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December 16-23 2017 arrive Geneva

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello snowheadz

I'm looking for some advice on where to go between 16-23 December 2017, flying into Geneva. Two adults two children 4 & 6.
I went straight to looking at Val Thoren just because I'm naive and think that'll definitely have snow, but then someone mentioned Les Deux Alpes, but then they said a transfer would cost >£1k!!!!!

We're not that fussed about a longish (2-3 hours) transfer/self-drive, but ideally would want a shorter one.
Not experienced skiiers at all, as long as there's some beginners/green/blues that's fine, if its got stuff for kids, lessons even, the place has a pool/spa stuff all that would be great.

So any thoughts from personal experience or hearsay would be most welcome.
Or another option could be perhaps staying down a mountain somewhere nice that's easy to get up the mountain to spend a day messing about in the snow.
I'd much prefer to not have to hire a car to be honest, getting up a snowy mountain seems like it would be a stressful way to bookend a holiday, but then I guess there aren't too many options.

Many many thanks
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Personally I would wait and see what the weather does. Whilst it's tempting to book somewhere ultra-high like Val Thorens, the weather can be hostile and the altitude challenging, particularly for your kids.

You never know, the snow might come early and then you can have a nice relaxing train journey from Geneva to a nice chocolate-boxy village in Switzerland, or get a coach transfer to one of the smaller (and nearby) French villages. There's no point paying for access to a massive ski area if you're only going to ski 10% of it.
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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?
I used to work for a fantastic family run and family orientated ski Chalet in Prodains called Chilly Powder. (There is a telecabin across the piste from the chalet that takes you straight up to Avoriaz)

I cannot recommend them highly enough. They can have everything booked up and arranged to make your first family ski holiday zero stress, fun and enjoyable including booking a good value safe transfer (1.5 hr from Geneva airport).
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@biatwc, what @telford_mike, said.

That week you will have absolutely no problem finding good accommodation in places you'd want to stay.

Somewhere like Avoriaz (which plans to open on the 15th) would be ideal. Small in area (high rise), purpose built, technically more or less ski in and out every building. There's an aquaparc and a good "Village des Enfants" in the centre of the village. Bear in mind that an hour or so in the snow is often quite enough for kids that age...

Given how limited your on-snow needs are, almost anywhere with snow will work. More important - IMV - to focus somewhat on how to keep the kids amused when they aren't skiing. And they may not take to it...
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@247snowman wrote:
I used to work for a fantastic family run and family orientated ski Chalet in Prodains called Chilly Powder. (There is a telecabin across the piste from the chalet that takes you straight up to Avoriaz)

I cannot recommend them highly enough. They can have everything booked up and arranged to make your first family ski holiday zero stress, fun and enjoyable including booking a good value safe transfer (1.5 hr from Geneva airport).


Not to bang the anti-Morzine drum as I do like the place, however, I have done the last two New Years in Morzine/Avoriaz and it was really poor. I know people say that you can get up to Avoriaz, but that just gets really busy and you just end up with sheet ice. I would temper that by admitting it's a very quiet week, but if there's no snow...

I have also heard great things from a work colleague re Chilli Powder, but it's doubtful you'll be able to book last minute as they are so popular.

Given that you're not looking at a peak week being before xmas, I would look at waiting if you can.

If you're dead set on booking then we went to Courmayeur last year a week earlier than that (booked the week before) as it was the only place that had any snow in the entire northern Alps (i.e. < 1.5hrs from Geneva) apart from Verbier. It was full of the kiddies ski schools from France, but otherwise completely dead. But a great little town, lovely Italian hospitality etc. Easy to self drive as it's autoroute all the way to the Mont Blanc tunnel and then through the other side. I suppose you would have to take the kids up a gondola though, which is a consideration. I think a lot of the hotels will be cheap and do transfers to the gondola - we stayed in the Gran Baita and it was lovely with a good pool.

Hope that helps.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Tue 24-10-17 8:52; edited 1 time in total
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@biatwc, welcome to snowHeads. I also agree with @telford_mike, wait until December before checking snow conditions, weather forecast and accommodation options.
Have you decided whether you want to book components separately, eg apartment, equipment, etc? Or whether you prefer a package including transfers, food, equipment, tuition, etc?

Personally I wouldn't consider L2A from Geneva, too long a transfer. Grenoble much closer to L2A.
Nearer your arrival time it would be much easier for snowHeads to offer specific advice I think.
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@Badbobby,
Quote:
it was really poor.
- which gives absolutely no information about the coming season.

And Avoriaz will absolutely not be really busy that week.

