The last time we went skiing was a magical experience in a Swiss winter wonderland. (Here) That was two years and a baby ago. We were keen to maintain mine and Ruby’s new ski skills and decided to book again this year.
We contemplated leaving Hugo with my Mum for the week but I felt really bad about doing this and couldn’t bear to leave him behind. I don’t have any experience of using nurseries and nannies in ski resorts. Because of this, we decided to ask my Mum along as our nanny. Having never been on a winter holiday before, she jumped at the chance.
Check out our vlog below to see what a wonderful time we had and read on, for our ‘Guide to Ski Holidaying with a Baby.’
Family Vlog 2; Tignes 2018
Music: Coldplay; Sky Full of Stars
Guide to Ski Holidaying with a Baby
We decided self-catering was best for us, for a few reasons. Firstly, the catered chalets we found within our price range all seemed to be on the outskirts of the resorts and I was afraid my Mum would be stranded at the chalet all day. I knew she’d be scared of falling over with Hugo in tow, if she attempted to venture out.
Secondly, anyone with a baby will know that having a kitchen to prepare meals and milk for your baby is such a luxury when you’re away from home.
With a ten month old, we also didn’t want to be restricted to dining times and having to dress for dinner. There’s something quite nice about putting on your pjs when you’re shattered from a day of skiing.
In catered accommodation, a room is the only space you have. This is fine if you’re out skiing all day and you’re using the room as a simple base, but with Hugo and my Mum to consider and potentially spending most of the day in the accommodation, we felt a larger apartment would be more suitable.
Once we had decided on Tignes, which is a purpose-built resort in the French Alpes, we began our search for self-catering chalets. However, unless you want to pay to book a chalet exclusively, sharing is the only option. Most chalets seem to be for eight or more guests and so this crossed chalets off our list. Obviously, this is personal choice, but I felt uncomfortable at the prospect of Hugo keeping other guests awake at night and that my Mum would be alone in the chalet with people she didn’t know.
Telemark Self-Catering Apartments
We came across the Telemark self-catering apartments, which are situated a short walk from the snow base at Tignes. You can find their website here.
Be careful when booking apartments; some suggest they’re two bedrooms but they’re actually one bedroom with bunks in the main living area. We were keen that we had a separate bedroom for Hugo to be put to bed in each night and that we could still socialise without sitting in the dark in case we woke him.
We decided to book with Inghams, as we’ve used them before and spoke to one of their reps on the telephone. He managed to reserve a three bedroom apartment, which was actually two separate bedrooms and a living area which could sleep two more if required. We didn’t pay any extra when we requested this sleeping arrangement, so it’s worth asking.
We were impressed with the apartment on our arrival. It was clean and the configuration of the rooms suited us perfectly. David and I had an en-suite room with room for a cot and my Mum and Ruby shared, having exclusive use of the family bathroom next door.
The living area was perfect; a large dining table, well-equipped kitchen, with combination microwave oven and grill, induction hob, dishwasher and full-size fridge with freezer compartment. This was linked to the living area, which included a TV, coffee table, comfortable chair and settee.
There was a welcome pack with dishwasher tablets, washing-up liquid, kitchen detergent, dishcloth and tea-towels.
There was ample hanging space within the apartment, for coats and hats and scarves and a cupboard full of extra bedding and bed-linen.
The apartment was always toasty warm; Hugo spent most of the week in his vest while indoors and the bathroom towel radiatiors were so hot, our clothes dried within minutes.
Although we didn’t venture out there much, the apartment boasted a full-length timber balcony, which had views to the front of the building, overlooking the mountains and Chaudannes chair lift.
NB: Don’t worry about being quite particular about your booking with your ski company; we requested a high chair and travel cot on booking and rang the week before to check this was noted on our booking, which it was. However, there was no cot or high-chair in the apartment on our arrival. The Telemark staff were quick enough to bring these up to our room, but it’s worth noting that this is France and they’re quite laid back about the finer details!
