Skiing with kids in Chamonix – a number of choices

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Let’s face it, if your choice of skiing destination is driven by giving your kids an easy introduction to the Alpine art, Chamonix is not your first choice of resort.  As dynamic and beautiful as it is, it’s not ski in, ski out stuff.

We’ve always been aware of Chamonix’s reputation for being the playground of those with nerves of steel,  but with so many families in town, kids must be catered for, yes?  So itching to get out there ourselves, we’ve decided to take the kids out of school and sample ski school in the Chamonix valley.  I’m using the phrase ‘Chamonix valley’ intentionally, as we’re being faced with far more choices of locations and schools than we’ve been used to.

Whereas in most French resorts the choice is pretty much just vanilla ESF, we’re being offered quite a few more we could use:

  • British Association of Ski Schools, BASS Chamonix. Based in Argentiere with an English focus.  Appears to offer small group lessons.
  • Evolution 2. Mad dog ski has it down as the best independent ski school in the valley, principally run out of Argentiere.  Apparently they are also ‘progresssive’ in their teaching methods. It’s Panda Club is also run out of there.
  • ESF (Ecloe Ski Francaise) Sometimes you hear them knocked for being inflexible, and possibly a bit too keen to push your limits, but we’ve never had any problem.  As with most things, a lot of it comes down to individual personalities, and as we’re not going skiing in the UK we’re not surprised if the instructor doesn’t have an excellent command of English.
  • UCPA. I don’t know details personally but you see their black jackets all over the place, apparently ‘low-cost winter sport packages for groups, covering the premium resorts in the French alps.’ Possibly ski guides rather than instructors? You’ll need a good comand of French I think.

Then we have we’re faced with 5 skiing areas, all with their very own unique terrain.  It would be great to try them all over the week, but our choice of kids ski domain will act as the hub for much of our shussing.  So it’ll be important to chose a domain that offers us a wide enough variety to keep us adults entertained for the week, or enables a quick drop and run so we can head off elsewhere quickly.  So, where to base the kids?

  • Blame La Tour which has nice gentle slopes, but about a 20 minute drive up the valley.
  • Argentiere, again up the valley, probably about 13 minutes.  Better known for the challenges of Grands Montets than beginner friendliness.
  • Planards, a small self contained area with nursery slopes and one red run in the centre of the town.  Great for beginners, but only caters for those up to 1 star.  Those above are bused to Les Houches on a daily basis.
  • Savoy,which again is close to town, but the north side.  It has a flat beginners’ area with a drag lift behind Club Med that takes you up to Brevent. This also hopefully means you can park further away from the Planpraz gondola that takes you up to Brevent area which is joined to Flegere so you can all start skiing at the same time.
  • Les Houches, an area with some lifts not included in the Chamonix Le Pass I think.  Being further down the valley where the sides are less steep it offers much for beginners and intermediates. Personally on my last trip without kids I found this area the most pleasurable and I spotted a restaurant I’m itching to go to, Les Vielles Luge. This is about a 12 minutes drive down the valley from Barrats A.

So being prepared to put up with the ESF bashing we decided to keep with the programme the kids have already been introduced to.  Their collection of sparkling metal badge can then grow as they collect more etoiles. Um, more stuff to dust:-)

So for the purposes of enabling Mum and Dad to ski for at least 2 hours on our own we’re going to try Argentiere (Les Chosalets (1230 m)). – Savoy/Brevent was a close runner for a while, but given the kids’ different abilities (the 7yr old going into 1 star, the 9yr old 3 star) the all day lesson option for the elder child wasn’t available for the younger unless we were prepared for an expensive 2.5 hr lunch, or she was 125cm in height.

So hopefully Argentiere will be relatively straightforward with kids. Watch this space for reports.

Gosh, at this moment our usual skiing in Montalbert, La Plagne (Chalet Alexander) seems so much simpler when you’ve got kids. But we’ve got that to look forward to at the end of the season:-)

And here’s a link to family priced lift passes for the unlimited pass.

And if you are interested in finding out the ski area our kids prefer, here it is…..

And don’t forget this year new ski lifts are being built.

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7 thoughts on “Skiing with kids in Chamonix – a number of choices

    […] the the powder hounds to get the kids up to ski school in a timely manner, we look forward to our ski school stress being relieved next year, lets just hope when we get on the lift the kids haven’t left […]

    […] you may have seen from earlier posts discussing Chamonix kids skiing options that we take the lessons in Argentiere, it is Le Tour the the kids most enjoy.  It’s a […]

    Kids ski free in Chamonix « Barrats Chamonix's Blog said:
    November 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    […] here are some ideas of skiing with kids LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); LD_AddCustomAttr("LangId", […]

    […] year I spent some time pondering where would be best to ski with the kidsand we settled on Argentiere. (We’ll be doing the same again this year, as it worked out […]

    Ruth said:
    March 2, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    This is really useful to read. I am taking my two 11 year olds to chamonix for Mon – Fri at Easter and have been going backwards and forwards trying to work out what would suit us all best. We are all pretty much novices, only snow dome experience so far. I am by far the most cautious of the three of us and am worrying about not being able to keep up with one of my girls who prefers speed over technique. I am slower than both of them so there has to be an element of trust but would like to get some nice gentle skiing with enough of a challenge for us all but not too much for my nerves and skill level. We are staying near Savoy and the Brevent area looks like it might be ok for us. What do you think having been there? I have enquired about ski lessons over the easter break and only ESF and Evolution 2 are running ski school, all are advising private lessons for us as we are only there for 3 full days. Has any one gone down this route. Next job is work out which school do Private lessons in Brevant area!

      barratschamonix said:
      March 3, 2010 at 8:52 pm

      Hi Ruth

      Glad my thoughts have been of some use.

      So far, we’ve skiied with the kids in Les Houches, La Tour (Balme) and Flegere (plus Grand Montets with my daugher doing 3 star). We haven’t done Brevent yet as my 7 year old found the the blue index run in Flegere enough to put her off on her 1st run there (but 2 lovely greens put a smile back on her face).

      Although further up the valley, both the 7 and 9 year old enjoyed La Tour the best with its gentler slopes and accessible freestyle area. Dad is not too impressed with their choice but it is reported to have super off piste as well. Buses run every 30 mins and I think you can get the no 1 and 13(?) up to La Tour area if you’d like to try it.

      Failing that I would have throught Brevent would be fine, but as I say, I can’t talk from personal experience with kids yet.

      Best of luck and let us know how you get on:-)

      barratschamonix said:
      October 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      Hi Ruth

      Now that thoughts have turned to skiing next season I’m just wondering what your thoughts on skiing with kids in Chamonix are? How did you get on last Easter? What advice would you give?

      Thanks!

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