All posts by Jim Duncombe

How Green is Méribel

Find out how Méribel reduces its environmental impact

You may be surprised to discover that Méribel is, environmentally speaking, considered a very green ski resort. Unlike the green runs which only accounts for 9% of the resort’s pistes. The Ski Club of Great Britain has identified 7 initiatives that ski resorts should be implementing for it to be considered an environmental friendly ski resort.

Only 2 resorts in Europe have the full 7 in place, and only 11 in France are implementing 6 green initiatives. Méribel is one of the 11 and is well on the way to having all 7 initiatives in place, making it the greenest resort in the 3 Valleys, although Courchevel has more green runs.

green2

Why is Méribel so green

The resort, along with the whole of the 3 valleys, source the energy needed to power the lifts and cannons from renewable sources in the form of hydro electric dams that are located throughout the local area. Local water  is also used to create the snow made by the cannons and comes from the nearby Ariondaz dam.IMG_0301

Renewable energy

The ski area also uses solar energy to power all radio communications that keep the slopes safe and maintained. There are also plans to ensure the ice rink and swimming pool are powered by renewable energy.

As part of its green plan Méribel encourages people to walk. Which may seem a simple solution but it makes a big difference in reducing the traffic in the valleys villages. The town has invested lots of money into ensuring there are safe walkways and that they are maintained throughout the winter.

Where it is clear that walking would be a bit to much the resort lays on a free bus service at a cost of 1 Million euros per season but it helps to reduce the need for private cars and local emissions so it is a worth while investment. The resort also has a policy of free open air parking or affordable underground parking.

Rubbish and Recycling 

Litter has always been an issue in ski resorts and we have all heard stories about the amount of rubbish and cigarette butts that appear under chairlifts as the snow melts in the spring.

Méribel is very proactive in discouraging skiers and boarders from littering and educating them about the impact throwing rubbish of chairlifts has. Despite all this there still needs to be organised mountain cleans at the end of every season.

The town has always had a recycling policy, just ask your chalet host how much time they spend ensuring the waste that the chalet generates gets put into the correct bin.

Architecture

One of the joys of Méribel is the architecture. There are no hideous high-rises and modern monstrosities that you find in many nearby ski resorts, this is down to the strict 80 year old building code of the town

It was’t probably introduced for environmental reasons but the policy of only using stone, wood and slate for building as well as strict height restrictions has minimised the environmental impact the development of the resort had had on the mountain.

Can Méribel It be greener?

Of course it could be more environmentally friendly, which ski resort couldn’t be. However, Méribel is working towards it. They are close to complying with the ISO 14001 which is an international standard of environmental management. Take a look at the ISO website if you want to find out more about the ISO 14001, but in short it is good for our planet and good for Méribel.

If you want to book a ski holiday to one of Europe greenest ski resorts take a look at our chalets in Méribel.

 


FIRST SKI HOLIDAY WITH CHILDREN : PART 4 – The best holiday ever

Why our first ski trip was the best holiday.

I recently spoke to someone who had read the first few of my blogs about taking the family skiing. They told me that I had made it sound a bit stressful. Maybe they were referring to part 1 where we missed the flight , maybe it was the daily dash to ski school or it could have been the restaurant experience.

I would like to reassure everyone that we really did have a wonderful time on our ski holiday to Méribel. So much so that we have booked another ski holiday in spring, only this time we are driving.

Read about the rest of the trip
Part 1 : Part 2 : Part 3

I can truly say that it was the best family holiday we have been on so far.

Everyone had a lot of fun and it has been the topic of conversation since. I often have this conversation with the youngest who didn’t even really get to ski, “Go skiing now daddy?”… “ermm, no, we’re going to nursery”… “awwwww. Wanna go skiing”. Which is both very pleasing and irritating in equal measure.

When I questioned my 4 year old on the best thing she has ever done the answer was “skiing”, although when the same question was put to her by Grandma the response was “helping you plant flowers”.

 

Why was it so good?

Being proud is an important part of being a parent and there are many moments that will bring out that feeling, such as the first time they sleep through the night, writing their name or getting good exam results.

But none of that comes close to the selfish feeling of pride when they show a glimpse of interest in a passion of yours. I felt that on the the first day of Ski School when she was excited about going, then displayed as much skill as a 4 year old can when pointed down a hill on skies for the first time. Crucially she wanted to do it again and again. It was a very proud moment.

