The 3 Best Family-Friendly Ski Resorts in the Alps
In recent years, Alpine resorts have been putting more effort into catering for families. After all, it’s important for everyone to have a good time on and off the slopes to ensure they keep returning. The relief of packing your family into a luxury car rental in France and driving to the alpine resort of your choice is so much better when you know that there are enough activities for everyone – from toddlers to teens. Enjoying the slopes or après-ski scene is a much more relaxed affair when you know that your children are being looked after by the most qualified professionals. We’ve selected three Alpine ski resorts that are best for families.
Megeve is a picture postcard town that basks in an unrivalled position in Mont Blanc’s shadow. It was originally built by the Rothschild family to rival the exclusive Swiss resort of St Moritz and still retains more of an authentic charm than other French resorts. The village itself remains the focus for activities and entertainment in and around its car-free, cobbled medieval square. Megeve’s fairytale aesthetic will capture the imaginations of all ages and children will love the horse-drawn carriages.
Megeve’s sunny, tree-lined slopes are ideal for beginners and intermediates. The pistes are directly accessible by lifts from close to the centre and nursery slopes are located at valley level and higher up on each of the surrounding three mountains. Megeve holds the French national ‘Family Plus Mountain’ award for its top-quality family facilities and services, which are often provide discounted prices for children. Little ones will love the day nurseries: the popular ‘Piou Piou’ Club mixes play with beginner ski instruction. Other activities in Megeve include an open-air ice rink, sledging, dog sledging, outdoor laser games, as well as farm and reindeer visits. Megeve is just over an hour’s drive from Geneva Airport.
Gstaad is a wonderful choice for family ski trips in the Swiss Alps. There are a variety of learning parks for beginners and less-experienced skiers to practice their skills and build confidence, while more experienced skiers head to Saanerslochgrat, Hornberg, and La Braye to hone their skills and perhaps enjoy some freeriding action. Best of all, children under nine years of age are granted free entry and those under the age of five can ski for free in the Gstaad Mountain Rides region.
Away from the slopes, families can take a husky tour or ice skate. The village itself is surrounded by the spectacular natural beauty of the Saanen valley and overlooked by the majestic Gstaad Palace Hotel, a stone castle that lends the town a magical air. Despite the village’s traditional alpine appearance, the pedestrian promenade is lined with designer stores like Louis Vuitton and Hermes. Gstaad has a rich cultural and sports programme, which includes the Hublot Winter Polo Gold Cup. Le Grand Bellevue Hotel is a great choice for families since it has many child-friendly features such as a kids’ room and a cinema.
Val d’Isere, France
Val d’Isere always scores highly for family holidays, owing to the sheer amount of activities available and its strategic location in the huge Espace Killy ski area. Linked to Tignes, it is one of the highest resorts in the Alps and its 300km of pistes reaching from 1,550m to 3,456m are open late into the season, which makes it ideal for the Easter holidays. It also has the largest artificial snowmaking plant in Europe and the Grand Motte glacier, which opens for 9 months, guaranteeing a long season of skiing for all levels.
Children will love tobogganing on nursery slopes and other snow activities such as sledging and ice skating. If you rent a car on your ski trip, you can visit many of the local sites and even take children to local dairy farms with cheese making. It’s a two-hour drive to Chambery Airport but there are so many panoramic sights in the area that an SUV rental in Val d’Isere is a worthwhile holiday expense. There are two local nurseries, Village des Enfants (also provides ski lessons) and Le Petit Poucet, for those times when you need a moment to yourself.
All ages head to the Aquasportif complex to soak their weary limbs or enjoy the modern spa after a day on the slopes. Older members of the family can visit the Val Village’s cultural centre, the Maison de Val, which has exhibitions, a library and a cinema. The resort also has a range of family-friendly restaurants, such as La Casserole, La Perdrix Blanche and Ormelune Restaurant.