Belle Plagne France Paradiski Resorts Self Catering

First Family Ski Holiday – Belle Plagne

With the our kids being 5 and 7 it seemed like the perfect time for our first family ski holiday. It felt like the sweet spot between their enjoyment and us getting time to ski without needing childcare.

In the end we chose to stay at the La Néréides apartments in Belle Plagne. Below I have set out below the choices we made in planning our holiday and a review of the actual holiday.

Belle Plagne - Family Ski Holiday

Having watched families enjoy and struggle through holidays in our chalet and from previous holidays we shortlisted some resorts. We decided to go mid March when the snow’s still good, sometimes the best of the season. It is also warmer, but not too warm, though just in case we looked at the higher resorts.

Finally we chose to go self catered, which would mean we had more flexibility on meals and eating times. We could also go back for lunch if required and the family would have space to chill out.

Resort Choices

As it was our first family ski holiday our aim was for the kids to love skiing and for everyone to want to go again. There are so many resorts to choose from, based our knowledge of resorts we put together the following shortlist:

Val Thorens, due to it’s height and it has plentiful self catering accommodation. We worked a season in neighbouring Les Menuires so know the resort like the back of our hand. It’s also a bowl, so most runs lead back to the centre.

Avoriaz, which tops the tables for family ski holidays with no vehicles and a dedicated children’s village in the centre. See our article on March Skiing

La Plagne, we’d skied there for a day and loved it. Additionally we’d had a lot of recommendations from friends and family.

Where we chose to stay

We settled on La Plagne, based on the piste map and the abundance of apartments. Many of which are within close proximity of the slopes.

La Plagne

The resort of La Plagne is made up of a group of villages of varying size and altitude:

  • La Plagne Centre, 1970m
  • Plagne Soleil, 2050m
  • Plagne Villages, 2050m
  • Plagne Bellecote, 1930m
  • Belle Plagne, 2050m
  • Mount Albert, 1350m
  • Les Coches, 1450m
  • Montchavin, 1250m

They all have their own advantages, but we decided on Belle Plagne. This was mainly due to the altitude, size of the resort and accommodation options. It was also slightly cheaper to stay in than the other higher villages.

Belle Plagne is a pretty purpose built resort, which is self contained and a resort within its own right. It’s perfect for families with ski in/out to most properties and three ski schools.

For parents with restricted skiing time it’s also a great option with a range of runs one lift ride away. Either straight out of the door or after dropping the kids at ski school you can ski straight down to Plagne Bellecote. From here you there are four lifts that will open up the rest of the La Plagne area.

How we planned our first family ski holiday

We normally book holidays independently, due to the freedom and control you gain. Though there were great deals being advertised by tour operators, they always seemed to end up being a pokey studio apartment and the kids sleeping in the corridor.

By searching on the likes of and, we managed to shortlist some options. We settled on La Néréides, through, which is ran by Pierre et Vacance. They also have a other apartment blocks in the resort.

Once we found the accommodation we quickly booked flights and chose to hire a car to get from the airport. Cost wise hiring a car worked out similar to a transfer, but gave us added advantages. It meant we could stop to buy food at a hypermarket on route, which are much cheaper than in resort. Additionally we’d have the added mobility if there was any sickness or injury.

Our accommodation – La Néréides

The apartment block sits right on the edge of the piste; so your ski day starts when you walk out the door. It’s also helpfully opposite the meeting point for Ecole du Ski Francais ski lessons once they move off the nursery slopes.

The apartment has a manned desk during the day; at night you need to go to their sister property, Les Costellations, on the other side of the piste. All staff were very helpful and spoke both French and English.

So that we had two bedrooms we rented a 6/7 person apartment in the block. The apartment was perfect with a small kitchen area, dining table and a lounge area

The bedrooms and bathrooms were off a corridor with a bedrooms at either end. The bathroom, shower room and separate toilet were along the corridor. The kids had bunks in room at the end of the corridor, which did not have a door. Though this was not an issue, as the main bedroom and lounge area having doors.

We were on the forth floor, with the ski lockers on the floor below. For more experienced and determined skiers it was possible to ski around the back of the block straight to the lockers.

How we got there

We flew with Jet2 to Grenoble and booked a Peugeot Partner through Holiday Autos. The car had plenty of room to easily fit family, luggage and skis in.

We’d packed our TomTom, which is invaluable driving in France; it takes away the tension and arguing when the road signs which were so prominent and obvious suddenly disappear.

We drove through the rain, stopping at the Geant in Albertville to stock up on food. Just passed Moutier, the traffic got heavy, but once we’d turned off for La Plagne it eased again.

