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Advice for skiing with kids for the first time!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello everyone, first time posting here. We are a family of four from Southampton. My wife and I are confident skiers, but have not been away since 2013. In the February half term 2021 we are planning on taking our two children to the alps. They have never skied before. Our Daughter has come skiing with us in the past although she was too young to actually ski herself.
Our most recent trips have been Morzine and Courchevel, twice in a catered chalet and once in an isolated self catered cabin.

Saying we are apprehensive would be an understatement! Laughing Our daughter will be 9 and our son 6.

After doing a little research Flaine seems like a good resort - from reading, the most appealing thing about Flaine was the ski in ski out apartments/hotels (in particular we have been looking at Terrasses d’Eos apartments),

We will probably drive due to the highly inflated flight prices during half term. The plan is to set off on the Friday and drive through the night.

A few questions we have are:

*Has anyone stayed in Flaine and in particular the Terrasses d’Eos apartments and what was your experience - how far is the ski lift from the apartment and also how far to ski school?, will will probably use ESF with the children going to classes every morning.
*In general what is the snow fall like in Flaine? We have been to a few other places in the Alps and have found it to be sludgy and Icy! Possibly due to a bad year.
*Are there any other good resorts you’d particularly recommend for children?
*Any other tips for taking kids skiing? Shocked

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Hi there and welcome.

My input would be as follows:

- Flaine is great, just not very (not at all) "Chocolate Boxy", in terms of charm.

- I would use the ESI, rather than ESF

- Flaine doesn't have a Glacier, but is surprisingly snow-sure

Tips for children:

- Getting the right ski school is important
- Make sure they have quality kit....which doesn't mean expensive....as they need to be warm and comfortable
- A second pair of mitts/gloves for playing in the snow is a good idea
- When there, consider getting some "Bum Boards" which always go down well
- If the Kids are happy, you'll be happy (and vica versa)
- The six year old may or may not be happy in whatever kindergarten they have - don't force it if he isn't happy. Sign up for 1 day, to see how it goes.
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@Jamessuperskyline,
Welcome to snowHead
I have only skied once in Flaine and had superb snow.
In general I would expect good snow pretty much anywhere in Feb in a half decent year, though occasionally you can be unlucky anywhere.
My main concern with your plan would be the use of ESF. Although they undoubtedly have some excellent instructors they also have a reputation for very large classes particularly at peak periods when you are going.
However good the instructor there is a limit to how much a kid will learn in a beginner's group with lots of kids when inevitably some will be falling over.
My own advice would be to make sure you can locate a children's ski school that limits numbers and check availability before you book a resort.
It's a long time since I had kids your age and we tended to go more to Austria at half term but I'm sure you will get plenty of good suggestions.
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Stayed in Eos last week with a 6 year old. It’s ski in and out IF you use 1 lift to get to Flaine Forum and 2 lifts to get back (button and chair) In reality it’s no drama. Nice apartments nice pool etc good position.
I’d say use ESI as well, my daughter was in awe of her instructor, between 6-8 in each class as opposed to 15 with ESF. Beginners area really good and you will have fun. To get back to Eos ski THROUGH the Helios apartments above and it links to a cat track back to Eos. Spar in Helios OK for basics, supermarche in Forum better. Bus stops outside Eos both ways and a navette as well. To get out of Eos leave ski room and ski down to Essert chair which is short and drops you on a green run and then Blue to Flaine forum. Or get the bus !
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Given getting kids kitted out, out the door, dropped off to ski school and picked up later each day, estimate how much you will get to ski . Half that figure and half it again. Then think yourselves lucky.

Maybe think of a smaller resort, why pay for a big area when they and therefore you wont be using it.

Take chemical hand warmers, glove leashes, spare slopettes/gloves for those that dont dry out from yesterday snow play, sunglasses, lots of snacks, stop lots for hot drinks. Keep them warm and cover up those gaps, neck buffs, wrist warmers. Don't rent helmets, buy.

Dont feel you need to ski everyday , do a day at the pool.

But no form of bribery to get them/ keep them on the slopes is too low. Ice-cream for breakfast? Of course!
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Jamessuperskyline wrote:


Saying we are apprehensive would be an understatement! Laughing Our daughter will be 9 and our son 6.