Unlike New Year's week which is the busiest week of the year and high traffic areas will be icy-ish even with good snow if it fell a few days previously.

Nowhere will be really busy. Which is why all the advice (including yours) is to wait and see where there is snow (and watch the weather forecast wrt storms).

Quote:
Courmayeur ... it was the only place that had any snow in the entire northern Alps
- which again gives no information about the coming season, almost certainly requires a hire car (OP not keen). And Monterosa had snow admittedly another 1hrs further drive.

No problems taking kids up the gondola, why would there be? Most people go up a gondola to get to Avoriaz and you see plenty of kids and new-borns up there.


@biatwc, Have you booked your flights yet?
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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!
under a new name wrote:

And Avoriaz will absolutely not be really busy that week.


...nor will anywhere else Smile

Seriously though, Avoraiz is busy-ish for the weekend of the SkiTests, but the following week is normally v.quiet, and whatever snow there is you'll be sharing with a few saisonaires and locals.
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We have a place in the Swiss satellite resort of La Tzoumaz (connected to Verbier) and many of our bookings come from Dutch and Germans who leave it pretty late before ringing-up about accommodation. They seem to wait until the snow conditions are obviously OK before deciding on their destination, and then contact agencies directly, on the 'phone/email to see what's available (by-passing the online booking site).

If you like a bit of adventure, you could try transiting to a resort by train/télécabine. And it would be exciting for the kids, and mean you didn't have the usual car hassle (especially on return). Nendaz is another resort in the Valais that is accessible by the notoriously efficient Swiss public transport system. The Swiss Transport website has an integrated timetable at https://www.sbb.ch/en with the platforms right inside Geneva Airport. Th Swiss Tourist site at https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/home.html often has special offers on accommodation, skiing and rail.

Sometimes car rental is still easier/cheaper than train/télécabine in which case you have a load of Swiss resorts within 90 minutes drive of Geneva Airport. Again, take a look at the MySwitzerland site above for offers. The Valais ones that might suit youngsters are the likes of Ovronnaz (also a thermal spa), La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, Crans-Montana (poss a bit pricey), St.Luc and obviously Verbier. These are mostly located each side of the Rhône valley between Martigny and Sion if you want to find them on the map. There's also a large, family-oriented spa at Saillon between the two towns which might be interesting as a day trip, or even a base. https://www.bainsdesaillon.ch/en/
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,yes flights booked. An aquaparc and enfants village sound ideal, does Avoriaz have snow machines or at least a chance of snow mid December?

Thanks for the recommendations for Chilly Powder, will look into it.

If everyone is right about how quiet it will be, we have no problems leaving it late.

Many thanks for all replies so far.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Yes avoriaz has snow making and with the ski test the w/e you arrive they will ensure it's open even if there's been no snow. Despite the lack of snow it was good there last year that week, just got unpleasantly busy as New Year approached.
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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.
@biatwc, Chilly Powder aside (and they are really good), you are likely to find all sorts of accommodation available in Avoriaz itself. There is snowmaking on most of the pistes but with two young children you aren't likely to be going very far... are you?
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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
Hi

I may get a few hours off to do some skiing whilst the family are doing something else, so Avoraiz is sounding worth a look.
Anyone done the stay down the mountain and only go up for a day trip type thing?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Dead easy to get up to Avoriaz via Prodains telecabin, Supper Morzine bubble or Ardent Telecabin.

Which way you access Avoriaz depends on where your accomdation is.

Also if the snow is ok early season and you accommodation is in Morzine then skiing the Morzine and Les Gets slopes might be easier.

If you do end up in Morzine, Avoriaz or Les Gets and want any advice drop me a PM. Very Happy
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Ski-2 at Champoluc are worth looking at. About 3 hours from Geneva via the MB Tunnel, good intermediate skiing and they have hotels with pools/spas. Ski-2 prices don't include the flight but they include the transfers, lunches, ski-passes etc. They also have their own ski-school with British instructors.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Champoluc not a terrible idea, wife & her siblings all grew up learning ti ski there and now nieces and nephews. But from the original brief, you would want to go packaged as otherwise you might be driving up a windy mountain road without snow tyres and without winterised diesel... rolling eyes
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Hi @biatwc,

How about La Plagne? We've still got spaces in our chalets for that week, and the prices have just reduced down to £299 per person fully catered. www.ice-fire.co.uk

The Paradiski area is a good early season choice - 2 glaciers, 70% of the domain above 2000m and plenty of snowmaking.