Another moment of family bliss came when we all sat down in a bar in Méribel Centre and all enjoyed a hot chocolate after spending the afternoon on beginner slope. The time was spent being shown what was learned at ski school, sledging and general sliding about. The sun moved on and we started to feel a bit tired and chilly. We head for Evolution and all sat down with our drink and a collective feeling of contentment. Once the warmth had returned to our extremities and the sugar rush has started to kick in, we were back out on the slopes earning our next moment.

I spent many years working in the Alps, single and childless, watching families get ready for the slopes. It always looked hard work and far from relaxing. I always assumed that stress would follow them around the mountain. But once out the door the pace changes, family life slows down and unlike many holidays you work as a unit, sharing a joy in the same pursuit.

Within a few days you settle into a routine and have learnt to be prepared to leave the chalet in time for ski school in an efficient manner that still eludes you at home when trying to get to work via school/nursery. But that’s probably because you don’t really want to go to work.

There were many firsts on this trip. The one I will remember the most was at 6am on the first morning. We were all awake and discovered that it had snowed. Understandably they were very excited.  I opened the door just enough to peer out. As it turns out it was also just enough for the children to squeeze past. And so their first introduction to fresh snow was barefoot in pyjamas being chased by parents, similarly dressed, shouting warnings about the dangers of frostbite.

The future bond

As a ski trip is unlike many other types of holidays it develops a special place on the Family calendar. I have noticed that the family ski trip lasts well past leaving home and for many becomes as important as birthdays and Christmas, as an occasion to get together. I think it is because it is a shared passion and everyone can sit round the chalet dining table at the end of the day and share their stories. Or it could just be that the parents are paying and you can’t turn down a ski holiday.

Read about the rest of the trip
Part 1 : Part 2 : Part 3


If you are looking to book a holiday for your family, young or old, then give us a call and chat about your next trip – tel:01273466535


How to beat the post ski holiday blues

Guide: How to beat the end of ski trip blues

After a great week of skiing, delicious food in your catered chalet and little bit of aprés it is hard not to feel a little blue on the run back to the airport. There isn’t a 100% cure to the glumness inside but there are ways you can make yourself feel a bit better…

Talk about buying a place in the alps

“Maybe we should all chip in and buy a place in the alps” is how the conversation starts. You all know deep down that it won’t actually happen but that doesn’t stop anyone. Before the coach has arrived at the airport you have started a WhatsApp group and are sharing links to wildly unaffordable properties. One member of the group provides a spreadsheet breaking down costs that unlike your home has zero outgoings. In the arrivals hall while waiting for your luggage you all agree to look at how much you can afford to “put in” and promise to meet up soon to discuss it. You all leave happy and dreaming about the chalet you will never buy.

Consider a job as a chalet host

To avoid the post-ski holiday blues you could look into getting a job in the Alps next winter. Start by asking your host/driver/rep on that last day if they are enjoying their season. Undoubtedly they will say yes and stir up your desire even more. You can then spend the next few days after your trip applying for jobs and imagining how good you will be at skiing by the end of next season.

Book your next ski holiday

Beating the blues is all about having the next thing to look forward to. If you are out early in the season you could always book another ski holiday that season. Or you can start planning next winter’s ski trip and maybe go all out and put the deposit down. As they say booking a holiday is almost as exciting as going on one. It is worth noting that booking a ski holiday a season in advance can often be cheaper as many tour operators will honour the current season price.

Concoct an epic ski trip

Why stop at dreaming about your next ski holiday. Why not plan an epic snow chasing adventure like Travis Rice in The Fourth Phase in an attempt to abolish the sadness. You could keep it local and plan to ride every dry slope in the UK. Or maybe dream of riding a mountain on every continent, just imagine ticking off Antartica.

Buy some new ski kit.

For instant gratification get online and buy some stuff. During your holiday you will have decided that something needs replacing, maybe your jacket is a bit drafty or your goggles are scratched. It could be that you are still skiing in rear entry boots. A post ski holiday spending binge is the perfect way to cheer yourself up. Plus you get the 2nd tier of excitement when they arrive in the post and a 3rd wave of joy when after 10 months of never actually using whatever you ordered you discover it just before your next trip.

