TRAVEL GUIDE: On the piste in France
Ask any skier or boarder whether they prefer a summer or winter holiday and, nine times out of 10, they’ll say you can’t beat a winter holiday. Being an avid skier myself, this year I took my wife and two kids to a village in the French Alps called La Clusaz. We had previously stayed in hotels organised by tour operators, but after seeing a “luxury chalet in the heart of the Alps” advertised online, we decided to give it a go. Sharing a chalet with three other families appealed to us as we knew the kids wouldn’t be bored. Chalet Panoraic (www.snowlife.co.uk) advertise a free bar, great food, a hot tub and a ski in-ski out location right on the piste. Owners Simon and Lisa Clarke arranged everything for us including ski passes, ski hire, lessons and transportation to and from the airport. All they ask is that you bring a bottle for the bar. We were met at Geneva by their driver and the normally one-hour transfer took two hours due to the snow. I wasn’t complaining though, as I knew this would lead to perfect skiing conditions, which it did. The traditional alpine chalet was spacious, warm, comfortable and lively with an enthusiastic young team of staff at our disposal. The food was no-nonsense, traditional and unfussy French cuisine with an ‘elbows on the table’ policy. Children ate at 6pm at their own table, whilst the adults were served canapés at 7:30pm, followed by dinner at 8pm. The food, prepared by Simon, was exquisite and was served with local French wines and Perrier. The slopes were perfect for both beginners and intermediates with a wide variety of green, blue and red slopes. Whilst there were at least six greens for beginners, the blues and reds were more challenging than other places I’d been to. All of the areas we skied were quiet with no waiting at any of the lifts. The kid’s private tuition was excellent value at €70 per day for two hours. Pierre met the children at the chalet and left them off wherever we wanted on the mountain. There’s a variety of different types of tuition on offer. Prices and service levels vary between the different types. The lift passes for the Aravis sector were €153 per adult and €109 per child but for an extra €8, I was able to upgrade my pass to cover both Aravis and neighbouring Le Grand Bornand. The Chalet also provided us with free passes for the ski bus. Other activities we tried included night-time skiing and tobogganing down the mountain on what could only be described as a wooden dog! Whilst I picked up an injury on ‘le chien’, the hot tub helped to ease the muscles back into shape. The chalet cost €795 per adult and €645 per child. Overall, I’d say it was a highly enjoyable week of sun, snow and ski. Good value and highly recommended.