take in more than one resort rail travel wasn’t an option for us, so we drove across France to La Rosière while 3 year-old Edie and her parents flew from the UK into Chambéry airport and hired a car for the transfers. Both journeys went smoothly and our self-catering apartment at CGH Les Cimes Blanches was as spacious and well-equipped as expected. It also has an on-site SkiSet rental shop, whose staff knew exactly what Edie would need for the ESF La Rosière Piou-Piou Club.

Having mastered some basic skills the young skiers proudly receive their ESF certificate and badge.

We’d booked her into six days of morning sessions, and on Day One joined the other families arriving with their own youngest members. After an upbeat, smiley welcome and handing them over to the team of instructors we were asked to head somewhere  out of sight, so as not to be a distraction from what was planned for the session. We got that, and so did the kids, who simply trotted  off to meet their new friends.

Of course, “out of sight” didn’t stop us sneaking an occasional peep at how things were going between our own runs on the mountain, and while riding the nearby Roches Noires chairlift. The kids, though, weren’t in the slightest bit interested in what might be happening outside the dedicated Piou-Piou area – to them it was just a fun playgroup with added snow.

Reassured, we then spent each morning skiing further afield before returning to collect a hungry Edie and have lunch together back at the apartment. As for the afternoons, at first we just played around in the snow, but as Edie gained confidence on skis we were able to venture onto a nursery slope together.

Toddler in ski gear, La Rosière, French Alps

Free learner slopes and a play area make the most of the sunny aspect of La Rosière and provide fun activities for the whole family.

For the confirmed skiers it was a fun week, and for Edie and her fellow Piou-Pious it was a turning point. At the end of the final morning session  each new skier was awarded an ESF certificate and a medal as proof of her ability to move around on skis and descend a gentle slope unaided. It also means that next time she’ll be able to join an Oursons (Little Bears) group to learn to ski gentle green pistes and make mini-slalom turns. After that she can progress through another five levels if she wishes, and out-ski us all.

We stayed with Alpine specialists Peak Retreats at 4-star Les Cimes Blanches in Les Eucherts area of La Rosière. 7 nights self-catered accommodation includes return Eurotunnel crossing with a free upgrade to Flexiplus on most dates. Accommodation only packages available. Ski equipment, lift passes and transfers also bookable. Holidays are fully ABTA bonded.

Toddler in ski gear, La Rosière, French Alps

Ski Clothing for Children

Four packing tips for your child’s first ski holiday

Promotional Feature

Skiing holidays are great fun for the whole family, but if you’re taking your child for the first time, knowing what to pack for them will be incredibly important. Here, Steve Cochrane, Managing Director at Childrenswardrobe shares his top four packing tips for your child’s first ski holiday.

1.5 million UK residents go on at least one ski holiday per year

Skiing holidays are among some of the most popular holiday types, with reports revealing that 1.5 million Brits flock to ski resorts at least once a year (LHM Marketing). Along with learning a new skill, there’s a great opportunity for the whole family to get in some exercise and be out in the fresh air. Check out our feature on Ski Holidays with Kids to help you make the most of your family holiday.

Keeping your child happy with the right gear

Once you’ve booked your holiday, it’ll be time to get everybody’s ski gear. And, when you’re taking your child for the first time, it’ll be very important that you pack the correct things for them. Here, I will be sharing my packing tips for your child’s first ski holiday.

Buy their ski gear in off-peak seasons

Children grow incredibly quickly, and while you’ll want to invest in reliable gear for them, you have to be prepared for them to outgrow these things pretty quickly — especially if they’re particularly young. So, I would advise planning ahead and buying their ski clothes during sale periods for these items. For example, try shopping the after-Christmas sales in non-specialist shops as they tend to rotate their stock quicker than ski shops do.

Another hack for finding discounted ski gear is to buy it in off-peak seasons, like the summer. But, just make sure that if you’re buying in advance, you take into account how much your child can grow in the period leading up to your holiday and sizing up.

Packing Tips

 

Your child will need plenty of outfits for your trip: something to keep them nice and dry while they’re on the slopes, and clothing that they can wear on an evening for your family meals.