Start eating mountain style at home

They say food invokes memories so why not spend the week after your trip trying to recreate that meal you fell in love with that your chalet host cooked. Or maybe if you want more cheese and cream google a recipe for Tartiflette and indulge in some traditional Savoie food. You could even dig out the fondue kit that you found in the house when you moved in. Then get the ingredient from the supermarket and invite some friends round to indulge in melted fromage and ski stories.

Watch a ski or snowboard movie

Your final option is to wallow a bit longer, pull on your PJ’s, crack open a bottle of wine and stick a pizza in the oven. Then choose your favourite winter sports movie, snuggle up on the sofa, reminisce about the fun you had during your trip and dream of next time.


If you need some help getting over this year’s trip by planning for next year then take a look at our catered ski chalets in La Tania and Méribel. Or give us a call on 01273 466535.

Don’t miss out on our latest offers, blog and snow reports


How safe are you on the slopes quiz?

Do you know how safe you are on the piste? Take our quiz and see if you need to brush up on the mountain code of conduct!

 

Why you should consider spring skiing

Officially winter ends on the 20th of March. The beginning of spring traditionally heralds the arrival of warmer weather, bird song and flowers coming into bloom.

So why would you head to the mountains for some skiing or snowboarding at this time of the year? Because spring in the mountains is great fun, there is some wonderful skiing to do and plenty of other things to get up to.

The Snow

We can’t promise you endless bluebird powder days in spring but more snow fall in the spring than you think. We looked at the snowfall for the 6 week spring period in the alps over the last five years and found that on average 49cm of snow fell in the period. Spring snow accounts for 14% of all the season’s snowfall. This can easily match the snowfall recorded during December in the same seasons.

When we looked at the base depths on the piste in spring they compared almost like for like with the depths of December. Naturally the snow is starting to melt as spring settles in and it is often the case that at the very end of April the charts start to tail off. However, for many of the season we looked at spring starts when the snow depth is at its peak.

Spring Snow 2016

Simply put skiing in spring is as fun and varied as the rest of the season only a little bit warmer.

The Sun

During the spring the average temperatures is around 11° which is a lot warmer than you can expect in January when the average is just above freezing at 2°.

 

In the middle of winter in Méribel there is around 75 hours of sunshine over 28 days. Once spring arrives there is in excess of 175 hours of sunshine throughout the month.

The Fun

It is during these months that the sun terraces start jumping into action with more outside gigs starting happen, BBQ’s appear and of course there is loads more sunbathing to be done.

Photo : 3 Valleys Charity Day Facebook

In Spring Méribel gears itself up for some great outdoor parties including the Ronnie Loves Music Festival with Norman Jay MBE, The Sunset Sons and Craig Charles.. There is also the amazing Three Valleys Charity day hosted by the LDV’s in Méribel Village.

 

If you fancy a week skiing in the spring then give us a call on 01273 466535 or take a look at our latest offers. 


First ski holiday with children : Part 3 – Playing and relaxing

How I entertained my children when we weren’t skiing.

When you plan a holiday “relaxing” would probably appear in capital letters and a bold font in your word cloud. Another highlighted word will be your choice of activity, my guess is that for many people it would be “beach”. My choice is skiing. With its hot tubs, after exercise socialising and tranquil scenery this “extreme sport” holiday is a very relaxing way to spend a week, that is until you invite your young children along for the first time.

Read Part One      –       Read Part Two

The first few days of my holiday had already involved missed flights and manic rushes to ski school, allowing me to tick off the extreme part of my vacation checklist before I had even hit the slopes. I spent some time skiing with my wife, drinking wine and eating delicious food. Relaxing box ticked. This left me with only one part of the holiday brief left to fill, “Spending time with the Family”. Luckily in Méribel there is plenty to do to entertain the children.

Sledging

Playing with Albert Action

In my head sledging involved me standing around watching my 2 and 4 year old children slide down and then gleefully running back up with the sled in tow, repeatedly until exhausted. In reality it involved an argument over the sledge colour, me towing a convoy of child laden sledges across a variety of terrain followed by the children gleefully sliding down and me running back with a full sled in tow repeatedly until exhausted.

