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Feb 2020 half term ski trip advice

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello. I would like to take a group to France (4 adults and 2 children) for the 2020 Feb half term, we are plan to drive there. I've been to both Les Menuires and Chamrousse which both have been great. The group will be made up of begineers like me. Any ideas? Puzzled I know that the lift passes could be the biggest cost but any suggestions are welcome.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Morzine, Les Gets. Area is big enough to cope with half term. Very drive-able from the UK. Lots of different type of accommodation (self catering, chalet, hotel). Can get either full area ski passes if you want to get about a large area or local passes at a reduced price. Or get 4/5 hour passes on a daily basis and travel about - 20mins to Samoens and the Grand Massif or the small resorts of Praz de Lys and Sommand if you don't want to kill yourselves with full day skiing every day in the same resort. Driving will allow you to go a bit further out of the main resorts and save some cash on accommodation also. Strongly recommend self-catering if you drive.
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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 may need to narrow down a bit. Do you want ski in/ski out? Apres? Non skiing activities? Catered or not? Authentic or utilitarian? Do you want British instructors? Just France or any other Alpine, or indeed non-Alpine, country?

The fact that you go over the HT, means you don't need to go too high or look for resorts with state of the art snow making. So you can choose smaller, cheaper, less known resorts.
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Thank you for the additional things to consider.
As we are driving we will stick to self catering and do shopping before we get to the accommodation.
Apres - Not important for us.
Ski in\out - it would be nice to be close instead of trekking for ages to the slope or walking home really tired. Madeye-Smiley
Instructors - Might not be needed but will check.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Ski school will help structure your day and get you lift priority. Well worth considering. How old are the kids and how much skiing have they done?
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@nattib, you said the group was made up of beginners. There are many things people will disagree about on these forums, but getting lessons is not one of them.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Kids are both 12 yrs. The whole family have had skiing lessons other the last 2 years.
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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!
Les Coches
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
if you want to keep costs down have a look at Peak Retreats and the Maurienne valley. We have visited Aussois, La Norma and Val Cenis and they are all fabulous resorts.
Aussois is small, sunny, very cheap and actually really great with kids. The skiing is lovely and it is cheap enough to eat out at lunch without a heart attack! Very few other British people though. More brits are in Val Cenis which is bigger so more expensive but nothing like the 'traditionnal Brit' resorts.

If you stay in Aussois you get a day's skiing in other resorts like Val Cenis/La Norma etc.

And it is really easy to drive to.
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@nattib, Driving is easy and as you say helps with doing a shop on way. For half-term though I would strongly recommend aiming to get to resort early in day or late at night - otherwise you will sit in queues from Lyon. If you can, travel Friday eve and get as far through France as you can and start early Sat.

A personal fave of mine but have a look at Vallandry, part of Les Arcs ski area, smaller resort and cheaper than Arc 1600/1800 etc, mainly set up for self-catering. Some lovely blues above the village and Vallandry bowl all good for beginners, plus New Generation operate out of there for ski school.

If you want to know more, I did write a trip report from half-term this year here
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@nattib, you will definitely find it cheaper somewhere like La Norma in terms of accommodation, eating on the mountain and lift pass costs. The flip side is the breadth of skiing. Ultimately you pays your money and makes your choice.

When my kids were younger we enjoyed some of the smaller resorts but now they are older (just turned 14 and 12) we like to have a lot to go at. Like you we drive and self cater so keep costs down that way.
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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.
@nattib, I'd really suggest smaller, lower resorts unless you're mega-keen on apres entertainment. As you're all beginners it won't matter a huge amount if you have a large ski area or not and you'll save a fortune on lift pass costs which are always eye-watering.
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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
@nattib, Le Grand Bornand sounds ideal for you. Closer than many of the other suggestions. Cheap and cheerful apartments here:http://www.campinglescale.com/?lang=en and with the Ski Aravis Pass you can ski La Clusaz as well.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I would have a look at La Clusaz too - small ski area but then as beginners / relative beginners that's not an issue at all. Plenty of ski school choice and not as far to drive as some resorts - it's next to LGB recommended by @panaga52 abive.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Thank you for the suggestions, I've started making a list.
From your experiences which would better to do because we a driving from UK: DIY holiday (book place to stay eg. Booking.com, ferry\train and ski passes separatley) or book through a travel agent?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
nattib wrote:
Thank you for the suggestions, I've started making a list.
From your experiences which would better to do because we a driving from UK: DIY holiday (book place to stay eg. Booking.com, ferry\train and ski passes separatley) or book through a travel agent?

