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Starting Young On Skis - MountainPassions Blog
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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.

Owner and Editor of MountainPassions, Roger is a journalist and photographer with more than 30 years’ professional experience producing illustrated ski and travel editorial features for magazines and location photography for travel guides, both in the UK and overseas. He regularly writes resort reviews for other ski websites and tour operators as well as ski and mountain features for newspapers and magazines worldwide.

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