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Crystal overbooked us in Arc1950 ten days before we fly out (now more of a trip report!)

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@boredsurfin,
Quote:

The drive down becomes a part of the holiday

I so agree with this.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@sugarmoma666, I would like to try Austria one day, definitely. We're only on our third entire family ski trip (I've done three on my own or with just one child) and I guess we've just been sticking with what we know. I have heard good things about Austria though, and it does sound like they make a real effort for the children!

@boredsurfin, we're definitely considering driving next time, especially with so many children and a need to go in holiday time after this trip. My main concern is related to snowchains and the fact it's nigh on impossible to get them for our car for some stupid reason except at enormous cost. I did think about driving to, say, Bourg or Moutiers and parking there and maybe getting the funicular/bus up to avoid that issue if there's snow on the way up. Actually there's lots to be said for the funicular (beyond it being limited to Les Arcs!) as it avoids the vomit bus. Only three out of our four threw up today AND we got the front seats we requested!!

We drove from Cherbourg to west coast Brittany last summer and are doing the same this summer (a four hour actual drive time) and found it quite manageable. Obviously the Alps are well over twice as far, but as you say it's kind of part of the holiday and presumably, aside from near the end, the roads are not nearly as hectic as British ones.

Funny thing - we weren't given a feedback form on the coach from Crystal.. the rep talked about handing out a blank one for people who didn't have one but bypassed us. I do wonder whether it was an accident or deliberate on their part!! Toofy Grin

That's interesting the price is around 4Km2.. I thought it would be a lot more from looking in the window of Erna Low! (yes, I looked, ha ha!!)
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 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?
You wouldn't need snow chains in many Austria resorts, including the SkiWelt. One of the real advantages is that the resorts are usually fairly low rather than up a mountain road. Far easier access and good for folk who aren't good in cars/buses on wiggly roads.
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@sugarmoma666, good to know! How long does it take to drive there.. and would there still be snow at Easter? I am crap with crowded pistes - it really stresses me out - so half term is a no-go, and probably Christmas too unless the school holidays fall conveniently. Easter will probably be the only time we get to go skiing for a long time now!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@sparklies, it's not Christmas that you really need to avoid, but New Year. The French seem to stay at home over Christmas and then make up for it by all arriving for New Year. We've found Christmas week to be very pleasant in terms of crowds, much to our surprise. The snow has been unreliable then for the last few years, which has meant that there have been fewer advance bookings, which seems to help.
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Don't do Ski Welt at Easter. It was poor at half term this year so will not be great at easter , if they are open. Closes at beg of April.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
sparklies wrote:
@sugarmoma666, good to know! How long does it take to drive there.. and would there still be snow at Easter? I am crap with crowded pistes - it really stresses me out - so half term is a no-go, and probably Christmas too unless the school holidays fall conveniently. Easter will probably be the only time we get to go skiing for a long time now!

I've not driven it, but there's been quite a few threads on here from people who have, including this one:
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=129151&highlight=drive+austria
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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!
@sj1608, yeah, I like the idea of Christmas in the mountains but the last few years of bad snow really has put me off along with everyone else seemingly. Then again the same could be true of Easter in other years - it's a bit of a gamble. I've been twice in April and it has been fine, we've also gone early January and it snowed so much we didn't actually get nearly as much skiing in, and most of it was in white out conditions. That may suit others but I'm not at a level where I thirst for powder yet! I think ultimately I prefer a higher chance of sunshine and longer days, which means finding somewhere high up which rules out most non-French resorts? (please correct me if I'm wrong!)

@sugarmoma666, thanks! Doesn't sound *that* bad.. possibly!! I've unintentionally driven for that long when held up by traffic jams when visiting relatives 350 odd miles away. But that's British roads and unplanned.

Anyway, it's all a moot point. In order to supersede our awesome apartment this time round, we're surely going to be booking this: https://www.ski-boutique.co.uk/resorts/france/courchevel-1850/edelweiss/

Quote:

When you’re ready to hit the slopes you do so in ultimate style; your ski butler prepares your equipment; skis perfectly tuned and boots warmed and eased on to your feet as you sit in the grand ski room which opens up directly on to the Bellecote piste.


and

Quote:

from the spa with its colossal swimming pool adorned with lion busts spouting water and a vast marble waterfall, to the incredible party room. Your own bar - Martini anyone? Shaken not stirred of course, followed by a game of pool perhaps, or arrange for a world-famous DJ to play for you from the podium as your guests dance the night away on your private dance floor; your own private nightclub in fact.


