As a late teen, I got into skiing and snowboarding. As much as I relished the freedom of whizzing down a mountain whilst inhaling the purest of air, I was also quite keen on the apres ski partying. On leaving university, I decided to head to Val D’Isere to embark on a season of hedonism. OK, I did serve a few meals and clean a few chalets – I actually did do a fair bit of skiing too.
Roll on 16 (where did the years go?!) years, am I no longer a chalet girl without a care in the world: I am a mother of 2, who would quite like to introduce my kids to the world of alpine beauty. I didn’t learn as a child, and I really wanted it to be a part of my child’s upbringing. Finally, at the age of 6 and 8, we plucked up the courage to book a ski holiday.
As I started to look at resorts – lots of lovely child friendly resorts with oodles of green runs. Not really much in the way of apres ski, but hey! I was going with my kids – who needed Apres? Then, another family decided to join us. They wanted to go to a bigger resort, with more to see and do. They had heard of this fabled resort known as Val D’Isere and that is where they wanted to head …
A phone call and a couple of emails to those magic fairies at Alpine Solutions – they had come up with a solution that could work for all of us. We hired a fully catered chalet in the heart of Val D’Isere through YSE. Our chalet was moments from the bottom of the slopes – so skiing straight back to the top of the road after our ski was possible (so much better than lugging skis about!). Walking to ski school with 3 wriggly kids only took about 5 minutes.
Although, the chalet was basic, it was comfy enough and easily housed us all. What was best about it was our fantastic chalet girls: They simply could not do enough. Each night, we were treated to a sumptuous 3 course meal with canapes beforehand. This is a couple of hours after the kids had had their separate tea. All picky dietaries were taken into account and the girls would always do anything extra – we were there on Shrove Tuesday so the girls did pancakes with the kids! And of course, there was unlimited wine with each meal – don’t worry though, we didn’t go over board – I struggled to keep my eyes open after 930 pm! Breakfast was more than enough fuel for the day ahead – eggs, bacon, porridge, bread, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cereal … And of course, I can’t forget the lovely cake we got everyday for afternoon tea. Our very generous chalet girl wrapped up the spare pieces for us to snack on during the day!
Probably the best thing the girls did was help us get the kids ready in the morning. Those who ski know the layers involved so having another pair of hands was simply brilliant.
Sadly, my kids weren’t quite up to whizzing around with us all day – they needed to learn to ski. Alpine Solutions booked the kids into ski school with Oxygene Ski School.. The kids were with an English speaking instructor, and each day they were assessed and moved groups accordingly. My kids went from being non-skiiers to quite competent on greens and easy blues. My daughter particularly took to it, and her fab instructor took her on the (natural) half pipe between Val and Tignes! On skiing it with her – her pure delightful screams of ‘woohoo’ and ‘epic’ made me realise how fun her ski lessons had been. The week was mixed up with ‘Crazy Helmet Day’ (decorate your helmet) and race day on the last day. My children were particularly proud to receive their badges and log books at the end – they are skiers!!
So what happened when ski school was finished for the day? We arranged childcare through the wonderful Laura at Little Chicks Childcare. One of her nannies, Sian, came to look after our small ones and she was utterly brilliant: She turned up on day one for a suitcase of colouring stuff, playdough and toys to keep at the chalet – and a few DVDs to boot. Sian made sure they had fun every afternoon and this is where Val D’Isere came into its own: They swam, went to soft play, went to a farm (!), did indoor rock climbing … it was go! Go! Go! They also teamed up with the other Little Chicks nannies for play dates, so new friends and more people to race during sledging! Sian was also very flexible in her working hours, so as the week progressed and the kids could ski better, we liked skiing together in the afternoon, so Sian would meet us at the top of the bubble and and take them back as they got weary (and wanting cake!). This also gave us chance for us to nip off to the infamous Folie Douce for a little apres ski …!
All in all, would I recommend Val as a family resort? Absolutely! It offers so much more than skiing that there really is something for everyone. We were even treated to an amazing firework show one night in resort, whilst we watched the ESF skiers perform a torchlight ski down La Face!
The huge range of restaurants and cafes means you can always find something to suit everyone in the family, and when you are being looked after by the great companies we used – you can’t go wrong.