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Ski Schools for Kids in Chamonix - Any experience?

(24 Posts)
quidnunc Wed 10-Feb-10 14:36:29


Am woefully late in booking ski school for DS(7) and DD(4). Am off to Chamonix for the first time and wondered if anyone has had positive experiences with any of the ski schools there?

I will use ESF in the absence of anything better, but I'm not very impressed with their approach to teaching kids, particularly english speaking kids.


Janechamx Thu 25-Feb-10 12:57:04


We've also been going through 'what to do with kids when skiing in Chamonix' discussions.

We've looked at a number of schools and locations within the valley and here is what we've come up with:

I hope this email doesn't come too late.

Any questions or advice you can add to it gratefully received.

Bon vanaces!

Reesie Thu 25-Feb-10 13:19:48

I'll be watching this thread with interest... I'm off to Chamonix in 2 weeks and I'm a bit worried about ESF as dd is only 3 years old but physically large for her age.

I've heard rave reviews about the Panda club in Argentiere in Chamonix - mostly English speaking instructers - so I'm going with them this year.

Janechamx Thu 25-Feb-10 22:51:14

Best of luck and I'd be intereseted in hearing how you get on.


techopixie Tue 16-Mar-10 16:21:31


do you have any feedback on the Panda club ..stressing about whether to use ESF or Panda for dd who is 4 and may not be too keen to be left at ski school


Reesie Tue 16-Mar-10 20:10:39

Hi - I'm still in Chamonix but not snowboarding anymore due to a broken wrist....hence I'm having a look on mumsnet.

Panda club was lovely and friendly - friends children went to the ESF school in Argentiere school abd they were lovely there too.

So - as ESF were so much cheaper - would probably go with them next time - they all seemed really nice!

quidnunc Wed 17-Mar-10 13:50:28

Been and come back, but thanks for the ideas!

We ended up using Panda Club. Group sizes were amazing: My son's group had 4, my daughter's group has 5.

The teachers had stronger English than the ESF teacher we have had in the past, but this is a very fluid job market, so that was more luck than good judgement.

We're going back this weekend, so expect to use Panda again.

Reesie Wed 17-Mar-10 20:44:22

Have a fab hol quidnunc, the weather has turned here - fabulously warm and the snow is still fantastic!!!!!!!

techopixie Mon 22-Mar-10 17:16:05

hope the good weather holds until Easter!! I was originally looking at the ESF school in planards, is argentiere a better bet? I didn't realise there was an ESF school in argentiere as well as Panda.

Am a chamonix novice so have no idea which area is the most convenient for the kids to go to ski school, so we can get back to them easily to join them for lunch while maximising our skiing time.

If argentiere a good bet, then with the small group size at Panda looks like that may be the way to go.

thanks for the info!

Reesie Mon 22-Mar-10 22:39:44

Argentiere is good for adults to ski there too but not much in the way of good blues when the children progress. They tend to bus them over to Le Tour as they improve.

Planards is also good - it's in Chamonix itself and also near decent runs for adults. Just loads of good runs everywhere really!

I still love Chamonix despite falling over on my snowboard, breaking my wrist and spending 3 days in Sallanges hospital having it all pinned back togethersad

Just to let you know that if the kids want an afternoon off - the crystal museum is a nice place to take them, also great swimming pool (take your speedos for the men), the library has a lovely childrens section with drawing and singing there every afternoon. There is also a nice little park by the library and a bowling alley by Chamonix Sud.

Reesie Mon 22-Mar-10 22:42:07

Loads of fab places to eat there - I could go on for ages about the place - we spend far too much time there than we can afford!

techopixie Wed 24-Mar-10 14:13:48


Thanks for the recommendations. Not so good about your wrist, you are in very good humour all things considered - Chamonix must be a great place! would welcome any eating recommendations - my friends who are joining us from the US are mad about their food and slightly miffed we are not based in Courmayeur which is supposed to have excellent restaurants. hope you are still having fun, wrist notwithstanding

techopixie Wed 24-Mar-10 14:15:02

me again. your wrist is making me think maybe we need travel insurance...

Reesie Thu 25-Mar-10 20:05:24

Oh yes.....I would recommend travel insurance. As well as wrist protectors!

OK - my favourate places to eat are...

Le Cave on Rue de docteur Paccard - difficult to find but it's next door to the chinese. It's my favourate restaurant there

There's a michelin star restaurant - I think it's called the 'atmosphere' - again on Rue dr Paccard. I'm too poor to eat there and I wouldn't consider going near the place with a 3 and one year old. My parents think it's lovely and eat there.

The Jeckal restraunt near the bowling alley place - very lovely.

For cheaper simpler food we often go to Le Boccolaite on Allee de L'Aguille de Midi - it's frequented by the french and it's family friendly. Perfect for a midweek dinner.