I'm amused by the fact one week at Christmas probably costs about the same as buying our entire apartment we stayed in this week! That said, a ski butler would be awesome. My husband is okay at doing my ski boots up when I can't always reach properly, but he never warms them first Little Angel
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@sparklies, just to add I have also really enjoyed reading this thread. Sorry about your troubles at the beginning but the rest is a lovely positive story.

Good news for your Easter next year - Easter comes earlier in the year, mid-March Smile
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@sparklies, Hmmm, Christmas, I'm leaving it this year until the snow is on the ground, it looked great at the end of November this season!
Chains...always have them have never used them recently. Over the last 30 years have only 'chained up' twice.
Snow socks fit all cars that chains won't. So I guess that would be your solution, also much easier to fit and take off than chains.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@Orange200, Glad you enjoyed reading it! It has been fun updating it every day! I'm sad to be back home, it was definitely the best ski trip I've done as despite all the organisational dramas beforehand, once we were there luck was completely on our side with everything else, including the weather. It's going to take some beating in the future! The real challenge now is sifting through the 100GB of video footage to make a short, interesting video..

You're right, Easter itself is April 1st! Woo! Although the year after it's April 21st or something dreadful. Will need to make some other plans that year I think..!
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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.
@boredsurfin, yes, exactly when it comes to booking at Christmas! Last year we did have Tignes booked for the week over new year.. then Crystal (heh) admitted they'd ballsed up our Eurostar booking as there was not going to be a train on Christmas Day after all, and they changed our departure by over 12 hours later. That was enough to trigger the right to change a holiday as we didn't want to lose that first day skiing, so I plucked up the courage to take the children out of school for the first time and we shifted it to the week after. There had been not a single snowflake in resort until quite literally the moment our bus pulled into Tignes. Then there was not a ray of sunshine all week wink That said, it was a lot more pleasant by all accounts than the concrete pistes and masses of injuries the week before so it was totally the right decision!

Snowsocks sound like a good solution. It appears the maker of our car (Volvo XC90) provides official ones, so that's a good sign. I can't remember though - are snowsocks acceptable *legally* over chains in France when it starts dumping the white stuff in great quantities?
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@sparklies, bordsurfin

Quote:
That's interesting the price is around 4Km2.. I thought it would be a lot more from looking in the window of Erna Low! (yes, I looked, ha ha!!)


The difference between what they want, and what they get...

I also, may have inadvertendly quoted GPB rather than EUR, which while not 1:1 does make a difference! (especially when we bought, at ~ 1.6 - ie paid £250k aka €400k. If I sold for €400k now, I'd be chuckling...)

I'm attempting to find various emails with more accurate assessments: but don't forget that taxes, officials and realtor charges, do add around 25 - 30% on that window figure.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@sparklies, Yep, snow socks are legal and even come with a bit of paper for the Gendarmes saying so!
http://www.autosock.co.uk/pdfs/AutoSock_B26_France.pdf
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Arctic Roll, ouch yes - the exchange rate does make a big difference! Now would not be a great time to buy, but from all I've heard usually ski apartments should never be considered an investment anyway, except in happiness! I've also heard about the large amount extra you have to pay in France versus the UK, which already seems to have enough extras as it is. It's a nice endgame to have though snowHead

@boredsurfin, brilliant! Looks like we might well have a solution then. I have to admit that aside from our chalet in Tignes right after a massive massive dump, we've been nowhere that would have needed socks or chains to get to our accommodation or at least the car park bit. It's just the fear that one day we might get unlucky; I got somewhat concerned after seeing cars (without chains, or chains badly fitted) out of control around Tignes that day!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:

@boredsurfin, brilliant! Looks like we might well have a solution then. I have to admit that aside from our chalet in Tignes right after a massive massive dump, we've been nowhere that would have needed socks or chains to get to our accommodation or at least the car park bit. It's just the fear that one day we might get unlucky; I got somewhat concerned after seeing cars (without chains, or chains badly fitted) out of control around Tignes that day!


You mentioned far easier to take on and off, unfortunately that can also apply to when you're driving in a blizzard and trying to reach accom; snowsocks love to come off on their own accord. Snowchains, although slightly more fiddly, when fitted correctly will be more reliable and dependable. I've seen far too many torn up snowsocks and stranded families than ever this year, despite the sparse snowfall.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@sparklies, I don`t know what car you have, or how long you would keep it, but if you are serious about driving to the Alps in winter, every winter, maybe at Xmas and Easter too, it may be worth thinking about driving in snow when you change your car. (We have taken 7 seater Espaces and Peugeouts in the past, both coped and towed the caravan over mountain passes and in dreadful conditions on occasions, but I`m sold on 4x4`s now lol)

Over the past few years, no longer caravanning, we have taken a 7 seater disco (with roof box) and the last couple of years an audi estate 4x4 (because all the kids/partners have met us in the Alps having travelled independently so no need for lots of seats).

