Make sure you carve time into your Alps schedule to catch the Montenvers funicular from Chamonix to France's largest glacier, the Mer de Glace. The cute, crimson toylike train, Chamonix's oldest tourist attraction, has been shunting sightseers to arguably the most stunning mountain scenery in Europe since 1908. A fab family day out, kids will love the excitingly steep train ride and the adventure of walking into a real live glacier (the ice grotto). It's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the surrounding mountains, and it's only up here that tourists can get close enough to touch the glacier first hand (unless you're skiing the Vallée Blanche). Dwarfed by jagged peaks and the spectacular scenery, enjoy a drink on the observation deck & gaze over the snaking tongue of the sea of ice. Definitely put this on your family to do list.
First time packing for a family ski trip? Here’s my essential ski kit for kids guide - the basics plus a few extra tips to keep your little ones warm and happy in the white stuff.
Does lack of snow mean a disastrous family ski holiday? 5 alternative things to do in Chamonix with kids
Ok so we all got excited about that big dump of snow weeks ago in November, thinking it was going to be the most epic of all epic seasons EVER! Well it still could be. But not this week. That doesn’t help if you’ve booked your (expensive) family ski holiday over Christmas week and only a fraction of runs are open. With ski options limited the biggest hurdle to overcome is a change of mindset. Family ski holidays are not cheap and the pressure to still have a great time is high. Not skiing EVERY day can be a hard pill to swallow but luckily Chamonix, as oppose to other resorts, has plenty of other amazing activities to get stuck into.
Sure, a shortage of snow sucks but don't let it wreck your holiday. Chamonix has other activities to offer families who can't face another day on the same piste.
The sun’s shone endlessly since we arrived in the Chamonix Mont-Blanc valley affording us breathtaking views of magnificent mountain vistas on a daily basis. Whilst December thunders towards Christmas at a rate of knots, Chamonix talk is météo dominated. Long discussions on when the high pressure sat astride Europe might change and when, imperatively, the next snow fall is likely to be, are prevalent. As the resort agitates, I’m seizing the opportunity to squeeze in some family hikes whilst the snow line remains high. Stunning spots, such as Cascade de Bèrard, won’t be accessible again once the snow falls until well into the Summer months. Minutes from the Swiss-French border Cascade de Bèrard is a magical spot and an old favourite of mine. It’s a family friendly, gentle 20 minute hike into the Aiguille Rouge nature reserve, that takes in the charming hamlet of La Poya with spectactular mountain scenery.
At last 10 months and 29 days of preparation come to fruition. Our day of departure has finally come and we are about to embark on our first family ski season.
It’s a relief, after the meticulous (and stressful) planning, to be off with no more to do but bundle up the sleepy girls (it’s 5 am and -9 outside) tucking them into our van packed to the rafters. We’ve stayed overnight at our friend, Purple’s house in Brighton. It cuts 3 hours off our total drive time and means we can do the entire journey in a day. Bonus.
Pulling out in the dead of night it’s much the same start to any adventure.
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far