Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Le Revard: a Family Ski Holiday in the French Alps

Although we may already be longing for spring, it is finally snowing in Belgium. Ski dreams dance again in my head...not necessarily the sport but rather the ski holiday or sports d'hiver. Although I am more inclined to snowshoeing, my husband and daughters are the ski fanatics. A couple months after my youngest daughter turned three, she was already descending an Alpine slope, closer really to the classic “bunny hill” grade...but still!
At least once a year, we head to Savoie and stay in the small village of Méry located between Chambery and Aix-les-Bains, France. Just a half-hour drive up the mountain behind us, we arrive at a very family-friendly resort called Le Revard. Although this resort provides anything you may need for a relaxed, fun-filled holiday, close by are also La Clusaz and La Feclaz ski stations.

If you or your little ones are new to skiing or need a refresher course, private and group lessons are taught by the Ecole de Ski Française. At the end of the week, skiers take a skill test to earn their next star to advance levels. The smallest of skiers begin by earning their piou piou, ourson and flocon pins. Conveniently, skiers have all the material ready to rent at the shop overlooking the beginner hill. If you've forgotten your hat, you can buy that too. The people in the shop are incredibly friendly and often have a piece of candy for the children, whom they get to know throughout the week (or years).

Within snowy steps of each other, a hill specifically for sledging, paths for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country ski circuits abound. What's more, which I absolutely want to try next time, is dog-sledding! As I was trekking in my snowshoes last December, I heard a pack of dogs coming up and around the path in front of me, I quickly (as quickly as one can in snowshoes) steered myself behind a tree. Much relief came when the dogs ran past with no concern for me at all. In fact, a group of about five people and their dog teams were following a guide. I chatted with one woman, as the man in front had trouble getting his dogs going, who said it was actually quite easy and fun. Dogs sledding is yet another way to breath in the magnificent white scenery.

Travelers can find the dogs at the chalet just before turning towards the parking lot of Le Revard, on your left. For specific information, consult the station's tourism office. Once parked, one only has to turn around 360º to situate the first aid station, tourism office, shops, cafés and restaurants... and on a clear day, Le Mont Blanc! For an even more panoramic view, turn right out of the lot and continue to the terrase of Les 4 Vallées. On a sunny winter day, tourists and locals marvel for the first or even the énième time at the vast beauty this regions offers.

Lodging at any one of the possibilities at Le Revard will be comfortable and convenient. One advantage of staying closer to town is, well, you're closer to town. Both Chambery and Aix-les-Bains offer a variety of cultural outings, shopping and star-worthy restaurants. As for Aix-les-Bains being Aix-les-Bains, it is the place to pamper any body or soul after days of cold, winter sports..or as the destination itself. At the thermes, book a treatment or simply spend the day between the pools (in and outdoor), hammam, sauna, exercise room, café, or just lounging with a good read.

Between the various winter sports, leisure activities and dining possibilities, a winter holiday in Savoie has never disappointed us. As a family, we have a great time all together in the snow...and it doesn't hurt mummy (or daddy!) to recharge at the spa before another rentrée.