Skiing is a great family holiday, particularly with older children who can get themselves up and into their ski gear unaided.
It’s the kind of family holiday in which you’re up and out together all day, returning in the evening exhausted but exhilarated and ready to share tales of your time on the slopes over a hearty dinner. And the great part is, you don’t have to be an advanced skier to enjoy it: resorts like Flaine, in France’s Haute Savoie region, have been designed especially to make things easy for families and beginners.
With two areas of nursery slopes for those shaky first days and an extensive network of green and blue runs for when you and your family are feeling a little braver, this the perfect resort to take your first steps – or should that be slides – onto the slopes.
Apart from the gentle runs, perfect for unsure skiers, the other advantage of taking your fist ski trip in Flaine is that it is a relatively cheap skiing destination. There are three ski lifts on the beginner slopes which are free, so that beginners can decide whether they like the sport before they invest in a ski lift pass. And if they do, there are often good deals available on the passes. A beginner’s lift pass will cover you and your family just for the lifts around the resort, but if you feel like being adventurous you’ll need to buy a Flaine or even a Grand Massif pass to cover the wider area.
Best Runs For Beginners
The wide network of green runs is very inviting on the first few days but, believe me, it won’t be long before you crave something a little more challenging. It is the resort’s easy blue runs that make this a great place to get your ski legs.
Here are some great blues to get you started:
- Toumaline – Descending from Grands Vans right down into the resort, this is a gentle, wide blue just fractionally up from a green and a great place to start.
- Mephisto – Similar to Toumaline, this is a very gentle, wide blue, more like a green in parts.
- Portet – A little more challenging in parts, this is a great blue to advance to.
- Marmottes – Another long, slightly more challenging blue which runs into Les Molliets.
- Sarbotte – This is an easy blue into Les Carroz, with a great view half way down.
- Les Cascades – Probably one for the end of your holiday, this 14km blue through some stunning Alpine scenery is a little bit more challenging than the others. It is well worth the effort, however, for the feeling of accomplishment you will feel when you reach the bottom.
It is always advisable to book ski lessons, particularly if it’s your first time skiing or snowboarding. Not only will an instructor quickly teach you the basics you need in order to stop (a vital skill on the slopes) but they will also take you to the best runs for your level of skiing – it’s no fun finding yourself at the top of a red run when you’ve only just mastered the snow plough. When you get a little more advanced, instructors are the best source of information on where the best snow is in the resort on any given day.
There are two ski schools in the resort, the Ecole du Ski Francais Flaine (ESF) and the Ecole de Ski International Flaine. Beginners and children are better off booking with the Ecole du Ski Francais as their instructors specialise in teaching skiing from the beginning, wheras the Ecole de Ski International specialises in more advanced techniques.
Whichever ski school you choose it’s worth going online and booking your lessons well in advance as classes can get very booked up, especially during the busy school holiday times.
ESF has offices in Flaine Forum and Flaine Foret and will take children and adults from three upwards. It offers a range of options for beginners from private individual or private group lessons to lessons open to everyone. If you choose to join a group class the instructor will usually ask where you are from and try to put you in a group with an instructor who speaks English and with other English skiers. Special ‘teen’ classes could be the perfect solution if your kids are at the stage where they don’t want to be seen with you in public, and they may even make some friends.
How to Get to Flaine
One of the reasons that Flaine is such a popular resort is its accessibility compared to many of the French Alpine resorts. Just 74km from Geneva Airport, an airport transfer by Shuttle Direct can pick you up from the airport and deliver you to the door of your ski accommodation in just over one hour.
During the ski season you’ll find a wide range of charter and scheduled flights flying from the UK to Geneva or Flaine’s other local airports, Lyon and Grenoble. Shuttle Direct can provide airport transfers directly to the resort from each.
Where to Stay
Residence Les Pleiades – If you’re looking for a good, cheap option then self-catering apartments are a great idea. The apartments at Residence Les Pleiades are just 150 metres away from the ski lifts and all have kitchenettes, balconies and a bath, to soak those aching muscles. There’s free WiFi throughout so the kids can post any embarrassing falls you may have straight on to social media.
Dormio Resort Les Portes du Grand Massif – The perfect option if you don’t always want to get off the slopes and have to cook dinner, the Dormio Resort Les Portes du Grand Massif in Flaine has self-catering apartments with a restaurant. The apartments all have WiFi and LCD TVs to keep the teens happy, and while they’re on their devices you could sneak down to the spa for a well-deserved massage.
Pierre & Vacances Premium Flaine Les Terrasses d’Eos – Go on, you deserve it. The Pierre & Vacances Premium Flaine Les Terrasses d’Eos offers the ultimate self-catering apartment option with a paid grocery delivery service and someone to deliver warm bread and croissants in the morning. The apartments feature elegant wood and stone interiors and there’s free WiFi and even a PlayStation available to borrow to keep the kids quiet. There’s also a heated outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, Turkish bath, and if skiing all day isn’t enough exercise for you, a fitness suite.
About Shuttle Direct
Providing a reliable, friendly airport transfer service across Europe and North Africa, Shuttle Direct are experts in ski transfers to resorts in France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Its easy online booking and confirmation system mean that you can book a transfer before you leave and have a driver or group transfer waiting for you when you arrive with enough room to carry any ski equipment you might bring with you for free.