Although they’ll be out playing in the snow all day, it can be very warm and sunny at the top of the mountains, so it’ll be best to go with lots of thinner layers rather than thick ones. When you’re packing your little one’s case, you should make sure you have the following ski essentials:

The Ski Essentials for Children:

  • Thin thermal tops and leggings for a base layer.
  • Fleeces or sweatshirts for mid-layers.
  • A waterproof ski jacket.
  • Ski trousers (known as salopettes).
  • Plenty of thick socks.
  • Ski helmet — these can be rented if you don’t want to splash out on one.
  • Goggles.
  • Ski gloves and glove liners.
  • Ski boots — these can also be rented.
  • Snow boots
  • Après ski outfits

As well as planning their ski outfits for the duration of your trip, you’ll also need to think of what they will need for evenings. Depending on what you plan to do, you should make sure you at least have a few pairs of smart and casual trousers, tops and comfortable shoes for them to dress in. It’ll also be worth checking whether your resort is holding a themed night, so you can pack an outfit that’ll make your kids feel part of the fun.

Choose the right materials

The clothing you choose for your child’s skiing gear should be insulated enough to keep them warm, but made from breathable fabrics that will wick away any moisture. So, make sure you’re looking for materials that have both of these properties: nylon, merino wool and polyester will all work great. For your outer layers, like your salopettes and ski jacket, these will need to be waterproof to keep your little one dry while they’re out on the slopes.

Don’t forget warm accessories

When you’re all taking a break from skiing or relaxing on an evening, you’ll need to make sure your child has enough cosy accessories to keep them warm. This should include a pair of woolly gloves, a scarf or buff to keep their neck and face warm, as well as a hat with flaps to cover their ears.

If you expect the sun will be beaming down when you visit, you’ll also need to prepare them with a pair of sunglasses to shield their eyes from the UV rays and some high SPF sun cream to prevent your little one from being burnt.

Your child’s first skiing holiday will be one to remember, so make sure you get them prepared for the fun times ahead with my top four packing tips.

Skiers looking at mountain scenery above Les Gets, French Alps

Why Spring is the Best Time to Learn to Ski

Springtime in the mountains and the ski slopes beckon those who want to make the most of the snow before it melts. But learners can benefit from starting to ski in the spring and we’re going to tell you why.

Skiers relax in the spring sunshine at the Roches Noires skilift, La Rosière, French Alps

  • The snow

The conditions in spring are usually ideal for learners. The snow is soft and generally easier to ski than in mid-winter when the slopes can be hard and therefore, faster. And if you should fall, then you’re likely to have a softer landing.

  • Fewer people

The most popular time to ski in France is traditionally around Christmas and New Year, then the half-term school holidays in February. In springtime, such as at Easter or outside of the main school holidays, there are generally fewer people on the pistes. Learners can start to ski in safety, without having to look out for other skiers.

  • The psychological barrier

Sometimes the main barrier when starting to ski, especially for adults, is psychological – you’re afraid! Ski resorts have therefore opened more and more safe, fun spaces where learners are well looked after. These areas are often at altitude so there’s no problem with lack of snow as the ski season draws to a close.

  • The price

By level or by sector, there is almost certainly a skipass that will suit you. This year is a particularly good time to make the most of the Skiing into Spring special offer by France Montagnes at many French ski resorts. For every ski package purchased, you can get an adult beginner package completely free*.

  • The diversity

On those long, stress-free days of spring, make the most of the sunshine and relax! Two hours of skiing now and then, taking part in other activities alongside, then a pause on a café terrace….there’s no pressure. Learners can please themselves – ski at your own pace and it becomes a pleasure.

  • Freedom

In springtime when the sun’s rays are warmer and days are longer, there’s no need to wrap up like Michelin man! Learners will be more comfortable and relaxed wearing technical,  lightweight clothing. Without all those layers, feel lighter, more relaxed and ready to enjoy learning to ski.