Happy Planning!
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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?
Hello everyone

Any thoughts or experiences on Atria Crozats or Electra in Avoraiz?

What are people's tips about self catering up a mountain?
I assume any food shops will be ridiculously expensive.
How about restaurants?

Last one, any recommendations on firms doing shared transfers from Geneva Airport to Avoraiz?

Many many thanks
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Be aware that not all resorts will be fully open on 16 Dec.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
And yes. Wait till nearer the time to book.
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Avoriaz aiming to open on the 15th...
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@pam w, why wait until nearer the time?
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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!
@biatwc, because then you can choose where there’s snow... rolling eyes
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@biatwc,
Shared transfers.......
Ski-Lifts
Skiidy gonzales
Morz express
action transfers

There is a Carrefour supermarket in Avoriaz. It's not the cheapest but is not crazy prices.
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@biatwc, If you do decide on L2A this page gives transfer details https://www.2alpesnet.com/buses

56.5E adult return to Grenoble 2h 15m then local bus about 1h 15m and cheap about 10E return I think. Cheaper for children. A train to Grenoble is also possible. A return taxi might be £1K Toofy Grin
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Why would anyone pay these sort of transfer fees? Car hire for something like a Golf on snow tyres is around €300 a week, even in peak season.
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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.
Yeah private transfer prices are insane, I've been quoted a grand, albeit to a resort over 2 hours away.

In terms of waiting to see what the weather does, someone posted on this thread about ski tests happening the weekend we arrive at Avoraiz, and it has snow making, so forgive my naivety, Avoraiz seems like a good option given our limited skiing needs and the stuff they have for kids etc. Or does it not work like that?

Or is there a possibility there will literally be no snow?

Are there deals to be had with skicollection, ernalow & pierrevacances et al closer to the time?

Thanks so much for everyone's input so far.
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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
Yeah private transfer prices are insane, I've been quoted a grand, albeit to a resort over 2 hours away.

In terms of waiting to see what the weather does, someone posted on this thread about ski tests happening the weekend we arrive at Avoraiz, and it has snow making, so forgive my naivety, Avoraiz seems like a good option given our limited skiing needs and the stuff they have for kids etc. Or does it not work like that?

Or is there a possibility there will literally be no snow?

Are there deals to be had with skicollection, ernalow & pierrevacances et al closer to the time?

Thanks so much for everyone's input so far.
snow conditions
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
biatwc wrote:
Or is there a possibility there will literally be no snow?


Unlikely but certainly possible. More likely is that manage to get about 4 runs open so as to avoid refunding punters their lift pass costs and those 4 runs are grim and crowded.

Wait until the last minute and then book only if conditions look reasonable. I've had absolutely fantastic pre-Crimbo skiing - epic snow and empty slopes - but the last two years have been desperate and I've given it a miss
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@biatwc,

Avoriaz will have snow. 99.999999% sure. yep there is a snowboard test and party thing happening 15th to 17th but don't let the snowboard party put you off as it's not mobbed.

The snow cannons will have been fired up and it's gotta have snow. Especially with ski and snowboard manufacturers turning up with all this seasons kit, bands booked etc etc

I would have thought that familyski.co.uk in a Chalet at Ardent would sort transfers, kids lessons, lift passes and offer an amazing deal for the 16th Dec and I'm surprised Chilly powder did not 'pull your arm off' for the 16th as just about all the Chalet companies over the alps are struggling to sell holidays before the New Year week's.

From Family ski at Ardent village..... it's 1 x gondola to Les Linderets village which is part of the Avoriaz ski area. ESF normally have kids lessons in Ardent (might not run 16th Dec though as it's early season).

https://familyski.co.uk/

http://www.avoriaz.com/en/events/rock-on-ultimate

https://www.esf-montriond.com/

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/oct/10/great-little-ski-resorts-holidays-hotels-france-italy-us

Another way to get to Avoriaz is hire at car at Geneva airport and you can pay for underground parking in Avoriaz (If you do this rent from the swiss side and not the french as swiss hire car will already have winter tyres and snow chains where the french one probably won't)
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi

I took a look at chilli powder and realised something else I don't understand about this type of holiday. You can get a reasonable looking self catering apartment sleeping 4 for about £660 total for the week, Electra/Atria Crozats for example.
Firms like chilli powder offer catered chalets from €725 (£640) per person, so about £2.5k for the week. Such a large discrepancy is confusing me, I mean that's almost £400 per night!

Unless of course I'm missing something?

Thanks again
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@biatwc,
Quote:

Such a large discrepancy is confusing me, I mean that's almost £400 per night!

