Children sliding down the sides of mountains doesn't immediately seem like a sensible idea. For some, kids are hard enough to control when they're sitting on the sofa, let alone strapped to a pair of skis at 2000 metres above sea level.
At the same time, their curiosity and lack of fear make them perfect explorers. So when it comes to winter, kids and snow go together like Calvin and Hobbes: imagination, discovery, a few snowballs to the face and, almost certainly, some life lessons learned along the way.
Les Arcs has both new and well-established facilities for families with toddlers to teens. So to give you a head start, and to save you going hoarse from screaming 'pizza' at your children for the duration of the holiday, here are some tips on where to take your wee explorers during your time in resort.
Mille 8 - Arc 1800
For Les Arcs, Mille 8 is one of the biggest developments built in years. Located in and above Arc 1800, this leisure area was designed specifically with families in mind, so is a must-do for those with little ones (or even bigger ones).
Outside, there are sledge runs, lookout points, a freestyle area (Les Bosses), a dedicated outdoor kid's play area (Les Pingouins), and pistes designed for children of all ages. A further highlight is the 3,800m2 swimming pool, with both indoor and outdoor areas, along with caves and waterfalls. There's also a restaurant and, for parents, there are shiny new gym facilities if the weather's off (day and week passes are available).
Grotte de Glace - Arc 2000
Grotte de Glace has become a staple addition to winter in Les Arcs. Located at the top of the Transarc gondola in Arc 2000, this annual ice sculpture exhibition features all sorts of stunning hand-carved figures. Previous themes have included the Terracotta Army and Chinese Dragons. The caves are hugely popular every year and for a small fee is a great way to add a little culture to your holiday.
Freestyle Park and water slide - Above Arc 1800
Located in the Arpette area, above Arc 1800 is the buzz of the freestyle park, which has developed significantly over the years. With all sorts of graded jumps to choose from, it attracts kids young, old and of the baggy pant variety. When the sun shines the deckchairs and the music come out, creating a super fun, festival atmosphere. Although you certainly don't have to be pro to get inside the gates, if you'd prefer not to catch air, the people-watching here is some of the best on the mountain.
Later in the season, there's also an airbag that you can practice your jumps on too, as well as the crowd pleaser: the water slide, which usually opens for Spring skiing when air temperatures are a touch warmer. The water slide is located just above the Arpette restaurant and is usually lined with deck chairs for the perfect view. With a WiFi hotspot to boot, friends or family will be able to capture and send your skim across the water, or not. Expect splashes!
Natural half pipe - Vallandry
For older kids who like freestyle skiing, there's a popular natural halfpipe on Bosses, above Vallandry, located off the Derby chairlift. Bosses is a black run, mainly due to the fairly steep start, so can be hit and miss if the snow is thin. But on a good base, this run is one to watch out for and is very popular with skiers of all ages.
Night skiing - Across Les Arcs
Night skiing is hugely popular, bringing a fantastic atmosphere to the slopes. From 26th December, Every Thursday evening the lower slopes of Arc 1800 will be lit up to offer night skiing in the Mille 8 area. Access to the Villards gondola is free.
Night skiing is also on the cards for Arc 1950 and 2000 every Tuesday and Thursday, 17:00 -18:30 from 29th December. In Arc 1600 it'll be available from 31st December until 3rd March from 17:00 - 18:30.
Rodeo toboggan course - above Arc 2000
From 19 December, the Rodeo toboggan track above Arc 2000 offers 3km run of turns that attract both kids and adults and is the next best activity around (excluding drinking wine and eating cheese) when you're not on your planks. It's equally loved by both kids and adults, so it tends to get busy during peak season. All you need to do is turn up - sledges and helmets are provided - before you wind your way down the course. It's open to anyone with a lift pass and children must be accompanied by an adult. If you'd like an even bigger thrill, Rodeo tobogganing by night that starts 23rd December.
- Entry restricted to those aged over 10 and a minimum height of 1m25.
- Between 10:30 and 16:15.
- Closed on Sunday.
- Subject to favorable snow and weather conditions.
Voila, some kids specific activities to stock up your week with. Just make sure you order those Nutella crepes after you've ticked them off, rather than before....
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