*Skiing into Spring

To celebrate Skiing into Spring, ski resorts are offering an exclusive new deal: For every ski package purchased, no matter the age of skier, you can get a adult beginner package completely free.
This package includes ski lessons, equipment hire and the ski pass. See the list of resorts and to book http://www.skiingintospring.com/free-for-beginners

 

 

Health Benefits of Skiing

“Skiing can change lives” say experts

  • An average day skiing will see you burn three times as many calories as a normal day
  • Skiing is proven to help deal with depression
  • “Pushing limits can do wonders for self-confidence”, ski fitness expert
  • Plenty of physical and mental benefits to skiing

Skiing helps to develop valuable life skills and carries plenty of physical and mental health benefits, leading experts have said.

A brand new guide reveals the benefits of skiing extend far beyond spending a bit of time with family and friends, and can actually help shape you as a person as well as improving your physical shape.

The Health Benefits of Skiing, produced by award-nominated ski agents Ski Line, breaks down all the key benefits of a ski holiday and offers hints and tips from top instructors and fitness gurus on preparing, as well as advice on how to avoid injury for first-time skiers.

Lynn Mill, a former professional skier and current instructor at www.valdskiinstructors.com, said on behalf of Ski Line: “The lifelong skills learned just by being out in the mountain environment are priceless and many of my students have grown up to be adventurous, proactive and successful even in areas with no connection to snowsports.”

“It planted life skills for them.”

She added: “It clears the mind, allows people’s heads to get away from the everyday worries for a few hours and is really fun once you’re up and running. It also does wonders for your core and leg strength as well as your cardio system and proprioception.”

Physical benfits of skiing

Neil Maclean-Martin, a ski-fitness expert of BeFitApps, says skiing can change lives “in many positive ways.”

“The beauty, for many, is the amazing mountain environment and that it is so easy to push limits and conquer fears. The rush is hard to beat.

“Pushing limits can do wonders for self-confidence, satisfaction and helping you to set perhaps new unforeseen goals in all aspects of your life.”

Skiing is a very active sport, and an average day on the slopes will see you burn around 3,000 calories. To put that in perspective, that’s around three times as many calories as you would burn on an average working day!

Skiing helps free yourself from every day worries

Aside from potential weight loss, working out at altitude and the physical exertion of speeding down the slopes will leave you much fitter than when you started, with the lower body in particular undergoing a strenuous workout.

But the mental benefits might be the most revealing aspect, with a survey from BMC showing that not only did 99% of skiers claim to have a higher fitness level than their peers, but 93% were reported to be freed from depression.

The slopes can be an ideal place to let go of the tensions of home life and experience an adrenaline rush, while it can also help you get to know your body better.

Mental benefits of skiing

For more information on the physical and mental benefits of skiing, as well as hints and tips on how to prepare ahead of a first trip to the slopes, visit Health Benefits of Skiing, by award-nominated Ski Line.

Alpine Infusion luxury Chalet Genepi, Méribel

5 Tips for Having A Luxurious Ski Holiday Experience

A luxurious ski holiday is all about relaxing and indulging yourself. When you’re not taking part in an adrenaline pumping activity, you can be unwinding back at your lavish chalet.

A ski trip isn’t only about your time on the slopes. It’s also about getting an all-round luxury experience.

Here are 5 tips for having a luxurious ski holiday.

Alpine Infusion luxury Chalet Genepi, Méribel

Relax in the cosy lounge at Chalet Genepi, Méribel

Choose the Right Resort

To have a truly luxurious holiday, you need to stay in a beautiful resort and the French Alps are home to some of the best resorts in the world.

Stay in either Courchevel or Méribel this season if you want to experience stunning scenery with pristine snow, world class skiing and the finest hospitality around.

You can even brush shoulders with celebrities and millionaires as you ski down the various Alpine pistes. A ski holiday in The Three Valleys offers a true VIP experience and is sure to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

AlpineInfusion luxury Chalet Iamato breakfast table, Méribel, Three Valleys, French Alps

The breakfast table in Alpine Infusion’s luxury Chalet Iamato in Méribel.

Stay in A Luxury Chalet

Start your holiday right. Stay in a luxury chalet.

Your home away from home should be somewhere you can truly unwind and treat yourself. After your day on the slopes, you need a place you can come back to and spoil yourself.

Booking a luxury chalet comes with its benefits. Kitted out with a swimming pool, hot tub and – that’s right- a wine cellar, you’re sure to experience a luxury holiday. Make sure you have all your essentials to get the most out of your stay.