Like many other parents we also chose not to use the allocated tobogganing area to allow our children to play in. Instead we chose a spot that was less distance to get to but ultimately more perilous. This meant that in between being a human tow, I spent my time flinching and shouting “désolé” as a fine ballet of near misses involving skiers, snowboarders and underage sledgers was performed in front of me. Untill now I have often wondered who these type of families were.

Eating

In the UK there is no trust between restaurant owners and dinners, which is why we have seen a sharp decline, almost to the point of extinction, of the humble tablecloth. In France there is little evidence of the disappearance of either trust or tablecloths. For one lunch we headed to Le Refuge a favourite restaurant of mine that is full of tables with tablecloths on and delicious pizza.

I am the sort of parent that winces at badly behaved children in restaurants, when in fact it isn’t bad behaviour it is normal behaviour in an adult environment. When it comes to my own children I tend to eat fast, over compensate with politeness, while paralysed with embarrassment. With our children inevitably under the table tugging on a table cloth with more glassware than we currently own, I ate fast, apologised profusely and left with redder cheeks then I went in with.

Skiing

Outside of ski school I wanted to do some skiing with my daughter. The experience was similar to sledging in so much as I decided to return to the same location. Unsurprisingly after only two lessons she wasn’t quite ready for that mildly challenging red despite what my bravardad feelings were telling me. I spent a very happy afternoon towing my daughter up a mild incline and watching her straight line the slope while avoiding everyone that cut across her line.

Our 2 year old had made it abundantly clear that he wasn’t happy with the lack of skiing at the nursery he was attending. To make up for this I negotiated a loan of kit from my older child. He was thrilled and much better that I expected… maybe good enough for a difficult green?

Riding the lifts

It was agreed between us that on some of the afternoons one parent would head off and go skiing leaving the other to entertain the children. Sensibly, during her turn my wife opted for cake and games in the sanctity of the chalet. I thought I would show them the mountain. My goal was a voyage of discovery through the snowy peaks on gondola ships with a final destination of La Folie Douce. As a whole family we boarded the Saulire in Méribel centre.

Once at the top the doors opened and the wind rushed in to violate the safety of the telecabine. I realised quickly that this may not be the place for a 2 year old. Especially one that has a tendency to run towards the most perilous thing in the room, or beach, or field and now mountain top. As my wife skied away I bundled the children back into the lift where we spent an hour or so going round and round while we ate a picnic and spotted mummy an incredible amount of times.

For those of you that don’t know the Saluire Express passes over the top of the Folie Douce. We passed over it at least 6 times before I decide that it wasn’t my best idea to take the children there. They seemed happy enough in the bubble lift.

Just who you want share lift with!


There are loads of other things to do with your children when you are in Méribel : Ice Skating, swimming, soft play, Bowling and more. We were just too busy having our own fun to get round to doing it all.


The Jump Season 4 – Is it as good

The Jump returned for its 4th season on Channel 4 this weekend but is it as good?

We are not convinced. Something seems to be missing. It could be that this is the first year that I haven’t live blogged the Jump therefore allowing myself more time to watch it but to me it seems to have lost its edge. It doesn’t feel as anarchic as is it once did it. It feels a bit like that seasonnaire who want’s to carry on living in the mountains but knows a lifestyle change is in order to make it sustainable.

At the end of the last season there was much written about it being the most dangerous reality show on TV after many participants were injured, including Tina Hobley who dislocated her elbow and Beth Tweddle who still sufferers from a back injury. Combined that with plummeting ratings and there were talks that it could be axed. But it wasn’t.

The return feels like it has taken seriously the safety issues that have been raised over the years, but that doesn’t mean that it is any safer. Vogue Williams, was the first person to injure herself and has not be able to compete in the show. Her knee injury happened while she was receiving some ski cross training. Last year 50% of the entrants when home with injuries, can you imagine if that was a sport wide statistic, skiing wouldn’t be as popular as it is.Image result for the jump channel 4 2017

There could argued that it doesn’t seem as good because the contestants aren’t that famous. Getting to know 14 new people in 90 minutes is a tough ask especially when several of them come from privileged backgrounds that make it hard to identify with and get behind. The rest of the cast are mainly athletes who essentially aren’t Phil Tufnell. The biggest star is Sir Bradley Wiggins, who looks like a man that has ended up at a Hen Do and can’t escape but  knows the only way to survive is to join in as half hearted as possible while saying how much fun he is having.

