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Plus you now have the perfect excuse to discover regions like Southern French Alps where, phenomenal as the skiing is, it’s only part of the story they tell on the snow-drenched mountains with views of the Côte d’Azur.

It’s probably not going too far to say that even if you didn’t ski at all, you could still have an amazing winter holiday in Southern French Alps since there’s almost as much going on off the slopes, as on. It’s a decidedly family-friendly region and covers every definition of family from babies and toddlers on board to teens in tow, at resorts ranging from sleek, chic and listed in the French top 10 to historic villages seemingly designed with the sole purpose of stealing your heart and refusing to give it back, ever. It also covers an area of 12,000km², contains nine national or natural parks and doesn’t appear to have a cut off point when it comes to adventurous activities. And don’t forget this is the South of France so you get heaps of sun with your snow even in December and January – just when you need it most.

But Southern French Alps’s combination of great weather, glorious scenery and a long, snow-sure season doesn’t just appeal to families. The region’s a longstanding favourite for major winter sport’s competitions. Judging by the number of events planned over the festive season it’s a clear favourite with Father Christmas too. And if anyone’s in the mood for a festival, from food and films to traditional French music, this is definitely the place for those this winter.

Christmas and New Year events to captivate kids completely

Between the enormous larch forests and snowy mountains you can’t help but feel festive in Southern French Alps this winter. Leaving nothing to chance, resorts all over the region are planning magical events and celebrations to boost the natural enchantment. So if that elusive Christmassy feeling is what you’re after, here’s where to find it:

  • Celebrate Teddy Bear’s Christmas at Orcières Merlette 1850 from 22 to 28 December 2018. It’s a week of full-on family festivities with everything from Father Christmas meet ‘n’ greets to torchlit skiing, ice sculpting, horse-drawn carriage rides and free festive shows. Orcières nestles in the Écrins National Park up top in the Hautes-Alpes, so scenic splendour is a given. And it’s also the resort with Ski Babies to introduce toddlers to snow from 18 months; plus, under 10s ski free here from 30 March to 22 April 2019 – great timing for next year’s Easter school holidays.

Check out the festivities at Orcières Merlette 1850 this winter

© Orcières Merlette 1850 – Ski Lessons

© Risoul Ski Kindergarden

  • Another Hautes-Alpes resort made for families, Risoul sits at the heart of La Forêt Blanche ski area and notches up an astonishing 300 days of sunshine every year. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, it’s also welcoming a wonderfully authentic Santa Claus for Christmas; Snow Set DJs are bringing in the New Year, and the fabulous new Waouland Snow Park is open all season from 15 December 2018.

Check out the festivities at Risoul this winter

Rocket Ski are offering kids rates as low as £399 for seven nights at Risoul this Christmas and New Year. Based on a family of four including return UK flights, airport transfers and half-board accommodation. Find out more here.

A wonderland of fun winter events for 2019

Happy to spectate? Or up for an interactive adventure? There’s no shortage of thrills either way all over Southern French Alps this winter:

  • Famille Plus resort Valberg is the first in the Southern French Alps’ resort to be awarded Flacon Vert certification. Adding to superb green credentials it’s also a snowshoeing and cross-country legend, and 2019 kicks off here with the traditional – and breathtakingly beautiful – New Year’s Day Snow Trail.

Find out more about family fun at Valberg this winter

  • Isola 2000 always wins over older kids and teens with its snowboarding reputation, this winter’s no exception. The season starts out with the SBX Kids National Tour in December and neatly ties up with the French Snowboarding Championships in March and April 2019.

Find more kid-shaped thrills at Isola 2000 this winter

© Valberg Club Piou Piou

© Montgenèvre – La 1000 Pattes

  • Fit colourful Nice Carnival into your February Half Term plans and your carnival ticket also entitles you to 10% off Ski Passes at the Southern French Alps resort of Auron – just over an hour’s drive from Nice. Nice Carnival runs from 16 to 28 February 2019.

More reasons to celebrate Mardi Gras at Auron this February

  • Montgenèvre is famous for its Gallo/Italian atmosphere, cross-border skiing and pretty villages. Visit at Easter and it’s also the place to see the sensational 1000 Pattes: now in its 32nd year and the largest youth ski race in France.

Find out more about youthful Montgenèvre this winter

Active Southern French Alps family adventures all winter long

Organised events are exciting, but Southern French Alps are eventful by default and there’s plenty of stuff happening in resorts all over the region whether you book for Christmas or New Year, make it for February Half-Term or hold off until spring to celebrate Easter in the mountains.

  • Charming Puy-Saint-Vincent is an incredible family resort, packed with snow parks and amazing activities kids will love, like dog-sledding and snow trampolining. It even has regular torchlit skiing, there’s a fresh-every-week kids entertainment programme for the entire winter season, and slopes open at 7.30am from 31 March to 21 April 2019.

Find out more about Puy-Saint-Vincent this winter

  • Le Sauze describes itself as kid heaven and it’s not wrong. Book a family break at the resort next Easter and young skiers can glide through rainbow-streaked snow at the annual Sauze Colour event on 7 April 2019.

Find out more about Le Sauze this winter

  • The Secrets of Snow are revealed this winter at Val d’Allos where families can find out how pistes are prepped, visit the snow factory and meet the pisteurs who make the magic happen. This lovely resort is also the one with themed slopes and snowshoe trails, Piste de Héros has particular kid-appeal.

Find out more about Val d’Allos this winter

© C.Chillio

And just in case you find yourself kid-free on 16 and 17 March 2019, clever Pra-Loup is hosting Week-End de la Femme, with free weekend ski passes for women and heaps of offers and events throughout the resort on both Saturday and Sunday.

The lowdown

Where
The Southern French Alps are just over an hour from the Côte d’Azur and encompass the Alpes-Maritimes, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Hautes-Alpes.

When
Southern French Alps winter season 2018/19 officially opens on 15 December 2018

How to get there
The region is easily accessible from Marseille, Grenoble and Turin airports.
Direct flights from London to Marseille: 2h 5m.
Direct flights from London to Nice Côte d’Azur: 2h.
Direct flights from London to Grenoble: 1h 45m.
Direct flights from London to Turin: 1h 50m.
Shuttle services from local train stations to resorts run throughout the winter season.

Tempted by an eventful family ski holiday surrounded by 12,000km² of pollution-free purity in the South of France? Visit Alpes French South to find out more about the sunnier side of the alps this winter.