Getting your children all dressed up in salopettes, boots, sunglasses, suncream, gloves and hats is a mission, we wholeheartedly agree! So once they’re togged up, how do you make the most of being out and about with your littlies? Here’s our guide to how to entertain your babies and young children in the Three Valleys:
There are numerous areas set up for safe bumboarding and sledging in the different resorts making up the Three Valleys. Investigate the foot of the slopes (the ‘front de neige’) on your first day to scope out the potential areas, then ask your chalet host or rep whether they have any sledges or bumboards you can borrow. Failing that, most of the hire shops have ‘toboggans’ for a small price, or click here to add one to your order with Holiday Baby Hire. Our baby sledge is also a great alternative to a buggy if it’s really snowy around town – the French mums often use them! We can also provide some lovely snow toys for digging and castle building!
Courchevel’s 1850-1550m sledge run, then get the bubble back up to do it all over again! (Can be fast, wear ski stuff and a helmet!)
Meribel has two areas at the Altiport and beside Rhodos gondola.
Children love to go up high and watch the goings-on underneath them on the bubble lifts, especially if you can time your ride to watch your family whizz by on skis! Under 4s get on for free although it’s worth getting a free pass for them from the ticket office (take their passport) if they look old enough to ski. If you’re concerned about the effect of altitude then check with your doctor/health visitor before your trip and perhaps leave this activity until later in the week once they’re more acclimatised to the pressure difference, but bear in mind that lots of babies are born in the nearby hospital down the valley and go home to resort at just a few days old. If your baby is struggling to settle and take a nap whilst on holiday, you’ll probably find the gentle movement and background noise is a great place to induce a snooze and you can happily do several loops if you need to.
Tip: Avoid 9.00-9.30 and 2.00-2.30 as this is when lessons start and you’ll get stuck in the queue! Also make a note of the last lift home before you get on.
Ariondaz bubble in Courchevel Moriond ends at the Bel Air restaurant which has a quieter area upstairs where children can be a bit more relaxed.
The Bouc Blanc at the top of La Tania’s bubble is a lovely place to meet up with skiers for lunch.
Meribel’s Olympic Centre has a swimming pool, climbing wall and ice-rink so it’s a good venue should you be wanting to escape the cold or snow. The swimming pool is free to under 5s and there’s a baby pool, as well as a flume for bigger children. There are floats and noodles (we call them ‘frites’ here!) on the poolside. On Sundays there’s a fun session between 10-12 with games and floats. Tip: Take your towels in as the air can be a little fresh when you get out! We’re excitedly awaiting the enormous new swimming pool in Courchevel 1550 in December 2015 which promises all sorts of fancy things, including indoor surfing…
Both Courchevel and Meribel have ice-rinks and young children can join in the fun too, with the special trolleys/chairs that they can hold on to whilst wobbling around the ice. It tends to be quieter early on in the afternoon whilst bigger people are out skiing.
Tip: Proper ski gloves or mittens are essential for warmth and protection, and it’s as well to take a helmet – better safe than sorry!
Indoor play area
Courchevel’s La Croisette is home to a ‘soft play’ area which is ideal for little ones to expend some energy indoors; you can easily spend a good hour on the climbing/slide area, doing the puzzles and dancing in the disco! And best of all, it’s free. Visit the ponies outside afterwards, and there’s also a crepe and churros hut if you need a snack. (Drinks in the surrounding bars are rather pricey!)
Tip: Unfortunately it lacks a changing area and toilets, so make sure you go before you get all your clothes and shoes off – it’s outside in the square area, down a few steps.
Meribel’s Olympic centre has a ‘Kenoteque’ area for little ones with books, toys etc. which is a nice area to hang out en famille.
If you’re killing a bit of time in Courchevel 1650 (Moriond) then you could pop into the Tourist Office/Post Office which has a space for children with colouring, a few building blocks and a wooden car to play in. It’s not worth a specific trip but it’s warm, dry and has free wifi! It also has a good display of ‘old fashioned’ skiing with wooden sledges, as well as toilets with a changing table!
Using the buses
The free shuttle buses in Courchevel and Meribel are a great way to explore the different levels. During busy weeks, it’s really tricky to get on with a pushchair, so use a backpack carrier for little ones. Get a map from your host/rep or the Tourist Office.
All the Tourist Offices will have a pedestrian/walking guide so that you can explore the woods and tracks on foot. These tranquil routes are great places for spotting animal tracks, collecting pine cones and enjoying the mountains at a leisurely pace, safely away from whizzing skiers and traffic. Plus the snow stays fresher than on the slushy pavements!
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the week’s events guide from your rep/host or the Tourist Office. There are often fireworks, torchlit descents and other ‘animations’ for children, especially during the school holidays.
Watch this space…
Coming soon, tips on which restaurants and bars are family-friendly.