Ski-ing with little ones…
We have three very young children and we’ve heard many a horror story from our friends of terrible memories of ski school and how it put them of ski-ing for years! So we have made it our mission to ensure our children (and hopefully yours too), have nothing but fond memories.
Thyon – Les Collons is perfect for families and groups with a range of levels. There are several nursery slopes, lots of different lift options including magic carpets, plenty of blue runs and harder slopes nearby with good restaurants conveniently placed half way down the mountain for useful ‘hot chocolate with cream’ stops. At Thyon there is a Creche for children not old enough to go ski-ing which is useful if you want to get a couple of hours of ski-ing in. One of the things that’s particularly good is that you can drive and park close to the top (Thyon) which means you are close to the ski school meeting points. This is also good if you are not ski-ing as you can meet up for lunch.
Tip: Something we found useful, if you have very small children, drive up to Thyon, park in the car park on the right side (as soon as you get to the paid parking area – Parking Places around number 137). You can then take a short little path up through the woods (right end of the car park as you look up the mountain) to the Tipi / small nursery slope. Its a great short cut with the little ones and you can sledge there, give them their first experience on skis and its quick to the ski school meeting point. The Tipi is a good drink spot. You can also take the gondola up but we left this till the end of the week when they were a bit more used to everything. The treat of the ‘gondola ride’ was also highly anticipated!
We have two ski schools and both are great. The Swiss School is famous and we’ve had several ski lessons with them to help us brush up on our ski-ing ability knowing that it is easier to ski with little ones than board. There is a large area for the Swiss School where there is a ski garden and kindergarten. Several lessons can take place at the same time with an impressive amount of fun equipment and different lifts for varying abilities.
But then after spending a few hours during our ski break last year on the nursery slopes, largely playing on sledges, we discovered another ski school – Neige Aventure. The instructors were young, friendly, of several nationalities and the groups seemed small. They all seemed to be enjoying it (instructors and children alike). The nursery slope they use is tucked away, is small and intimate. Less intimidating for the very little ones and we were able to get them used to the area before they started lessons so it all felt familiar. I wrote to Neige Aventure, explaining my ideal scenario. I was worried about signing up for a whole week as I feared at least one of the three would refuse to be left in a lesson. I also wanted to make sure it wasn’t too long and they were going to have a good time. I received the most lovely personal email back, explaining all the options and advising what they thought would be best. It was sound advice. The lessons did not have to start on a Sunday and also we had options of 2, 3, 5 or 6 day courses. It felt very flexible and to top it off, the young mini kids club has a money back guarantee if the instructor thinks your child is too young or not up for partaking on the first day. They also hire out the equipment and so it was all very easy and straightforward to get organised beforehand and when we arrived.
Tip: Zip up ski mittens or gloves are much easier than pull on ones. Available at Decathlon.
We considered ourselves very fortunate to have the lovely Stephanie as our children’s instructor. She had a lovely way with the children, and started by introducing them to cuddly Barney the teddy bear. Within minutes they were hooked in with wonderful stories and games. We were able to leave them feeling happy they were happy! Our youngest was two and really too young but we wanted to see if having older siblings in the group would mean he would want to take part. He did take part a bit (all credit to Stephanie!) but he was not that up for trying ski-ing. Our twin four year olds on the other hand, were the perfect age. They also loved the magic ski drink, and the thoughtful break in the middle where they got to draw pictures. They quickly progressed and soon they were ski-ing down the small piste unaided and managing a few turns. They loved the experience (they completed the 5 day course). The medal and booklet with stars at the end is prized! They loved Stephanie so much they want her to teach them next year. I have a feeling they’ll be talking about this for the next year!
Tip: We bought ski clips last year to put on the kids skis when they tried it out first time. It really helped to build their confidence and get them used to the feeling of ski-ing. This year we did not use them at all. We can leave them out in the chalet if you want to give them a try.
And upon finishing their final lesson the twins skied with us from Thyon down to Les Collons (stopping halfway for lunch). We literally couldn’t get them to take off their skis.
So mission accomplished so far – thanks to the flexible, professional and caring Neige Aventure.