One of the biggest innovations of this years event was the celebrities being introduced and appearing from behind a screen and then paraded through a crowd of unexcited crew members. This could have been dramatically improved if done in ski boots on icy steps with a handicap system that matched number of day skiing to the number of additional children skis they had to carry.Related image

Of course we will still be watching every week and soon it will be time to confess that Spenser is our favourite, but not just yet. Let’s just hope the action gets a bit more exciting as this week’s just seemed like a beginner slope highlight package and the racing was about as tense as a snapped hamstring.

Join in the chat during the show with our twitter account @alpineactionski.


First ski holiday with children : Part 2 – Guilt and Ski School

My first ski holiday with children

In my last blog about our first family ski trip I wrote about how we manage to miss the flight despite staying overnight at an airport hotel. This blog continues the story of our holiday and picks up the trip after we landed in France ready for our transfer to Méribel. 

READ PART ONE HERE

Part 2 – Guilt and Ski School

We arrived at Grenoble airport and were warmly welcomed by Alpine Action driver Eddie who my children instantly fell in love with and obsessed about during the duration of our trip. “I can’t wait to get back to see Eddie at the chalet”, “It’s kind of Eddie to let us stay at his house”, “Who are those people cooking in Eddie’s kitchen?” and “Let’s make a card to thank Eddie for letting us stay”. How much Eddie appreciated this admiration is a question for him and how much Jack and Emily, our chalet hosts, appreciated playing Carson to Eddies Earl of Grantham we may never know.

During our trip we stayed in chalet Trios Coeurs

Ski School

Once in resort there is always some pre-ski admin to do and after the flight fiasco I wasn’t expecting a successful outcome. However, getting ski hire for a 4 year old was simple, as was getting free lift passes for the children along with booking into ski school and child care. I doubt this success was down to us and the behaviour of our children so the credit should go to the wonderful resort staff that helped us along the way. As a result of my many trips to Méribel we were also spared the usual “where is my chalet” moment that we all get in a new ski resort. However my wife was determined to engineer this by repeatedly asking if I knew where I was going.

The next thing on the agenda was introducing our children to snow. The last huge snowfall in the UK was in 2009, way before my children were born, making this their first time experiencing snow. There are many things you can do with snow such as skiing, snowball fights, snowman making or even sledging. The main priority for my children during their first encounter with snow was to eat it and they were determined to sample it from as many locations as possible. Due to my children’s partiality to consuming snow we spent very little time near the resort ponies.

Children’s mealtimes were a success thanks to “Eddies staff” and I was surprised by the ease at which the children went to sleep. I was unsurprised at the time they woke up in the morning. I think the last time I was up before the chalet hosts was when I was one.  I also suspect that in some parts of the resort some people were only just heading back to their chalet. But why wouldn’t you wake up early on a ski trip, going skiing is exciting!

Even though I had been awake since 4am, when the minibus arrived to take us to the ski school we weren’t quite ready. Quite means, one child undressed with ski boots on, one child fully dressed no shoes on running around in the snow, one parent not dressed still packing children’s day bag and one parent fiddling with his snowboard while wondering why no one else is ready.

Guilt

We arrived at the children’s ski school 10 minutes late. A quick glance around told us that we weren’t the only ones. My daughter who is 4 was going into ski school for the morning and was incredibly excited about her first time on skis. My son who isn’t old enough to ski was in the creche. Prior to our holiday we had talked about going skiing, watched it on the TV and role played the holiday, which with hindsight was a bit cruel as when we dropped him off at the nursery he soon realised that he wouldn’t be doing much skiing.

They say there are no friends on a powder day. Maybe there should be a saying that implies similar when referring to offspring on a ski holiday. Shortly after 9.30 am we found ourselves on the first chairlift of the day with the sun on our faces and the combined feelings of guilt and excitement. After few runs we nipped back to the nursery slopes and replaced the last few embers of guilt with pride as we saw our daughter skiing for the first time. We didn’t check on the other one.

Just before lunch we returned to collect the two children for an afternoon of sledging and hot chocolate drinking. One was over the moon that she had mastered skiing and loved every second of her time. The other was less impressed and greeted us with the opening remark  “Go skiing now?”.

