France’s Portes du Soleil ski area offers something for everyone, from a romantic break for couples to an action-packed family trip. Catherine Scott sees both sides of this diverse ski area.
Once you introduce your children to winter sports it usually spells the start of ski holidays en famille and the end of them as a couple. So it was with some surprise that I found myself along with my husband sans enfants arriving in the Alps for a few days of child-free skiing.
We were based just outside Morzine in the small hamlet of Les Prodains part of the extensive Portes du Soleil ski area of France, which is also made up of the modern, purpose-built, high-altitude resort of Avoriaz and the quaint, traditional village of Les Gets (more on that later).
Prodains has benefited massively from the opening of a state-of-the-art gondola that wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond movie and carries nearly 2,500 passengers an hour, making it one of the fastest ways to get from Morzine to Avoriaz. Among those to benefit from the new gondola have been English couple Francesca and Paul Eyre, who own Chilly Powder. They run a number of self-catering chalets in the stunning hamlet of Les Prodains, but their flagship is the fully catered Coin du Feu which has all the luxury of a top class hotel and convenience and conviviality of a chalet.
Chilly Powder has also managed to strike a good balance between catering for families with its own creche and ski school, and couples who have their own child-free lounge complete with pool table. The outside hot tub is a welcome relaxation after a hard day on the slopes and you have to be careful not to ski into it as the blue run goes straight past the Eyres’ back garden.
You don’t even have to leave the hotel to get your skis. All Mountain Rentals travel from Morzine with the latest kit and fit it for you in comfort. They even collect them at the end of your stay.
As well as enjoying child-free skiing – mainly due to the fact that I wasn’t shown up by my eight-year-old downhill demon – we could also enjoy a little après ski.
If you are travelling as a family, however, the Portes du Soleil, is a perfect place for skiers of all ages and abilities with more blue, red and black runs to play about on. If you feel you’ve skied France then you can even ski over into Switzerland.
Just a few weeks after our stay with Chilly Powder we found oursleves once again in the Portes du Soleil – this time with the children.
We stayed in VIP’s luxury chalet Altitude Lodge which is in a tiny hamlet above the picturesque town of Les Gets.
The advantage, beside the stunning views, was that a whole host of ski lifts went from outside our accommodation as well as the ski school meeting place.
Although my two ski pretty well, they can always learn more and that they did under the expert guidance of Tim Scott (no relation) of LGS.
LGS is a small team of highly professional and experienced British instructors in Les Gets, providing a fantastic level of customer service – with a smile. They offer kids’ courses in small groups and private lessons as well as full days’ instructional guiding.
My kids had an absolute ball with Tim who managed to improve their technique while having fun.
The ground floor of Altitude Lodge doubles as a piste-side restaurant during the day and the chalet’s dining room at night. All the accommodation is on the two floors and offers amazing views over the piste and mountains. There is a games room for the children who are served their own tailor-made meals at an earlier time than the adult guests. Altitude Lodge, as the name suggests, is actually on the piste away from the bustle and nightlife of the town. However, it does operate its own minibus and staff can be called on to pick up if you miss the last bus home after skiing and there are more than adequate taxi services from Les Gets for those who want a late night out.
But for those with young children, a good meal, plenty of wine and a good chat round the blazing fire is more than enough excitement after a hard day on the slopes. So whatever your circumstances the Portes du Soleil has something to offer for a truly memorable ski trip.
• Chilly Powder (020 7289 6958, www.chillypowder.com) offers winter holiday packages for individuals, groups and families. Winter prices start from £580 per person per week with discounts available for families and children. Prices are based on a half- board basis with wine included in the evening meals.
For ski hire visit www.allmountainrental.com / +33 4 50 79 55 04
Morzine Tourist Office http://en.morzine-avoriaz.com/tourist-office.html
VIP SKI’s chalet in Les Gets is the Altitude Lodge (0844 557 3119, www.vip-chalets.com) and sleeps up to 29 with a number of family rooms within the chalet. Prices start at £929 per person based on two sharing and includes chalet catering, return flights from Gatwick and resort transfers. Ski packs can be booked through VIP SKI.
Portes du Soleil area lift passes are priced at £213 for adults, £192 for teenagers/OAPs and £161 for children aged between five and 15.