To live the luxurious lifestyle to the fullest, take advantage of these services available with your chalet:

  • A Nanny
  • Lift Passes included with your booking
  • A Private Ski Instructor or Guide

With these great amenities you’ll almost never want to leave your chalet, almost…

Alpine Infusion Chalet Les Sorbiers, Courchevel, Three Valleys, French Alps.

The stunning lounge with open log fire at the luxury Chalet Les Sorbiers in Courchevel 1850.

Pamper Yourself with a Spa Treatment

As exciting as an adventurous ski holiday is, it can also be physically demanding. Treat yourself to a spa treatment to get yourself back in peak condition.

We bring our spa services right to your doorstep, so you don’t need to move a muscle.

Our slope side serenity massage and facial will revitalise your weathered skin and our beanie and boots massage targets your head, shoulders, knees and toes.

Once you’re prepped and primed what you do next is up to you. Have a cosy night with your family or hit the bars. Whatever you do, you’ll feel good doing it.

Alpine Infusion's luxury Chalet Genepi pool with a view

Pamper yourself in Alpine Infusion’s luxury pool with a view in Chalet Genepi, Méribel

Have a Fine Dining Experience

Worked up an appetite? It’s time to explore your resort’s dining options.

If you opt for a catered chalet you will be waited on hand and foot. Trained chefs will cook your restaurant quality meals in a luxurious setting. You don’t need to plan a thing.

Have children? You can have delicious and healthy specially made meals planned around your schedule.

The Alps also have many renowned restaurants for you to sample. Get better acquainted with the local wine or taste a Michelin star awarded delicacy.

There’s a reason French cuisine is celebrated the world over. Try the traditional dishes to have an authentic French dining experience on your ski holiday.

Bon Appetit!

Alpine Infusion luxury Chalet Genepi's dining room, Méribel

Fine dining every evening in the luxurious dining room at Chalet Genepi, Méribel

Let Your Hair Down with Après-Ski

The French Alps are a great place to party! Once you’ve taken off your ski boots and had a relaxing massage, make sure to explore the nightlife.

Famous DJ’s regularly grace these parts and there’s always an event going on. Pop open the champagne and enjoy a high-quality musical act if you want to experience real luxury.

You don’t have to be in a club to experience the entertainment. The restaurants and bars regularly have live bands and are a great place to go with your family or friends for a calmer but equally fun evening.

Alpine Infusion offer a variety of luxury chalets in Méribel and Courchevel, perfect for an unforgettable holiday. Whether you’re with family, friends or a partner, you can be sure you’ll get the full luxury experience.

Wide overview of skiers on ridge with ski lifts and mountain background, Meribel

Skiers at Saulire, the heart of the vast Three Valleys ski area in the French Alps.

Two skiers on cruising piste at Vars, French Alps

Time to ski the southern French Alps?

Lone skier on wide tree-lined piste in Les Orres

There’s a good reason why virtually all the media attention focuses on French Alpine resorts in the north, either in Savoie or Haute-Savoie.  They’re only part of a much bigger picture, of course, but for skiers flying to France, choosing a ski resort  involves factoring-in easy transfers from budget flight destinations like our old friends Lyon and Geneva.

No surprises there, except that recently our previously most-visited page – ‘Best Resorts Near Geneva’ – has been overtaken by its counterpart ‘Best Resorts Near Grenoble’. Hmm…

“Grenoble opens up all kinds of possibilities…”

Well-kept secrets don’t stay that way forever, and once you’ve discovered what’s on offer in more southerly resorts than you’re accustomed to skiing, you can’t help wondering what might lie even further south. I certainly did, which why I ended up putting a lot of mileage under my skis in fun places like Albiez, l’Alpe d’Huez, Les 2 Alpes, Chamrousse, La Norma, Orelle, Saint-François Longchamp, La Toussuire, Val Cenis, Valfréjus, Valloire, Vaujany, Termignon, etc.

It’s a long list (and there were others..) and got me thinking: ‘This is great – why don’t we just keep going..?’.

Lone skier on piste between Val Thorens and Orelle, French Alps

Late afternoon return to Orelle from Val Thorens.

