Better late than never…Here’s a recap of our recent family ski week in the French Alps. The snow might soon be melting, but if this is inspiring, you can always bookmark places for next winter and consider yourself ready for a FFF ski vacation…
We spent a week mid-February in Avoriaz, a low key purpose-built ski resort in the French Alps. We could not have wished for a more Freakin’ Family Friendly place to stay. (my new favourite expression…considering creating a category called FFF on the blog. let me know if you object).
this was the view from our window, at l’Amara:
What makes it so FFF:
– It’s an hour drive from Geneva International Airport (could be 2hrs if travelling at peak times as rentals are always Saturday to Saturday).
– No cars in the resort. Just horse-carriages to get around. or by ski. or by foot.
– The most wonderful kids ski school right in the heart of the resort: Village des Enfants. From 3 yo to teenager years, with a very sweet rendering of Disney characters for the little ones. Marcelo’s teacher, Peet, and Amalya’s, Baptiste, were so energetic and enthusiastic. Everyone in the school seemed dedicated and passionate with their job. This school is famous in France, founded by Olympic winner Annie Famose.
– Tons of apartment rentals to choose from. Maeva and Pierre&Vacances are the main companies. You can also try this real estate agent for upmarket places and a few serviced chalets (bookings start in August). BozAround being BozAround, we tried the latest: l’Amara Residence, which is a new premium residence from Pierre&Vacances. Perfectly put together for families. It was just open this winter. The staff was surprisingly well trained and helpful. There is a swimming pool (overcrowded), possibility to get fresh bread & croissants delivered in the morning (a real treat, from the best boulangerie in town), and to get fondue sets and all sorts of good meals delivered from some of the best restaurants in town (they are affiliated). There is a decent Spa (i had a good pregnancy massage). And a drop-in creche mornings and afternoons, on the premise, bright and light with well trained staff. But only from 3 years old.
– Excellent service everywhere. Be it in restaurants, at the small supermarkets (Carrefour Express even does food delivery, at any time, with a smile!)
– Nicknamed Les Portes du Soleil ie. The Sunshine Gateway. Says it all, the orientation is wonderful, full south. Always sunny if the sun is out.
– Few but good restaurants accommodating children with special menus, from pizza to fondue. We tried: La Reserve (need to reserve and have their amazing fondue savoyarde), Le Bistro (just across the Kids ski school, perfect for lunch break. Also have a set menu), La Falaise pizzeria & Le Douschka (very casual and good pizzas at both). When on a ski vacation with children, I found it really nice to eat at home and not be obliged to seat in restaurant, because the children are so tired at night. That’s why it’s nice to stay in an apartment instead of a hotel.
– Between ski rentals, passes, school, transport & accommodation, a family ski vacation can quickly become terribly expensive. Avoriaz is more on the reasonable side of things (definitely compared to the more prestigious resorts like Val d’Isere, Meribel, Courchevel..) while the quality of ski & services is still excellent. Another good reason to earn high points.
– A nice old fashioned cinema with great programming, often in their Original Version.
Good to know beforehand:
– At Village des Enfants, pre-book your children’s ski week by phone or online at least 2 weeks before getting there, otherwise it will be full.
– Avoid at all cost to go to Avoriaz when the Parisians have their school vacations! (this is true for any other French ski resort). The queues & the bad tempers of the parisians will put you in a bad mood:-) Click here for updated calendars. Fyi, Paris is in Zone C. (don’t misunderstand me, I am a Parisian at heart, and lived there for many years…but going on vacation with the parisians is another thing).
– Pre-book your direct transfer from Geneva airport with Skiddy Gonzalez (love the name!). As you really don’t need a car, this is your best / most affordable / most efficient option. Little shuttles of no more than 8 passengers with baby carseats if needed and the driver waits for you upon flight arrival with a magnificent sombrero on his head. can’t miss him/her.
– If your children are less than 3 years old, you might choose to reserve a space in a creche so you can ski too. I was pregnant so I did not try it for Amalya. And actually…I cheated by 2 months on her age, and she was super happy for half days at Village des Enfants. (to be honest, i did ask them and they said Yes as long as she was potty trained). Les P’tits Loups nursery came recommended a few times.
– For adult classes, Evolution 2 is a good school too, right near Village des Enfants. Ceki skied solo a few times with the instructor Damian and enjoyed it (while i was lying low on a chaise longue in the sun, sipping hot choco.)