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First time skiing with children in La Plagne - help/advice?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi All,

I'm looking for some advice and help on trying to book a weeks skiing for my family (wife and kids aged 8,7 & 1 at time of trip) for Easter 2020. We've previously always left the kids at home with grand parents and enjoyed the skiing and apres child free. But my two eldest are at an age now that I want them to come along for their first skiing holiday. Both have had a few lessons in the snowdome and have done well, but would look to put them in ski school in the morning's and then we will spend the time in the afternoon as a family either on the slopes, or just having fun sledging, snow parks, swimming, etc etc.

We've decided on La Plagne as the destination but really looking for advice on accommodation, childcare for 1 year old, etc. I've got a figure of around £3-4k in my head. Does this seem doable? The budget can stretch if needed.

Any advice or suggestion, or prior experience would be much appreciated.
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@Roscoe, Can't help with specific accommodation as don't know resort, however, have been with our 3-kids to Vallandry (across valley) numerous times at Easter and think your budget is doable. Question though on what you're including in that?

We budget £3k for everything - that's driving, self catering, all food and lift passes etc. Easter is generally cheaper and great with kids as quieter and days warmer,
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Boris wrote:
@Roscoe, Can't help with specific accommodation as don't know resort, however, have been with our 3-kids to Vallandry (across valley) numerous times at Easter and think your budget is doable. Question though on what you're including in that?

We budget £3k for everything - that's driving, self catering, all food and lift passes etc. Easter is generally cheaper and great with kids as quieter and days warmer,


How is the drive and what kind of cost? I've heard that the tolls alone are around £250 round trip, plus petrol cost and ferry/eurotunnel, I'd assume total around £600-£800 without stopping overnight?
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@Roscoe, Drive was fine, we tend to leave Friday and do most of the journey then and arrive in resort Saturday lunchtime ish. Your toll figure sounds a little high - I've had a dig around and dug out costs from 2012 which are below - may be useful guide. We no longer stop on return, which is a saving and have all our own kit now. Lot of fuel costs there, but Discovery is a thirsty beast.

Eurotunnel - £124
Apartment - £747.44 - this was a 3-bedroom apartment 2 mins walk from slope and due to snow conditions could ski back in
Les Arcs Lift passes - £771.33
Premier Inn stop Thursday night - £38 (2 rooms booked at £19 each)
Ski rental for kids - £95
Lessons - £165 - one private lesson for mum and daughter and one for me and boys
Tolls - £145.05 as per invoice from Telepeage (return)
Shopping general - £16.09
Food shop before leaving - £95
Fuel - £81
Overnight Stop Fri - £224 - two rooms and meal and drinks
Fuel - £93
Big Shop Albertville - £218 - including all booze for week!
Shop gen - £40
Shop gen - £60
Shop gen - £47
Skis - £30 (sons were snowboarding and hired skis for one day)
Pizzas out £88
Lunch out - £81
Hotel on return - £283 - 2 rooms and a rather lush meal and champers!
Fuel - £95
Food - £8
Fuel - £80

This comes to £3632.11 we also had around £100 cash, everything else goes on Credit Card.
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Belle Plagne is lovey, high and the slopes over towards the east of the area are lovely. Plagne centre is busier and the slopes more crowded.
Belle Plagne is also a bit more refined than most of the other La Plagne resorts.
IMHO the are better options than La Plagne that are similar distance but off similar skiing in a slightly nicer environment - Val Thorens and La Rosiere, for example
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We stayed in Aime La Plagne Club Med the Christmas week it is great for kids this age and really easy but likely be more than your budget but all inclusive. They usually have relatively good discounts when they first release the next season - usually end of January.
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Roscoe, when my kids were similar age to yours, we settled on EspritSki, first at Courchevel 1300, then in La Plagne.
Now, each family is different, so our experience will be different from yours.
For a start, we never left kids at home: daughter went with us at 3 months old (with granny nanny), and son at 4 months old (with Esprit).
Our La Plagne Esprit chalet was in Montchavin, but unfortunately they don't go there anymore.
The Belle Plagne place looks very good, but may be outside your budget.
Our kids hated ski school with ESF: everyone else was French and didn't speak English.
However they were quite happy with Esprit lesson as the class was mainly other kids from the Chalet.
I would try and get your kids into an English speaking ski school class.

