Family Ski Holiday: On The Piste With A Family
La Rosiere – France
Guest post written by Laura Wood
We have skied before in France as a family in Puy St Vincent using the fabulous Snowbizz but decided to venture to a slightly larger resort this year. In the past, we have focused on going somewhere with lots of kids clubs but as the children are now slightly older (5 and 8) our focus has shifted on to finding somewhere with more slopes and a livelier apres ski scene! To be honest, skiing is a tiring holiday and the children were just as happy playing Uno or drawing in the evening and didn’t need to be entertained as much as they may do on a beach holiday.
We had been recommended La Rosiere by a number of people and we were not disappointed as it provided us with everything we want in a ski holiday – fabulous accommodation, lovely bars and restaurants, lots of options for mixed-ability skiing, beautiful scenery and a great ski school. Rather than use a tour operator (as we had done in the past) we planned and booked everything ourselves and it meant that we could fully tailor the trip to our needs. Not only that, but we probably saved close to £3,000 by doing it this way too! I think first timers may benefit from booking through a tour operator but if you are brave and willing to put the time into research and plan, it pays dividends.
This time, unlike previous years, we opted to drive. We set off from Oxfordshire at 8:30 on Friday morning to get the 11:30 Eurotunnel crossing. We didn’t pay the extra for the Flexipass (which allows you to get on the first available crossing) as we were happy to stick to the schedule. As it happens, we arrived about an hour early and they put us on the earlier one anyway. The Eurotunnel is so slick and there’s very little faffing or waiting around (unlike an airport). Plus, despite being 38, my husband still has his mind blown that you can drive your car onto a train that goes under the sea and half an hour later you’re in France and straight onto a motorway! Bless him!
La Rosiere is a great medium sized resort with some green runs, plenty of long cruisy blue runs and some more challenging red runs. For little kids there is a lovely little enchanted forest where young children can ski through the woods and ski through little tunnels and obstacles all around a St Bernard dog theme which our daughter adored. All of the skiing is above 1850m so it is “guaranteed” skiing well into April. We like to ski at Easter because it is warm (children HATE to be cold, especially when they still spend time falling over!) but you do take a risk with the quality of snow. However, we found it was still very skiable about 2.30pm when it got slushy.
We stayed in Le Lodge Hemera (booked through a company called Powder Beds) which was only built about three years ago so all of the fixtures and furnishings are modern. It was spotlessly clean and the children had a separate bedroom with their own bathroom. We could have gone for a one bedroom apartment and had the children sleep on a sofa bed in the living room but paying the extra to have more space made a huge difference. You have so much ‘stuff’ on a ski holiday and being able to put things out of the way really helps and means you don’t spend your whole time tidying up! The kitchen had all of the toys you need from a coffee maker to a slow cooker and lots of fridge and cupboard space. It was ideal! There was an amazing supermarket across the road with loads of fresh fruit and veg, rotisserie chickens and lots of snacks so we never went hungry! At other resorts we have been caught out by a poorly stocked shop so have taken bags of pasta, tins of tuna, ketchup etc but fortunately this wasn’t the case at La Rosiere.
Location wise the apartment block couldn’t have been more perfect. It was just 100 metres from the boot room (with amazing heated lockers!) to the slopes and right in the town centre. Occasionally it was a bit noisy at chucking out time (2am!) but the children and husband slept through it so it can’t have been that bad! I would pick a short walk to the slopes over being somewhere quieter everytime because with children you always end up carrying all of their equipment as well as your own!
The major benefit of this apartment was that it had a lovely indoor heated pool, sauna, jacuzzi & steam room. Kids rarely want to ski all day and having the option to go swimming in the afternoon is a massive plus point. It was also empty most of the time, so the children could jump in and squeal to their hearts content and for us adults, it helped to ease the muscles after a hard skiing morning. I am not normally one to ski all day so having the spa and swim option was a lovely treat.
Two ski schools operate in the resort, ESF & Evolution 2. Although ESF have a decent reputation in La Rosiere, we have had a bad experience of them in the past so opted for Evo2 this time and they were excellent. The instructors are young and fun and this makes an enormous difference for the children who respond well to this type of teaching. We booked both in for morning group lessons which can be nerve racking to start with as they don’t know anyone, but they soon make friends (I spied on them both!) and have a fun time.
Our daughter is only 5 and fairly small and has found skiing a struggle in the past and started out on the nursery slopes again this time which was a little frustrating. We therefore decided to pay for her to have two private lessons in the afternoon and it made a huge difference. She was almost immediately moved up a group and sent up the mountain with some bigger kids which in turn boosted her confidence. By the end of the week she was skiing down the mountain with us and doing the button lifts and chairlifts unaided.
Our son is a proficient skier now and his lesson structure was amazing. You pay for six days of 9am-11:30am lessons but what you actually get is four half days, 1 day off then one full day where their group skis off to Italy and all have pizza and crepes for lunch without us parents. When we picked him up at 4pm he was exhausted but loved the independence of skiing to another country without his parents! At the end of the week there was an awards ceremony where everyone got a medal and they both got moved up a group for next year. Morale was very high!
Overall, skiing as a family is great fun! There is something really special about sitting on a chairlift together, blue skies, snowy mountains and big smiles! The sense of achievement from both children was enormous and they were brimming with confidence by the end of the week. I can’t say that it is a relaxing holiday (although you do tend to go to bed early) as it is a very physical trip but you do come back feeling healthy from all of that clean alpine air and hardcore exercise! Well, I say that, but maybe the excessive consumption of cheese and wine cancels that out but when you are having that much fun, quite frankly who cares?! We will definitely be back next year!
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