Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Our Family Ski Trip to Tignes with Mark Warner- Part 1

As a family, we love nothing more than to go on adventures, whether that's abroad, or for a weekend break in the UK or even a day out somewhere closer to home. At just 3 years old, LO is lucky enough that he's already quite well travelled for his age and every time we have been away with him, we've noticed that he's always come back more seeming more grown up, or nearer to a new milestone. I definitely think travelling shapes us and we are really keen to continue to take the boys away to new places as much as we can.

On Sunday 8th January, we took the boys on a totally new sort of adventure- to go on our first skiing trip as a family with Mark Warner. Having never skied before, I had very little idea about what to look for when booking a skiing holiday but as Richard has been skiing a couple of times before, he knew what to look for in a resort. We spent ages browsing on the Mark Warner website which makes it really straightforward to choose where to go, and eventually settled on the resort of Tignes in the French Alps.

Tignes centres around 3 small villages high up above the tree line in the French Alps and due to it's high altitude, it's snow sure in January and has a variety of slopes and terrain for skiers of all levels, meaning it was perfect for a beginner like me or a more advanced skier like Richard. We stayed at the Chalet Hotel Aiguille Percee, which is situated in the heart of Tignes le Lac, a beautiful cosy hotel which we fell it love with as soon as we arrived (I'll talk more about the hotel and accommodation in more detail in a separate post).

We set off on our family ski adventure on January 8th, flying from Birmingham to Grenoble, which took around an hour and 20 minutes. Upon arrival at Grenoble, we were greeted by a friendly member of the Mark Warner team who escorted us on our coach transfer through the mountains up to Tignes. It did take around 3 and a half hours, so I'd advise taking plenty of snacks. Luckily the boys slept for part of it, but the scenery is so stunning, the journey really does go by quite quickly. I even had tears in my eyes as the mountains were just so stunning and it's not every day you get to see such spectacular scenery.

Upon arriving in Tignes, we were amazed by how high up in the mountains we were. It was really cold as well so I'd advise travelling in your warm coats and snow boots as there is a short walk up the hill to the hotel from the coach drop off point. We were greeted by the hotel manager Wayne, who was really friendly and welcoming.

We were staying in an apartment suite located on the 5th floor and were amazed by the size of it when we arrived. The first evening was quite busy, and after dropping our things in our room we then went back out into Tignes to get fitted for skis, boots and helmets at Intersport. Our hire was organised through Mark Warner and the staff at Intersport were really helpful with getting boots and skis fitted. We then went back to the hotel for afternoon tea, a welcome meeting and a childcare meeting too. It was a good chance to meet the friendly hotel staff though and I was really impressed at how centred around children the hotel was. I had been worried about taking the boys to the 7:30 dinner, but children are more than welcome and never once did I feel anxious about them making noise or the mess under the highchair!

On Monday morning, I had my first ski lesson with Evolution 2 Ski School. I felt really apprehensive and must have looked worried as one of the instructors asked if I was ok! I think I was concentrating on not falling over whilst walking in my ski boots (it takes some getting used to walking in them!). I needn't have worried though as my ski instructor Flo was fantastic, really friendly and a great teacher. My group was lovely too, and I was with 8 other adults who were all total beginners like me.

After a great first morning in ski lessons, which ran from 9-12 Monday to Friday, I met up with Richard who'd been out exploring the slopes on his own. We enjoyed a really nice lunch in a cool underground bar and it was a really rare treat to have some time together just the two of us, while the boys were having fun in Mark Warner childcare. In the afternoon, we went back out onto the nursery slopes so I could practise the new skiing skills I'd learnt in the morning.

At the end of a day of skiing you feel really exhausted, I think due to a combination of the physical activity but also the thinner fresh air. It was a real treat to discover that the hotel served afternoon tea every day at 4:30 which you could just help yourself to in the cosy restaurant. This normally consisted of thick slabs of homemade cake, shortbread, toast and jam, hot soup, tea, coffee and hot chocolate, with juice for the children. It's things like this which made the hotel feel so cosy and homely, almost like we were staying in an Alpine Chalet rather than a hotel.

By Tuesday, we got into the swing of the routine of our ski holiday. We did find that due to me going for ski lessons with a prompt 9am start, we did need to have quite a strict morning routine, very different to the usual lazy starts we are used to on a sunshine holiday! We signed both boys up for Mark Warner childcare in the hotel, which runs from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday (I'll talk more about the childcare in a separate post). After breakfast each morning, I would go and get my skis and boots on (which took me about half an hour as my boots were a bit small and I couldn't get my ankles in- if you ever go skiing do really check your boots are comfy and the right size!). While I sorted my daily boot palaver, Richard would get the boys sorted and take them down to childcare.

