We’ve published a few articles on family ski resorts in North America, but have said nothing about the fun you can have skiing in Europe with kids. Although I’ve skied in France, Italy, and Switzerland (all fabulous) — I haven’t experienced a family ski trip in Europe yet.
I wanted expert advice on the best family-friendly ski venues so I consulted with Chris Thompson, the Editor of Ski Famille, one of the UK’s original family ski specialists. Given the fact that they’ll be celebrating their 20th season in 2010/11, they are an excellent resource for advice and ski trip bookings.
Ski Famille offers catered chalets with inclusive childcare in two popular French resorts. Skiers and boarders with young children are their sole focus, so they don’t have to juggle the conflicting needs of adult groups with those of families.
Europe offers a huge amount of variety and choice for family skiers; there really is something for everyone. Essentially accommodation choices come down to three main categories; self-catering, hotels or catered chalets. All can work well for families if you do you research and between them they cover all budgets.
Picking just five European resorts that work well for families is hard, but we think this selection represents some of the best options on offer.
Top 5 ski resorts for families:
Les Gets, Portes du Soleil ski area, France
Time to declare bias as this has been Ski Famille’s main base for 20 years! However, the reasons we started taking families there in 1990 still stand. There are few French resorts that rival Les Gets for ambience, accessibility and facilities for children.
The resort is very picturesque, there is a huge choice of family friendly accommodation, the vast ski area is well suited to beginners and intermediates and the transfer to Geneva airport is nice and short (just 75 minutes). There is also a range of excellent ski schools and the resort is at the forefront of developments to make skiing a more environmentally friendly holiday.
Reberty Village, Three Valleys ski area, France
Reberty Village is one of a number of satellite developments outside Les Menuires. Les Menuires itself is a classic purpose built French resort (i.e. not very pretty but very functional with all ski in/out accommodation) but many of the newer developments like Reberty are far more attractive.
Reberty Village is largely made up of catered chalets all of which are footsteps from the slopes and offer superb links to the world famous Three Valleys ski area. Two of the UK’s main family ski operators, Ski Famille and Family Ski Company, have operations here that include in-chalet childcare. The resort is high (2000m) so very young babies may not be comfortable.
Montchavin, Paradiski, France
Montchavin is, like Les Gets and Reberty, a small resort that links into a huge ski area. The La Plagne ski area is a paradise for intermediate skiers but La Plagne itself is a bit bleak. A bit further down the valley Montchavin is a picture postcard vision of a French mountain village with winding cobbled streets and interesting shops. The village is small so accommodation is limited, early booking is advised.
Now that the already big La Plagne ski area is linked across to Les Arcs the variety of terrain and facilities on offer is hard to beat. This is a ski area that should be on every keen skiers “must visit” list. If you can’t find accommodation in Montchavin don’t rule out the purpose built resorts that sit higher. They work particularly well if you would like a large variety of self-catered accommodation.
Skiing in Lech is rarely a cheap option but it is unquestionably one of the best resorts in Europe. The resort combines great snowfall with traditional atmosphere, good facilities and a number of high quality independent accommodation providers.
The main nursery slopes are in Oberlech and this traffic-free satellite of the main resort is a great base if you have a family of beginners. A word of warning if you start exploring far and wide – the piste map can be confusing! Booking a guide may be money well spent for skiers who want to get the most from this stunning area.
Selva (Val Gardena), Italy
Selva in Val Gardena is another resort that is part of a big networked ski area (Sella Ronda). Well suited to intermediate skiers as well as cross country enthusiasts, the scenery in this area is stunning. Your accommodation needs to be picked carefully to get it right with young children as some properties can involve a bus ride to the slopes.
A real highlight of this attractive region is the fabulous mountain restaurants. The slopes have numerous huts that offer great food, good service and plenty of character. It would be very easy to enjoy a week of long lunches and leave many of the slopes unexplored!
Need help planning a trip to Europe or any other top family travel destination? Our Family Vacation Planning Team can help! Request assistance on My Trip Planner.
Where kids ski free in 2010 (North America)
Finding the best kid friendly ski resorts