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The French Alps ski specialist

Discover the family-friendly Southern French Alps

image Tuesday, 16, January, 2024

The resorts in the Southern Alps benefit from both high-altitude skiing, with superb snow conditions and generous sunshine. The gentle slopes are ideal for families, with pristine forests and steeper slopes for the more experienced skiers, there’s a choice of resort; Montgenèvre, Serre Chevalier, Auron and Isola 2000 – there is definitely something for everyone. Find out more 4 resorts in the Southern Alps that we think should be on your radar, below... 


 

Set on the border of France and Italy, Montgenèvre is over 100 years old and full of historic charm. The only French resort in the Milky Way ski area, Montgenèvre has access to over 400km of piste and is home to snow-sure intermediate cruising, as well as amazing beginners' skiing. When you mix a big ski area with a great snow record, charming village culture and the 'Famille Plus' label, it's not hard to understand why this resort is. loved by families!

The Resort

Montgenèvre is one of the oldest ski resorts, at over 100 years old, with plenty of traditional charm in resort. It was awarded the prestigious 'Famille Plus' label - a national label highlighting resorts that have responded qualitatively to the expectations of families with children aged from 18 months old (a resort must meet 110 requirements to receive this award!). 

With a good snow record, the resort is the only French resort in the Milky Way ski area, with access to over 400km of piste. Montgenèvre’s own ski area spans both sides of the valley, the South Chalvet-Serre Thibaud sector and the north Chalmettes-Gondrans-Eagle area. Non-skiing activities include a toboggan area, snow shoeing, a mountain coaster and ice rink – plenty for everyone, skiers or non-skiers. 

The Ski Area

For beginners there’s an excellent selection of convenient and gentle nursery slopes in Montgenèvre, with reliable snow at the foot of the north facing area of resort. Beginners can progress to longer runs, with very easy blue pistes. There is a dedicated are for families and beginners’; the 55,000 square metre facility is at the foot of the slopes in the heart of the village. It’s a secure area composed of a magic carpet, free ski lift and a snow garden. There is also a discovery trail, half pipe, freeride zones and a children’s play area at the top of the Chalvet Gondola  

For the intermediates and experts in the family, Montgenèvre has great high terrain with a big lift network. You can even ski over into Italy on the many red pistes available.  

One of our ski experts has visited Montgenèvre - here's what they had to say: 

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Family-friendly reasons to stay in Montgenèvre:

Montgenèvre was nominated for Family Resort of the Year in the World Snow awards in 2017 and has continued to evolve the family friendliness of the resort. Now that the main road traffic is directed through a tunnel, the Montgenèvre charm has returned and made it a much more family-friendly resort.

     

The design of the ski area is great for those with teenagers in the family – the relaxed, safe vibe of the resort allows teenagers some independence. A great resort to help your teenage skiers better their confidence in their own time.

Montgenèvre has a market that runs every Wednesday just by the Tourism Office – there is a choice of 20 different booths with products ranging from fruit and veg, cheese and meat, to clothes, toys and furniture. A great event for the whole family, to try some local produce, support the local community, plus you can try out your French phrases! 

     

The resort has a plethora of activities to appeal to any family – from exhilarating luge track rides to laid-back sleigh rides, there are also a choice of ski activities to choose from – cross-country, the snow park, snowshoeing etc. There is wide variety to cater to any family's needs 

Montgenèvre is easy to reach by car and plane;

Driving distance from Calais is 611 miles, and can take between 9 and 11 hours, with motorway the whole way, except the last 30 minutes, as the resort is situated a few miles from the A32 autoroute. You can take 2 different routes to Montgenèvre once you get to the mountains - through the Frejus tunnel, or by the Lautare pass. They both take similar times and it doesn't make much different mileage wise. The closest airport to Montgenèvre is Turin in Italy, with just over an hours transfer - brilliant for those not wanting to drive. Peak Retreats can organise airport transfers from most airports - a quick and easy way to get to resort if you fly. Flights to Turin can often be cheaper than flying into the main French mountain airports (Chambery, Grenoble, Geneva etc.)


 

With 250km of north-facing pistes, Serre Chevalier is highly rated for its snow record, skiing conditions and scenery.  The area has some of France's best terrain for skiing during bad weather and white-outs, with many sheltered woodland runs (trees cover two-thirds of the mountain). With most of the ski area above 2000m, combined with the North/North-East facing slopes, the snow coverage is pretty reliable. In good weather, you can get beautiful 360° panoramic views over the Ecrins mountains, the Italian Alps and across to Mont Blanc. 