“Over the Col du Lauteret and…”

So on my next ski trip I did just that. I headed over the Col du Lauteret and dropped in on Serre Chevalier, long considered as something of an alternative choice, since the name refers to the ski domain shared by a straggle of villages spread along the valley. That means you get big-mountain skiing with a choice of bases – friendly, year-round communities with their own individual personalities.

I’ve also stayed in neighbouring Briançon (France’s highest city, and probably the smallest) which has masses of character plus direct access to “Serre Che’” via a high-speed gondola lift.

Skier on tree-lined piste between Montgenèvre and Clavière

Leaving Montgenèvre’s own extensive terrain en-route for Clavière, Sestrière, etc.

“Lunch in Italy, anyone..?”

Just beyond Briançon is Montgenèvre, my all-time favourite medium-sized ski resort. Why? Well, apart from it having become just a nice place to be, since through traffic was consigned to a tunnel, there’s the killer bonus of being able to ski straight across the adjoining border into Italy, to enjoy the pistes of Clavière, Cesana, Sansicario, Sauze d’Oulx and Sestrière.

Down here, despite often epic snowfalls, the Mediterranean influence is already evident, with the same clear blue skies which characterize skiing further south in the Hautes-Alpes and Alpes d’Haute-Provence. Places like Le Dévoluy, Les Orres, Orcières, Pra-Loup, Puy Saint-Vincent, Risoul, Val d’Allos and Vars have all given me truly superb skiing among some of the most dazzling scenery I’ve ever encountered. You won’t hear their names dropped casually into conversation – or at least, not yet – but they offer fantastic, unpressured skiing to locals and others who take the trouble to discover them.

Private ski lesson, ski-lifts and mountains atVars, French Alps

One-to-one early morning ski lesson, Vars (Hautes-Alpes)

“I’ll be back…”

But the rewards don’t stop there. Away from the spotlight things are more down-to-earth, with lower prices plus a warmer welcome, from people who for the most part aren’t just there for the season. Oh, and let’s not forget those steely-blue skies.

I’ve recounted my experiences at all the resorts I’ve mentioned above in the Insight section of our detailed, independent resort reviews – take a look and I think you’ll understand why I’m a genuine fan, and why I plan to go back to ski them whenever I get the chance.

Skiers looking at mountain scenery above Les Gets, French Alps

5 Of The Best Resorts for Relaxed Skiing In The French Alps

White-knuckle skiing isn’t for all of us, so if you ski purely for pleasure where exactly do you go? After skiing over 60 resorts in France, I reckon I now have a pretty good idea. The French Alps attract countless skiers from all over the world, so most of them head for areas which attract media attention and get star billing in ski brochures.

For the rest of us that’s good news, since lots of ‘second-league’ resorts (in terms of skier numbers) are less-pressured and therefore perfect for relaxed skiing, outside French school holiday periods. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a quick rundown of some of the most memorable places where I’ve enjoyed laid-back, scenic skiing in the French Alps:

COMBLOUX

Rear view of skier on wide piste with forest and valley at Combloux, French Alps

You’ll find Combloux in Haute-Savoie below the Aravis Massif between Chamonix and the Val d’Arly – just across the valley from chic Megève, in fact. That means it’s easy to reach, either via a 1 hr transfer from flights into Geneva (or 15 min more from Chambéry Savoie Mont-Blanc) or by road from Sallanches or Albertville.

Combloux’s ski area and most accommodation are tucked away on the mountain, well-hidden from those driving through the valley en-route to Chamonix. They don’t know what they’re missing. When you get there it feels small-time and down-homey, but your very first chairlift ride tells you that there’s lots of fun to be had here, on sheltered, tree-lined pistes topped-off by wide cruising pistes with a dramatic backdrop of nearby Mont-Blanc. I reckon there’s something of the wild, natural spirit of Canadian skiing in the long forested runs over to neighbouring La Giettaz.

