"Not long after my 41st birthday in January I had made my mind up, forget the expense this is the year we all go skiing! However this wasn't going to be simple. My wife, a beginner, was a little concerned about big bustling resorts, big steep mountains and getting to and from ski school, our daughter was only 6 so a small family resort would be best, our son of 15 had been before and wanted some decent varied skiing and as for me I hate flying!
"So having Googled for a few hours there was only one option - the train and that's when I came across Snow Carbon. I filled in a enquiry form for a potential trip and then the next day an e-mail arrived from website founder Daniel Elkan. He kindly offered to help and advise on our trip - perfect I thought.
"After several e-mails and a phone call and some accommodation quotes Daniel had requested from a few companies, the choice was narrowed down to Les Arcs 1950 or Val Cenis, the former being purpose built and rather English and the latter being smaller and more French. I preferred the later but limited train availability (we were booking at short notice) meant we went for the former.
"On Daniel’s advice we travelled down to Paris on the Friday night and had a pleasant stop in the Novotel Gard de Lyon which can be great value as a family of four can fit on one room and the hotel is one minute’s walk from the station. We woke up on Saturday morning had breakfast at the hotel, then walked to the station. The screens make it quite clear where out train departed from so we boarded the Duplex TGV, went upstairs, sat back and relaxed as the train sped through France. It was a very relaxing journey, none of the stress of the airports and planes. We had a table to sit round, chat, eat, drink, play cards, watch films on the tablet, we could walk up to the buffet car, re-stock and repeat the whole process. The last leg from Albertville did drag on a bit as the train slowly winds though the mountains, but at least the scenery made up for it.
"On arriving at Bourg St Maurice, the connection to the Funicular was clearly marked so we walked, bought tickets and it was there ready to go. 10 minutes later we arrived in Les Arcs 1600 again the direction to coaches for Les Arcs 1950 was clearly marked and the coaches were there and waiting. 20 minutes later we arrived at Les Arcs 1950 and it was exactly as it had been pictured. A small pretty (although a little artificial) village with cleared pavements, snow filled streets and completely traffic free.
Despite being early our room was ready so we checked in and set about ski hire, collect lift passes and check in for ski school. It was then we realised how perfect the resort would be. Ski hire was connected to the apartment building, ski school shop was one minute’s walk away, ski pass collect was another minute away and all around us was snow, cafe's, restaurants and shops. The Ski school meeting was actually on the street for my wife 30 seconds from the boot room and my daughters was only one minute’s walk from the boot room. The village is truly ski in and ski out and each apartment building has its own swimming pool, ours was a heated indoor/outdoor pool, great for the kids after skiing. It was as if Carlsberg did family ski holidays!
The week was pretty much perfect for all of us. Although Les Arcs 1950 is part of a big resort there are excellent facilities for beginners so my wife had a great stress free time learning, the children's ski school did a great job with our daughter and she was whizzing down blue runs by day 4, our son could enjoy the varied runs of the resort and I was just happy that it had worked out so well!
For self-catering there is a reasonable choice within the local spa shop opposite us, an excellent boulangerie/patisserie beneath the apartment and some reasonable restaurants in the resort. Eating out in the evening isn't cheap and you may need to book the day before to eat at a sensible time, however the Plat du Jour at lunchtime was excellent value, for example bavette & frites for 12 Euros.
The journey back was just as easy as the way down, even including the RER train transfer across Paris, it's only a couple of stops and tickets can be bought on the TGV.
It was really an excellent holiday and if you are at all unsure about planning a trip drop Daniel a line as he is not only very helpful but also clearly very knowledgeable and will do his best to advise. Needless to say everyone wants to head back next year, when I may well look at an overnight sleeper train from Paris on the way there to get in a bit more skiing."