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First time skiing with pre-scooler and Les Menuires (Le Trois Vallees) March 2009

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello all,

This is a trip report I posted on a small ski board last winter. Having since discovered this site I thought I'd put it up here. Don't be confused when I put up another trip report straight after. Hope it's of interest. Any comments fire away!!

We went to Les Menuires in Le Trois Vallees, France. I am sure most, if not all, are familiar with this huge ski area. On the trip was me, the wife, almost 4yo son, 20 month old daughter, Grandma and Grandad. Grandad had a busted knee so was a non-skier. 20 month was obviously not skier. It was the first time for the nearly 4yo son. Mum, dad and grandma were skiing. We bought two lift passes so that grandad and one other could look after the kids while the other 2 adult skiers hit the mountains. Lift passes for under 5's are free but we didn't get one at the start of the week, choosing to see how he fared on the free slope.

The first point of note I guess is that we didn't and don't intend in the future to put the kids into any kind of creche or ski school. The plan for the 4yo was to teach him ourselves. We are both advanced skiers. Not wishing to cast any aspersions on others that do, it justs what suits. We deliberatly booked an apartment near a small nursery slope with a moving carpet. This proved ideal. On the Monday the wife took him on this diddy slope. After getting the boots and ski's on she had him shuffle around and then on to the carpet. At the top she put him between her legs and snowploughed down with him. She did that a couple of times more. Then she got a ski pole and had him hold that and ski down next to her. After quite a few runs he started doing a bit solo. He skied for 2.5 maybe 3 hours and really enjoyed himself.

The next afternoon he spent doing the same sort of thing. My wife tried to keep things fun and relaxed. The weather was warm and sunny all the time which I guess made things easier.

On the Wednesday I did the afternoon shift with him while mum skied. There were two sides to the diddy slope and we transferred to the slightly steeper side. He quite enjoyed the extra speed.

We got a lift pass for him on Thursday. Me and the wife had a bit of a debate about what to do. There were some green runs around the town but because it was so warm I was thinking they would be slushy and very slow. Plus it would be chair lifts. The alternative was the cable car that was right next to where we were staying. This had a mid-station but also went to the top of the mountain. However there was a nice blue run that snaked the whole way down the mountain. We agreed that this would be a better option. The lift was quiet as it was the tale end of lunch and he was able to happily stand at the front and gawp out. When we got to the top and on to the slope my wife acted as the leader while I acted as the blocker/shield at the back. He cruised down solo quite happily. He got phased occasionally by the gradient or other skiers. But soon carried on. We gave him lots of praise and generally tried to keep things fun and relaxed. Suprisingly he coped with some of the harder patches really well, edging quite nicely. We skied to the mid-station and went back up again. Then we skied the whole way down. He took a liking to "Schanze" (German for jump - my wife is German) i.e., the small snow hills on the slope. We discovered he didn't care if the slope was steep as long as he had Schanze to bash into. Great fun. He was the only happy on the slushy lower slopes.

On the Friday he skied the same hill and then did a bit more on the diddy slope. Obviously at that age they don't get all the technique tips you'd like to pass on. They just kinda do it. It was great to see him keen to get out and not worried about taking the odd tumble, or having other skiers around. We didn't really set any big goals but of course hoped he would take a liking to it and be able to ski an easy slope solo, which he did. He's a big lad for his age and strong so no reason to expect him not to. Nonetheless we were very chuffed with the fella.

Already looking forward to taking him out again next year.

We drove and stayed in a self catering apartment.

First thing to note is with the demise of Speedferries there was a concern we would have to pay a lot more. But Norfolk Line www.norfolkline.com seemed to have taken over where they left off. We got a return for £46 sailing at midnight on Friday and 10am Sunday return. I see they are doing the flexi £19 one way deal that Speedferries used to do. Anyway, they seemed very flexible on switching if you arrive early and they have space. And the ferry itself was a real good standard. Really good kids play area. Had a cracking deal on malt whiskeys too. Anyway I digress, they come highly rec'd from me. Oh, and they sail Dover to Dunkirk not Calais. But makes no odds.