To put your mind at rest initially, I'd say it's an excellent choice to fit your requirements. We've stayed as a family with two children younger than this age and it's still one of their favourite places to visit.

Fairly good drive, we've done the same as you propose from London via chunnel, overnight Friday too. It's 560 miles from Calais exit and arriving through the dawn into mountains, looks beautiful.

Underground parking below the accommodation very convenient. Direct access to piste from boot room door, it's very well designed any specified the Eos apartments. Spectacular outdoor pool with superb nighttime mountain views really puts the icing on top Very Happy

Add to that, great leaner, progressing pistes immediately accessible on very easy to use lift system makes for just about perfect introduction for a family.

Observations about architecture reveal nothing of this superb convenience. Yes it's brutalist, but I'm a big fan of that. It's very hard to rival for skiing with a family.
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Things that make kids happier on holiday and don't take up too much suitcase space - little treats from home. So I usually end up packing 5 packs of Sainsburys flapjacks, the same number of fruit winders and about 25 bags of wotsits and other favourite crisps. Everyone gets to have the 3 things each day and its super comforting for them and a sense of normal.

Don't stint on gloves, bought some cheaper ones from Mountain Warehouse and they get wet and sodden. This year S&R had some proper Kids Hestra gloves for £39.99 each - they come with wrist straps. The kids loved them and no gloves were lost or soaked through despite numerous skiing, snowball fights, snowman building and sledging episodes. Sizing is reasonably generous (they won't be using poles anyway) so should last 2-3 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!
1)Look at Montgenevre, lovely slopes, Apeak is a great ski school
2) Chocolate
3) Make sure you put mobile numbers and where you're staying in their pockets for when they ski off and leave you
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I'm a Francophile - but if I had no choice but to ski at half term I'd go somewhere other than France. In 2021 I'd go at Easter, somewhere high. Or Christmas, second choice.
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From my personal experience we’ve been going with our son since he was 2yrs with him being booked in with ESF since he was 3yrs. I think the main thing is to simply clear your head of any expectations. You will be skiing less than normal but you’ll still have a great time. Make sure you make everything is as easy and convenient as possible. As others have stated ESF do seem to have bigger classes but to be fair our son has really enjoyed their classes and developed really well.

He’s 6 now and we are heading to Flaine in five weeks time and again booked in with ESF. Funnily enough it’s where I first learnt to ski at the age of five some thirty three years ago. We only choose resorts that offer convenience so that it’s easy to get going on a morning and to head back at the end (or middle) of the day and Flaine does that very well. In fact the apartment we are staying in is bang on the nursery slope with a balcony overlooking it. It also has the ski school, lifts, and a restaurant/bar adjacent.

We also drive, and Flaine offers a shorter drive than many resorts. That said this year we’re leaving Friday am and staying in a hotel in Geneva (€29), then making the hour or two journey up to Flaine on Saturday giving us loads of time to get settled and doing the same in reverse on the way home in order to gain an extra day or so from the holiday.

Other places we’ve done that I felt worked well with our son include Morrilon 1100 and Val Thorens. Again we’ve driven and used ESF. Both resorts we found to be very convenient with a kid in tow.
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pam w wrote:
I'm a Francophile - but if I had no choice but to ski at half term I'd go somewhere other than France. In 2021 I'd go at Easter, somewhere high. Or Christmas, second choice.


I was just about to type exactly this.
Kids that are learners will be better off without crowds. The (usually) warmer weather in early April will suit kids better and somewhere high will still have the chance of flakes falling from the sky.
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I must asmit I also prefer April, for warmth and long days and less busy (and cheaper).

My main tip would not to feel pressure to ski all day. If tired stop. So ideal would be 2-3 hrs group lessons in the morning, lunch together and then either stop or do a tiny bit of skiing together and then relax in the afternoon. If you have access to a pool that is a massive benefit!
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Oh and driving is great. I normally reckon about £600 all in with tunnel, tolls and petrol from London. Normally take us about 11hrs door to door from London with minimal stops (just petrol as we take a lunch box each). We have never had a bad experience with traffic. We normally get a crossing at about 9am which means leaving at 7 and arriving at 7 (with a car load of food so you don’t waste too much time shopping).
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I know Flaine well and it is a great resort choice for families, but I agree with all the comments about avoiding half term. Easter will be a much better time for you to introduce your children to the slopes.

