Ski resorts are the ultimate fun destination for winter holidays, especially during the festive period. With snow, conifers, entertainment, days spent on the slopes, plenty of fresh air and all the hot chocolate you can drink, a family ski resort creates a magical setting!
However, to make sure everything goes smoothly, we need to take a few precautions when setting off to the mountains with our children, in terms of altitude, temperatures and sun protection. Here’s a quick guide to the steps you need to take to ensure you get the most out of your mountain break. We also know that certain resorts are particularly suitable for families. Where’s the best place to go on holiday with a baby? And how?
Going on holiday to the mountains is a great way to bond with your children. But first and foremost, you need to plan ahead to make the holiday truly unforgettable.
As well as loading the suitcases, pushchair and skis into the car, you also need to remember snow chains for the tyres, as well as water and snacks. Your little angels are seated safely in the car, and you’re all ready to go!
After all the excitement of setting off, followed by the journey itself and all those hairpin bends to reach the resort, you’re finally there! The resort is festooned with twinkling lights to welcome you. It’s snowing, and a few flakes land delicately on your face to herald the start of your winter mountain holiday. Isn’t it magical?
But as adults, we don’t have the same feelings and needs as our children. That’s why it’s a good idea to take certain measures.
The first point to look at is the question of altitude, depending on your child’s age. The higher you go in the mountains, oxygen levels are lower, the temperature varies and atmospheric pressure reduces. The impact these changes have on us is more profound on children. It is therefore not recommended to exceed 1,200 metres altitude for babies under 12 months, and only over 1,800 metres once your child is aged 18 months.
To ensure your children adapt well to the altitude, take breaks as you drive up to the resort and give them a bottle to drink which will help unblock their ears. You could also use the first day at the resort to take gentle strolls and get used to the atmosphere.
Before setting off, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor or paediatrician.
At ski resorts, the temperature is obviously colder than at lower levels. You should therefore ensure that children under 2 are wrapped up warm, as their body temperature regulation system is not yet fully developed.
In terms of clothing, the most important thing is to ensure that their head is protected by a balaclava as this is where they lose the most heat. They should also be kitted out in thermal underwear (top and bottom), a fleece, ski socks, a scarf, waterproof trousers and jacket or a ski suit, with a hood. Mittens rather than gloves are best for keeping little hands warm as they retain the heat better. That’s your equipment covered!
At the same time, you need to make sure you go walking, sledging or skiing (depending on your child’s needs and wishes) at the warmest parts of the day (preferably between 11am and 4pm). Don’t forget to stop for regular cuddles. As well as enabling you to check their temperature, you also get to enjoy that special bond with your little one as an added bonus!
In terms of the effects of the sun’s rays, snow is like water: it reflects in exactly the same way. Whether it’s wall-to-wall sunshine or cloudy skies, the result is the same: you need to protect your child’s skin.
Put together a suncare kit comprising sun cream (sunblock SPF 50), high quality anti-UV sunglasses or a ski mask for little skiiers, combined with a helmet for added safety.
Ski resort accommodation is often over-heated and the air can be dry. This can cause your baby’s sensitive skin to suffer. Ideally, try to take a humidifier with you to alleviate the problem.
Unfortunately though, you may forget to pack it in the rush to leave. Let’s face it, amid the mountain of suitcases and miscellaneous belongings you need to squeeze into the car like a game of Tetris, it’s very easy to leave something behind. Of course, it may be that you don’t own a humidifier.
Don’t panic! The DIY way to humidify a room is by placing a damp towel on a chair, for example, near the heat source (never put it against or over the radiator to avoid the risk of fire).
There’s a national system called Famille Plus that certifies certain ski resorts. To obtain this certification, resorts must meet 110 criteria and six defined commitments to ensure complete peace of mind during your holiday. A warm welcome, entertainment, accommodation, facilities, equipment and safety: everything is in place for your holiday. If you’re looking for a family resort, here are three locations certified by Famille Plus that are perfect for you and your children.
Located at an altitude of 1,100 metres, this friendly resort has retained a traditional feel. The heart of the village is particularly pleasant for get-togethers with family or friends. La Clusaz offers a babysitting service, a snow garden for little ones to learn how to ski from age 3, a beginners’ area for skiing as a family, sledge runs, entertainment for all ages and special rates for families.
The resort is located at an altitude of 1,450 metres at the heart of the Trois Vallées, the world’s largest skiing area and a firm favourite with skiing fans. It is distinctive in that it is divided into five different zones, each with specific features (history, backdrop, location etc). For families, Méribel Vallée offers a babysitting service, a snow garden for little ones to learn how to ski from age 3, a beginners’ area for skiing as a family, sledge runs, entertainment for all ages and special rates for families.
A charming little village at an altitude of 1,200 metres, Combloux is located opposite Mont Blanc. The resort boasts natural surroundings, making it a great place for a holiday. For families, it offers a babysitting service, a snow garden for little ones to learn how to ski from age 3, a beginners’ area for skiing as a family, sledge runs, entertainment for all ages and special rates for families.
Whether you’re off to the mountains for the school holidays or during term-time, it’s important to take a few precautions for your little ones wherever you can. If you stick to these few simple rules, you’ll find that nothing beats a French mountain holiday for everyone, whatever their age.
The Famille Plus certified resorts are teeming with activities for all the family. Why not take advantage to help your children achieve ‘Ourson’ (beginner) or ‘Flocon’ (intermediate) level so you can all enjoy skiing together!