We also drove and self catered with another family with similar aged kids, sharing the child care.
The kids liked the drive.
We did the overnight crossing from Portsmouth and then drove all the way in one go.
Kids had Steven Fry reading to them. And regular stops for snacks and toilet.
If your car is a good size, then you can take more stuff that way.
Your suggested costing would be for the Dover/Calais route: depending on where you start from in UK, then that would be a long journey for some kids to do all in one go.
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@Roscoe, Having just returned from Les Arcs I can confirm that the tolls were 85 euros each way. We got the tunnel for about £180 and spent £230 on Deisel for 1620 miles. We already have continental breakdown insurance. So about £560 to get there and back. The price has gone up significantly the last 2 years due to the collapse of the value of sterling.

The drive down at Easter is always interesting. It appears the whole of Belgium leaves to go to the South of France or skiing. Most appearing to drive overnight on Maunday Thursday. There are a number of threads here discussing Belgian driving habits.

You should be able to get a beautiful 3 room apartment for less than 700 euros for Easter https://booking.la-plagne.com/z11587e1_uk-.aspx so I think it is well within your budget
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Bella2015 wrote:
We stayed in Aime La Plagne Club Med the Christmas week it is great for kids this age and really easy but likely be more than your budget but all inclusive. They usually have relatively good discounts when they first release the next season - usually end of January.


Thanks. Budget can be stretched to £5k-6k. Happy to pay more for location, childcare, etc if it makes the holiday run smoothly and we get as much skiing as possible!
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Jonpim wrote:
Roscoe, when my kids were similar age to yours, we settled on EspritSki, first at Courchevel 1300, then in La Plagne.
Now, each family is different, so our experience will be different from yours.
For a start, we never left kids at home: daughter went with us at 3 months old (with granny nanny), and son at 4 months old (with Esprit).
Our La Plagne Esprit chalet was in Montchavin, but unfortunately they don't go there anymore.
The Belle Plagne place looks very good, but may be outside your budget.
Our kids hated ski school with ESF: everyone else was French and didn't speak English.
However they were quite happy with Esprit lesson as the class was mainly other kids from the Chalet.
I would try and get your kids into an English speaking ski school class.

We also drove and self catered with another family with similar aged kids, sharing the child care.
The kids liked the drive.
We did the overnight crossing from Portsmouth and then drove all the way in one go.
Kids had Steven Fry reading to them. And regular stops for snacks and toilet.
If your car is a good size, then you can take more stuff that way.
Your suggested costing would be for the Dover/Calais route: depending on where you start from in UK, then that would be a long journey for some kids to do all in one go.


We live in Luton so any southern port/route which will make the journey easier/quicker would be the preferred option. Having said that, i'd prefer to fly as long as the accommodation/chalet can provide for the baby (Cot, etc).

Budget is fairly flexible so can stretch to £5-£6k if needed. I'm all for catered-chalet or an all inclusive hotel, as the last thing i'd want to be worrying about is cooking and cleaning when away. We do enough of that at home. Smile
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johnE wrote:
@Roscoe, Having just returned from Les Arcs I can confirm that the tolls were 85 euros each way. We got the tunnel for about £180 and spent £230 on Deisel for 1620 miles. We already have continental breakdown insurance. So about £560 to get there and back. The price has gone up significantly the last 2 years due to the collapse of the value of sterling.

The drive down at Easter is always interesting. It appears the whole of Belgium leaves to go to the South of France or skiing. Most appearing to drive overnight on Maunday Thursday. There are a number of threads here discussing Belgian driving habits.

You should be able to get a beautiful 3 room apartment for less than 700 euros for Easter https://booking.la-plagne.com/z11587e1_uk-.aspx so I think it is well within your budget


Thanks John. If the drive at Easter is that painful, I think i'd rather fly as the cost is comparable.

Did you need any childcare whilst there? If so, was this easy to arrange? English speaking carer's?
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@Roscoe, have to disagree, there are some idiots but the drive down we have never had a problem with - particularly if you can do bulk Friday.

Each to their own but for us, with younger kids, car meant we travelled at own pace, could stop as required and could take anything we needed with us. Self-catering also meant could buy in valley where cheaper
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@Roscoe, CM are quite good for kids with ski school and also various activities and entertainment included. Our loved it and we were able to ski all day;). You need to check regarding baby though- I know kids under 4 go for free in CM as they are to young for ski school mini club but understand that some CMs only cater for kids older than 2
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I can highly recommend Esprit with that age children, we did stay in their Belle Plagne place but we didn’t pay the prices for it (Esprit / Hoteplan decided to stop in St Anton a week early so we were offered Belle Plagne place as an alternative.), they have more affordable places in Les Arcs if you didn’t mind going the other side?