Reesie Thu 25-Mar-10 20:07:42

Importantly, take plenty of euros - It's not cheap!

techopixie Mon 29-Mar-10 17:16:49

Thanks Reesie - all sounds brilliant. Do you happen to know if the library has toys? Am trying to think of activities our carer can do with the little ones who are too young (1.5 and 2.5) for ski school, in the mornings. we're renting a chalet but there won't be much to amuse them there - bar what we can stuff into our overweight bags

Reesie Mon 29-Mar-10 20:36:55 are ridiculously pricey to buy out there. Not sure about library renting out toys.

One trip I found a large cardboard box and cut out windows and a door to make a 'house' with balnkets and pillows inside. DD1 loved it and kept her entertained for hours over the fortnight we were there.

Small sleighs are cheap to buy (try 'technique extreeme') and little ones love it. Try the savoy piste to have a play. Or there is a designated tobogganing place by the cross country ski on the road tp Argentiere. You can pick up those cheap plastic skis for your 2 1/2 year old that just tie onto shoes - just to have a bit of fun on the snow.

Realistically - there isn't loads there for very young children to do. The snow doesn't even lend itself well to snowman building - it just crumbles and wont roll into a ball hmm.

However, the french all seem to love children and they are usually fussed over.

HumairafromEaling Fri 04-Nov-11 17:49:28

Wow, Chamonix was my favourite place until the children arrived. I would love to return but am unsure about ski schools: the one we used was more geared to adults, and was excellent. Ski Sensations.

If anyone can shed more light on good childrens ski schools for the English speaking, I would be grateful! Will also ask a contact I have there, and post here if I find anything.

Le Tour is a great ski area once the children can snowplough. Lovely wide and gentle green at the bottom of the bubble lift. Then up the bubble lift for a great cafe and restaurant with deck chairs outside to sunbathe. The views are breathtaking as Le Tour is situated at one end of the valley. The adults can head off up the next lift, and ski around the valley side, through gentle slopes through the forest, and onto the lift that takes you to the Swiss side for a ski before you return!

Wonderful auberge/hut on the way serving lovely Savoyard food.

Places to eat: I haven't been there for a few years but when there Bergerie on Av Michel Croz was excellent, and so was L'Impossible. The latter is an absolute delight, a barn around a corner but well known. and are very good websites for Chamonix.

Reesie Sat 31-Dec-11 12:58:42

Yes, L'impossible is lovely. We are considering driving over this year and am going to lidl's before we leave....!

IwishIwasmoresparkly Mon 02-Jan-12 21:08:37

We've used BASS in Morzine who were brilliant.

They're also in Chamonix so I'd recommend having a look.

stmartin Tue 20-Mar-12 20:36:34

Stay clear of the Panda club in Argentiere if your kids are nervous. We were greeted by 2 member of staff saying about my daughter who was struggling to walk in her ski boots "she can't even walk on snow, no doubt she'll struggle with skis". I should have walked off then but thought it was worth a try. They called us back after 20 minutes saying my daughter was crying and didn't want to ski. No offer of a refund...very poor attitude from some of the staff there and poor cusomer service. For the teaching, I can't comment as I wasn't there but my daughter tried ice skating also for the first time the day before and she took to it in 1 hour....

SkiBumMum Sat 31-Mar-12 19:27:12

Places to eat - L'Imprevu is the best IMO. Raclette followed by chocolat fondant (the meal you can only justify by a day at Grands Montet)

Reesie Mon 02-Apr-12 22:36:53

Just to say that I went to chamonix a couple of weeks ago a dd1 (age 5) had some lessons with ESF in les houches and they were fine. They were the morning 2 1/2 hour group lessons. The instructors spoke english and dd had no problems. She was flying down a red run by the end of the week!

Friends used the same lessons a couple of weeks previously and also found them good.

Also - this time in chamonix the children loved the crazy golf in the bowling alley by chamonix sud. The swimming pool is also good (get dh's to pack their tight speedos - no baggy shorts allowed!)

Le tour is good for young children. There is a new tiny run that's opened there with animal obsticles and a tiny drag lift. It seems free - we never bought a pass for it. Dd2 (nearly 3) loved it while dd1 would whizz down the bigger green run. I sat in the open cafe at the bottom with ds (20 weeks). Needless to say dh and I barely did any skiing but the girls had a great time. Hopefully, it'll be worth it in a few years when we can ski together if we can afford to pay for all 5 of us to go up the mountain

Westwinds3 Fri 09-Nov-12 08:32:20

I am an interloping Granddad, but granddaughters 6 and 4 went to ESF Piou Piou club in Les Houches in 2010 and it is NOT recommended. Far too many children. 20+ children stood on a slope in a compound, sidestepped to the top, slid down and back again. When they fell or cried, zero sympathy. When one granddaughter got a vomiting bug, they were pleased, because it meant they didn't have to go.

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