At Les Arcs, in the French Alps, the family skiing company, Esprit Ski, don’t buy into the adage of children being seen but not heard as they are encouraged to join in sing-along sessions with their instructor.
Children can learn how to ski from scratch, and in just four days could be looking as if they’d been born with planks of fiberglass attached to their feet. In the meantime – and if it takes your fancy – you can head off on the slopes together for child-free afternoons.
Ski school: Esprit seems to have found a magic formula when it comes to family skiing, with partnerships with the best ski schools in each resort, amazing childcare staff (you’ll want to take them home), and a hassle-free system of transferring children between parents, ski school and snow clubs.
The matter-of-fact instructional approach of French ski school ESF, combined with the warm encouragement of the Esprit staff who accompany each group seems to bring out the best in the kids. The club develops their skiing skills, and their confidence, at a phenomenal rate and over the period of your stay you’ll find that the skill gap between children and parents narrows as young ones become more proficient.
Food: The cuisine, whether you stay in an informal chalet setting or a chalet hotel with more facilities, is of a very high standard and any special dietary requirements will be catered for – packed lunches are also provided.
Where to stay:
Esprit offers catered chalets within its Altitude Residences in Les Arcs 2000, which is considered the best of the resort’s areas. It offers virtually ski-in ski-out facilities, with the slopes almost on your doorstep, and a nursery (for 4 months to 3 years), which is located in the residences.
Best time to go: The season runs from the beginning of December to the end of April. Bear in mind that the resort is particularly busy during February half-term.
Travel time: Les Arcs is close to four airports; Chambery-Savoie (2 hour transfer), Lyon Saint-Exupéry (3 hour transfer), Grenoble-Isère (3 hour transfer) and Geneva Cointrin (3 hour transfer), all of which are around 1 hour and 35 minutes from London. How to get there:
Between December and April British Airways flies from London City Airport to Chambery-Savoie; from £153 return. British Airways also flies from London Heathrow (from £131 return) and London Gatwick (from £79 return) to Geneva and London Heathrow to Lyon (Saint Exupery); from £133.
easyJet flies from London Gatwick to Geneva; from £50.98 return, and, between December and March, from London Gatwick to Grenoble; from £57.61 return.
Swiss flies from London Heathrow (from £98 return) and London City (from £104 return) to Geneva.