No need for a TO (Travel Operator/Agent) just DIY.

There is no need to hold off booking any of this as none of it will get cheaper over time.

Must have's you need to book are the crossing (ferry/tunnel), the accommodation and lift pass.

If you have a Tesco Clubcard account you can use points to buy either option which is a real money saver if you have enough. Tunnel is quicker, ferry you get a break. There are few more tunnel crossings than ferry which can be useful, especially off peak. We've used both over the years but generally these days pay more for the speed/convenience of the tunnel. Book asap as the prices only increase (marginally) over time.

Apartment wise try to get a direct with the owner rental or at least through a local agency. It's the cheapest and best service way of doing it. People can help with this once you know where you are going. Book asap to get the best choice.

Lift pass can be left closer to the time on account whilst it won't get any cheaper, it won't get any more expensive either. Can be done online - not critical but saves time and hassle on arrival so no reason not to.

After this must have's here are the optionals:

Ski lessons - personally I wouldn't bother if everyone has been doing lessons for two years. But if you do want to get recommendations of ski schools on here and book asap.

Equipment hire - no big time panic, look out for early season discounts.

Doofer - basically a toll tag for the French motorways - purely to save time/hassle. Search here for "doofer" you will find several threads.

Overnight stops - we drive overnight with me and the wife sharing the driving but many have an overnight stop in a Hotel/B&B. If you are doing that you need to book this and also take it into account with crossing timings.

Register for Dart Charge if going to use the Dartford crossing.

Winter tyres (preferable) and snow chains for your car. Winter tyres not mandatory in France but are in Austria. Good idea anyway, even for the UK. Odds are you won't need the chains but when you do, you do. Police may stop you going up the mountain without them in some conditions.

Shopping wise we stop at a big supermarket somewhere like Albertville on the way in and buy 90% of what we need and then top in the local supermarket during the week.



Crossing
Apartment
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@nattib,

Given that you are driving I would consider Les Contamines - relatively quiet by French standards at HT, easy drive, pretty friendly for beginners, plenty of S/C accommodation (and although you can easily shop in the valley before coming up it has three good supermarkets which are not significantly more expensive than the valley)
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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?
Quote:

Lift pass can be left closer to the time on account whilst it won't get any cheaper, it won't get any more expensive either. Can be done online - not critical but saves time and hassle on arrival so no reason not to.

Not always true, some resorts do have early booking discounts and others are cheaper online than buying in person also look out for family offers.
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Timc wrote:
Quote:

Lift pass can be left closer to the time on account whilst it won't get any cheaper, it won't get any more expensive either. Can be done online - not critical but saves time and hassle on arrival so no reason not to.

Not always true, some resorts do have early booking discounts and others are cheaper online than buying in person also look out for family offers.

Not saying it isn't true but it's never been true for me. Could just be the resorts I tend to frequent or of course that I just didn't see the deal.

However, it does remind that sometimes you can get apartment + lift pass deals that are cheaper. So one of my regulars is when we stay in Les Coches and we book through the official resort site they do good apartment/lift pass deals.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Le Grand-Bornand (near La Clusaz) was very good for us last half term. Very pretty and very French.

We stayed overnight in Reims, and after about an hour of traffic jams on A40, we arrived exactly 3pm just as our accommodation opened.

Driving through the night will get you to your resort early and avoid the half-term jams, but unless you use that time to ski you'll just be sat waiting to get your keys.

The other question is whether to go FlexiPlus on Eurotunnel... It's over £500 return now, but some TAs will include the upgrade if you book accommodation through them.
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