As you are in Southampton, why not introduce your children to skiing at the dry slope here? It may not be everyone's choice for skiing on a regular basis, but it's a fantastic way to introduce your children to the equipment and give them a taste of what to expect.
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@Jamessuperskyline, welcome to snowHead !

My first tip is leave the kids at home!

If that’s not an option then Pam W’s suggestion is with considering. We’ve skied every Easter with ours since youngest was born (now 8 and 12) and Easter generally has better weather and much quieter pistes!

This season we’re doing all our skiing just over the hill from Flaine in Samoens. Not ski in/ski out convenience but it’s a lovely town, has an ice rink and is generally a nice place to spend some time.

We’re just down the road from you in Warsash so if you want to have a chat about the above let me know....
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Wow, thanks for the welcome and all of your replies.

Unfortunately, the only detail we know for sure is that we will have to go at February half term. As much as I hate the idea of the crowded slopes and higher prices we have no choice due to work commitments. Sad

As far as resorts and Ski schools everything is open for consideration at the moment.
However, from your replies Flaine sounds good at the moment. The Eos apartments look really well suited. We have seen various apartments on HomeAway.co.uk and they have a good breakdown of each apartment with reviews from past guests. We have seen many tour operators using the same block but with a much inflated price.

As mentioned above convenience over architecture at the moment for us. I have seen several reports of the general design in Flaine but this wouldn’t put us off.

As I said we are driving so the journey needs to be a consideration as well.
Montgenevre looks great but the longer journey may make it out of reach on this occasion.
We have skied in Val Thorens however we didn’t see much of the resort as we were staying at Courchevel 1850.

We have accepted that this trip is going to be about the children. Our son and daughter have very different personalities. Our 6 year old son has loads of confidence and very rarely complains. He integrates well with others including new friends. Our daughter on the other can be quite timid and complains about everything, however when she gets settled she’s seems to learn quickly. We are thinking a mixture of ski lessons and clubs but we also want to spend the afternoons with them on the nursery slopes. The benefits will hopefully come in future holidays.

Great advice about the contact details including mobile numbers. This is obviously something that we will be putting a lot of thought into, even though I can imagine that we would be going to far at this stage.

We plan to go to an indoor ski centre, maybe Hemel Hempstead, before we go to get the kids familiar with the ski kit and basics.

Not totally sure if we will stop over night on the journey. We are considering Dijon. I’d be doing the majority of the driving from Calais so we would have to be realistic. We drove to the Belgium GP last year. With out issue. Just plenty of traffic.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sat 11-01-20 15:54; edited 2 times in total
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James - if you think you can manage the drive 7.5hrs the other side of the tunnel - it’s really worth doing in one go. Stopping and and starting and unloading and repacking the car (or worrying about where you parked it with all your stuff in) plus cost of hotel and meals out for an extra night don’t really make it worth it. If you do do it in one go just make sure you start as early as possible to minimise the amount of driving in the dark at the other end. It is tiring if you do it all yourself so changing over a bit definitely helps.

Sounds like you have made good choices though.

I know a lot of people think of Chamonix as an expert resort - but if you are both good skiers it’s not a bad option as you have Evolution2 panda club at the bottom of the hill in Argentiere who are fantastic for kids lessons (and have their own base camp for lunches or if kids get too cold). And you are never too far away if skiing GM. You then have all the town for afternoon activities. There is quite a bit of accommodation in Argentiere itself and after the first day you can leave kids skis etc at kids club. It is undoubtedly a bit more faff than ski in ski out though so worth checking it out for a long weekend first!!!!
That said we typically don’t go in feb - just Christmas and Easter and other long weekend - so not sure if it’s really that busy at feb. My experience is it’s been quieter recently which I think is a combination of Brexit and top GM Cable car being closed.