We wearily drove through Aime in the cloud and rain wondering whether the snow would be as good as promised. Then snow started to appear by the road side and we burst out of the cloud into a winter wonderland.

The drive up to Belle Plagne is pretty straight forward; howevert you need your wits about you when trying to park. There are two multi-storey carparks that are underneath the village. We were in the upper one which is constructed in a large loop. The names of the accommodation are written on the walls above the entrances. Everyone then seems to double park and unload before driving into the labyrinth to find a space.

Kids Skiing

There are two main options for ski lessons in Belle Plagne, ESF and Oxygene. Both of which have very good reputations

With a five and seven year old and it also being their holiday too we didn’t really want to split them up and be with a bunch of strangers for the week. Luckily when we weighed up the costs we realised that with ESF a private lesson for two was only €40 more than group lessons. Though slightly shorter, 1:45 instead of 2:30, we reasoned that with closer tuition they would gain far more.

With the lessons from 12:40 to 14:25 we figured our skiing would work out as follows:

  • an individual ski for my wife or I,
  • followed by an early lunch
  • The kids lesson and we ski together
  • Then the other gets a ski in

We choose ESF, who were great. The website was easy to book through and they responded to emails before we arrived. Their instructor was also brilliant – challenging them, but also focusing on their enjoyment.

The Skiing

We were really impressed with the variety of skiing in La Plagne from wide open swooping slopes at the top of mountains to gliding through the trees lower down.

Don’t be put of by the volume of blues, depending how you ski them they are a joy and a challenge to all skiers.

There are also plenty of opportunities for more experienced skiers; with a good selection of reds, blacks and the off-piste is phenomenal too. The Piste layout makes it very easy to link runs together and have a different adventure each day.

Our only complaint was that in a few places the lifts are slow. We nearly got caught out getting back for pick up time when skiing around Les Coches.

We were blessed with great snow for March, there was a deep base and a fresh top up each night. Though when the temperatures rose slightly towards the end of the week we did have a very chattery leg burner down Montchavin.

What really sealed it for our family holiday were the options for the kid to ski. After the first two days on the nursery slopes they progressed onto the main slopes and the piste layout meant there were lots of options for them. Additionally with many of the main slopes being wide and cruisey it was easy to avoid being cut up too much.

Ski Passes

Unlike for Les Trois Vallee in La Plagne I personally wouldn’t purchase the Paradiski pass, as unless you are staying in Pleisey I can’t see skiers getting the use out of it; additionally the normal La Plagne Pass includes a daypass for Paradiski.

La Plagne like other resorts offers savings for group purchases, so the next question is which combination you want/ need. When we visited our kids were beginners and therefore didn’t need a skipass while using the nursery slopes, La Plagne also offer a Coolski pass for 30 Euros a day which only covers the Blanchets and Arpette lifts, giving access to some brilliant easy blues.

To be honest I managed to turn it into a faff, trying to find the best deal and ended up doing the following:

Purchasing a Duo Pass online, 259 Euros Each

Then I bought passes for the kids after two days, 1 day coolski, 30 Euros and 3 days full pass, 127 Euros.

Totalling 832 Euros

A family pass would have been 860 Euros

It’s up to you whether you think the faff of going to the Caisse is worth 28 Euros compared to clicking a button and them arriving in the post.

Our first family ski holiday

When planning the holiday you have to decide what your focus is. Our focus was for the kids to have a great holiday really paid off and everything else worked around it.

I was concerned before going that we just wouldn’t get enough skiing in, but when you combined family skiing, skiing together and skiing on our own we each skied nearly five hours skiing a day.

When you think that before kids we’d normally have a late hungover start, a coffee break, lunch and maybe a cheeky beer each day we didn’t come too far short, plus as the kids get better the family time will extend.

Our kids instructor encouraged us to take them skiing and was happy to advise us on routes; this meant that the kids were confident and spouted off advise on how to do each section, “no we don’t need to turn here, you just go parallel…”.

Advice if it’s your first family ski holiday

We had to learn to allow the kids downtime between skiing, particular at the start of the week when there was a lot of walking and side stepping.

What amazed us was how quickly the kids picked skiing up and how their enjoyment and trust of their equipment increased exponentially.

Skiing is stressful enough as a holiday, so any little worries you can eliminate are invaluable, our main tips would be:

  • Self-catering so you’ve got control of food
  • Renting a larger apartment with space to chill
  • Rent a car so you can shop before you get to resort
  • Try to be as close to the piste as possible
  • Look at the layout of the resort for to eliminate travel time to and from lessons.

We all loved our holiday in Belle Plagne and we’ll definitely be going back and probably stay in La Néréides again, maybe not a few years through, as we’ve got a more resorts to explore.