The Resort

Close to Europe’s highest town of Briançon, Serre Chevalier is a great choice for skiers of all abilities, with an average of 300 sunshine days per year and an excellent snow record. This friendly resort has 250km of slopes to explore where you can enjoy 360-degree panoramic views over the surrounding mountains. Serre Chevalier is the name for the four main villages that are situated at the foot of the peaks of the Ecrins National Park. All linked by 250km of ski runs, as well as a local bus service, it's a friendly resort with a large sunny ski area, that holds an excellent snow record. The ski area is a mixture of wooded and open runs and is known for having some of France’s best terrain for skiing in bad weather, as the many sheltered woodland runs cover nearly two-thirds of the mountain.

The Ski Area

Serre Chevalier resort has 250km of north-facing pistes, meaning good snow conditions and beautiful scenery. For beginners there are several easy areas at mid-mountain, with green runs leaving back to Chantemerle, with a nursery slope at the bottom. A great resort for intermediates, Serre Chevalier allows skiers to enjoy the breadth of the ski area and its efficient lift system, with some of the longest lifts in Europe. Runs of varying gradient and difficulty can be found above and below the tree line – ideal for those wanting to discover different terrain. For the experts there are some great red and black runs, but head off-piste for more challenging runs. One to try is the slightly tricky 6km Luc Alphand Olympic black run down into Chantemerle – it has a 1000 vertical metre descent!

One of our ski experts has visited Serre Chevalier - here's what they had to say: 

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Family-friendly reasons to stay in Serre Chevalier:

The French regard Serre Chevalier as one of the best places to spend their ski holidays – it's the perfect resort to relax in, rather than party the night away (although if that’s what you’re after, there are plenty of bars to choose from!)

   

A great place for beginners, Serre Chevalier is a brilliant resort where children can gain confidence, especially if they are using the ski school!

Serre Chevalier was awarded the Famille Plus label – especially for its childcare facilities. With a choice of daycare from 8 months old to 6 years.

   

Serre Chevalier couldn’t be better, activity wise for children and families – the resort is a hub of activity with something for everyone. An unusual, but fun one to try, Ski-joering is for old and young alike, especially if you’re a horse-lover. On skis or sledges, you can enjoy being pulled by a pony or horse around a specially prepared track. If that’s not for you, how about discovering the ski area differently by taking part in a snow groomer ride. With amazing views of sunrise or sunset from the top of the mountains, you can learn all about the work that happens at night to make the pistes nice and crispy for early morning skiing.

Serre Chevalier is easy to reach by road and by air;

Driving distance from Calais is 613 miles, and should take around 10 hours. French service stations have come a long way, and now can consist of everything from children’s play areas to almost full-size supermarkets – there are plenty of places to stop en-route, and you could always book an en-route hotel, with Peak Retreats, to break up your journey. Due to its proximity to Briançon, the road network around Serre Chevalier is great, making it easy to make your way around the villages that make up the resort. The two closest airports to Serre Chevalier are Turin (1hr ½) and Grenoble (2hrs ¼). Private airport transfers are a great way to cut out the need for hiring a car, worrying about parking etc. Serre Chevalier has a free ski shuttle bus that can take you from one end of the valley to the other, which stops at many convenient points along the way. A great way to get around the resort, without a car.


 

If you're looking for a true all-rounder resort for families, Auron couldn't be better. Less than an hour and a half from Nice. it sits at 1600m, and is holder of the 'Famille Plus' label; a resort dedicated to family-focussed fun.

The Resort

Situated in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, Auron is found at the gates of the Mercantour National Park. In order to appreciate the exceptional panoramas of the Mercantour National Park, you can visit Saint Dalmas le Selvage. It is very close to Auron, being just a few kms away. It’s a huge area perfect for ski touring, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The resort was awarded the prestigious ‘Famille Plus’ label, a national label highlighting resorts that have responded qualitatively to the expectations of families with children aged from 18 months old. Each resort must meet 110 requirements to receive this award!

