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When to book for Easter (ish) 2020 in France?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi, we're a family of 4 (kids 10 and 12) and have normally skied Feb half terms but going Easter in 2020. I say Easter but we'll be heading out for the week 4-11 April and Easter Sunday is actually 12 April so it's sort of the week before.....but clearly UK school hols. Understand this is low season and happy to watch snow conditions to leave it until nearer the time (although, going Feb half term, I'm used to booking almost a year ahead - so a bit twitchy). Does anyone have any recommendations regarding timing to book as I don't want to be too early or late. We self drive, want to ski in France, ideally ski in/out or very close to pistes, 2 bedroom appartment. I've always booked direct with owners but are there any operators that are worth keeping an eye on? Thanks
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Sunweb, the free lift passes make it impossible to turn down, especially for self drives. Almost all the big French resorts on their site.
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endoman wrote:
Sunweb, the free lift passes make it impossible to turn down, especially for self drives. Almost all the big French resorts on their site.
+1 that was who we booked with for April just gone. Though that was for Mayrhofen.

We have already booked for next April direct with hotel and going to La Thuile
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Tradditionally the French do not ski at Easter or the week before. The Belgians and Dutch do ski and you often see them on the road on Good Friday, but I cannot recall them having much of a presence before Easter.

You will have no problem finding accommodation in almost all of the resorts, but 3 room apartments are not that common. For example a quick look at the Les Arcs web site shows only 29 3 room apartments for rent that week. And that is before the main booking season.

Since you are planning to go before Easter I suppose you may be able to extend your booking and return on the bank holiday.

Personally I would leave the booking until Febuary or March and look at the resort web site. They cover all the major agencies.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@kettonskimum, it's a lot quieter than peak periods, but if there is mega snow it can still get busy of course.

We've skied many an Easter in Les Arcs area, staying in Vallandry, plenty of close to piste apartments there which meet your criteria and a good amount of skiing.
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As you are driving you can be
Flexible about destination - I'd agree with @johnE. Conditions in early April vary enormously from year to year.
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@kettonskimum, we go the same week as you mention and have already booked for 2020.

We tend to DIY and past experience has taught us that the best apartments at the best prices in the snow sure resorts will go first, and the danger of leaving it too late is that the choice will be diminished.

Don't get me wrong, accomodation should always be available but we just want to get the best value for money.

We're off to Belle Plagne this year - Beautiful 3 bedroom Airbnb booked, flights and hire car sorted, lift passes will be done this month to get the 10% discount.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
If you re flexible a lot will depend on the snow conditions.
If you want to book now you are limited to the high resorts val thorens, tignes/val, les arcs. If it turns out to be a great winter with plenty of snow the choices of resorts will open up and with that the pricing options.
Skiing with the family we always leave it to the last minute to book accommodation/resort for that week. There is always plenty of choice.
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I'm glad i saw this post, I was gonna ask pretty much the same question.

I'm looking to go the week after the OP, and self driving like the OP.

I only have a couple of questions to add.

what other high resorts are there apart from Val Thorens, Les Arcs, Tignes?

Also whats the traffic like? Am I better off driving on the friday and getting past say lyon staying 1 night somewhere then driving the rest of the way early sat morning?

Also arewinter tyres still a must that late in the season?
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I know it's difficult but you really can leave it until very late to book. Easter is not a busy ski period in France.

Some of the best availabilities are on the local tourist office websites who start discounting with a couple of weeks to go and very often coming up with deals to include lift passes.

I have only skied Easter once, driving out on the Friday, skiing Sat and Sun, driving home on the Monday, the only place I had problems with traffic was in the UK.

We always drive on a Friday and stay in the valley Friday night, driving up to the resort early Saturday morning so we can get very nearly a full day skiing. We check out first thing on the leaving Saturday, ski for most of the day then drive a couple of hours north, stay overnight and complete the journey home on the Sunday.

There are a multitude of threads here about winter tyres. If you have them keep them on if you don't then you will probably be ok but the whole problem with this debate is that we go hoping for there to have been "bad" weather before we get there and some (preferably overnight) while we are there but for the roads to be completely clear while we are getting there and returning.
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I'll be getting winter tyres in the next month or so. so i'll just leave them on.

thanks for the rest of the advice
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
We (2 adults & 2 kids)did la plage at Easter last year. Self drive, sunweb, booked 2 weeks before we left. Very easy to arrange, plenty of choice, cheapest week we have done in years. The snow was variable but fine. The queues were easy to avoid and it was very relaxed. We are doing the same this year if the snow holds up.
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I really really hope the snow holds up.

It's my 50th birthday celebration. Very Happy

It'll be the first time for the wife and kids in the Alps (we've done a couple of weekends in Scotland - very icy, very windy and thus very cold) I've tried to convince them that it'll be better in the Alps. Madeye-Smiley
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@Klamm Franzer, Easter 2019 was so late I decided not to go skiing but it did appear to have had good snow. One reason that Easter is often cheep especially when it is towards the end of April is that the French, like you, want to goto 'la plage' instead of skiing.

Though winter tyres are typically used from December to March it may be a good idea to still have them on in April and most certainly carry snow chains. With 2 or more trips to Les Arcs a year for the last 15 years I've only need chains twice. One of those was for an Easter trip. The equinox often gives rise to storms and these give rise to snow.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
papajc wrote:
what other high resorts are there apart from Val Thorens, Les Arcs, Tignes?

In terms of a France driving apartment high piste mileage holiday at the time of the year (which is one of the times I go regularly) personally I wouldn't go anywhere else aside from the 3V, Paradiski or perhaps Espace Killy. Unless you book really late and catch an exceptional year. You don't have to stay at the highest altitude ski stations. For example we stayed at Les Menuires last April. It's only were you sleep and eat. At the start of each day you use the lifts to go up the mountain you ski back down. Snow making means resorts down to 1400/1350 are still skiable.

papajc wrote:
Also whats the traffic like? Am I better off driving on the friday and getting past say lyon staying 1 night somewhere then driving the rest of the way early sat morning?

Generally light.

papajc wrote:
Also arewinter tyres still a must that late in the season?

If you have them, keep them on, as it can still be snowy, chilly in the mountains. If not, just have some chains in case.

When we've been gone out the week leading up to Easter we've stopped off somewhere like Paris, Reims to do a bit of sightseeing on the way back, getting home late bank holiday Monday.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Klamm Franzer wrote:
We (2 adults & 2 kids)did la plage at Easter last year.


really? How was the sand?


Easter is the 12th April, there will be loads of places to go. I agree with the posters above to wait to nearer the time to firm up where you go. I've skied better conditions in places like le Grand Bornand or Pras de Lys than in Val Thorens at Easter.
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@papajc, FWIW rather than Winter Tyres we have All-Seasons with Mountain/Snowflake Symbol. Personally I think they are the best option for UK drivers who don't want to have 2 sets of tyres on go

@davidof, the cross-country courses always melt first as tend to be lower down Toofy Grin
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I agree with lots of the comments above that there is a lot of advantages to waiting till nearer the time. You'll have a better idea of snow conditions, and may be able to pick up a bargain in a lower resort that actually has some fantastic conditions, without having to rely on one of the big snowsure resorts. And as it's Easter you should be able to pick up accommodation where ever you go,

However...

As always there is a downside. If the snow gods aren't so generous and it's only really the normal snowsure resorts with good conditions and you decide to go to one of them, then your accommodation choices will naturally be more limited than if you'd booked earlier. Put simply the best places at the best prices get snapped up more quickly.

I go at Easter every year to Val Thorens, La Plagne etc - and experience has taught that if I know I'm going to one of the more popular Easter resorts then I can pick up a good quality, large apartment, in the right location at a good price, by being first in line.

Sometimes I meet up with my brothers family who tends to book their accomodation later (Feb time) - he always finds accommodation, no problems at all. And he's happy, and the apartment is fine - and he'd be none the wiser until he pops round to my apartment and always asks the question "and how much was this??" (and doesn't necessarily like the answer!)

It doesn't affect the skiing or the enjoyment of the holiday but it's worth pointing out.

Other times of the year if I'm skiing with friends for a weekend outside of school hols, we then tend to book last minute following the conditions. But with the family in school holiday time I prefer to get it sorted and in the bag as early as possible!

Horses for courses I guess!
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Quote:

papajc wrote:
Also whats the traffic like? Am I better off driving on the friday and getting past say lyon staying 1 night somewhere then driving the rest of the way early sat morning?

Generally light.


If you can I'd aim to break back of journey on Friday, we generally stay around hour north of Lyon. This generally means we can get a supermarket shop in at Albertville and be in resort lunchtime - if you're lucky you can be in apartment and settled early afternoon - leaving time for a cheeky run or two or just relaxing.

Traffic is a lot lighter than peak periods, but can still be slow moving and tedious
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@Handy Turnip, +1

The place we booked in Mayrhofen for April just gone, was amazing for the money! I booked early, and all the other apartments we booked up very quickly afterwards.
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We ski every Easter with our kids in Avoriaz - I think the resort ticks alot of boxes you mention, e.g. ski-in-out, etc.

We have been going for the last 4-5yrs and always at Easter, and there's always more than enough snow due to the altitude, and it holds the snow quite well.
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@davidof, +1.
As it's early, no need to go somewhere high and featureless.
Although, I thought Easter was the same every year : it's always the 1st Sunday after the 1st Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox.
I guess if you project that onto your Revised Gregorian calendar though then you'll get a different date Smile
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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Boris wrote:
Quote:

papajc wrote:
Also whats the traffic like? Am I better off driving on the friday and getting past say lyon staying 1 night somewhere then driving the rest of the way early sat morning?

Generally light.


If you can I'd aim to break back of journey on Friday, we generally stay around hour north of Lyon. This generally means we can get a supermarket shop in at Albertville and be in resort lunchtime - if you're lucky you can be in apartment and settled early afternoon - leaving time for a cheeky run or two or just relaxing.

Traffic is a lot lighter than peak periods, but can still be slow moving and tedious


A cheeky run or two? We've been on first lift having driven from Chesterfield to BSM on the Friday, no little kids, and 3 drivers helps. Also fitted in Supermarket shop just after Lyon. yes it's an early start for us, ( 5 ish) but we've nothing else to do on the Friday.
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endoman wrote:
Boris wrote:
Quote:

papajc wrote:
Also whats the traffic like? Am I better off driving on the friday and getting past say lyon staying 1 night somewhere then driving the rest of the way early sat morning?

Generally light.


If you can I'd aim to break back of journey on Friday, we generally stay around hour north of Lyon. This generally means we can get a supermarket shop in at Albertville and be in resort lunchtime - if you're lucky you can be in apartment and settled early afternoon - leaving time for a cheeky run or two or just relaxing.

Traffic is a lot lighter than peak periods, but can still be slow moving and tedious


A cheeky run or two? We've been on first lift having driven from Chesterfield to BSM on the Friday, no little kids, and 3 drivers helps. Also fitted in Supermarket shop just after Lyon. yes it's an early start for us, ( 5 ish) but we've nothing else to do on the Friday.


Unfortunately mine are still a bit too young to not have to stop occasionally and my wife won't drive on the motorway in this country so there's no chance of her driving in France.
Confused rolling eyes
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Quote:

my wife won't drive on the motorway in this country so there's no chance of her driving in France.

does not compute. The French motorways are a morceaux de gateau compared to ours.
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@papajc, I don't drive on motorways in the UK as they give me the fear but did a good 2/3 hour stint each day on both our trips last season. Mr Always was genuinely surprised and it helped him a lot. They are so much less congested than those I've seen on the UK and not at all scary. Plus we got a doofer (it's so not a doofer but the actual name escapes me Confused Confused ) for automatically driving through the tolls so didn't have that to worry about either.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
always29 wrote:
@papajc, I don't drive on motorways in the UK as they give me the fear but did a good 2/3 hour stint each day on both our trips last season. Mr Always was genuinely surprised and it helped him a lot. They are so much less congested than those I've seen on the UK and not at all scary. Plus we got a doofer (it's so not a doofer but the actual name escapes me Confused Confused ) for automatically driving through the tolls so didn't have that to worry about either.

Oh yes forgot about "a doofer" Laughing

Where and how do I go about getting a auto tag (I don't know the proper name either) for the tolls
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Here's where I got mine, need a fresh one as current is showing battery low. https://www.emovis-tag.co.uk/

We can do 550 miles between fill ups at legal speeds which helps. Only one of us will have to drive twice in France. Coffee, sleep, and 80's / 90's house music keeps us going. One of the " kids" is now one of the drivers! He was 3 the first time we drove him to La Tania. Then we stopped earlier in Villefranche, after buying all the ski clothes in Decathlon en route as we didn't tell the kids we were going away at Xmas. Just bundled them into the car and went.
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@papajc, @endoman has the same tag link I got outs from - it also has the benefit of billing the end of the month following travel which helps with ski cash flow.

If you're able to travel the following week, you could always join SFaB. Lots of kids different ages there last year
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Emovis works for us as well. English website, bills at the end of month after travel, fair exchange rates and easy to use. Nothing quite like that adrenalin buzz at your first toll on a trip. Will it work? Has the battery run out? Ah yes it worked.

To be fair the website tells you when the battery is running down and the tag needs to be changed.

Does it save any time? In quiet times, No, but it does give enormous pleasure when the BMW that has just screamed past you gets held up in the normal tolls and then takes 5 minutes to pass you again. In busy times if you can get to the 30kph lanes then yes it does but the gain is minimal although it does seem like a lot at the time. Big benefit is not having to wake the OH at the tolls or even bigger benefit not having the OH wake you when the OH is driving..
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Timc wrote:
It does give enormous pleasure when the BMW that has just screamed past you gets held up in the normal tolls and then takes 5 minutes to pass you again...


It's worth it just for that Laughing
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Quote:

Big benefit is not having to wake the OH at the tolls or even bigger benefit not having the OH wake you when the OH is driving..


And that too!
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