Dining Order Service
On our arrival, the reception staff informed us of their morning boulangerie delivery service. We could order fresh bread or croissants before 7pm every night and they would be delivered to reception for our collection the next morning. We made baguettes for packed lunches on a few days and this was a great help.
Although we didn’t use their dining service, fresh food was also available to order for dinner, including tartiflette, spaghetti bolognese and other winter-warmers.
The apartment complex provided a fantastic, lockable, heated boot-room for each apartment. Ours was so big we could leave Hugo’s pram in there.
The Telemark apartments were situated further down the hill from Tignes than we would have liked; I’d estimate about 500 yards from the snow base. For non-skiers this doesn’t sound much but anyone who’s ever put on a pair of ski-boots knows hills, ice and ski-boots just don’t go together.
We decided to rent a private ski-locker near the snow base. This was 90 euros for the week and was such a weight off my mind, knowing we’d be safe walking up and down the hill. The lockers were heated and held up to four people’s skis, poles and boots. As there were only three of us skiing, we left our helmets in there too.
Ski and Boot Hire
Most package ski holidays prompt you to reserve skis and boots when you book but you don’t have to do this; Tignes has a couple of Intersports where you can hire skis and boots. You could leave it until you arrive, but I prefer knowing we’ve got it all sorted on booking the holiday. Ruby doesn’t have her own helmet yet as she’ll probably grow again, so we hired that there too.
I really don’t like the first morning, as going to the rental shop to pick up your skis and boots is a hot and tedious procedure. I always feel like it’s eating into my first day of skiing. We paid about £58 each for ski and boot hire and slightly less for Ruby.
NB: Make sure you know your height and weight. This is important to ensure your skis are adapted correctly.
If you’re going to a resort which is linked with others, for example, Tignes is linked to Val d’Isere, Val Claret and some smaller resorts, you may want to buy a whole-area ski pass, which allows you to travel to different pistes within a wider region. When I first went skiing, I was amazed at how expensive ski passes were, but taking into consideration the location of the lifts and how important it is to maintain them, the cost is reflective of that. We paid around £260 for our adult passes and £208 for Ruby’s.
If you’re a beginner and you know you won’t be venturing far, a local pass is cheaper and will cater for your needs closer to home.
I was keen for Mum to come up onto the mountain if she could. I knew she’d love it. However, unless you’ve been to a resort before, you’re never quite sure what to expect of the area, so we left booking her pass until we got there.
The ‘Maison de Tignes’ is situated at the snow base and is like a tourist information centre. There’s a ski pass office here, which we visited to buy a pass for Mum. We paid 13 euros for a return ticket for Mum to come up for lunch on the mountain. Hugo was free, although they wouldn’t let him come in his sledge or the pram. Tignes has a bubble lift, the Toviere, which takes five passengers at a time. They prefer front baby carriers for babies to use the Toviere lift but we only had our back carrier and they took pity on us.
We were all very nervous about carrying Hugo in the carrier, in case we slipped and crushed him. Many people had recommended hiring a toboggan, so we spent the first morning kitting Mum and Hugo out after collecting our skis and boots.
Our Inghams rep was a young girl had no idea where to hire toboggans. This is the downside of not using a family ski company. But we discovered there are numerous toboggan rental shops in Tignes. We used La Godille, a ski hire shop, which rented a sledge with handle to us for 30 euros per week. This was great on the snow, but frustrating to push on sections of pavement with no snow. For this, we resorted to dragging Hugo, as opposed to pushing.
Using Your Pushchair in the Snow
We were tempted to buy skis for our pram. You can find them here. We really didn’t know what to expect. We decided to just see how it went, and had heard you could rent all-terrain prams in most resorts.
We have a Mamas and Papas Armadillo pram, which is described as a mid-range pram; it’s not a city pram and not an all-terrain, but somewhere in the middle.
I have to say, I was so impressed with its capability. It was so snug and cosy for Hugo, and familiar too, with his matching cosy-toes. The rain-cover was also great at keeping him dry when it snowed and sheltered from the wind on duller days.