The Ski Area

The ski area of Auron resort is divided into 4 areas: Las Donnas, Sauma Long, Demandols and Lieuson. The resort’s snow front offers beginners a wide green piste close to the resort's restaurants. For young beginners, aged 3 and up, can enjoy their first time sliding on the snow in the snow garden; the younger ones are welcome all year round at the Oursons nursery. The Auron Snowpark is divided into 2 areas – the beginners’ area, and the intermediate and advanced skier area. On the Ubac slope, you can enjoy the family ski area – offering fun and marked course with obstacles, great fun for all the family.

Family-friendly reasons to stay in Auron:

Auron prides itself for holding the prestigious 'Famille Plus' label, with 6 commitments that they follow:

  1. A personalised welcome for families
  2. Activities suitable for all ages
  3. From the smallest to the largest; everyone has their own price
  4. Activities for young and old, to enjoy together or separately
  5. All shops and services are at hand
  6. Children are pampered by their professionals

     

The resort have developed their snow front to include a free toboggan run, divided into 2 zones on the slopes of the Chastellarès plateau. This is a secure track that is 65 metres long and 45 meters wide – the best place to let the kids have a fun time after a day of skiing 

For the competitive members of the family... Football like you've never played it before: as much fun inside the bubble as outside as a spectator! From 12 years old. On the Auron ice rink. Protected in your transparent bubble, you will play, in après-ski shoes, a football match on the ice where all the rules are allowed…

     

An activity that you don’t often see – Auron is home to a children's snow mobile circuit – catering for children aged 6 to 12 years old, you can hire smaller snow mobiles and race them around the circuit. Great for the older children in your party

For people travelling from the UK, Auron is more easily accessible via air or rail; driving is do-able but it’s a long way!

A slightly longer route from Calais, the drive is over 800miles, and can take up to 13 hours. Whilst the route is lovely due to French motorways and service stations, the proximity to airports and train stations are much more appealing. Via train, you can take the Eurostar to Paris, change and catch the train down to Nice, and via tramway and bus make your way to Auron resort. But by far the easiest and quickest way to access Auron resort is flying into Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport – just 88km away, you can be in resort in under 1hr30! We can organise private airport transfers for you too.


 

The Resort

This purpose-built resort has a touch of the Riviera to it; as the most southerly resort and just 1.5 hours’ drive from the Mediterranean, it has the magic combination: guaranteed snow (due to its altitude) and sunshine that’s pretty much guaranteed. Most of the skiing is above the treeline, and if you’re lucky enough, on a clear day, you might catch a glimpse of the sea!

The Ski Area

Whilst not the largest ski area, with 120km of piste to its name, Isola has great skiing for beginners and intermediates. With its slope-side accommodation, and large, sunny nursery area at the base, most of the skiing in Isola is fairly easy; over half the runs are suitable for novices, and about a third ideal for intermediates. For advanced skiers, St-Sauveur sector has the most challenging slopes, with a choice of long cruising runs and some good off-piste opportunities – the black Lou-Mesclun piste is two and a half miles long!

Family-friendly reasons to stay in Isola 2000:

Isola has its dedicated Family Park – you'll find a beginner mini-boardercross, the park has rails and kickers suitable for beginners and children, allowing you to discover and experiment a new skill.

   

The resort has a great aquatic leisure centre – the Aquavalle Aquatic Centre has a 25m x 10m sports swimming pool, a 30m long slide, children pool and toddlers pool with a waterfall. On-site there is also a cardio room, fitness room, 2 saunas, 1 steam room and 1 hot tub. The perfect place to spend the afternoon after a cold day of skiing!

Isola 2000 have a childcare slightly different than others... Les Cabris Winter Camp has a team of professionals that welcome children aged 6 to 11 years old. A maximum of 16 places, the children spend a lot of the day outside, having snowball fights and generally enjoying the outdoors.

    

Isola has a dozen bars and restaurants – with something to cater to everyone’s needs. The selection of amenities in resort includes a supermarket, grocery stores, doctors, pharmacy, bank, post office and sport shops.

Isola 2000 is easily accessible via road or air;

From Calais, Isola is 752 miles and approximately 12hrs 25mins. Like Auron, Isola is easily accessible via air, with 3 international airports nearby and a heliport on the foot of the slopes. Nice Airport is closest, roughly 44 miles and approx. 1hr15, with both Turin and Marseille being a similar transport time of 2hrs 30/40 mins.


Ready to discover the Southern French Alps? Give our team of Alpine experts a call on 023 9283 9310 or send an email on reservations@peakretreats.co.uk and we'll find you your perfect ski holiday!

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