Both vehicles are excellent on snow and ice of all types and kept going without chains on all purpose tyres when all but other similar 4x4`s had given up. (The disco got us up to Las Rosiere from BSM in very heavy snow) The only time we had to use chains was on the Audi on the night of Snowmeggedon and then just for the last little bit up to the apartment in La Tania (we put chains on because we did not know the road and you should always err on the side of caution). We had already gone over the pass at lunchtime that day and through Megeve (road we know) without needing to put chains on.

Having the 'right' car makes life easier but you still need to know (and to have practised) how to put snow chains on. Also choosing your resort can make a difference. Places as you say like BSM, and Samoens for example have such gentle runs to them that the need to put chains on again is minimised. I have heard of a number of cars that apparently can`t accommodate snow chains but in practice with the right advice all seem to!

Driving to the Alps with children is a doddle compared to flying, and I have only ever flown home with one or two children in tow (a long time ago now lol), leaving my husband in the Alps with car, and most of the kit. We worked out that with more than 3 people going to the Alps was cheaper by car even with today's fuel prices and vehicles that do not do loads on miles to the gallon.

If you consider going Xmas week to France on a diy basis bear in mind it may be possible to book for more than a week for pretty much the same price as the Xmas week if the school hols fall out right! Some resorts are not fully open the preXmas week but you are there, you have arrived before the hoards, and can settle in at your leisure. There will be some skiing, and you can fully optimise the Xmas week.

That preXmas week can also be a chance to ski other resorts if you have the car and the inclination, traffic seems to be pretty light that week. Having more than the week anywhere gives the holiday a more relaxed feel, at least for my family. Drive down from say Arc 2000 and up to Val D'Isere for a day, you get the idea!
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 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?
@matteevan90, useful to know! Although we really don't have a snowchain option unless we basically buy another set of wheels for our car.. which is pushing us well past four figures and I believe the chains are well into the 3-400s from memory. It's just not worth spending that much given a) we probably won't ever need it and b) we're likely to change our car every 3-4 years. I think a better bet would simply be to find somewhere to park in Bourg and get the Funicular up if it was close to Snowmageddon. Obviously that's no use for other resorts but there might be similar bus options or worst case we try and find a hotel, but I would hope statistically we'd not be unlucky for one or two trips a year.

@CaravanSkier, on that front we're doing okay! It's a Volvo XC90 so a lot better than most (although obviously there are more appropriate 4x4s) - the main problem I find with it is simply that it is so big it's a sod to park in regular spaces and get the children out easily!! As you say with a roofbox, there's masses of space, well, it feels like it for us given we're used to practically none before we upgraded last autumn from a people carrier!

As I just mentioned to Matt, our wheels are too big (there's not enough clearance) for chains - the subject is discussed quite a bit on the XC90 forums! It seems we'd need to get a new set of wheels which just seems extreme for a slight offchance.

That's a really good tip about pre-Christmas week. One of the things we always feel is rushed - pressure to get in as much skiing as possible because you know you won't have long. It would be nice to spread it out a bit, and especially to just enjoy the resort. I always see things I would like to do and would on any other holiday if there wasn't skiing around, but we never do them. It was a miracle this time we actually went for a swim, we'd always promised the children we would on every holiday but this was the first time we managed it!!
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sparklies wrote:




As I just mentioned to Matt, our wheels are too big (there's not enough clearance) for chains - the subject is discussed quite a bit on the XC90 forums! It seems we'd need to get a new set of wheels which just seems extreme for a slight offchance.





Thats a real nuisance! I have never used snow socks so I have no idea what they are like but it would seem thats your only viable/legal option Sad
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Daft thing is, we don't even care about the big wheels! When we bought it, we ordered the closest match to our requirements from stock rather than waiting at least 4-5 months for a custom build. This one ticked most of what we wanted and we didn't care about the wheel size, it's pretty much a vanity thing anyway from what I can tell (I am not a car expert, ha ha!) Then we found out snowchains would be a pain - I'd never have guessed. Still probably would have got this particular car but it's annoying something that is basically about vanity is causing a problem with practical use!

For some reason I thought it would be further than an 8-10 hour drive. It does look very doable, especially if we add a day on each side and stop halfway, meaning we can get in extra skiing either end too. Not only are we obviously saving a lot of money over flying, especially in school holidays, but we're losing so much of the anxiety and stress over airports and transfers. I'd far rather have them all sitting docile in the car than causing a scene in a crowded check-in queue! Lots of people were lovely and very understanding (credit to the nice Chambery airport worker who pulled us out of line over others to go to a freshly opening check-in desk, saying "It's hard travelling with children") but you still get "the looks", often when the children aren't even being antisocial. We try really hard to make sure they behave well, our lives would be a lot less stressful if we were the sort of parents who let our children be obnoxious and not try and stop them, so "the looks" really stress me out as we're trying so hard whilst juggling ten large bags as well as the four bored and stressed kids!

