Now that the slopes are back, a ski vacation could be the refreshment your family needs

I try to remember at what age our children started not wanting to come on vacation with us anymore.

Interrailing in exciting cities or weeks in the sun-drenched clubs of Zante and Ayia Napa seemed much more tempting to my son Will and daughter Grace in their late teens, when the idea of ​​spending time free with their parents let them reach for tequila shots.

We wondered if skiing would entice them to come back on vacation with the old fogs. Now that France has reopened to British tourists, there has been an avalanche of bookings – but there are still holidays available for those who don’t want to miss this year’s season.

We introduced them to skiing for the first time when they were seven and eight years old. Back then, they didn’t care about accommodation, food or entertainment, so absorbed were they in the prospect of clearing all the slopes they could tackle and enjoying fries, pancakes and chocolate. hot on the mountain at lunchtime.

But how would they feel on vacation with their 20- and 21-year-old parents?

As young children, Will and Grace loved skiing (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

Indifferent, was the immediate knee-jerk reaction, until a ski suggestion prompted them to pause TikTok and jump on the offer. They are both single, love sports and get along well, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to reconnect.

This is how we arrived in Belle Plagne – shortly before the first lockdown in 2020, when no masks or passes were required contrary to today’s restrictions (detailed on fr.la-plagne. com/information-coronavirus).

This was a resort we had visited as a family years ago when, as toddlers swamped in oversized overalls and brightly colored ski jackets, the children were duly enrolled in ski school, but having fun more in the afternoon with us, tackling the easier blues before moving on, with a lot of enthusiasm and without any fear, to the reds.

Belle Plagne is one of 11 self-sufficient base villages that make up La Plagne, in the south-eastern Savoie region of the western Alps and overlooked by Mont Blanc.

Each village is its own mini ski resort. If you don’t want to have to carry skis on the buses to get to the lifts, as we didn’t when the kids were little, La Plagne is ideal.

With six resorts at an altitude of over 1800m – Plagne Aime 2000, Belle Plagne, Plagne Soleil, Plagne Bellecôte, Plagne Center and Plagne 1800 – the season can end at the end of April and it’s paradise for intermediates.

Its extensive terrain and network of ski lifts allow you to ski to a variety of villages, while the Vanoise Express cable car connects to Les Arcs, forming the vast “Paradiski” ski area with La Plagne, comprising a total of 425km of pistes. and 264 tracks.

As an intergenerational group, our vacation expectations were turned upside down a bit. Eleven years ago, there were times when we adults longed to get away for some serious après-ski to sample Savoie beers and local wine.

After-skiing in Belle Plagne (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

Now we prefer to enjoy a leisurely raclette with a bottle of local red drunk in front of a fire before bed, going to bed just as the kids are getting ready to go out.

One of our family friends back home joked that adult children only go on holiday with their parents for the free drinks, but at a French ski resort where the price of a beer varies by around 5 at 9 euros, we weren’t going to fund their pub crawls.

On the tracks, I felt we would be more in sync. We had a family lesson the first morning to get our ski legs back. It had been a few years since the kids had skied, while for many years I had been rather confident in my abilities, trying to ignore my advanced age and diminishing physical condition.

Hannah and her family during their ESF ski lesson (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

We met our ESF instructor, Jean-Louis, on the piste outside the Belle Plagne 2100 hotel. As I fondly remembered those first days of a family ski holiday, bringing the children back to the of the nursery as they attempted snowplows, lifting them and dusting them that they tumbled, today’s reality turned out to be different.

Within an hour, Will and Grace had their ski legs back. At lunchtime, they were waiting for us at the foot of each slope we attacked.

This set the tone for the skiing, except the kids began to assume a caring presence around me, making sure I successfully negotiated each chairlift. They even started slapping my hands at the bottom of every run I skied without a hitch. Ah, the humiliation.

(Hannah Stephenson/PA)

The digital revolution had not been lost in La Plagne since our last visit. There were mobile charging boxes and digital maps on the mountain to indicate which trails were open.

A handy app, Yuge (paradiski.com/yuge/?lang=en), will locate popular runs, give lift wait times, suggest routes and track your location in real time, which is handy if you get lost. I was on digital rehab, but my brood had it covered.

We had a white-out day where we couldn’t ski. While once we may have walked away from a family spa fearing that our young children would disturb the peaceful vibe by practicing their dive bombing skills in the pool, now that they are older we The four of us were able to venture to the adults-only section of the Deep Nature Bains and Spa La Plagne (deepnature.fr/en/spa-la-plagne-bains-et-spa) in Belle Plagne (check online for updates day of the admission conditions linked to the Covid).

Deep Nature Spa (Igor Kawiak/PA)

We quietly soothed our aching muscles in a 35-degree heated outdoor pool and near-deserted hot tubs, ventured into the sauna, and sampled a cup of herbal tea in a relaxation room overlooking the mountains. It was one of the many moments on the trip where neither of us looked at our phones.

New attractions have also sprung up to keep pace with well-being. In the nearby town of Montchavin-Les-Coches, you can learn about the sophrology of skiing, a reputedly new and more serene approach to learning to ski, which encourages you to become one with nature and fuel positivity. (I wish I had known that sooner).

And what about social reconnection during a ski holiday? As parents we may be too old for the late night tour, but as a family we still found cool hangouts to drink apple cider and enjoy a party vibe on the mountain.

One day, taking the double-decker Vanoise Express cable car to Les Arcs, we skied to La Folie Douce (lafoliedouce.com), a hipster night out added to the chain of French mountain restaurants, with house DJs, singers, acrobats and dancers. It was like upscale Ibiza, but chillier.

You won’t find anything like this in Belle Plagne, but there were several less flashy but equally eclectic après ski bars in the village acceptable to the four of us. And they both had happy hours, with beers starting at around three euros. A real plus.

We drank local beer at La Tête Inn, a pint-sized hideaway for ski instructors where milk tubs have been transformed into bar stools, and sampled craft cider at Bar Cheyenne, which features eye-catching yellow crime scene tape around the bar.

Never too old for a family selfie (Hannah Stephenson/PA)

I hope we’ll all be skiing together in a decade, although by then my kids will have families of their own and I’ll be trading plows again – with the next generation.

Crystal Ski Holidays (crystalski.co.uk; 020 8610 3123) is offering a seven-night half-board stay at the three-star Hotel Belle Plagne 2100, Belle Plagne from £740 pp when booked online (based on two sharing) including flights from London Gatwick to Geneva and transfers. Based on departure March 26, 2022. Direct flights available from all major UK airports.

For full details of entry requirements, visit gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france/entry-requirements.

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