The accomodation was a relatively posh joint due to the circs of this trip. It was a pad owned by Madame Vacances, a division of Eurogroup. http://www.eurogroup-holidays.com/xq/ASPX/EstId.165/SeasonId.... And here begins a bit of a tale. Originally I booked through this Brit agency.. www.skicollection.co.uk. Now the Ski Collection have a very good website that allows you to browse around the various resorts and accomodation. And the really good news is that they do discounted lift passes. Anyway when you find something you like you can click on Check Availability and it quickly shows you the accom options. You then fill in the form and the ring you. I cut out the middle man and ran them. We confirmed the apartment was avaiable and they took the whole amount of the booking off my CC. To cut a long story short after a month of chasing and no correspondence they informed the accomodation was not available. They effectively layed the blame on the apartment owners. They refunded my CC but now I was only 2 weeks from the holiday. I decided to check with the apartment owners. With a bit of digging it wasn't too difficult to find out it was owned by Eurogroup and via their website I was able to check availability and found the apartment I needed seemingly was available. Still nothing proven yet. So I rang up. It was a French booking office so language was an issue at times. The long and short of it was they gave me the apartment and at a 20% discount, that made it cheaper than Ski Collections even with the currency situ. Result. I did have to chase Eurogroup for the paperwork (sent by email).

Anyway as it turns out the apartment was OK. Spacey. Lacked a second sofa and some kitchen storage. Good size ski lockers. We had to ask for everything. The heating was off, they only gave us one key initially but they soon supplied stuff when you asked. They had a sauna and small swimming pool. But hours were limited and the lockers and showers in a right state. It was of course ski in, ski out. For a 4* it did what it said on the tin but no more.

Not going to cover the ski area too much as many will know it well. It's been a little while for me. I have previously stayed in Courcheval valley 3 times - Le Praz, La Tania and 1850 and in the Val Thoren valley a couple - Reberty (Les MenuireS) and Val T itself. I don't really like the skiing around Meribel and the town has always had a party reputation, which doesn't suit. At the top end of that valley though Mont Vallon has always been an excellent playground I've found. This time was no different. The weather was very warm up until Friday and you had to stay high. So spent a fair amount of time on the horseshow about Val T. And also a bit of time on the isolated La Masse section of the same valley. Off piste potential was virtually nil unfortunately.. unless you went touring.

One curious thing for me was the lift opening times. We stayed right next to the Bruyere cable car that went to the top of the mountain. For some strange reason it didn't open until 9.10 in the morning (as did all the lifts seemingly). I always thought the lower lifts opened at 8.45? As I say it's been a few years since I went to the 3V. Anyway a queue of a 100/150 always built up priority to opening time and obviously stayed that way until mid-morning. Can't for the life of me see the justification for the late start. The only alternative was to stick over and then down to Doron, and up to the Mont de la Chambre chair. But Doron didn't open any earlier and there was a similar q at the Chambre chair. It was better going up La Masse. But you can't move round the mountain from La Masse. Basically Les Menuires does seem to me to have a bit of a lift queue problem.

The overnight drive with the kids on the way out was no hassle. 2 hours running late at night on the ferry did them in. Way back was a bit of a mare because the 20 month old was not too well. That meant we left the resort earlier than planned on the Saturday. We then missed the last ferry of the day (were due one the next morning). We ended up staying in Hotel for the night which was always an option.

Layne


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Thu 28-01-10 17:12; edited 1 time in total
ski holidays     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Layne,

good report, and food for thought for me taking my kids skiing. not so sure about driving, though, travelling from the NW to Dover will be a trek in itself.

what is the nearest airport to 3V? and any idea of public transport links to the resorts?

Cheers,

Pete
ski holidays     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Hello Pete,

Chambery closest, then Grenoble, then Lyon or Geneva.

There are a number of airport transfer bus companies...

http://www.altibus.com/
http://www.alp-line.com/
http://www.transfer-intelligence.com/

I've not used them personally but know people who have.

When we did this particular trip we met a family from Yorkshire who drove over each year. They stayed in a hotel in northern France on the way over and on the way back. We like to just drive straight through. If we can do it with a 4yo and 20 month year old then it can't be too bad! And there are advantages.

Layne
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