The CountryFrance is the most popular place to ski in the world. According to the DFS (Domaines Skiables de France), an organisation representing the French ski industry, last winter French ski-resorts recorded 53.9 million ‘skier days’ - more than any other country. But whatever the stats, France will forever occupy a place in my heart because it’s where I learned to ski. It’s also where, on a ski season, I met my partner. It seemed fit then, that two children and 13 years later we should head across the channel for first our family ski holiday.
As a family we tend to drive to Europe rather than fly - it’s cheaper, more flexible and car boots are better at accommodating the excessive clobber and armfuls of can’t-live-without toys that accompany a holiday with young children. What’s more, Les Gets is only a seven-and-a-half-hour drive from Calais and is 11-hours door-to-door from our home in Kingston upon Thames, which appealed. On the return journey we raced a family who were flying back to London and arrived home at around the same time, even with an obligatory stop in Calais for cheap beer and wine.
The Tour OpWe’ve never had a chalet holiday, despite a decade of ski holidays - going DIY always seemed like the cheapest option and hanging out with a dozen strangers has never really appealed. But with two young children in tow comes the perplexing conundrum of how you spend quality time the slopes and keep the little people safe and entertained, especially when one of them declares that skiing is, “too slidey”, despite never having been on snow. Enter the ski specialist that claims to have family skiing sewn up, whether you’re in your thirties, you’re six and two months, or four and two thirds and a half.
Ski Famille has 25 years of experience in the family ski market. On paper what they offer is half board accommodation, full-time childcare and three meals a day for the children. What this equates to is a chance for everyone to have a ski holiday - holidays with small children can sometimes feel like harder work than being at home - and the key to this is the army of nannies that they employ.
Each morning our children would be dressed for skiing, taken to the slopes, made to giggle, made to giggle a lot more and then spend the morning in ski school, with the nannies on hand to provide biscuit breaks, toilet stops and caring cuddles. For Poppy, who gave up on skiing after day one, there were trips to the market, arts and crafts sessions, a teddy bears’ picnic and forest walks. If we had been on our own we’d have been playing rock, paper, scissors for a chance to hit the slopes.
This level of childcare, which is admittedly an additional cost, allows adults to potentially spend from 9.30am-4.30pm on the snow, although as it panned out Minnie and Gary had a tonne of fun skiing together in the afternoons and Poppy and I frequented the coffee shops.
The ResortLes Gets is a pretty, sunny, typically French resort - think cheese shops and cafés lining the high street. It lies directly east of Geneva and is on the route to Morzine, which means that the resort sometimes get overlooked in favour of its increasingly upmarket sibling up the road. Like Morzine, Les Gets is popular with Brits but were its neighbour has bars, clubs and buzz, Les Gets has more of a family-friendly vibe.
Perched on the edge of the Portes du Soleil ski area Les Gets has 48 of its own lifts and the resorts tops out at 1826m. The main local slopes are accessed by the Chavannes gondola and the Chavannes chairlift from the nursery slopes beside the village. Mont Chéry on the opposite side of Les Gets is south-east facing and has lovely wooded secteurs and open slopes, although often closes later in the season.
One of 12 linked resorts Les Gets offers access to 285 runs and 196 lifts. As one of the outlying village in the ski domain it’s unlikely that you’d ski further than the lower slopes of Avoiriaz in a day but it’s nice to have the option.
At the end of the season it was super quiet and some of the facilities, like the ice rink, were closed. What made our trip to Les Gets though was the weather and the snow; we arrived in a snowstorm and left in warm, spring sunshine. With two fabulous days of fresh powder followed by four days of 20 degree heat it was probably the best spring skiing that I’ve ever had. What’s more, compared to south facing Morzine we had far superior snow.