Skiing with a Toddler in France

Pre-kids, skiing holidays were a fun last minute arrangement, finding the cheapest deal and jetting off for a week in the snow. However once small children are involved, there’s a lot more to consider. Here’s my experiences and recommendations from this winter’s ski trip.

After a lot of research, we decided to head to Les Gets, near Morzine in the French Alps.

To get there, it’s a short 1.5 hour flight from Birmingham to Geneva, then a transfer on to Les Gets which takes approximately 1-1.5 hours.

Both Birmingham and Geneva Airports are very child-friendly. Both have small children’s play areas. The Birmingham one has two Sky Zones: one by Gate 3 and one by Gate 54. These have interactive games, musical floors, things which light up, and soft blocks to build towers. Franglaisbaby and friends had a great time. There are also courtesy pushchairs at Birmingham Airport.

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The Geneva Airport play area is in the transit zone between gates A5 and A8. We didn’t actually use this one in the end but it has educational games like letter boards and bead mazes.

To transfer to the resort from Geneva, I would recommend booking a transfer company in advance. We were allocated a bus within 15 minutes, and driven to the door of our accommodation – essential with small children and their luggage.

One of the reasons we chose Les Gets was the Garderie Les Fripouilles, which provides childcare for pre-school age children. The staff are very welcoming and speak both French and English. They were happy to speak French to Franglaisbaby who settled in well, enjoying the outdoor activities especially.

To use the nursery, it’s worth noting that you need to bring your child’s Red Book as proof of vaccinations, and provide them with a nappy per half day session, and any comforters or dummies. They label everything – even the children!

Getting around town is easy as there is a free bus (on a circular route) and a Petit Train which stops at the bus station and the main ski station. Kids love the train!

Les Gets has an ice rink but unfortunately they only have skates starting at EU size 27 (UK 8) and are very strict, they will not let you try on skates even if your child wears a size 26, as I found out! Nevermind, there’s a carousel next door to bribe the kids with. Both are open 9-12am and 3-7pm, weather dependent.

We found a fantastic café called Les Notes Gourmandes just opposite the ice rink. Unusually for French cafés, it has a selection of toys upstairs under the eaves (though food is only served downstairs) and as long as you aren’t too noisy it’s the perfect place to spend a wet day. It serves fantastic crêpes and vin chaud. I even spent a morning there catching up on French magazines, as you know I love them!

What about the snow though?

Les Gets itself has a small sledging piste but I would recommend heading up to Chavannes instead. You can take the Gondola there if you have a lift pass. In Chavannes, there is a much steeper sledging piste and a nursery slopes area – perfect if you want to give the toddler their first taste of skiing.

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One other thing Chavannes has, which I have never seen on a ski slope before, is a petting farm! Head right towards La Piste des Indiens, hike up the slope a little way (dragging the toddler in a sledge) and you will find a little barn with three friendly dogs and a herd of sheep and goats. Go in the afternoon when they let them out onto the snow. There are also some metal pipes to bash out a tune with your ski poles on, and “Indian” (Native American) face painting.

We all really enjoyed Les Gets and would go back again. I wish their sledging pistes had been a little better (I enjoyed some fantastic ones at Les Sybelles a few years ago) but the provision for children is excellent.

Where else would you recommend?

Fly to Geneva from Birmingham with Easyjet from approx £205 each.

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Snow Activities for Kids – with a French Twist

With the snow and ice covering the UK at the moment, trapping most of us in our homes, you can’t beat a few new activities to keep the kids entertained. Here are a few unusual ones which you can put a French twist on especially if you are part- or full-time bilingual.

Snow Painting

Paint can be messy, but snow can be painted with just food colouring. Top tip: set up separate bowls and brushes, but try not to let your kid pick up the bowls – from experience that ends in disaster! But the good news is that food colouring is totally washable.

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This is a perfect opportunity to teach children their colours in French, and which new colours you can make when you mix two together.

Maple Syrup Snow Candy

This is more a Canadian thing but I’m sure it counts. You really need freezing conditions for this, so please excuse our poor attempts today as the temperature is finally above freezing here. But it’s still fun to scoop up the syrupy snow! Heat your maple syrup, pour a little on the snow and let it harden – if it’s cold enough!

Sledging

A classic option. You can teach your kids that this is called “la luge” in French and maybe you can make a “piste de luge” and have a “concours” with a prize!

We have a sledge like this one with brakes which is very useful.

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I hope that keeps your kids amused during the cold snap this winter.

Review: The Botanist Birmingham

 

Last night some friends and I went out for cocktails at The Botanist on Temple street in Birmingham.

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With its potting shed style decor, you’d expect this place to have a rustic feel, but the intricate iron work, glowing chandeliers and luxurious furnishings really lift it to another level.

The mostly gin based cocktails are beautifully finished with herbs and flowers.

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By 10pm the bar was super busy and queue times were long. However they had a great little live band which made the wait for service much more pleasant and the atmosphere was amazing.

I’d definitely return here and would just learn to get two rounds in at once!

French Children’s Book Haul

So I did some serious book shopping whilst in France…

I was really pleased to find some of these Usborne books, we love the English equivalent “That’s not my…” but in French they are “Où est mon…”

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Franglaisbaby also loves pressing the “pouett” on the Oui-Oui (Noddy) book.

We’ve been really getting into T’choupi, both the books and TV programmes, and P’tit Loup was a great discovery as we love the Loup books. P’tit Loup is so cheeky! And Petit Ours Brun is a classic. I especially like how some of the editions have lovely thick pages, a good compromise between a board book and a standard paperback.

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Franglaisbaby loves foxes and dogs, so a couple of foxy fables were in order. I love the touchy-feely bits in the second book like the fox’s tail.