I would be tempted to look at Club Med for the right weeks they aren’t badly priced when you consider that all lessons, childcare, lift passes, food is included... but not ski hire.
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It has been a long time since my son required child care, but we have used the resort creche in serre chevalier and the cachette hotel in les arcs. I think they had some English speaking nannies
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 Poster: A snowHead
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I would avoid Plagne 1800 as a base with new skiers. Quite difficult to get back to on skis.
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@Roscoe, Why La Plagne?
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boredsurfin wrote:
@Roscoe, Why La Plagne?

If the budget is 5-6k I have to concur.
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boredsurfin wrote:
@Roscoe, Why La Plagne?


Heard from family friends about La Plagne. They took their two young boys there a few year on the trot to learn. They said it was perfect for families. Also the large percentage of blues runs, for them later in the week if they get on well.

Happy to hear better suggestions though??
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cameronphillips2000 wrote:
boredsurfin wrote:
@Roscoe, Why La Plagne?

If the budget is 5-6k I have to concur.


As long as the resort can facilitate for younger families (ie, lots of afternoon activities to keep them happy), I'm up for better suggestions.
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Boris wrote:
@Roscoe, have to disagree, there are some idiots but the drive down we have never had a problem with - particularly if you can do bulk Friday.

Each to their own but for us, with younger kids, car meant we travelled at own pace, could stop as required and could take anything we needed with us. Self-catering also meant could buy in valley where cheaper


I can see the plus sides in both approaches. I just want to minimize additional work/time that will keep us (me & wife) off the slopes when the older boys are in ski school and the baby in childcare.
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NickyJ wrote:
I can highly recommend Esprit with that age children, we did stay in their Belle Plagne place but we didn’t pay the prices for it (Esprit / Hoteplan decided to stop in St Anton a week early so we were offered Belle Plagne place as an alternative.), they have more affordable places in Les Arcs if you didn’t mind going the other side?

I would be tempted to look at Club Med for the right weeks they aren’t badly priced when you consider that all lessons, childcare, lift passes, food is included... but not ski hire.


Thanks NickyJ. As long as the resort has good facilities for family afternoon's away from the slopes, then it would be considered. I'll have a look at Les Arcs.
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@Roscoe, for an advance booking for mid April, I think La Plagne would do the job. High and snow sure. Plenty skiing for every level of competence. Wide variety of accommodation. Quite family friendly.

Least hassle, most fun for the kids and IMO best childcare is with a specialist TO, such as Esprit. A search will show others who operate in La Plagne. We used French run crèches there, albeit quite a few years ago now, and thought they lacked staffing numbers and experience. Very poor. Esprit’s 2019/20 programme has just been released, with usual early booking offers and discounts.

Whether you could get such a UK specialist package deal in school hols for £6k all in max remains to be seen.

The DIY option, with self catering, obviously significantly cheaper. Belle Plagne a good base if you opted for that. With three young children, personally I wouldn’t fancy the long drive from/to UK.

Another option to avoid that long drive? If low cost airline flights are booked on the very first morning they’re released, they can be very good value. Then there are plenty of shared transfers to La Plagne from main alpine airports.

snowHead
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PeakyB wrote:
@Roscoe, for an advance booking for mid April, I think La Plagne would do the job. High and snow sure. Plenty skiing for every level of competence. Wide variety of accommodation. Quite family friendly.

Least hassle, most fun for the kids and IMO best childcare is with a specialist TO, such as Esprit. A search will show others who operate in La Plagne. We used French run crèches there, albeit quite a few years ago now, and thought they lacked staffing numbers and experience. Very poor. Esprit’s 2019/20 programme has just been released, with usual early booking offers and discounts.

Whether you could get such a UK specialist package deal in school hols for £6k all in max remains to be seen.

The DIY option, with self catering, obviously significantly cheaper. Belle Plagne a good base if you opted for that. With three young children, personally I wouldn’t fancy the long drive from/to UK.

Another option to avoid that long drive? If low cost airline flights are booked on the very first morning they’re released, they can be very good value. Then there are plenty of shared transfers to La Plagne from main alpine airports.

snowHead


I might have to consider taking them out of school and taking the fine then! Toofy Grin

