I’m trying to remember when our children started losing interest in coming on holiday with us. We wondered if skiing would tempt them back now that France has reopened to British tourists.
We first introduced them to skiing when they were seven and eight. But how would Will and Grace feel holidaying with their parents aged 20 and 21?
They’re both single, love sports and get on well, so it seemed an ideal chance to reconnect. This is how we came to be in Belle Plagne, shortly before the first lockdown in 2020, when no masks or health passes were required.
Belle Plagne is among 11 self-sufficient base villages which make up La Plagne, in the south-eastern region of Savoie in the western Alps and dominated by Mont Blanc.
Each village is its own ski-in ski-out mini-resort. If you don’t want the hassle of carrying skis to buses to get to the lifts, as we didn’t when the kids were little, La Plagne is ideal.
With six resorts at 1,800m and above – Plagne Aime 2,000, Belle Plagne, Plagne Soleil, Plagne Bellecote, Plagne Centre and Plagne 1,800 – the season can run to the end of April and it’s an intermediate’s paradise.
Its lift network enable you to ski to a variety of villages, while the Vanoise Express cable car connects to Les Arcs, forming the vast Paradiski ski area with La Plagne, incorporating a total of 425km of slopes and 264 pistes.
We had a family lesson on the first morning to get our ski legs back. It had been some years since the children had skied, whereas I’d been for many years, rather confident in my ability, trying to ignore my advancing age and diminishing fitness.
We met our instructor, Jean-Louis, on the slope outside the Hotel Belle Plagne 2100. Within an hour, Will and Grace had found their ski legs. By lunchtime they were waiting for us at the foot of each slope we tackled.
That pretty much set the tone for the skiing, except that the kids began to assume a carer-like presence around me, ensuring I negotiated each chair lift successfully. They even started to high-five me at the bottom of each slope I skied without mishaps. Oh, the humiliation.
The digital revolution had not been lost on La Plagne. There are mobile charging boxes and digital maps to indicate which runs were open. A handy app, Yuge, will locate the busiest slopes, give waiting times for lifts, offer route suggestions and track your position in real time, which is handy if you get lost.
We had one white-out day when we couldn’t ski. While once we may have nudged ourselves away from a family-orientated spa, fearing our young children would disrupt the peaceful ambience by practicing their dive-bombing skills in the pool, now they’re older the four of us were able to venture to the adults-only section of the Deep Nature Bains and Spa La Plagne in Belle Plagne.
We quietly soothed our aching muscles in an almost deserted outdoor 35-degree heated pool and Jacuzzis, ventured into the sauna, and sampled a cup of herbal tea in a relaxation room overlooking the mountains.
As parents, we may be too old for the late-night circuit, but as a family we still found some cool hangouts to down apple cider and take in a party vibe on the mountain.
Catching the Vanoise Express cable car to Les Arcs one day, we skied down to La Folie Douce, a hipster party addition to the chain of restaurants, complete with house DJs, singers, acrobats and dancers. It was like upmarket Ibiza, but colder.
You won’t find anything like this in Belle Plagne, but there were several less showy but equally eclectic apres ski bars in the village acceptable to the four of us.
We drank beer at La Tête Inn, a ski instructors’ pint-sized hideaway and sampled the artisan cider at Bar Cheyenne, which sports eye-catching yellow crime scene tape around the bar.
I hope we are all skiing together a decade from now, even if by then my children have their own families and I am once again negotiating snowploughs – with the next generation.
P.S. New attractions have sprung up to tune into the wellbeing zeitgeist.
In nearby Montchavin-Les-Coches, you can take up ski sophrology, reputedly a fresh, more serene approach to learning to ski, which encourages you to be at one with nature and fuel positivity.
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