FAMILY FRIENDLY RESORTS IN FRANCE
With an abundance of activities that go beyond the ordinary, a winter holiday in France is definitely worth considering. We’ve picked four resorts that offer some interesting beginners' skiing and varied activities for children of all ages.
Avoriaz is an obvious choice for family holidays given there are no cars in resort with only horse-drawn carriages taking people from place to place. This makes for a magical atmosphere and no worries letting the children run around and play in the snow.
The Village des Enfants, a leisure centre and children’s ski school approved by the France's Ministry of Sport and Youth, is a haven in the heart of Avoriaz for children from the age of three. The Riglet Park is a mini snowboarding park in the Village des Enfants where children can find their feet on a snowboard and have some fun on the hills, rails and pyramids. They also provide an introduction to skiing and adult lessons that fit around the children’s timetables.
If you feel like taking time to relax in the warmth, then Aquariaz, an indoor tropical aqua park, is the placeto go. With slides, swing rope and a ‘chill out space’ there is something for everyone.
In terms of skiing as a family, an abundance of beginner slopes can be found next to Le Chapelle Park plus a range of blues from nursery level to improving. If practicing ski school tips look at the advanced runs for beginners including Proclou, Seraussaix, Qu’mont and Gernues.
Plenty of events are taking place throughout the season including La Grande Odysee, in January, Europe’s largest husky dog race. This race runs over 10 days through 14 resorts including another child-friendly pick, Les Carroz.
Avoriaz' Snow Carnival, taking place over February half term, is a holiday bonus with lantern shows, torchlight descents, fireworks, music and entertainment.
Find out more about Avoriaz in our resort guide
Les Deux Alpes
This spectacular village sitting at 1650m is the largest ski resort in the Dauphine region and is the second oldest ski resort in France. Part of the Serre Chevalier mountain range, it has some stunning scenery.
There are a number of recommended ski schools for children of all ages in Les Deux Alpes; Evolution 2 is popular as they begin their lessons at 10.00 to avoid the morning rush. Instructors speak a good level of English and really focus on injecting some fun into learning to ski or snowboard.
And for families doing downhill stuff together, there is a lot to keep both children and adults of all abilities entertained. The easiest runs in resort include Bosquet, Les Limaçons, Les Vikings and Les Gentianes: these pistes all have button drag lifts, which are set to run slowly for easier access for complete beginners.
Les Deux Alpes offers plenty of other children’s activities throughout the winter season; The Ice Caves, situated 30 metres under the glacier, are a grotto of beautiful sculptures and gently lit figurines. The caves are open throughout the season.
Ice Gliders, essentially bumper cars on ice, are a family favourite. Located at the ice skating rink, this is a great early evening activity to round off the skiing day! For older children and adults, the snow Segway sessions are yet another fun way to enjoy the snow. Scoot around the village and enjoy some off-road paths too.
Find out more about Les Deux Alpes in our resort guide
Many of the apartments are classified as ski-in ski-out in this high-altitude area made up of six resorts, which means ski school meeting places are always nearby. Linked to neighbouring Les Arcs, La Plagne makes up the Paradiski's ski area.
There are many good ski schools within the La Plagne area. Lime Snowsports provides ski and snowboard lessons from British ski instructors. Lime has a maximum group size of just SIX, unlike a regular size of twelve! This means children benefit from a really personal and supportive experience in all lessons.
La Plagne is predominantly known for its suitability for beginners. Ten greens and 73 blue runs make this an unrivalled place to learn to ski or board. Various building and developments over recent years have made it even better! Look out for the yellow shaded areas on the piste map for beginners' zones.
A must-see is the Bob Experience, which was built in 1992 for the Olympic Games. Choose from four different packages ranging from 80-130 km/h. If you prefer something a little slower, there are six different sledging areas in La Plagne open to children of all ages.
In February Mardi Gras Carnival comes to La Plagne. There are street parades, face painting, balloon modelling and much more. This is a great little extra to top off the half term holiday.
Find out more about La Plagne in our resort guide
Les Carroz is a fantastic resort for families having been awarded the Famille Plus accreditation for its facilities. The traditional Savoyard village is part of the Grand Massif ski area benefiting from over 265 km of pistes.
Start very small children off on the two new moving carpets in the village or take advantage of the new bubble-covered mat at the top of the main gondola. Both major ski schools and English-speaking independent instructors operate here and are very well thought of. Choose ESI or ESF for group lessons with accredited local ski instructors with a wealth of experience. Ski Kindergarden is open every day for children from 3 years old too.
Les Carroz offers some beautiful undulating blues including the Plein Soleil, which can now be accessed by an easier piste behind the top of the telecabine. This wide rolling blue takes you as far as a drag lift, a chair lift, or take the wooded Lou d’Arbes right down into the village. For a chance to really practice turning and popping in and out of the trees, head over to Morillon to the Marvel. This wonderful 5 km run from the top of the Sairon chairlift winds its tree-lined way in a gentle yet demanding beginners paradise (best family run in the area); take in the scenery and look out for the signs along the way depicting particular types of wildlife inhabiting the area.
As with other French resorts, Les Carroz has a packed programme of fun activities throughout the winter season including dog sledging, great for children over five. If they still have enough energy after a day’s skiing, ice skating or the bungee trampoline is sure to get adrenaline going again!
The central square in this authentic and pituresque village is the hub for evening entertainment throughout the season, with the Tourist Office posting regular notices on particular weekly events including torchlight descents (and Les Carroz' annual attempt at the world's greatest torchlight descent), night-skiing, live concerts and other diverse and fun things to do during the season.
Find out more about Les Carroz in our resort guide