Here’s my full resort review: https://www.mountainpassions.com/winter/ski-resort-reviews/alps/ski-combloux/


LA TOUSSUIRE

Skier on gentle piste above La Toussuire, Les Sybelles ski area, French Alps

Just about the friendliest place I’ve ever skied, La Toussuire sits just above the Vallée de la Maurienne (home to Valfréjus, Valloire, Valmeinier and Albiez-Montrond) and close to the Franco-Italian border. La Toussuire is the largest of six linked villages of Les Sybelles, the 4th biggest ski area in France. Over the years they’ve worked hard to bring it all together, with a highly-capable, modern lift system serving lots of great, well-groomed cruising terrain. Just to the north are Val Thorens and the 3 Valleys, so Les Sybelles are in the firing line for frequent heavy snowfalls.

Getting there is straightforward via transfers from flights into Chambéry Savoie Mont-Blanc, Lyon and Grenoble airports, or high-speed TGV rails services direct from Paris into nearby Saint-Jean de Maurienne.

Here’s my full resort review: https://www.mountainpassions.com/winter/ski-resort-reviews/alps/ski-la-toussuire/


LES SAISIES

 

Wide view of young skier amid big-mountain scenery above Les Saisies, French Alps

I’ve no idea why the Espace Diamant, which unites the ski areas of the Val d’Arly and Hauteluce, remains one of the best-kept secrets in the French Alps. Thanks to the nearby presence of Mont Blanc it has a great snow record, and it’s one of the very few places where it’s possible to ski a satisfying full circuit. Along the way there’s a wealth of varied terrain, which passes through some pretty spectacular scenery.

Les Saisies is the largest of the villages, a year-round living and working mountain community, with a welcoming traditional appearance. But if you want something smaller and even more relaxed then you’ll love neighbouring Crest Voland. They’re both located between Megève and the Beaufortain valley, so enjoy quick transfers from flights into Chambéry Savoie Mont-Blanc and Geneva airports, plus a shuttle connection from Albertville’s  TGV high-speed rail services from Paris.

Here’s my full resort review: https://www.mountainpassions.com/winter/ski-resort-reviews/alps/ski-les-saisies/


LES GETS

Group of skiers beside piste above Les Gets, French Alps

Sited just south of Lac Léman (a.k.a. Lake Geneva), Les Gets is a mere 15min drive from the A40 motorway exit at Cluses (which has high-speed rail links from Paris) or around an hour’s transfer from Geneva airport, so it’s among the quickest and least-stressful ski resorts to reach. It’s also one of a dozen villages in both France and Switzerland which together produce the vast Portes du Soleil ski area. For distance-freaks, the attraction is near-limitless skiing on some 600 km of slopes amid fantastic scenery. Others, of course, just take it easy and enjoy the local terrain, set on both sides of the village.

Given such a wide choice of villages in which to stay, why go for Les Gets? Well, in many ways it’s a tough choice between here and Châtel (another firm favourite of mine, whose ‘Petit Châtel’ sector is great for relaxed, cross-border skiing) but ease of access, combined with a charming, traditional Alpine feel to the village and some superb hotel accommodation just edge it.

Here’s my full resort review: https://www.mountainpassions.com/winter/ski-resort-reviews/alps/ski-les-gets/


SAINT-FRANÇOIS LONGCHAMP

Ski village and mountains, Saint Francois Longchamp, French Alps

The name isn’t exactly stick-in-the-mind snappy, but bear with me on this one. Think of Saint-François Longchamp as the sunnier and more reasonably-priced sidekick of neighbouring Valmorel. Their combined terrain, known as ‘Le Grand Domaine’ sits on the either side of the Col de la Madeleine (a familiar name to Tour de France followers), which finds Saint-François in the Maurienne, while Valmorel is in the Tarentaise.

Things are always more relaxed in the sun, and sure enough, Saint-François feels friendlier, more down-to-earth and its lift system has the edge, too. Oh, and there’s plenty of varied skiing, with the emphasis on wide, blue-graded cruising. Getting there is pretty straightforward, too – it’s readily accessible by road from Albertville and Grenoble, with flight transfers from Chambéry Savoie Mont-Blanc (nearest) or Grenoble airports.

Here’s my full resort review: https://www.mountainpassions.com/winter/ski-resort-reviews/alps/ski-saint-francois-longchamp/

Young skiers ski lesson with ESF monitor, Les Gets, Portes du Soleil

Skiing into Spring

More than 30 ski resorts and partners in the French Alps are taking part in the 2018 Skiing into Spring initiative, now in its’ fourth year. After record beating snowfalls in December and January, it looks like this year, late season skiing will be everything skiers hope for.