As LO is only 3 and a half, he didn't do ski lessons as Mark Warner nannies can't escort them to ski lessons until they're 4. Plus we felt he was quite young to be out for 3 hours each morning in such extreme weather. We made sure we had the boys bags packed ready with everything they needed for the day in childcare and then after breakfast, Richard would drop them down at childcare while I went to get my skis and boots on and headed to my lesson.

Wednesday was one of my absolute favourite days of our ski holiday. I had a really good morning of skiing in my lesson and felt like I was getting the hang of things. Generally, as I was out on my own in the mornings at ski lessons, Richard and I would meet at midday for lunch and then we would go and spend a few hours skiing together in the afternoon while the boys stayed in childcare. However, we knew we wanted to have a couple of afternoons where we took the boys out to do something fun in the snow. We'd spotted a couple of people pulling babies around on special high-backed sledges with straps. We did a bit of searching around the town and found the best place to hire these sledges was from a shop called Location Ski Boutique, just down the hill from the hotel. They cost just €2.40 each to hire (inc a 35% discount* [correct at time of writing] as we were staying at L'Aiguille Percee, which was an added bonus).

We had a great time pulling the boys around on their little sledges across the snow. They absolutely loved being pulled along through the central square in Tignes as there were lots of skiers to watch. I wasn't sure LO would enjoy sledging down the hill but it appears he's quite the speed freak and was in fits of giggles every time he whizzed down the slope.

After we'd been sledging, we took the boys for a snowy walk across the lake- it's a huge expanse of frozen lake which is between Tignes le lac where we were staying and Tignes Val Claret which is a bit further up the road. You can walk between the two villages and there are quite a few activities which happen on the lake too, including husky rides, ice diving and an ice skating rink. I'd love to take the boys ice skating next time.

 It felt really surreal and emotional seeing my boys sitting in the snow together with these vast mountains behind them as a backdrop. What a stunning view for two little boys to be able to experience. A few people have asked me where their outer ski wear was from- LO just wore his normal yellow winter coat as it has a built in gilet layer and it was from Mothercare and Little L wore a snowsuit from Boots Mini Club. LO also wore salopettes, a neck snood, ski gloves, snow boots and bobble hat, all from Trespass.
Yes the snow really was this deep. The weather was really quite extreme and this was before the heavy snow storm we had on Thursday afternoon when we had over half a metre of snow fall overnight. I think it was a particularly cold week when we were there so we couldn't stay out for too long, but we managed to get a few photos in the snow. 

Looking so much like his daddy... I think it's the blue eyes. There really is nothing better than being able to go away together as a family. Little L really changed over the course of the week and being in childcare did him the world of good. Before we went away, he didn't really like being left with anyone bar myself, but by the third day, he was more than happy to be passed to the nannies and it's really helped ease him into his new nursery too. He developed a really close bond with his key worker Abby, who was just wonderful. 

Little L was fascinated by the snow and I think LO would have played in it all day given the chance. I just cannot wait to go skiing again sometime and let LO have skiing lessons. 

After our snowy afternoon out sledging with the boys, we took them for hot chocolates and crepes in a cafe in the town. There's nothing like the feeling of being outside in that crisp, cold air and then going to sit in a cafe with a cup of hot chocolate. I really could get used to the skiing way of life. 

After our sunny afternoon in the snow on Wednesday, the weather conditions became pretty extreme, and the snow fall was absolutely amazing. I'll be talking more about what we did during the second half of the week in my next post, plus talking more in depth about Hotel L'Aiguille Percee and the Mark Warner childcare services. 

I have also made a video of our week in Tignes. It's one of my longer videos but it really gives you a good insight of what a family ski holiday with young children is like. It really isn't as daunting as you may think and we had the most magical week with our boys. I feel so grateful to have been able to have this wonderful experience as a family. 

NB: As part of my Ambassador role for Mark Warner, we were very kindly sent on our ski trip to Tignes by Mark Warner Holidays. All photos, video content and opinions are entirely my own. Head over to the Mark Warner website to find out more about booking a ski holiday in one of their fantastic locations.



  1. It looks like there was so much snow, really amazing and makes me want to go even more x

  2. These pictures are super cute. When you're trying to find a good quality, self-catered rather than a catered chalet for your ski holiday in the Alps, Tignes is best one to choose...
    Child Actor LA


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