Maybe next trip after Flaine!
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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?
The journey in one hit shouldn't be a problem. The first time we did it with our kids, to Morzine, they were 3 and 5, and we had planned to stop, but in the end just drove straight through. That was a trial, run for a summer holiday, and when we did it the following January for skiing, there was no question, we did it in one go.
Lessons for the kids beforehand is a really good idea, but Hemel is a long way from you, and if you go to one of the dry slopes you will tend to get private lessons for very little more than group lessons at Hemel, and they will learn much more that way. Calshot, Southampton, Aldershot and Guildford ski slopes would all be much closer than Hemel. As you are talking about 2021 you have lots of time - don't leave it until next January when the artificial slopes will be packed, do it September time. Learning the basics is a bit like riding a bike, once you've got it you don't forget it.
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Flaine is a good resort for kids. It's particular good for children/teens to start skiing on their own as it's a bowl and all runs lead back home.

ESF groups seem quite big in Flaine, but our kids did well there. Maybe consider sending your 6 y/o to Rabbit Club (ESF + nursery)? My twins certainly enjoyed it.

At half term expect the drive to take ~10.5 hours from Calais. There will be big traffic queues on A40.

Note: the road into Flaine itself goes over a 2000m col and could be tricky if there's been fresh snow. Read the (numerous) winter tyre threads...
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yes for anyone driving you do need winter tyres and 4wd. You may get lucky without but you could also get very unlucky. No one wants to be relying on putting chains on when you really need them (ie stuck by the side of the road in pouring snow!).

It’s a cost but then you never have to worry about the conditions.

I am used to driving to Cham. I can se adding a 2000m col changes the Feb drive a bit. I would still plan to do it in a day but just set off earlier.
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@Jamessuperskyline, one piece of advice. Get your children lessons before you go. There is a dry ski slope in Southampton but I have never been to that one, we are closer to Snowtrax and have been very happy with the lessons there (they also do discounted lessons in the summer which we make good use of).

There is a way to beat crazy half term prices https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=137668&highlight=flights

We did this last season to Salzburg and stayed in Radstadt. That was my niece and nephews first ski strip and with Austria all day lessons and paying for lunch seems more normal. That gave us a nice bit of ski time as adults

This year we are flying to Turin and going to Serre Chevalier.

Another tip - book early. This gives you best choice and affordable accommodation and also book lessons early.
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Quote:

Yes for anyone driving you do need winter tyres

I keep reading this and wonder - how did I manage to drive to the Alps, in winter successfully dozens of times without specialist winter tyres. I have had to put chains on a couple of times - if you have practiced beforehand it is not really a problem, but a torch, rubber goves and something to kneel on always come in handy.

When my son was young driving to the resort was always the easiest way. We would do it overnight. He would fall asleep at the end of our street and wake up approaching Albertville - can you think of a nicer way to go skiing.

Anyway my top tip for skiing with children - make sure the accommodation is ski in/ski out. Avoid ski busses like the plague. Children are always leaving ski poles and gloves on them, never mind being crushed to death as all the adults pile in on top of them. Also carrying tired child, all their and your ski clobber up the hill at the end of the day is no fun.
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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!
Winter tyres are advantageous but not essential. 4WD is absolutely not necessary and big top heavy 4WD vehicles can be a problem. Sensible driving and good chains you can deploy quickly will get you there. Don't underestimate the potential for shocking traffic at half term and other busy times though. And in those Snowmageddon traffic jams the 4 WDs and winter tyres won't get you there any quicker.
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We will definitely get the kids lessons before we go.
I have been to Calshot a long, long time ago and it is very local to us. I found that this was a totally different experience to real snow. I was worried this may be a little off putting for the kids. I’d be interested to know how your children have fared on dry slopes.
I know Hemel is not local to us but the upside of this was to introduce longer car journeys to the gradually. My wife and I are both used to long journeys but not so much the children.

I think I’d prefer to do the journey in one stint to be honest. The only issue would be arriving Saturday morning and not being able to check in to the apartment. Obviously some time would be taken sorting lift passes, ski hire etc. But after this we may be at a loose end bearing in mind the length of the journey we would have just completed.

