There are excellent snow conditions pretty much everywhere for February Half-Term in the Alps, with Puy St Vincent, as always, holding its head high, having some of the best snow around.
But not everyone wants to ski when the slopes are packed, the lift queues are at their worst, and the prices are at the most expensive. However, there are some alternatives. My personal favourites are Christmas and Easter, when you will also find the better prices. And at Snowbizz we have a massive fan base who would agree.
This has to be one of the best family memories ever, in the Alps it’s extra special: the Christmas Eve torchlight decent, Father Christmas arriving with a sack of goodies, real Christmas trees covered in real snow. It’s all terribly twinkly and the atmosphere is amazing.
So what about the snow? We have lots of regular guests who spend many Christmas’s with us. How would they describe the snow? First thing they would tell you is that Puy St Vincent is just extremely fortunate to have a genuine micro-climate. (Year after year we stay in the top spot – Puy’s snow record is a well-recorded fact.) So they book on the basis that they’ve never been let down yet. And have always had a range of skiing from decent – through to excellent.
Bring Granny and Grandpa
For most families, having to leave an elderly relative behind is the usual reason to book New Year Week, rather than Christmas. In Puy St Vincent, even if you bring a non-skiing relative they will still feel very much a part of things: all our accommodation is so central, they can actually watch the little ones ski from their balcony and meet up for lunch really easily. There is even an easy walk to our favourite mountain restaurant: http://snowbizz.co.uk/blog/2014/02/05/our-top-10-family-ski-recommendations/
February Half Term and New Year: 3 ways to avoid lift queues
Almost as popular as February Half-Term is New Year; pistes do get busy and lift queues can build up. If you have to ski at either of these times, we have three pieces of advice:
- Pick one of the quieter resorts, like Puy St Vincent (worst average lift queue time – 10 mins).
- Join ski school where you will get priority on the lifts.
- Lunchtimes are the quieter time on the mountain as the French usually stop early for lunch.
Easter is the quietest of all the holidays: there isn’t a clash with the French holidays, so there are no lift queues and the pistes are uncrowded. There is a pre-conceived idea that the snow will have melted by Easter, when in fact it often snows huge dumps right at the very end of the season.
Last season was a case in point, when it snowed for days on end and caught-out a lot of those driving to the Alps. My own memories are also of twice being snowed in at the end of the season because the snow-plough hadn’t come up to 1600m and our dog, Terri, who was a huge rescued Pyrenean mountain dog, disappeared into a snow drift right outside our office.
But if we take an average year, you are looking at the best skiing first thing in the morning up until lunch-time. After lunch you normally stay high, avoiding the lower pistes which become very heavy like huge sugar crystals and is more difficult to ski. The advantage of Puy St Vincent is that all the pistes are north and north-east facing; avoiding the direct sun that south facing slopes receive. If you follow our instructor’s tips, they will show you how to be on the best runs at the best time of day, so the skiing is still fantastic.
Whatever date and whichever company you finally decide on – it’s vital to book early. All the best family accommodation fills quickly. For school holiday dates you need to be thinking of booking a year in advance. Booking early you will not only get the pick of the accommodation but there are usually early-booking discounts and added value extras included.