Coming up in part 3 we relieve our guilt of spending the mornings skiing by attempting to do far to much stuff as a family in the afternoon.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page and the Alpine Action blog to find out how we got on during the rest of our ski holiday. To make sure you don’t miss the next instalment sign up to the Alpine Action Newsletter.


How to Take Great Photos when skiing

How to make sure you are taking the best photos when you are skiing

With stunning mountain peaks, glinting white snow, bright sun, heavy fog or snowfall, spectacular valley views and high speed action, taking decent photographs in the Alps is a real challenge. Conditions can vary not only day to day but hour to hour, and there’s no one setting which will work for all conditions.

Point-and-click cameras set to ‘auto’ will often take decent images but they can only do so much and they’ll never do justice to the beauty of the Alps, but if you play around with the manual settings on your camera it’s surprising how much improvement you can see.

Whether you use a basic hand-held camera or a high-end DSLR camera the fact is that with a little practice, setting the camera to manual and mastering the shutter settings will almost always bring you higher quality pictures – the camera’s automatic setting isn’t always right!

How to take snow park photos and ski action shots

Image courtesy of Basecamp ski and snowboard courses

Everybody wants that one perfect shot of them zooming down the piste or nailing a huge kicker, which they can then load up to Facebook and show everyone how skilled they are on skis! Sadly the majority of action shots just don’t come out like that – they’re usually mis-timed or out of focus. Action photography is very tricky to get right!

The first thing to do is set the camera up correctly. To avoid blur you’ll need a very fast shutter speed, and to let enough light into the camera lens and compensate for the speed of the shutter you’ll need a wide open aperture. It’s well worth taking a few practise shots of people to get the settings right before you line up and take the perfect shot, as they’ll always vary.

Another key factor in successful park or action shots is the positioning of the camera. You can get wonderfully dramatic shots on-piste as well as off-piste if you shoot your subject as he or she skis town the slope towards you. In the park, amazing big-air shots can be captured by positioning yourself to the side of the kicker and following the skier down as he or she approaches the jump. Opening the shutter at the key moment takes practise and patience but when you get it right it’s far more rewarding than simply setting the camera to shoot 3 frames a second and picking the best one.

How to take scenic photos of snowy mountains

In the Alps you can wake up to bluebird skies and bright sun in the morning, but by the afternoon the weather has closed in leaving flat-light or low-light conditions which make photography a real challenge. The camera settings you use for each shot when taking scenic photos have to be adapted to the conditions at the time, so it’s always a good idea to take a few quick shots with slightly different light and shutter settings before choosing a setting you’re happy with and lining the shot up properly.

If it’s a bright and sunny day, attach the lens hood to the front of the camera. It blocks side light and lens flare which can so easily spoil a great scenic photograph. Line your shot up and avoid pointing the camera towards the sun. In sunny conditions you’ll need a fast shutter speed to avoid flooding the image with white light, and a very low ISO setting. It’s also worth closing the aperture quite a lot too, to stop excess light getting in and spoiling the image.

If you’re shooting in low-light or night time conditions it’s a very different story. You can slow the shutter down so it stays open longer and lets more light in, and perhaps use a tripod to avoid blurring the image. Other tricks to good low-light photography include keeping the aperture wide open so as much available light gets in a possible, and increasing the ISO setting. Bear in mind, however, that too high an ISO setting will ultimately damage the quality of the photo and it’ll look grainy.

The best thing to do when shooting out if the Alps, where conditions are so variable and the scenery is so beautiful, is simply to play around with your light settings before each shot. If you take the time to get to know the camera, you’’ll gain an understanding of what settings work best in certain situations and ultimately you’ll get a lot more out of your mountain photography. Happy shooting!


First ski holiday with children : Part 1

If you love skiing and love your family the inevitable will happen –  A family ski holiday.

I have been blogging for Alpine Action for many years and have been skiing for even longer. During the five winter seasons I did and the numerous ski holidays I have been on, I’ve been lucky enough to experience much of what the mountains have to offer. From backcountry to park, snowboarding to snowblading, I have never shied away from a challenge despite my limited ability. To be clear I am no Travis Rice or Bode Miller but I expect that even they may have met their match when it came to taking their children skiing for the first time.