1950 had all the ski school and childcare we require, so it's perfect in that regard - although in the future we may well look at getting a nanny for the younger ones in the afternoon. Best of all with driving we can take our own skis. We never have before simply because the thought of ski bags on top of all the gear for all six of us gave me the horrors. It gives me an excuse to buy some nice new skis too as my current and only ones are at least six years old and second hand, and only ever been used in Hemel wink

The next part is simply waiting for next year's Erna Low apartments in 1950 to become available.. and we're booking! We're on their list to be notified anyway snowHead
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@CaravanSkier, Sox are fine, lightweight and very quick to fit and remove . . . you just need a bin bag to put them in when you take them off or you will cover the inside of your ride with muck. They work beautifully on fresh snow and good on wet sheet ice but chew up on lumpy refrozen crud . . . but then again I've a lot more power and weight than you lot.
Best general option is cheap steel wheels (breakers yard) and proper snow tyres and make sure you get the correct load rating. You will find that most marques use the same size and patern for wheel mounting across the range and going for a narrower wheel/tyre combo works better. You may not like the aesthetics but it'll get you where you want to go.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Masque, We are happy with snow chains, but you still need a bin liner to chuck them in in the pitch dark when you hit tarmac on the way down a pass lol

@sparklies, Its great taking your own skis, just don`t expect teenagers (when you get there) to be happy with hand me downs, or accept at least without constant moaning, anything other than the latest kit! We gave up on buying skis for the kids during the teen years and accepted hire charges. Thankfully they now all pay for their own ski hire, even if we still pick up the accommodation bill! rolling eyes Laughing
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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!
@CaravanSkier, ever tried to lift and fit chains to an artic? Evil or Very Mad
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We currently have all season tyres on ours, so not much better than summer tyres for real snow. But we still have to drive 1000km or so to get there so really we need regular tyres for that! Snowsocks sound like the best compromise.

@CaravanSkier, oh definitely.. my older two are so different (oldest is more of a tomboy, the second is definitely more "pink") so there's not much passing on going on anyway, sigh! I'm hoping though that by the time they're old enough to grumble at passed down skis, that they'll be big enough to handle the hire shop without much intervention on our part. Trying to get all six of us into skis (and two into boots) last Saturday after 12 hours of travel and three hours of sleep was.. well, I'm sure you can imagine! Even if we only don't have to sort ourselves out, that still makes it much easier!
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@sparklies, I sooo get it! I remember it can be exhausting, and yes in many ways its much easier when they can handle the ski shop/hire themselves. Its a very good learning exercise for them as children though in more than just skiing, always see the positive lol! They will help you out in future!

Last time I was in a ski shop with ' all my (20 something) boys' (Jan 2016 none of us took skis) they told the shop what they wanted, what their Dad wanted and what I wanted lol in sooo much better French than I could hope to aspire to, and without actually asking either their Dad or me what we wanted Laughing Talk about role reversal!!!
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@CaravanSkier, yes, definitely a good learning exercise! Right now they're stuck with the very very limited range of children's skis, but as they get bigger and move into the shorter adult lengths, they'll need to learn what they want and they'll presumably know better than us. My French is kind of alright sometimes, but it's very rusty and nothing like what it was when I was a teenager fresh off the French Exchange etc. I'm sure they'll be better than me in their late teens and 20s like yours are!
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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.
Masque wrote:
@CaravanSkier, ever tried to lift and fit chains to an artic? Evil or Very Mad


Nope! I don`t generally drive one of those lol And with 4 wheels on the drive axle, the size and all that, I understand it is, shall we politely say - a trifle challenging lol
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
sparklies wrote:
Daft thing is, we don't even care about the big wheels! When we bought it, we ordered the closest match to our requirements from stock rather than waiting at least 4-5 months for a custom build. This one ticked most of what we wanted and we didn't care about the wheel size, it's pretty much a vanity thing anyway from what I can tell (I am not a car expert, ha ha!) Then we found out snowchains would be a pain - I'd never have guessed.


Once winter has passed, put up an ad on the XC90 forum "Swap my 20in for your 19in" or similar. If it's a vanity thing, there should be plenty of people interested in a direct swap. They get the big wheels, you get chain-compatible ones. I assume you can get chains for the smaller versions? Or was that not the problem?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Orange200, that's not a bad idea! I'm fairly sure there are chains for the smaller ones, although before I do anything drastic I'll do my research properly too!
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