The difference is the labour & materials charge for: Catering. Usually 7 breakfasts, 6 dinners including wine, 7 afternoon teas. Room cleaning - usually 6 days + end of week full clean and bedding change. Not forgetting the washing up after each meal. Shopping for supplies too. Some organise equipment rental and lift passes delivered to you breakfast table. Rarer these days but some offer ski guiding.

Depends how much you think that's worth, compared with sharing work between you. If you eat out 3 or 4 evenings in typical alpine resorts, the cost of an apartment break soon mounts up. Resort supermarkets are notoriously expensive too.
There are ways to keep costs of an apartment break reasonable, without skimping on quality.

BTW, I have no connection with any chalet company. But I've done S/C apartments and Chalets many times and know which one I prefer. snowHead
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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?
@biatwc, maybe ask familyski, familyfriendlyskiing and/or chilly P for a quote for the 16th. I think there are deals to be had.

The ice-fire thing in la Plagne also looks like a good deal and it's probable that La Plagne will have decent snow.

So, family friendly skiing in la tania are another idea who could 'lay it all on' for you. and La tania is a great little village, ideal for families.

http://familyfriendlyskiing.com/

I was recommending a family specialist as a 1st ski trip with your partner, 4 yr old and 6 yr old as 1st ski holidays can be a challenge to iron out 'teething problems'

Plus the more chance you have of making the 1st ski holiday with the kids successful then the more chance the kids and partner will love it and want to do it all again.

This is what an independent like Chilly P do.........
Book your shared transfer for you shared 70e (ish) each return with booster seats for kids in a well prepped van with a professional driver that knows the route, how to put chains on and gets the holiday off to a successful, stress free start.
Delivers you to the door of the chalet
Chalet staff take your bags to your room whilst you, the Mrs and the kids settle in, explore the chalet and have a cup of tea and the kids jump around in the snow and maybe make friends with other kids and get excited.
Arrange to have your ski's delivered to the Chalet so no traipsing to ski hire shop at the start and end of the holiday
Arrange you ski pass so it's there when you arrive so no traipsing to lift pass office or having to rush this on Sunday morning before ski school
Makes a nice cake so the kids have something to eat when they get to the chalet on the Saturday and don't get cranky before their dinner
hearty, healthy food for kids tea early when the kids are starving after a days skiing
5 course evening meal for adults prepped by a professional Chef (not a cook) with unlimited wine thats tastes like it cost £20 a bottle from waistrose included with dinner
afternoon tea and cake everyday for a snack after skiing
hot breakfast every morning
playroom for kids
Games for kids
Adults only area if you or the Mrs want to have 5 mins chill out
Hot tub in garden and barman serving drinks to the hot tub in the snow whilst its snowing
Access to Yurt/Spa in the Garden and in-house spa therapist for treatments
Own ski school (in practice, it's private lessons with other parents) so max 6 kids in a class
own in house nannies who can deliver your kids to ski school for you if you fancy a late start.
own in house nannies who can collect your kids from ski school and give them lunch if you fancy a late finish from skiing or want a grown up lunch with the Mrs.
own in house nannies who can entertain your kids in the afternoon if you want to keep skiing, take the kids for a hot choc etc
Ski school assistant who ski's with your kids and keeps an eye on them, is great at blowing noses, wiping goggles, reassuring little ones so the whole class gets maximum learning and enjoyment and mum and dad get to relax a bit more knowing the kids are looked after. The ski school assistant chats to you after lessons and also pop's into the chalet most evenings.
Have great staff who live in the alps all year around.

NB/I did used to work for Chilly P and I still class the owners as friends. They're heavily involved in their business and if there is a problem then they're on hand to sort it.

That type of holiday and service costs and yeah it's not what everyone is after and indeed not what everyone needs.

Companies like Familyski, ski esprit, have other small little advantages. Like a box of kids ski gear so if the little ones lose goggles/gloves or wet them selves there is a box of discarded ski gear at the chalet or creche and a washing machine you can access if there is an 'accident'.

Other things independents are good at are stuff like knowing the local doctor personally and will take you direct to the doctors if the little ones are ill.

The Great escape and The mountain lodge co are also good independent owner ran options in Morzine

@biatwc, regarding booking an apartment in Avoriaz and good value transfer, what time does your in bound flight arrive at GVA and your outbound flight depart GVA.

If you end up booking an apt in Avoriaz and are after a good value way to transfer to Avoriaz then if the flight times work then you could use a shared transfer service like Alpbus or Easybus who drop you off at the Prodains express gondola for access to Avoriaz. You then use prodains express to upload into Avoriaz and use the Avoriaz ground transport to your accommodation. Avoriaz ground transport number was....+33(0)450740155
last time i checked.