A bit different to a lift the flap book, the book above has pull out bits on every page to extend the story, I love this idea.

Usually I shy away from getting translations of English books but Each Peach Pear Plum just sounds so funny in French! And I picked up a couple of longer stories for when franglaisbaby is bigger.

Finally I picked up a Children’s Bible, something I’ve been looking for for a while. This one seems nice and interactive and has flaps and pop outs.

I think I did pretty well! The bank balance however does not – books in France are expensive.

Trip to Limousin, with a detour via Chartres

This year’s jaunt to France was to the Limousin region, with a short stop in Chartres to break up the journey on the way down.

Chartres is absolutely beautiful, with a stunning cathedral, lots of shops, quaint little streets with timber framed buildings, and such a good choice of restaurants. Great atmosphere in the evening too, we will definitely be back.

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From here we continued our journey down into the Limousin region. It’s an area I visited 10 years ago for a short time as a stagiaire so I was looking forward to returning.

It’s a beautiful region, perfect for long walks, often complete with fairly tame “wildlife”.

You’ll be pleased to learn that bakeries and markets featured heavily in our holiday as usual!

Exploring the local area, we visited lovely towns such as Bourganeuf – though be warned, in this region everything is closed on a Monday as well as a Sunday.

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We combined a day trip to Limoges, where we visited the Cour d’Appel where I did my stage, with a visit to Oradour-sur-Glane, a haunting abandoned village where almost the entire population was massacred by the Nazis in 1944. This is a must-see, and will stay with you forever.

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I’m not sure whether it’s a region we will visit again, although the people were lovely and welcoming, and great with franglaisbaby, but there simply wasn’t a lot to do given that we didn’t have great weather. However we will definitely return to Chartres!

Where would you recommend we go next in France?

Review: OBaby Zeal Stroller

I’ve kindly been sent this OBaby Zeal Stroller/Travel System to test by the Mother & Baby Awards.

I really recommend signing up as a tester for the Mother & Baby Awards, you can get some great stuff to review and usually keep.

First impressions of this stroller are good, easy to fold and unfold. It reclines pretty flat and the hood is good. The brakes work easily although it’s a little clunky to push.

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It also converts to a travel system with the addition of car seat adapters. These are so simple to clip on, a really neat design. However the stroller can’t be folded with them attached, so it would be a real pain to detach the adapters every time you wanted to remove the car seat.

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Included are a footmuff, which is lovely and soft, and a change bag, which has lots of pockets but seems flimsy and cheap, and which I wouldn’t use.

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Overall, I’d say it’s a good stroller in a cute design, but I’d rather have a full travel system where the carseat is easier to remove, and a second stroller.

Oh boy have I got a French treat for you!

The franglais family have just returned from a quick jaunt to France (more on that to come…)

On our final night, we stayed in a beautiful hotel in Le Mans called Le Clos d’Hauteville, where the couple who own it doted on franglaisbaby. When we left, the lady handed franglaisbaby a book. Perfect, I thought, a French book and something new to entertain him in the car! It turned out to be a little magazine, with several stories inside.

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But look closely folks, see the date on it? 1994? It must have been her children’s! What a lovely gesture – vintage French children’s stories.

Aldi Lacura Hot Cloth Cleanser

Since I saw that Aldi would be selling a Hot Cloth Cleanser, I’ve been so excited for today. And here it is!

Lacura hot cloth cleanser

A thick creamy liquid, the cleanser goes on easily, with a gorgeous refreshing sweet menthol fragrance.

It comes with a muslin cloth to polish the cleanser off with hand hot water.

It left my skin feeling cleansed, smooth and refreshed.

This cleanser is on sale today whilst stocks last, so get down to your local Aldi quickly!

You Beauty Advent Calendar Unboxing – days 18-24

I’ve reached the end of my You Beauty Advent Calendar now and it’s been a great way to end the season.

Day 18 – Miller Harris Rose Silence Perfume

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This is a very flowery rosy scent. I do love rose scents but this is a little overpowering for me – I prefer them with a citrus note. But a pretty fragrance which would suit most in a handy travel size bottle.

Day 19 – Sanctuary Spa Foaming Micellar Cleanser

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This is something I will definitely use! I love Micellar water; I usually use my favourite Nuxe one. A really useful gift.

Day 20 – Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Moisturiser

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This is a lovely light moisturiser that is instantly absorbed and feels weightless. I love it, the only thing I would change is the light fragrance which smells a little herbal medicinal. But I am going to be using this a lot.

Day 21 – Carmex Lip Balm

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A classic, and perfect handbag sized.

Day 22 – Amie Exfoliating Polish

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Another brand I’d not heard of, this face scrub looks lovely and I love that the brand has an all natural focus.

Day 23 – Charles Worthington Moisture Seal Leave In Conditioner

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You can never have too much leave in conditioner, especially when you are a busy working mum. My ultimate time saving tip.

Day 24 – The White Company Orange Grove Candle

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Possibly my favourite day of them all! Citrus scents are my favourite, and White Company candles are such good quality. This is a real Christmas treat.

I’ve loved all the little treats this advent and hope you’ve enjoyed sharing them with me.

Bee Good Review

I was so excited to receive my order from Bee Good in the post, and very impressed at how quickly it came.

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I had used the voucher from my You Beauty Advent Calendar to buy a small tube of Eye Cream. My last Eye Cream ran out recently so this was perfect timing.

But the lovely people at Bee Good didn’t stop there. Included in the package was some delicious honey chocolate from New Forest Chocolates with such a cute bee print, and a packet of Seedballs, clay coated seeds which can be simply scattered and watered for bee-friendly flowers.

This is so thoughtful, I love getting little extras in a parcel.

I really recommend Bee Good products, the Eye Cream and Serum are both lovely with great texture and a slight fragrance.