The best kids clubs in French ski resorts
Having young kids doesn’t have to mean your skiing takes a back seat. Choose a ski resort with the right facilities and you’ll be carving up the slopes all day happy in the knowledge your kids are having just as much fun as you are.
When it comes to childcare in ski resorts, most people opt for one of two options. If you need round-the-clock childcare and your kid(s) are under 3, you could choose a tour operator that specialises in family skiing, such as Neilson, Ski Famille, Espirit Ski, Scott Dunn, Inghams, Mark Warner or Crystal Ski, and you’ll get a qualified childcare team to look after your child at the onsite creche, or, if they’re aged 3+, deliver them to the ski school, take them to lunch/dinner and return them to your chalet at the end of the day.
Alternatively, the do-it-yourself option is to choose a ski resort with a ski creche or kindergarten attached to the ski school. Here you’ll find daycare for the under 2s usually with indoor and outdoor play areas, supervised lunches and ski lessons for the over 3s. You drop them off and pick them up and it’s a flexible arrangement where you can decide to book half days and ski with them in the afternoons or full days complete with lunch, tea and apres-ski play.
Here are three of our favourite kids’ clubs with skiing and daycare for ages 2-5 years old.
1. Village des Enfants in Avoriaz
Half-day €38/Full day with meal €59
Children aged 3-5 years from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Children are offered lunch and tea in the Village restaurant and there are various après ski activities adapted to the different age groups. For 32 years the Place Central has played host to the ‘Village des enfants’. Based on the idea of learning through play it has been used as a model in most alpine resorts.
The ski school is run by the ESF and children from 3 can join Piou Piou the big yellow bird at Avoriaz 1800 to learn the basics, become self-sufficient, and discover all the fun of snow. The teaching method is based on the use of games within 25 acres of fenced and controlled pistes that have been specially developed for children (slides and bumps, mini tracks, coloured runs and small jumps). There is a moving carpet and a beginners Tele ski.
The school is also a childminding centre and a leisure centre where the kids can spend the day and eat their lunch. Lessons are organised so that parents start their own lessons 15 minutes after the children to avoid the stress of trying to be in two places at the same time and give a bit of time to settle the children into their lessons.
Avoriaz itself sits on the doorstep of the Portes du Soleil ski area, which holds plenty of pistes and areas for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, as well as off-piste opportunities for the more daring skiers as well as the Burton Kids Parkway for the little shredders. The car-free town centre offers horse-drawn carriage rides. A real bonus is the water park, Aquariaz, developed by Center Parks, with all the latest aquatic bells and whistles.
2. Club Piou Piou & Nursery in Alpe d’Huez
Half-day €47/Full day with meal €80
Children aged 2.5-5 years from 9:15 am to 4:45 pm
Club Piou Piou is for the over 3s and it is an area where little ones are taught the basics of skiing. Run by the internationally renowned ESF with the big yellow bird, Piou Piou and friends. There are two magic carpets, two snow ropes and a games area. Courses are organised over six days and children get a medal at the end of the week.
From 2 and half years old your child can join the team of professionals at the Chalet Des Enfants which caters for young children in both daycare and nursery. This is ideal for kids who don’t wish to ski or who would like to combine skiing and other activities, they can spend time at the new 350m2 daycare centre which offers other activities and educational games. The indoor area has a feel-good factor and is equipped to offer lunches, changing areas and a specific place to hold all children’s personal belongings and shoes.
Alpe d’Huez (1,860-3330m) is a sizeable, modern resort known for its sunny, extensive terrain and spectacular views across the Southern Alps. The efficient lift system whisks skiers up to the vast, high-altitude area of the Alpe d’Huez Grand Domain Ski (250km) with its wide choice of varied runs, well-suited to all levels.
3. Club Piou Piou & Nursery in Les Menuires
Half-day €42/ Full day €81 with meal
Children aged 3-5 years from 9 am to 5:15 pm
The Piou-Piou Clubs in la Croisette and Les Bruyères offer a whole range of children’s packages adapted to their age, open from 9 am to 5:15 pm, with lunch available (closed on Saturday).
The nursery (3-30 months) is located in the Croisette Piou-Piou village only. Medical certificate and pre-booking obligatory. The nursery costs €42 half day/€81 full day (with a meal).
The ESF mini-club (from 31 months to 5 years old) is available in both villages and highlights include snow discovery on snowshoes, tobogganing, games, orientation circuit, games room and playground – basically all things apart from skiing. The mini club costs €42 half day/€81 full day (with a meal).
Ski lessons (for ages 3-5yrs) are specially designed to build confidence at an early age run by qualified ESF instructors speaking both French and English. Children must have passed the Piou-Piou level. Lessons are available in blocks of six morning or afternoon sessions for €140-250. The other half of the day can be spent in the mini club. Supervised meals at the onsite restaurant are €21 extra.
Les Menuires, already awarded the Famille Plus Montagne label, was elected “Family Resort of the Year” by the jury of the Telegraph Group’s World Snow Awards at the start of the 2015/2016 season. The resort is also part of the 3 Valleys ski area. With a wide range of slopes for skiers of all abilities, it’s the ideal resort to learn or improve your skiing.
Source: On the snow