It coped really well with snow on the pavements and compacted snow at the base of the pistes. Obviously it wouldn’t push through deep snow, which was where the toboggan came in handy.
Flights and Transfer Times
Flights to the Alpes from anywhere in the UK are a great length. We flew from Cardiff to Geneva, which took just 1 hr 40 minutes.
We flew with FlyBe and Hugo was really good. The worst thing was waiting around on the transfer bus at Geneva airport. Hugo was desperate for a sleep and so we took the top part of our pram onto the coach with us, as a little bed. He would’ve gone straight to sleep once we got going but we ended up sitting there for over an hour and a half.
This is one thing to ascertain from your rep. Find out exactly how long you’re going to be waiting. We were led to believe it would be twenty minutes or so and we were quite cross about it, knowing we faced an almost four hour coach journey to Tignes from the airport.
Another thing to find out is if you’ll need to change buses. We had to do this three times and with all the baby luggage, this was not fun. I was sure we’d lose something.
When we travelled to Saas Fee in Switzerland, we went by train and I can safely say this was far easier and less hassle.
Transfer times like this may sound horrendous to some, but you’re not going to find snow-covered mountains on your doorstep. My advice would be to search for flights to alternative airports, such as Chambery, which will significantly reduce your transfer times.
Activities for Babies and Small Children
Our accommodation had a swimming pool and spa area, although it was quite cold, including the showers. We didn’t use it as much as we thought we would because of this. There is a public pool called Le Lagon right next to the lake with fun slides.
There are numerous nursery and nanny options in Tignes. You can either book through your holiday provider or privately. Here’s a link you may find useful.
We found it handy to take a play mat in our baby bag with some toys. While apres-skiing Hugo could roll around and crawl in a quiet corner.
Hugo really enjoyed watching us snow-tubing in Val Claret, which is a short, free bus-ride from Tignes. We booked through our Ingham’s rep but you can peruse and book here. There are many activities, from husky sledging to paragliding.
And just for fun, we spotted these snowball makers. We definitely need to get one!
We got Hugo an all-in-one from Mountain Warehouse. Take care to ensure you buy an actual snow-suit. Many high-street and supermarkets call these items snow-suits but they’re not suitable for snowy conditions and aren’t actually very waterproof.
Sunglasses for babies are important too. I hadn’t really thought about this, but in the same way as adults can get snow-blind, babies can too. We found our Baby-bans here and Hugo quite liked them. I wasn’t sure he’d keep them on but he did!
As we came closer to departure, I began thinking Hugo needed a scarf but I was worried he’d strangle himself with it, or it would come loose and get tangled in his pram. I found the cutest snoods here.
Worrying about skiing after a couple of years off was my biggest concern. Ruby and I were both terrified that we would have forgotten what to do. In a new resort, the first day or two are always nerve-wracking, as you find pistes are harder than you’d like and you take a while to find runs you like the feel of.
In our opinion, Tignes is hard to ski. There is a nursery slope with button lift, but this has a black run joining it and I found the speed of these skiers terrifying in the first day or two.
Once we were over our shock at how hard the green and blue runs were (They are red in places) we just got on with it. That’s not to say that poor David didn’t get shouted at a few times on the first day or two for forgetting how rubbish we were. We loved the Palafour blue run, for a morning warm-up, the Aiguille Perceé and the blues and greens over towards Val d’Isere.
Tignes doesn’t have the picture-postcard qualities of other resorts, but I’d go back there again, as the pistes linking with Val d’Isere are fantastic. Although challenging, I’m glad I soldiered through.
My advice to anyone wanting to go on a ski holiday with a baby is simply, ensure your childcare is suitable for your needs and don’t be surprised at how tired you’ll be after skiing all day, being up in the night due to a new travel cot (that scratching noise on the mesh!) and don’t underestimate how hard it is to find the time to cook in between all of the skiing and après-ski. But there’s no shame in going to bed at 8.30 or 9pm, is there?!
Thanks for popping by again,