Spring skiing is known for long sunny days and warmer temperatures making the snow softer and easy to ski. Long afternoons mean there’s plenty of time to try out some different activities on the snow such as dog sledding, snowshoeing or a zip-wire. There are fewer people on the slopes and lots of money-saving offers on accommodation. Plus, some of the best après-ski entertainment and festivals happen in March and April when people can relax on the slopes and have fun.
Spring is a great time to learn to ski or to learn new techniques such as cross-county skiing, freestyle or ski-touring. Some resorts even offer learn to ski for free deals.
All offers can be seen on the Skiing into Spring website (in English and French).

What’s on offer for family skiing?

The 2018 British school holiday calendar is particularly good this year with the Easter holidays beginning at the end of March there will still be a huge number of resorts still open and enjoying good snow conditions. Resorts are particularly welcoming for families in spring when the villages are buzzing with outdoor activities and free entertainment. And don’t forget there are always swimming pools and leisure centres to enjoy aswell. Some offer free ski passes for children and others provide free lessons for adult beginners – it depends on the resort. Accommodation + ski pass packages can be found for as little as 150 euros for the week.

When does Skiing into Spring start?

Skiing into Spring kicks off in the French mountains on March 20th. It’s a perfect time to get in some quality skiing and combine it with a host of other activities whether it’s relaxing on a sunny terrace, having the all-important me-time in the spa, or enjoying slope-side music and festivities. There’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Participating Resorts

The following French resorts are taking part in the Skiing into Spring initiative and are all offering special deals and activities this spring. The links will take you to our own unique ski resort reviews on www.mountainpassions.com. For further information and offers on Skiing into Spring visit www.skiingintospring.com
Chamrousse, Châtel, La Clusaz, La Plagne, La Rosière, Le Corbier, Le Dévoluy, Le Grand Bornand, Les Arcs, Les 2 Alpes, Les Gets, Montgenèvre, Orcières Merlette 1850, Saint François Longchamp, Val d’Isère, Val Cenis – Aussois, Crest Voland – Notre Dame de Bellecombe, Valmeinier, Valloire, Valmorel, Vars.

Mountain scenery above Morzine, French Alps

Top Ten ways to prepare for your ski holiday

Chris Lawler, owner of Mountain Spaces ski chalets in Morzine kicks off the Top Tens for this winter with pre ski holiday preparation.
So in no particular order, here we go:

1. A trip to the Xscape Snow Dome.

Before we moved to France this used to be my favourite pre holiday warm up. Such a good way of checking your kit is all there and working and a great way of finding your ski legs again before you hit the slopes for real.

I always used to go to the Xscape Snozone in Milton Keynes and come away fired up ready for holidays. As close to the real deal as you can get!

2. Ski specific exercises and stretches

Our friends at Mountain Rehab in Morzine have a handy video covering a series of stretches and exercises to run through in the lead up to your holiday. Skiing for six days straight, even if you’re relatively fit puts a lot of strain on muscles that don’t get used that often so a little pre holiday exercise can go a long way.

Not only that they also offer sports massages and treatment in our chalets if you need the legs loosening after a couple of days in ski boots.


Get fit for your winter holiday with Mountain Rehab from Mountain-Rehab on Vimeo.

3. Retail Therapy

Everyone loves some shiny new kit, Ellis Brigham is a good bet as it offers the best of both worlds in that you can order online and they’ve got a really good spread of shops around the UK so you can go and try boots and clothes on. They’ve got a great range of ski and snowboard products.

4. Joe Wicks Body Coach Training

More of a general fitness focus but we’re huge Joe Wick’s fans. He’s got a great YouTube channel with loads of well thought out and approachable videos based on high intensity interval training, most of them are only 20 minutes or so long. The science behind the idea being that brief periods of high intensity exercise are as effective as much longer periods of steady state exercise such as jogging at a steady pace.

A great way to generally get in shape without spending hours on the treadmill.