Flying would be my preferred option and can get flights for all 5 of us for around £400-£550 depending on where we fly into. As I live in Luton, I have an airport on my door step.
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OK for me, having looked at your family and kids ages, I would go with Ski Esprit. basically its the least hassle option and skiing with kids can be a hassle.
The 1 year old will have a nursery and the older ones ski school with the kids in the chalet. Our first time with them we did a chalet, but we progressed to the larger Chalet Hotels as we found the kids preferred this. in a chalet you may have 1 - 2 other families with you and therefore can be an issue if people have differing opinions on how they bring up their children. In a chalet hotel there are many more kids and usually the nursery - for the baby - is on site. This meant you can have breakfast together, drop off the kids to nursery/kids club and leave to get the first lifts. The kids will be taken to skischool, and brought back and given lunch. for the older ones you can then decide to ski with them in the pm or leave them in kids club - the kids often want this option, so we found we did a mix in the afternoon.
The children get an early supper, whilst we had baths/changed and then you can either settle them in bed, or they can join the others in a TV room. Usually there was a nanny on each floor and the hotel was totally ski-espirt so you could leave the kids happily whilst eating dinner. We did Chalet hotels in Alpes D'Huez, Val D'isere, and once kids were a tad older, used Crystal that also had kids clubs.

Personally I wouldn't worry too much about the resorts as they are all pretty big, we pootled with my kids when they were your kids ages, borrowed a couple of sledges once or twice - they usually had a stack of them, we went and found a big hot chocolate one afternoon. But if I recall we did 50/50 in the afternoons, so we have 3 full days of skiing, no stress to rush back, and 3 half days - after lunch pickups, so at leat 4 - 5 hours on the slopes.

The downside to all this was cost, and actually a lack of time spent with the kids. But the upside is that everyone had a stress free holiday, including mum - no cooking/clearing up or stress.

DIY is initially cheaper, but try sourcing apartment/lessons/nanny/other childcare/cooking/cleaning/ possible long drive etc and in all honesty the all in option is better value for money.
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Take them out of school at that age. Go March 10th ish
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@Roscoe, yes I’d definitely take them out of school at that age. I’d also suggest mid March as a great time to go. Well known fact that trips then are far more educational.

If travelling in March, it opens up many more areas, lower altitude, likely to have good snow then, but risky by mid April.

+1 for Esprit, having travelled with them many times and been impressed. As mentioned, worth looking at a few other specialist TOs offers.

Back to Belle Plagne.
Esprit’s hotel there is smart and well located, but consequently one of their most expensive. I think they have more reasonable options in the Peisey/Vallandry sector.

I’m aware of an operator, Family Ski, who have chalets in Les Coches. Handy for both the La Plagne and Les Arcs sides of Paradiski. Ski Famille and Mark Warner are other TOs with childcare.
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@Roscoe, if you are open to other dates and locations, the cheapest school holiday week with Esprit for next season is Christmas week. The cheapest location with them is La Rosière.

If you are set on Easter then week commencing 12 April is next cheapest school holiday week, I have been advised on here the La Rosiere is not great for that time of year due to south facing slopes, the next cheapest location with them for Easter is Gressoney but although they are providing a price for that week I suspect it isn’t real (I found that for this coming season when I went to confirm the total price they weren’t actually operating in resort that week despite having a price in their brochure and further research indicated this was actually because the resort isn’t open that week!), next is their places in Peisey, then Les Arcs, then Val D’Isere.

I have been to their place in Val at Easter and we had a lovely time there and I would happily return.
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We used Mark Warner in Les Deux Alpes for Easter one year and we found the childcare not as good. You don’t get snow rangers going along with the children to lessons, they use sleep rooms rather than baby listening service but those sleep rooms had sleeping camp beds in the same room at a tv for older ones.... which meant my children didn’t sleep there, so we felt we had to rush our meal to get them into bed earlier and then stuck in the room. Even doing that they were over tired on the morning as they didn’t get enough sleep.
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@Roscoe,

If you're willing to consider other resorts I'd look at ClubMed Vamorel (See here). It is fully inclusive and does baby ClubMed for the little one.

It looks like the prices are in your £5-6K bracket (estimate based on flying from London, couldn't spot Luton on a quick check). By the way, It's often possible to get a 5% discount via companies such as IfYouSki (and they might be able to sort out the departure Airport).

I've been there and it really is family friendly.
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Thanks for all the replies and advice!

Had a quote from Ski Famille for La Plagne in the 1st week of the Easter hols '20 (6th April), and it was very north of my stretch budget for £6k! North by £2k!! The baby alone was around £2k of this cost!

I'll try Esprit today and see what they offer. I think taking them out of school for a week in March is the way forward.
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@Roscoe, give the Family Ski Company a call. They should be able to do you something there within your 3-4k budget (including accommodation, food, transfers and childcare but not flights or lift passes). Their chalets in Les Coches are really nicely positioned, literally ski in and out from the deck. They won't have prices up online for next year yet but their office staff are really friendly and helpful, and should be able to put something together for you.
No connection, other than 5 great holidays with them.
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mgrolf wrote:
@Roscoe, give the Family Ski Company a call. They should be able to do you something there within your 3-4k budget (including accommodation, food, transfers and childcare but not flights or lift passes). Their chalets in Les Coches are really nicely positioned, literally ski in and out from the deck. They won't have prices up online for next year yet but their office staff are really friendly and helpful, and should be able to put something together for you.
No connection, other than 5 great holidays with them.