Although I plan on changing my car soon it is not a given. Last year we went to Belgium in my wife’s Nissan Qashqai. We usually hire a car when we fly. We had no issues in the past although the roads were clear. I have seen the tips on another post on the forum, some good advice. I plan on being prepared.
When we had the bad snow a few years back I know how difficult it can be. We have a reasonably steep hill near our house which hardly anyone could get up.
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@Jamessuperskyline, I haven’t done your slope as we have been happy with Snowtrax - but on terms of the different dry slopes I have been on l, I think it is the best dry surface I have used.

Though even on the worst I have used - which is where my niece and nephew had their course of lesson - meant that after the initial OMG this is much slippier, they very quickly progressed and were being moved up a group on a daily basis for the first 3 days. It meant they really got to enjoy the Hill and was a wonderful first week for them. They were 7 and 10.
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Driving through the night you'll probably miss the A40 traffic jams and maybe arrive lunchtime, but your accommodation won't open until 5pm.

We prefer to stay overnight in Reims, leave by 8am and arrive in time to get keys and hire skis.

Get your ski passes in post a few weeks before from internet, though get kids' passes at resort if/when the instructor tells you, prob day 4-6.

Getting kids ready for ski lessons on the first morning is a massive faff. Prepare everything you can the night before or earlier.
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Lots of good advice has already been given, but here`s my take for what its worth.

Driving through the night with children is great if they sleep (mine always did) but bear in mind one parent has to be awake enough to adequately supervise the children the next day, so great if you can both, or at least one of you can get a fair amount of sleep on the journey. Its great so long as you have a base almost as soon as you arrive in resort. Being in resort with excited children and exhausted parents with no where to call base is not a great start to a holiday.

We generally preferred to stop overnight on the way down to get some good sleep, then drive up to resort arriving mid-late morning, thus avoiding the worst of either the day trippers, or the frantic late afternoon for the week arrivals. We generally chose to do a shop in the nearest valley supermarket before the last climb up to resort. Cheaper & more choice, plus you can pick up picnic items to eat in the car should your journey 'up the hill' be fraught with any delay. Hungry children are not nice passengers. On the other hand neither are car sick children, so ours were only allowed plain food and absolutely no screen time or books on twisty mountain roads. Lunch in the resort, find your way around, sort out hire kit etc, and its time to get into the accommodation.

Many places offering accommodation will allow you to drop off luggage before your check in time, so its always worth an ask.

Book accommodation as close to the kids ski school as possible, its always a faff with kids and kit! Always have food quickly available when you pick them up from ski school (or is it only me that had perpetually hungry children? Who got bad tempered if not regularly fed lol)

Samoens & Morzine are probably the easiest/quickest drives but its not too much further to many other resorts. Someone above suggested you might be better at a smaller resort, it would likely be cheaper and certainly we preferred them until ours became teenagers and wanted to cover lots of ground.

Hope it works out well for you, ski holidays with children can be hard work but are also very rewarding. If they get hooked it won`t be many years before they start helping you with your kit 'cos you`re slowing them down Laughing
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Thanks for all the good advice.

After looking at websites for both Snowtrax and Calshot I think that we will take them along to a dry slope. We have plenty of time until the trip and it also offers a good activity for weekends, which is always a bonus.

I will also consider where the ski school is in the mountains before booking our accommodation. I think my first step will be to email some ski schools and get all the details. My wife has used both ESF and ESI in the past. Both very good but they were not in half term.

I think the biggest challenge will be the journey but I think we will be fine if we plan it well.
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 You know it makes sense.
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Samoen was the first resort we took our children to in 2003. Great nursery slope at Samoen 1600, and everyone enjoyed themselves. Preferable in my opinion to staying in Flaine, as Samoen is a lovely village.
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I'd always want to be within very easy walk of ski school meeting place.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
pam w wrote:
I'd always want to be within very easy walk of ski school meeting place.


The other, but probably not doable these days, option, is to make sure there is easy parking right where ski school meets and at your accommodation. We never used the ski schools, but in Les Gets but I seem to remember noting that parking was right next to where esf met, and also where some ski school met at Les Eucherts, La Rosiere.
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pam w wrote:
I'd always want to be within very easy walk of ski school meeting place.