5.Ski and Snowboard show

A great event to get you excited about the season over the October half term, they’ve got loads of live events and previews of this year’s new kit. The show runs October 26th 29th at Battersea Park, London. London Ski and Snowboard Show

6. GMB.io

This one’s more of a long term strategy for getting more flexible and stronger. These guys are all about body weight exercises, range of motion and flexibility. Their website and Facebook page are great resources for assessing what your body can and can’t do and what you can do about it.

There are some quick and simple gains to be made if you’ve left it too close to your holiday to get all bendy and there’s some longer term strategies that you’ll need to stick to to see results. All in all just a really good programme to figure out how your body works.

7. Ski and Snowboard tips and tricks

Two sites to check out, one for the skiers and one for the boarders. I’ve spent more time looking at the snowboard site but both are really good at breaking down tricks and techniques into progressions that are easy to follow.

There’s something for everyone from simple flatland ‘butter’ style tricks, park tips and tricks to take to natural jumps and drops. There are tips and suggestions for things you can try at home before you leave for your holiday as well as being a good source of inspiration!

8. Jerry of the Day

More of a guide of what not to do on holiday! Lots of the ski bloopers that do the rounds on social media come from Jerry of the Day so you’ve probably seen lots of their videos without realising it.

A good reminder that at some point during your ski week it’s probably going to go wrong and it doesn’t matter because a)it’s supposed to be fun and b) everyone does it at some point.

9. Apps and Maps

The Portes du Soleil website has links to their app available for iOS and Android. They’re not perfect but they are worth downloading for the latest updates on which lifts and areas are running, snow reports and the piste maps. We still use it if it’s snowing hard or windy to check which routes home are open and which areas of the resort are reporting the best snow.

10. Book your Mountain Spaces holiday

The single most important piece of holiday prep. BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY!! We’ve got some great winter offers available in our chalets and ten years of experience to help you book and enjoy the perfect holiday.

Overview of Monetier-les-Bains and valley

Skiing another side of Serre Chevalier…

If you’ve seen our Resort Review of Serre Chevalier then you’ll know that although the stats, etc., are all there, my first visit had only allowed time to discover part of this vast ski area near Briançon, in the Hautes-Alpes. But I’d already seen more than enough to want to get back as soon as possible and see just what else I’d missed. It took awhile, but a few days ago we finally drove cautiously over the windswept Col du Lauteret (freshly reopened after the huge snowfalls which had swept in during our stay in l’Alpe d’Huez) and dropped down through le Monêtier-les-Bains to the village of Chantemerle.

Skier on piste above mountain backdrop

The Parc National des Ecrins creates a dramatic backdrop to skiing in Serre Chevalier.

I recount the story in more detail in the Review on mountainpassions.com , but I can tell you that we’re more than glad we came. Snow conditions had held up well, thanks to low temperatures, as we joined both new arrivals and locals alike and headed up the mountain for our own Ski Sunday. Nothing compares to being there, with the wind in your hair and the skis running smoothly beneath your feet.

Overview of Monetier-les-Bains and valley

Overview of Monetier-les-Bains and valley

Our plan was simple: head up above Chantemerle and work our way westwards across to the sector above Briançon. Getting around proved equally straightforward, thanks to clear new signage and a capable modern lift system. There’s even a smartphone app  to help you find your way, map your progress and more besides.

Chairlift at Serre Chevalier

Major lift upgrades are evidence of Serre Chevalier’s coming of age

As it turned out, our route would be influenced by the steadily-strengthening winds blowing in from the southeast (Provence and le Mistral are not far away) which discouraged us from hanging around on higher, more exposed sections – just long enough to shoot some images of the literally breathtaking panoramas spread enticingly before us. So, while the weather held we took a bracing plunge down to join Le Chemin, a Green-graded cruise (one of the best scenic runs we can recall) all the way round to the Prorel gondola lift which hauls skiers smoothly up from one of our favourite French towns. So before heading back up and working our way back to Chantemerle we enjoyed the perfect overview during a relaxed lunch from the sun terrace of the Pré Loup restaurant, right beside the lift mid-station.

Freshly groomed piste, Serre Chevalier

Freshly groomed piste

Our base in Chantemerle was a spacious 4* apartment in the Résidence L‘Adret, for which we thank our good friends at Ski Specialists Peak Retreats.

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