Whilst the valley of Chamonix can be daunting with it's incredibly steep mountain terrain, there are still plenty of easy family hikes to some incredible view points.
Despite the last minute ditch by Winter to smother the valley white, the Spring sun is hotting up and all of the lower trails are now bright green & snow free. Prime for biking and hiking. The beauty of visiting in May is that it's inter-season. Whilst other ski resorts shut down, Chamonix's no ghost town in inter-season. Yes, the high altitude trails are still inaccessible and yes, the lifts are out of action until mid June, but May is the perfect month to visit to take advantage of rock bottom low season tariffs, share the streets with locals rather than tourists and explore the lower mountain trails.
I'm recovering from my recent knee op, so sadly, the trails are out of bounds for me. Today, I look back at one of the pretty amazing kid friendly trails we took in December up to Europe's longest glacier at Les Bossons. We were ripe then with anticipation for the season ahead and eagerly waiting for the first snow dump. After teaching the girls about glaciers, how they work and why they are retreating, we hiked up to the Les Bossons glacier in Chamonix to see one up close and personal.
LE BOSSON GLACIER HIKE - (LE MONT TO CHALET DU GLACIER DU BOSSON BUVETTE)
LEVEL - MODERATE, STEEP, GOOD TRAIL, UNSUITABLE FOR BUGGIES
TIME - 1 HOUR UP, LESS DOWN (PARK IN HAMLET OF LE MONT)
Glacier des Bossons is the easiest hike up to a glacier from the valley floor in Chamonix. In Summer you can even take a chairlift up to the buvette (snack restaurant) to get to this view.
It's seldom a relaxed affair, going out for dinner as a family. Chamonix has some damn fine restaurants, most of which you wouldn't even consider dragging your kids to.
Surprisingly, finding a good family restaurant in Chamonix is harder than you'd imagine. In many restaurants the tables are packed like sardines with little room to throw a cat, never mind a child play. Play? In a French restaurant? Heaven forbid! Children in France are terribly well behaved. Mine in comparison must be an absolute disgust to most French families looking on.
For us, we don't want to pay through the nose, we need to have ROOM, good food and a kitchen opening at 6 rather than 7 (terribly British!). Here are our pick of the pops on what, in our opinion, are the best family non-savoyard restaurants the length and breadth of the Chamonix Valley.
Chamonix doesn't spring to mind as a 'family friendly' resort. Black runs, steep terrain & die hard mountaineers bien sûr, but skiing with kids?
I admit, after spending 6 Winter seasons in my twenties hooning around Chamonix's slopes, the idea of bringing my kids back here to do a Winter season daunted me. I wondered if the slopes would simply be too steep for them in this sheer V shaped valley and repeatedly questioned whether we wouldn't be better choosing a more family friendly resort such as Morzine or Meribel.
I needn't have worried. Chamonix actually has loads of child friendly pistes (I just never had them on my radar before) and has, in fact, got a lot more family friendly in recent years with a concerted effort on pistes and areas specially designated for families (such as the Mont Blanc Legend area on Flégère & the Ski Camp zone at Les Houches.)
If you're here in Chamonix or heading this way, read on to find the friendliest mountains in the valley to ski with kids.
Family skiing in Chamonix? Are you mental? Actually no, there's so much to do with kids on Chamonix's pistes
On ski days in Chamonix we have our pick of five mountains but each time our 6 year old begs us to take her to La Flégère (part of the linked Brévent-Flégère ski area). The lure being the totally brilliant Mont Blanc Legend kids zone. More and more ski resorts are now providing kid friendly pistes and Chamonix is no exception. It's hands down her favourite piste to ski. So if you're on a family ski holiday in Chamonix with kids, be sure to check it out.
The Mont Blanc Legend kids zone on La Flégère, Chamonix, is perfect for families
Chamonix is chockablock with fabulous restaurants of every cuisine. Book a babysitter and head to one of these bad boy eateries when you're in town. Tried and tested, here are our top restaurant choices in Chamonix for when you are blissfully 'sans enfants'. Bon appétit!
With ski fatigued tiddlers all tucked up in bed, get your glad rags on and enjoy some fabulous cuisine in Chamonix
A snow holiday can be a fantastic bonding experience for families. Spending time on the slopes is a sure fire way to spend great quality time together and something that 3 generations can enjoy together. That said, with so many other people enjoying the piste, it's essential to know how to keep your family safe. Here are our 11 tips to making sure your kids are safe on the slopes this Winter.
Catch the Aiguille du Midi cable car up to the finest view in Chamonix. Ascend to the dizzying height of 3842m and freak your kids out (& yourselves!) by standing in a glass box suspended over a horrifying 1000m. What's not to love?
Not only that. The 360 degree panoramic views over the French, Swiss & Italian Alps are stunning. Plus it's the closet you can get to the jewel in the crown, Mont Blanc, without strapping on crampons, wielding an ice axe & hiring a guide. A ride up the Aiguille du Midi is definitely a go go for families who love adventure.
The fear factor and stoke valve open standing in the 'Step into the Void' glass box, Aiguille du Midi
Being injured in a ski resort sucks. Being injured so early in the season after spending 11 months planning our dream family ski season is heart wrenching. My first ski season in 10 years comes crashing down between my smashed, semi-useless knees and I've shed enough tears to fill a wine carafe. Enough! It's important to stay positive when a sports injury takes you out of action.
Try to see the silver lining of being sat on your backside injured - throw yourself into studying a language, start a hobby or do something (non-physical) you've always been meaning to do but never had time.
375 days ago my husband and I made a concrete decision. To move to France to do a ski season. With our children.
As 2016 recedes, it is with gratitude and a smile that I wave it goodbye. 2016 for us was a year of planning & anticipation. And the year I started The Family Freestylers blog. A lot can happen in a year, 365 days. Decisions made that change your lives. Today we finally realised a dream of our own. Walking through the snow with our children to their first day at school in France.
Thank you so much to everyone that's shown so much support for The Family Freestylers blog and our dream of heading to the snow. Here's a round up of our best bits of 2016 and where we'll be heading in 2017.
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.
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far