As my eight year old daughter came whizzing past me, the biggest smile on her face, confidently weaving her way down the piste, the mountains of the Haute Savoie, part of the Grand Massif, majestically towering around us I felt such a wave of happiness. I watched her, effortlessly mastering a skill I wish I’d learnt as a child and just couldn’t help but smile back. We’d travelled with Crystal Ski for a wonderful week skiing in Flaine with kids in the French Alps and it more than lived up to expectations.
We had a feeling it would go well. We first skied with Crystal Ski in Norway, a fantastic week where the older two children learnt to ski and we first had a glimpse in to the world of skiing with kids. From that first week we knew it was a skill we wanted to nurture and last year we skied in Slovenia which was the perfect follow-up with intermediate slopes and the kindest manner from the instructors. Travelling again with Crystal Ski this year we felt in safe hands, knowing everything from the accommodation to the transfers, ski hire and lessons were all covered and organised for us.
Our first glimpse of Flaine was an absolutely white wonderland, buildings which characteristically blend in to the background, huge fir trees heavy with snow, bending under the weight. Flaine is known for its concrete architecture and I was bracing myself for the starkness of it but arriving into Flaine Forêt the shock didn’t come. In fact I was surprised by the cosiness of the buildings.
The architecture just added to my love of Flaine. Designed by Marcel Breuer who built the resort with skier in mind, doors with big handles that hands in ski gloves could open, ski in and ski out in all the hotels and ski gondolas that you can ski right in to. The buildings blended too, the concrete merging with the mountains, dark wood to represent the trees and even the gondola legs painted white to represent the snow.
Flaine was a delight to explore and easy to wander around with a free funicular linking the top two resorts meaning it was easy to travel between the locations.
We were staying at the Résidence Prestige Odalys Le Panoramic, a lovely apartment hotel in Flaine Forêt which had plenty of space for us to relax with two bedrooms and a special bunk bed alcove for the oldest who thought this was great, his own little den.
Best of all we could boot up in the ski room, open the back door and we were there on the snow, right next to the ski lifts and the ski school. Perfect.
Up until now our youngest, at just turned six, hadn’t skied on our trips to the slopes. A mixture of a cautious personality and stubbornness meant that he hadn’t taken to the snow, however we decided that this was the year to get our youngest skiing.
All three children were checked in to the Ecole de ski Francais ski school for three hours of lessons every morning. The first day was hard on the smallest, it’s always difficult that first day in strange unwieldy boots, trying to grasp a new technique. By the second day he could snow plough and day three onwards he was going down the green runs by himself, confident and proud. It was so lovely to watch him master the technique and he didn’t want to go home after finding how much fun it all was.
We skied every single day, there was such wonderful snow coverage in Flaine. It was really lovely to see how well our children developed in their skiing each day, with them coming back from ski school with rosy cheeks and filled with stories of the areas they had explored.
The skiing here was some of the most expansive we have experienced with 24 different lifts to a variety of routes around the mountains, with a great range of green and blue runs for those starting out and reds and black runs to test more advanced skiers. It wasn’t long before our older two children were heading off in their lessons to the highest lifts which ran to the farthest reaches of the resort, where you could get incredible panoramic views of Mont Blanc and then either ski back into Flaine or head to the many neighbouring ski resorts in the area.
We didn’t just ski though, there was so much to do from swimming to ice skating and to one of our favourites, ice quads. The kids thought it brilliant to hop on these little buggies and whizz about the forest as the sun was setting, it was a really fun experience.
We also really enjoyed heading down to Flaine Forum to pick up some food and the art work here is just spectacular. With a huge version of Picasso’s La Tête de Femme through to Jean Dubuffet’s beautiful, towering black and white Le Boqueteau des 7 arbres which dominates the central space.
I just love how this whole resort feels full of interesting design.
At the end of the week the children picked up their badges, the youngest so proud to have graduated from the learning slopes and pictured here with his instructor.
The oldest two got to take to the stage in Flaine auditorium to be presented with their awards.
I feel like I say this every year but I really am so proud of these three. They have mastered a skill that I feel is just so beneficial to them through life. To know that as they grow older they will be able to meet up with their friends on the slopes or just come away to have that indescribable pleasure of skiing down the mountains, amongst crisp, fresh air, with the sun shining and a sense of freedom this sport gives you. I know they are lucky to have learnt at such a young age and they are already desperate to get back out to the snow. Skiing has transformed all of our winters too, giving us something so positive to look forward to every year. We love it.
Check out our short film of our time in Flaine here.
You can find out more about Crystal Ski holidays in Flaine here.
We were guests of Crystal Ski for the purposes of this review but all opinions are our own.