I recently took my children, 2 and 4 years old, to Méribel on their first ski trip and it was probably my biggest and most rewarding ski challenge to date.

Part One : Catching a plane with children

Overnight in a hotel

I come from a place where the northern part of the county accounts for less than 0.001% of the UK population. As you can imagine we are not spoilt for choice when it comes to local flights to the Alps. We opted to drive to Gatwick Airport. As this was our first time flying as a family, and the departure time was early, we decided on an overnight stop in a hotel, just a mile from the airport. You can get a family room with 8 nights parking for less than £80.

We arrived at the airport just after 10pm, re settled the children and bedded down to an anxious night sleep. As I lay in the hotel room, semi asleep and refusing to empty my bladder in case I woke a child up, I recalled how we had traveled across Russia several times without calamity or missing a train, and safely navigated around India on public transport. However, we didn’t have 2 children when we did it.

“Can’t sleep to excited”

Getting to the car

As we were staying such a short distance from the airport we set our alarms, allowing ourselves two and a half hours to make our way to the departure lounge via the carpark, baggage drop, security checks and other airport distractions. Surely this was plenty of time.

Top tip : Shower the night before. No one knows why we all decided to shower in the morning. Possibly it was the convention of staying in a hotel room that everything must be used and evaluated. Time stolen 10 min.

Following the showers there was the predictable tantrum from a child that we still don’t really know the origin of. It could have been that she was woken up three hours earlier than normal, or that the only food we saw fit to provide was definitely not breakfast food. Time Stolen 7.5 min.

At home I know that even if the whole family only has shoes to put on before getting in the car it will still take over 5 minutes before we can leave. Somehow the reality never sunk in that room 568, the room we were in, was located at the exact furthest point away from the far corner of the car park where our vehicle was located. Time stolen 10 min.

Parking at the airport

The car had to be moved from the hotel car park to the longstay car park. Despite a short detour this part of the journey was achieved without incident. By this time we started to pay more attention to the time and realised we may not make the flight. As we pulled into the car park the shuttle bus was leaving. Time Stolen 1 min.

Frustratingly we were directed to zone X to park. We unloaded, made a note of the location and headed of to the bus stop. Panic started to set in as the time ticked on while we waited for the shuttle bus. When a bus did arrive all available space had been occupied and so it drove straight past us of to the airport. Time for an adult tantrum. 6 long minutes passed and another bus arrived and we headed to the terminal. Time lost 20 minutes.

We alighted the bus swiftly and with children on shoulders and baggage hanging from any available body part, the fast walk combined with short sprints was underway. With time ticking away the race with other passengers that I normally contain in my head became incredibly competitive and threatened to spill over into reality. During the journey to check-in one of our children presses the wrong floor on the lift, no one notices. Time lost 3 minutes.

Checking in

We had already checked in online and our e-tickets were on an app on my phone which meant that all we had to do was drop our big bag off at the bag drop. As the bag drop came into view so did the queue but that was never going to trouble us as the minute hand on the giant departures clock signaled that our check-in had closed 5 minutes ago and so ended our chance to get our bag on the plane.

The airline staff were great but there was nothing much they could do and it really was our fault that we had missed our flight. Of course we did consider abandoning a bag in an airport and making a dash for the departure gate although this course of action could have resulted in much bigger problems.

We arranged a flight for the next day and booked back into the hotel where we sat around feeling slightly embarrassed at our own incompetence. The next day we were at the airport 2 hours before check-in closed, relaxed and ready for our holiday. It also gave me a chance to research a future blog, “What to do in an airport with 2 children if you arrive 2 hours early”.

Despite all this we went on to have one of the best family holidays we have ever been on and are already planning our next family ski trip to Méribel.

READ PART TWO HERE

Keep an eye on our Facebook page and the Alpine Action blog to find out how we got on during the rest of our ski holiday. To make sure you don’t miss the next instalment sign up to the Alpine Action Newsletter.

 

 


Meribel & La Tania Holidays

Find out more about our holidays to Méribel or La Tania.

Contact Us

If you would like to chat about holidays to Méribel or La Tania please get in touch via one of the methods on our contact page.

Our Favorite Topics

Subscribe

To sign up for our newletter please enter your email address below: