Skiing on the cheap?(17 Posts)
A bit of a misnomer, I'll admit, seeing as skiing is most definitely NOT cheap, but just wondering if you have any suggestions to make it a bit more affordable? We last went 3 years ago, and ds did lessons/needed lift pass, skis, boots etc, but the cost of finding these things for both dd and ds as well as us has really made it prohibitive, so we've not been since (whereas pre-kids, we went every year).
We're tied to school holidays (dcs are 6 and 9), so Easter is the obvious time for us to go, and we typically do self-drive/Eurotunnel, book a tiny apartment direct with an agency, take all our food, book lessons direct etc. We don't need childcare/clubs (can't afford them, in any case). Do any of you know of any child-friendly resorts that offer cheap /family ski passes for example, or even hostel-type accommodation - anything to help reduce the cost? Ideally in France, as it's a bit easier to drive to. Or should I just forget about the whole thing and stop spending the winter dreaming of the mountains?? Many thanks in advance!
A friend used to stay in the Youth Hostel in Les Deux Alpes - family rooms, right by the main lifts. Other possibility is to saty in a cheap hotel in eg Moutiers and drive up each day (also give chance to try differnt resorts) - also hire kit in the valley, not in the mountain resorts.
What is your budget?
How far are you willing to travel by car?
Could you do the first week of Easter this year?
What level of skiing are your children at?
You can ski as expensive as you like, or as cheap as possible, we do the latter.... almost as cheap as we can get anyway.
The Maurienne valley is very cheap, Aussois for example first week of Easter, staying with www.goelia.fr and lift passes for 2 + 2 costing 436 euro and ski school for a child 2 hours * 6 days costing 92 euro and ski hire for 6 days at 182 euro for 2 + 2.
If you were doing the day holiday as us, first week of Easter, it would cost 450 euro with pierreetvacances.fr in Les Houches, lift passes for 2 + 2 would cost 451 euro, ski school for 2 hours * 6 days would be from around 106 euro per child, ski hire for 6 days fro 2 + 2 at 206 euro. So you holiday of apartment, 6 days lift pass, 6 days ski hire, 6 days ski school for 2 children would cost you 1319 euro. You would have to add travel costs and food costs on top. To me, the price is still quite expensive but compared to an all inclusive stay with a company like Esprit or Ski Famille, you could be paying the same price for the whole family as some pay for one adult for the week.
Just came across this website, Maurienne valley gets quite a good write-up, which includes Aussois, La Norma, Val Cenis etc.
- January 11, 2011§ion=47
Thanks for your responses. I think the problem is in part due to the fact that pre-kids we always went during a cheap week in January or March. Going at Easter we've tended to go for high resorts (Tignes) to be sure of snow - with consequently higher lift pass prices and accommodation. We've driven to the Tarentaise on many occasions, and would be prepared to go further south if needs be.
Re: kids' level, ds has done one week - and made great progress - and dd none at all; however dd also has SN, so I guess we need to factor that in as well - she'd be OK skiing as her balance is OK now, but is profoundly deaf, so may need to find a deaf-friendly ski school, or an instructor prepared to use a radio aid. Thinking about this, it is probably just too complicated to consider skiing for a year or two - getting a bit carried away, I guess, as I would dearly love to go! Will check out other suggestions though.
Have looked at Maurienne in the past - La Norma/Lanslebourg/Lanslevillard - and they would be perfect in terms of small/child-friendly and not too pricey, but I don't think there would be much in the way of snow by Easter. Have had bad experiences in the past (one April week we had continual rain below 2000m) hence search for higher resorts.
Hire your skis via Snowell.
Saw it mentioned on Mumsnet last year, mamanged to save about 30% on our hire costs (dh and I hire skis, even though we are advacned skiers - and ds, who is 10, needed the whole kit 'n' caboodle, boots, skis & hemlet) and was still able to go to our "usual" ski-hire shop in Meribel. The only difference was that we had paid (a lot less) in advance.
