People looked at me as if I was mad taking my two small children skiing and even more so when they saw my daughter on the slopes. Last year was definitely too early and my daughter got cold within minutes and didn’t enjoy much apart from hot chocolate breaks and the odd Nutella oozing crepe. This year, however, it could not have been more successful. Now aged 2 and a half and 4, they were up for anything.
I’ll probably have most people snoring before they get to the next paragraph but it was so wonderful that I want to start from the beginning without leaving too much out.
We booked in to the Cheval Blanc in Courchevel 1850 which is where I skied as a child. It has wonderful skiing for children of all ages but has a bit of a down side – it’s become very shi shi in the past few years with, dare I say it, a Chanel in the main town and a plate of pasta costing an arm and a leg but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune and I’ll come to that later.
I like to fly in to Geneva, although the trip to 1850 is 2 hrs and 15 minutes, you know where you are and it’s simple enough. When flying with the children, I like to back track on the flight time to make sure we don’t have to wake them and it means they arrive in good time for bed at the other end. This doesn’t always work, obviously but with short haul, it should. We left home at 9.15am and when we started to climb the mountain in the car, I call ahead and asked the hotel to order a plate of pasta for the children which was waiting in their room on our arrival. I also confirmed that there would be a single bed set up for my son and a cot for my daughter. Totally spoilt, I know but it’s such a wonderful hotel and they help with absolutely everything.
After checking in, unpacking and putting the children to bed with full tummies, I popped down to make sure the ski passes were ready for the following day. This they were and they informed me that the children would need theirs renewed ever 2 days due to their ages but this is a very quick process and something they can do for us. Mental note – if you change your or their ski jackets during your stay, make sure to transfer the pass over!
The following day, being an hour forward, we woke nice and early and made our way down to have our boots and skis fitted which to my happiness could be done in our very hotel! Very happy!
Getting all the gear together can be bit of a tussle but I had the helping hand of the amazing Nanny Anita and together we seemed to nail it.
Down for breakfast in thermal top and bottom combo. I found a mix of Petit Bateau, George at Asda and Muddle Puddles was perfect, teamed with thick socks from Boden and a pair of slippers. We packed a bag each morning to take down to the ski room with ski suit, balaclava (a thin one to go under helmet) snood, gloves, goggles and a small ruck sack filled with lip salve, tissues, wet wipes, hand warmers and snacks which amazingly weren’t touched this year, too excited about the skiing!
We were lucky enough to have a ‘ski in ski out’ hotel and had the most amazing instructor for the children who helped them with their boots, skis and a short explanation on snow plough! We set off at just after 9.30am for the magic carpet which was a slope down, button lift up and short side step away. For this age, you couldn’t ask for more. An airport style carpet which carries you to the top of a nursery slope and is both easy to get on and off. It didn’t matter how they got down, at the bottom, all I could hear was, ‘can I go again?’ Now I won’t lie, there were some children crying, boys more than girls but not from mine. They took to it like ducks to water and couldn’t get enough! Up down, up down for what seemed like hours until they were made to break for lunch.
My brother arrived the following day with his son who is also 4 and had never skied before. Within a day, he’s got it and was also hooked.
We left them there most mornings for a couple of hours while we tackled some slightly harder runs nearby and then picked them up and skied with them to whichever restaurant the instructor booked for the day. In the old days it would have been Cap Horn and Le Soucoupe but when skiing with children you really need to think ahead and see what they can manage. In a few years I’m sure we’ll be back there but we found some wonderful little hideaways that were easy for the children to get to and easy to get back to the hotel.
On the last day the instructor said they were strong enough to ski to the Indian Village in 1650, well my son was and I took my daughter to 1650 by shuttle, then one bubble ride and a ski down where she needed some help – quite a way. This was so much fun and a real experience. Princess Pink Floyd ushered us in to her tipi which had a fire burning in the middle. Within minutes she had us in full Indian dress on top of our ski suits and painted faces. She then took us to meet her father, Grey Wolf who taught us all to be master archers, shooting at the most bizarre of targets in the distance. It was very hard to tear the children away but we promised to return next year.
The children all got badges for their work during the week, my son and nephew Flocons, which I myself remember getting at his age and my daughter, a Marmot which they were all thrilled with.
I didn’t ski much in the afternoons in favour of a leisurely ski back to the hotel, a relax while my daughter napped and my son caught up on Batman and colouring and then a little activity before tea. There’s plenty to do for children and although we didn’t use it, there is a play area for cold days in La Croisette, a bowling alley, an ice rink and most importantly the Carousel which mine are obsessed with. Then my favourite, a crepe or churros covered in sugar and chocolate sauce.
Most hotels have amazing play rooms which are great for the afternoons and many have swimming pools which mine loved. Our hotel had one activity every day at 5pm for the children and on the last night husky rides were on the agenda. This was awesome. A man arrived with 10 young dogs who managed to pull 2 grown ups and 3 children down the mountain for a 10 minute ride. With the snow closing in and a bitter wind, that was plenty but was something I will never forget. We’ve also taken horse and cart rides before from the town which the children love.
Our hotel was utter bliss and we were looked after like royalty, the only fault I could find was the food which although fine for the first few days, became a bit too fussy for the children by day 6. There was no children’s menu but apart from that the whole experience was seamless. The staff are wonderful, the concierge couldn’t be more helpful and the atmosphere is to die for.
My brother, who booked last minute with his son, managed to get an unbelievable deal with Esprit Ski. For around £800 they had flights, hotel, food and ski hire. The Crystal 2000 was totally hooked for children and families in every way and they loved it. Teams of young staff looking after all the children, a gigantic play room and activities for all ages. The only thing that wasn’t included was ski school but could be arranged within minutes and my nephew did a few days and loved it. This is a sensible option over taking them alone, one of the parents staying at the hotel did take his son out on his own and the boy, aged 5, managed to break a leg. The mother wasn’t too impressed!
Heavenly hotel, great for couples but very accommodating for children. Chicest cot and high chair I’ve ever seen. Owned by LVMH. No children’s menu.
The latest 5 star mega hotel which opened a few months ago. Breathtaking place and has an ultimate Kids’ Club.
Package deal with everything included. A child’s dream with a great play room and filled with families.
Ski School Courchevel – a great ski school.
Tel: +33 610 61 35 09
ChÃ¢let de Pierres – very close to the magic carpet, easy to ski down to. The best hot chocolate in Courchevel, make sure to ask for the one with whipped cream. Incredible pudding selection too, especially for the children.
Tremplin – very easy, so nice to sit outside when the sun is out, near the children’s carousel. It’s in the main town so easy to drive back to your accommodation after if you’ve had enough skiing.
Verdons – great outside eating, they also have a magician to keep everyone entertained. The best bolognese for the children.
Bel Air – this was in 1650 and we went here after the Indian Village as it was close.
If you have time and can go out for a grown up dinner L’Oeil de Boeuf is my favourite, not many tables and the best steak in town.