Second that . If you go to Austria , ski school is afternoon as well as morning (with supervised lunch if you pay for it ) so you can enjoy yourselves.
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@Jamessuperskyline, the Eos accommodation is very nice. Excellent in fact.

Beware however, although it is ski in/out, as beginners (your kids) will not be able to ski directly from the hotel to ski school meeting area (the ESF one at least). This involves skiing out of the hotel as usual, but then you'll need to get a chair lift up before skiing down to the ski school meeting point.
There are 2 alternatives - ski down from the hotel, then walk a bit to the ski school, or b) get the bus from outside the hotel.

Unfortunately when I went at Christmas 3 years ago, there wasn't enough snow to ski in/out of the hotel, so can't advise how easy/difficult it is to get to the ski school on skis when there is enough snow.
Also the bus was very busy, and will be even more so during Feb half term.
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Absolutely avoid busses at half term. Getting small kids AND their gear onto a crowded bus is not a good way to start the day. Though better than getting total beginners into a queue for a chair, through the turnstiles and up the chair.
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pam w wrote:
Absolutely avoid busses at half term. Getting small kids AND their gear onto a crowded bus is not a good way to start the day. Though better than getting total beginners into a queue for a chair, through the turnstiles and up the chair.


Yeah the trouble with the Eos in Flaine and total beginners is that you need to ski down, get a chair lift up, and then ski down just to get to the ski school. That's impossible for a complete beginner.
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Worth bearing in mind that in half term, everything books up fast. Clearly you’ve got a lot of time until 2021, but wherever you decide to go, book stuff like ski school some months ahead. Whilst there’s apparent logic in suggestions like trying to book stuff one day at a time in case the kids don’t like it, that’s a total non starter at half term. Every year at half term at our local ski school there’s a line of people wandering in, asking if they can book lessons for that day or the next, only to be told they were sold out 6 weeks before.

As a parent of now 9 and 12 yr olds, I totally concur with all recommendations that it’s proxmity to ski school - I.e. easy walk or very gentle downhill ski, no bus, no ski lifts - that is most crucial, so ski in/out isn’t necessarily meaningful with novice kids.

If your heart is set on Flaine, I’d seriously consider one of the central older apartments right on the front de neige.

An alternative suggested resort that is similar (good range of beginner-intermediate slopes, some decent accommodation near the ski school, really easy drive) would be Les Contamines. @jedster on here can tell you all about it.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Most of the Les Contamines accommodation is a lift away from the main start of the ski area - though it is, at least, a gondola (or a couple of gondolas, two-stage). Not ideal for starters. And yes, ski schools could well be fully booked for half term 2021 before this Christmas.
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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!
@pam w, I noticed some meeting points at the bottom of the gondola last year, and saw instructors taking kids up in the bins. I appreciate it might not be the only, or even the main meeting point (I’ve never used ESF les contamines myself) but even if parents have to take their own kids up, I’d still take that over any of the options of busses, walking, skiing, chairlifts and drag lifts that have been suggested in Flaine.
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Yes, I agree, @snowdave. I've skied quite a lot at Les Contamines but always driving to the bottom of the lifts on the Belleville (Hauteluce) side. I've rarely been below the top of the first stage of the gondola, as all the best skiing is above that. Schools seemed to meet outside the top of the second stage, by the big cafeteria (where there's also a useful "salle hors sac" which can save families a lot of money over buying lunch, though that cafeteria is not ruinous and the Roselette over the hill is lovely. But some of the LC valley accommodation is a schlep from the bottom of the gondola.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
We’ve been to Flaine the last 2 years (Easter hols) because it’s reliable for snow and also affordability! Tend to book flights when they’re released from our local airport to Geneva (£225 for 2 adults and 2 kids!!!) Then have stayed in both d’eos and o’dalys panoramic- preferred panoramic in Flaine Forêt as you walk straight out onto nursery slope with magic carpet, perfect for kids- our son was 3 (nearly 4) and daughter 5- we were too late to book lessons so taught them ourselves which was great, they did fantastic and could ski over to forum by the end of the week and were giving the pommas a go. Not for everyone and ideally I’d have booked them in with esi but it worked for us! Or private lessons with a lady called Catherine who someone recommended.
Yes it’s ugly but so convenient!!
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