The Prodains express gondola runs until Midnight on a Fri & Sat then till 10pm on a Sunday and 9pm all other evenings.
It starts running at 7am for pedestrians so leaving resort you need to make sure these times work with transfers and flight times if you want to get out of Avoriaz using the Prodains express route.

Alpybus and Easybus have 'mixed' reviews and offer shared transfers to Prodains. I would allow a pick up 4hr at least at Prodains on the return leg so flight has to be around 11:15am or later flying out of GVA to allow enough time to get down the first gondola, into shared transfer and to the airport.

90% of the apartments in Avoriaz have to be accessed by Avoriaz ground transport anyway as it's a pedestrianised village so think snow cat converted into a taxi.

A great holiday can be had in an apt up in Avoriaz. Electra is at the back of the station so I 'think' it might not best logistically for getting little ones up, kitted, suited and booted and delivered to ski school early each morning.

http://www.avoriaz.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/plan_avoriaz.png

I think the Amara is the new apt's up in Avoriaz and are quite swanky. I believe they also very close to the beginner plateau for the ESF school plateau or beginners area so might be a better idea than Electra.

Hope all of my ramblings help a little.
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red 27 wrote:
More likely is that manage to get about 4 runs open so as to avoid refunding punters their lift pass costs and those 4 runs are grim and crowded


If there isn't much snow, most resorts will only open a few pistes in the week before Christmas, so as to try and keep the rest of the pistes in as good a condition as possible for Christmas week. Personally I'd be willing to wait till a few days before you go to see where the snow is, though I realise that many people get a bit twitchy leaving it that late. From Geneva you are in range of Aosta valley (e.g. Courmayeur, Monte Rosa resorts), Valais (e.g. Verbier, Zermatt) and most of the French alps, each of which could have very different snow conditions
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@@247snowman, blimey that wins the helpful post award!!!
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Make sure you understand how cramped the typical French apartment for 4 is. By law they must give the area of the apartment. Pace it out and see what I mean.

A one bedroom might be better.

As others have said for those dates you can wait until 3 days before you depart to book accommodation. Book you flights and car hire now then se where the snow is.

If Avoriaz has snow that would be my first choice. Short transfer. Nearly all accommodation is ski in ski out. Kids ski school is right in the middle of the resort. Trust me you do not want to yomp 2 kids and their gear from Prodain down in the valley up the gondola then uphill to ski school.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
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I know its 5 weeks out, but I think you'll be good for snow in Avoriaz that week.
There's snow at 1250m now, and its snowing today - it feels cold too.
The next 14 days are forecast to snow on and off, without it ever going above freezing for extended periods, so a reasonable base might develop before it all opens.
They sometimes open the lifts early too - the earliest I remember here was November 23rd, but quite a few times it's been open on December 1st.
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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!
I'd echo the advice about apartments and rooms vs m². In general, the Swiss seem more generous with their space than the French, all other things being equal. However, in both cases I've seen places advertised x number of people or y bedrooms and then looked at the m² and thought 'How have thy managed that?' Often by putting bunk beds in the hall, double beds with one side against the wall, plus a bed-settee in the living area etc. So always look at the m² as well as the rest of the spec'. And if you opt for car hire, it's always useful if there's an underground parking space included.

Our apartment in the 4 Valleys CH is booked that week, so this isn't a sales pitch but to give you an idea: Ours is 68 m², with one bunk-bed room and a second double bedroom. Open-plan kitchen/ diner/ lounge with balcony. Wired Broadband/WiFi, UK cable TV & Netflix. Underground parking for 1 car. Central heating and hot water. Heated & secure Boot room. CHF 1290 your week (£990).
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As much as I love the PdS, this is way too early in the season to be going there. Other than a couple of runs around Avoriaz, the resort will be closed or very snow unsure. Even the runs around the village don't go above 2350m and very few are blue (if you want to ski with the kids).

To guarantee skiing before Christmas, it needs to be somewhere high.

La Plagne/Les Arcs, Val T, Tignes/Val D. I would add Chamonix but it's only really GM that will likely be open.

At that time of year, I would also leave it to the last minute to decide. No where will be full and you could bag a last minute bargain.

My money would be on Les Arcs or Tignes for plenty of last minute accommodation and good snow.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@bar shaker, to be quite honest, it’s too early in the season to be going most places and counting on snow.

But booking last minute means you can at least go where snow is best, etc.
snow conditions



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