An April family alpine adventure

18th April 2016, by Ben Moore

First stop on the family ski road trip was French resort Le Grand Bornand

First stop on the family ski road trip was French resort Le Grand Bornand

It’s tough to beat family skiing during the Easter holidays. Sunshine, blue skies and cheaper prices. So with this in mind we jumped on a P&O Ferry from Dover for a family ski road trip driving 1,200 miles to three resorts over 10 days.

First stop was Le Grand Bornand which is part of the Lake Annecy Ski Resorts. It’s a traditional French resort with a laid back feel. We actually stayed in Chinaillon, a further 8km up the mountain road. Chinaillon is a charming hamlet and at spring time it enjoys a natural soundtrack provided by the river running through the centre of valley.

The main street has all you need; a pub, bakery, butchers, souvenir shop, ski school, ski hire, apartments and hotels. We stayed in a self-catering apartment in Les Pistes du Soleil building, which boasts a superb location facing the main slopes and chairlifts. A week here at Easter costs around £350.

Nature is very much at the centre of this resort, there are black grouse protection zones amid the pistes and some of the button lifts start near a dairy farm where the local Reblochon cheese is made.
At the far end of the valley is where you’ll find some of the best wide-open runs – great blues and reds to cruise around, an impressive snowpark and a fun boarder cross course.

Vallee de la Duche takes you down beyond the main ski area. And while there’s only a couple of runs here it’s worth the trip in order to check out the chapel that sits alongside the Col des Annes blue. This is a perfect spot for a family picnic – a chance for some spiritual contemplation with your skiing.

It’s only a 10-minute drive or bus ride to the neighbouring valley and the equally pretty resort of La Clusaz. We had stayed here in a Crystal Ski apartment at Christmas – you can read how we got on with limited snow cover in my previous blog.

Because we had to get inventive for our festive family ski, we were really keen to come back. It didn’t disappoint and for our day’s Easter ski we focused on doing a circuit of Beauregard-Manigod-L’Etale-L’Aiguille – the ones that got away in December.

Beauregard is a great place to start as the views from the top look up the La Clusaz valley. A blue drops you down to Manigod, a terrific little spot full of short runs ideal for beginners and intermediates. Then a flat track blue takes you to the base of L’Etale which has some challenging looking moguls on the black Tetras run.

If you don’t fancy the look of that, then hop on the Transval horizontal cable car across to L’Aiguille. This is the main ski area immediately above La Clusaz with a good mix of pistes as well as the snowpark.

Time to hit the road again, driving out of La Clusaz over Col des Aravis and down a series of tarmac turns akin to spaghetti draped on a hillside in the direction of Albertville and Bourg St Maurice, before climbing up to Arc 2000. We did this trip in the new 2016 Kia Sportage, which was comfortable, fast and nimble on the mountain roads and easily accommodated four pairs of skis, boots and all our ski gear.

And Les Arcs was a real gear change – a mega ski area of giant purpose-built apartment blocks perched high above the Tarentaise Valley.

We stayed for a week with Ski Collection in a two-bed self-catering apartment in Chalet de L’Ours, a short walk to the pistes. The four-star apartment, which costs from £276pp including Eurotunnel for an Easter week, was spacious and had a well-equipped kitchen. Stay here and you’re able to use the indoor pool at Chalet Altitude next door.

Les Arcs’ highest point at 3,226m is Aiguille Rouge – from here a seemingly endless run of the same name runs 7km down to Villaroger, the lowest point of the Les Arc ski area at 1,200m.

Arc 1800 is home to a popular snowpark with a brilliant mix of kickers, rails, boxes of various sizes, plus a small halfpipe. Next to it is the airbag and water slide – with the latter making for amusing viewing. Arc 1800 is also criss-crossed with countless blue and red runs – perfect for intermediates.

Below the architecturally more pleasing Arc 1950, you’ll find the challenging black mogul run Comborciere. You’ll need strong legs and knees like pistons because the bumps go on and on.
Back up at Arc 2000, the Arcabulle lift up to Col de la Chal at 2,600m gives you access to the dual blue and red boarder cross runs. While Grand Col is a four-man chair that gives you access to a series of intermingled pistes, moguls and off-piste options.

If the vast endless white snowscape above Arc 2000 & 1950 gets a little too much for you and your children, then head to Vallandry and Plan Peisey. This is the last part of Les Arcs before you need a Paradiski lift pass to ride the double-decker Vanoise Express over to La Plagne.

But these two hamlets at 1,600m have wonderful tree-lined runs from 2,300m down. A series of reds and blues run like veins across the mountain. When we were there we had many of the runs to ourselves. It’s also a good place to head on windy days for some sheltered family skiing.

Ten days after we’d set off and we’d enjoyed an April alpine adventure to remember – from smaller traditional resorts to a truly mega ski area offering endless possibilities for all.

Ben Moore is a skiing dad and founder of

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