@mgrolf Thanks for the heads up. I'll give them a call to see what they can offer. Ski in ski out would be a perfect option, as I don'f like the idea of carrying all the gear any further than I need to. So will give that a look now. Happy to stretch the budget to £5k-£6k, but the £8k+ quote from ski famille is just too much for me at this stage.
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@Roscoe, unless you're set on La Plagne, think about Reberty (3V) too. Likely to be a bit more expensive, but also higher which could be beneficial in mid April. The chalets there are not truly ski in ski out but most are 50-100m walk max and the general location is again excellent. Transfers, travel etc very similar.
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I'm going to price up a DIY trip just to have a comparison to the all in TO's prices.

Anyone have any good suggestions for self-catering accommodation in La Plagne? Happy to be in any part, as long as its family friendly. The main priority will be location to the slopes. Ski in ski out would be ideal or as close to lifts as possible.

Also, anyone used independent childcare? English speaking would be ideal. This would only be used for the baby in the morning, as we'll dedicate the afternoon's for family time to ease them into skiing. Older boys will go into ski school due the morning too, so that the wife and I can ski. Any advice on which ski school to book? Heard the French ones are a little harsh and would prefer them to be with other children they can talk to.
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@Roscoe, we took our eldest to learn in La Plagne, and stayed here. Absolutely fabulous location, beginners drag where she learnt to ski is almost outside, as are the lifts for you, so easy to get back and meet the kids if needed. They also sledged right outside once the lifts had all shut in the evenings.

https://www.markwarner.co.uk/ski-holidays/france/la-plagne/chalethotel-christina

It's pretty big and wasn't the most modern of chalet/hotels (indeed the recent reviews seem to suggest it is a bit tired), but the location was spot on as was the customer services.

We did other holidays with young kids that involved bus rides and it is a lot of hassle, ski in/out makes life so much easier!
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@kitenski, and also home to the Famous Scottys bar Very Happy
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Our children are now 11 and 13 and we've been taking them since the eldest was just under 4. We've always driven and self catered - to various French resorts.

We had abandoned flying in favour of driving before kids above else to get 8 days skiing rather than 6 and to avoid ski carraige charges. Driving never was necessarily cheaper. With kids the advantage of driving for us at least is that the car is packed at home and unpacked at the other end. We have a roofbox and extra clothing, toys, sledges, can be easily stowed. We drive overnight because the kids get bored during a long day drive and so with blankets and cushions they can just sleep while the drivers rotate every couple of hours. It's not for everyone but works for us.

Our schools break up Friday 3rd April 2020 so not early not mid-April. Have you confirmed when yours are? We've never taken our kids out of school but ski at Christmas and when the schools break up in March/April.

La Plagne/Paradiski is a great area to ski although being the first trip you could probably save some money going to a smaller ski area. For example we did La Norma and Les Contamines when our children were little. And lift passes and accommodation is cheaper.

Personally I would have the older kids in ski school in the morning whilst one parent stays with the young one and the other solo skis. And then in the afternoon, one skis with the older children while the other one stays with the young one. Soon enough the little one will be skiing and you can go out as a family.

I've never done Esprit but always seems to be well regarded on here.

Our ski trips.
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@Roscoe, ESF has a bad rep on here but don't dismiss them out of hand - if your kids are independent and happy to just get on with things, the style may be fine (my daughter has never had a problem with them). Group sizes can be large, maybe less so at Easter compared to the February holidays. Many/most of the instructors will speak decent English and kids learn more by copying than listening. ESF does tend to be cheaper than other schools; you tend to get what you pay for in terms of group sizes, IME.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
mgrolf wrote:
@Roscoe, ESF has a bad rep on here but don't dismiss them out of hand - if your kids are independent and happy to just get on with things, the style may be fine (my daughter has never had a problem with them). Group sizes can be large, maybe less so at Easter compared to the February holidays. Many/most of the instructors will speak decent English and kids learn more by copying than listening. ESF does tend to be cheaper than other schools; you tend to get what you pay for in terms of group sizes, IME.



They were the cheapest when looking for quotes, but i'd rather pay more to make sure they are happy and don't feel isolated even within a large group.
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