Go on string bean, just go for it. Easter weeks are pretty empty in France, nearly everyone has already done their skiing for the season... I wouldn't even worry about your daughter, imagine all those other English children who are meeting another language for the first time, ie French, they can't understand anything going on, they just have to get used to following the others. If your daughter is outgoing, she might well cope fantastically and perhaps she may have the advantage of it not being the first time she has difficulty communicating so she may cope far better than other English speaking children learning to ski in French. Group sizes for ski schools are likely to be small at Easter too. Really you shouldn't let anything put you off, our son is autistic and dyspraxic, he is incredibly unco-ordinated trying to put his skis on and off, once he has them on, he's really like another child.
The reason I ask how much skiing your children have done is that some resorts, including some in the Maurienne valley, offer special "beginners ski schoo + ski pass" offers, saving typically a further 50 euro off.
Or you could perhaps find a private instructor to teach 2 children together for a couple of hours per day, you could accompany the children??? I have just come back from Vallorcine, never skiied there before, spent the first morning following ESF ski school's 3rd star group around, just my level, it was like having free guiding of the resort!! It can be fun following the children around.
There is a small UK company based only in Ste Foy, can't rememember their name, but their prices are very very cheap, it's self catering, they run their own English ski school, bit more expensive than ESF. I bet they would be more than happy to cater for your family.
I would personally wait until just before Easter, if still thinking about it this year, as the weather has not given the best snow conditions in many years.
Wow - that's a website to remember! Interesting that teenagers are classed as 7-12 years old
Stringbean, don't write off lower resorts, who knows what might happen to the snow. We went to Val Cenis mid April 2 years ago, snow right to the bottom and ski to the door all week. Height is not everything either, some places such as the Mont Blanc valley have micro-climates where snow at 1000m is the equivalent to 1500m in most of the rest of the Alps. Look at the Peak Retreats website, it only lists resorts with excellent ski records.
Thanks Natation - you're right about dd and language - she is used to just following others (does swimming classes and can't hear a thing) so would probably be OK. I've looked at Peak Retreats before (used to get their brochure) and they have some accommodation that would suit perfectly and lovely small resorts. True re: snow - my parents skied at Courchevel 1850 at the start of Feb - very hard, packed and icy. I guess waiting until the last minute to see where snow is would be the way to go.
Another option might be to try Isola 2000 which currently has great snow. If you can get cheap flights to Nice, they advertise bus transfers for 1 and then you could get an apartment which would be the most cost effective way of going. If snow is rubbish you have lots of other things to do not too far away. I skied there a few years ago and you can see the see from the top of one of the lifts and I think it is one of the best kept secrets in France when the snow is good. Suggest you call www.ernalow.co.uk as they might have some more suggestions and special offers that others don't have.
Try Brides-les-bains in the 3 Vallees. It is not ski in/ ski out is so much cheaper than staying in Meribel or Courcheval. Plus, everything in the village is generally cheaper. It has a gondola that takes you into Meribel. Or if you have a car, it is easy to drive to Meribel.
We stayed in a 2 bed apartment booked directly with owner via the homelidays.co.uk website.
We go to the southern French Alps a lot. For a family of 4, the major outlay can be lift passes, and if you compare the price in a small resort vs a big resort it is hugely significant. Day prices for Serre Che are about 40+, whereas a smaller resort, Crevoux or REallon, it is I think 19. The problem at Easter is that a lot, but not all, of the smaller places have shut. Last Easter (when the snow was rubbish), we had a brilliant week at Risoul and a couple of days at Les Orres....the day prices for Les Orres (usually 31 I think) were 15. It was quiet and we had a great time.
I think your tactic of driving and going direct is the best...but maybe check out some of the smaller places for FEb next year? Or look for somewhere in the valley near eg Les Orres (eg town of Baratier, Crots, Embrun) where you'd have to drive every day to resort (20 mins) but you should still get budget accomodation and decent skiing.
If you book your flights way ahead and hire a car from the airport, book a gite and don't put them in ski school, it's quite a reasonably priced holiday. Easter is usually cheaper than Feb, but you could risk melty snow
Stringbean, are you still thinking of going this year? If so PM me and I can send some details direct for a cheap option in a snow-sure resort. But I agree with natation, just go for it!!
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.