By Rebecca Miles –19th October 2020
“Mummy, look at me! I’m going really fast!” says Evie, our three-year-old daughter, as she slides down the nursery slope in La Rosière, heading straight for the fence.
Thankfully, her concept of fast isn’t the same as ours yet and we manage to gently nudge her away from the netting and towards the gentle moving carpet ski lift instead. Potential calamity avoided, we head up for one more lap.
Well this is better than I was expecting. I knew it was a rash move taking a three-and-a-half-year-old skiing on our first family ski trip (hoping she’d love it as much as I do), but La Rosière came very highly recommended for families and I was prepared to take the risk.
A resort made of two parts, La Rosière and Les Eucherts, the pair built in sympathetic Savoyard style are a ten-minute walk apart on a pretty, well-lit woodland trail. They’re at the end of the road that continues up to the Petit-Saint-Bernard pass and across the border into Italy; open in summer when the road isn’t covered in snow, in winter it means traffic is at a minimum.
Set on a south-facing plateau overlooking the Tarentaise valley that is home to such top tier resorts as Tignes, Les Arcs and Val d’Isère, La Rosière has a lot going for it. Top of the list is the fact it’s held the Family Plus label for the past six years. Awarded by the French Ministry of Tourism, it recognises ski resorts that go above and beyond the norm for families and is reassessed every three years. So as well as having an exceptional local branch of the French ski school (the ESF), it has plenty of little extras that make a big difference, including Family Plus-labelled restaurants that you know will have games and menus for kids, pushchairs and baby carriers to hire, and a broad range of activities for children of all ages.
This easy-going family-friendliness extends to the ski hire shop too. An experience that can sometimes be fraught with language barriers and unfamiliar, ill-fitting equipment, there is none of that in La Rosière’s Skiset shop. We get a warm welcome and plenty of English is spoken. Dinky size EU24 ski boots are fitted with jokes a-plenty (ski boots start at size EU23; I’d been worrying Evie’s feet wouldn’t be big enough) and the whole thing is topped off perfectly when Pierre produces a pair of skis with Olaf, the snowman from Frozen, on them. Evie’s over the moon, so are we.
The good times continue the following morning when we arrive for Evie’s first ski lesson. Braced for a breakdown and a clinging, tearful farewell, she practically skips off into the ESF’s Jardin des Enfants with barely a backwards glance.
I’d love to think this is a reflection on our parenting but nursery drop-offs tell me otherwise. No, it’s all down to the welcoming, child-friendly space the ESF has created on a gently sloping space at the bottom of the slopes, and the climbing frame and slide have caught Evie’s eye. Staffed by the ebullient Veronique, Cami and Maude, they’re welcoming the children with silly songs and dances (the following morning it’s magic lessons).
Jon and I can’t quite believe our luck so promptly head to the neighbouring chair lift to explore the area. La Rosière shares its slopes with La Thuile, over the border in Italy and together they total 152km. La Rosière’s local slopes are great fun, a mix of blues and reds that get gradually steeper the further you venture from the resort. Blissfully quiet in early January, Blanchot, a red run from the Fort chairlift with its towering views of Mont Blanc at the summit, fast becomes our favourite, with its rolling steep sections and twists and turns.
As tempted as we are to head to La Thuile’s slopes too, we don’t get round to it – for two reasons: we’re having more than enough fun playing on La Rosière’s local slopes, and it’s too tempting to keep surreptitiously peeking at Evie in her lesson while we do laps of the Eucherts and Plan du Repos chairlifts; there’s a great spot above the Jardin des Enfants for unobserved watching of the lessons below and it’s wonderful to see her riding the magic carpet up before sliding back down. Being so little and close to the ground seems to be a major bonus for learning to ski – like little lemmings, if one falls over they all do, but they bounce back up undeterred and merrily continue with much encouragement from the instructors.
We pick Evie up at the end of her lesson and she’s beaming, happily telling us she slid down the slope really quickly and only fell three times. We’re speechless, we didn’t expect her to take to it this easily, and she assures us she wants to return tomorrow.
Not wanting to push our luck, we call it a day with the skiing and, after a tasty lunch on Le Flocon’s sun terrace at the foot of the slopes, we borrow a sledge from the ski shop and head to the snow-covered woodland path between Les Eucherts and La Rosière, part of a network of marked paths around the resort.
Spread along the path at various intervals are snowball targets hanging from the trees – some are large gongs, others are dangling wind chimes, all make satisfying sounds when smacked with a snowball.
But the main attraction for Evie is the dedicated sledging slope on the outskirts of La Rosière village. Lined with padded bumpers, it’s a large enough slope to get up to a decent speed and Evie wears us out demanding to be dragged back up to the top again and again. The exhilarating slide down and ensuing giggles make it all worthwhile.
We have a potter around the traditional shops and cafes of La Rosière before heading back to Les Eucherts, where we’re booked in for an ice skating lesson at the indoor rink.
A group session run by Patrick, the resort’s ice hockey team coach, there are chair-style supports for the smaller children to push around on the ice, and we all pick up some tips, even if Evie does just prefer to sit on the chair and be pushed around by us.
We are only in La Rosière for a few days but quickly settle into a rhythm and find our way round the small village. After the first day’s success with ski school, we opt to leave Evie with the ESF for lunch too, in the large chalet-style crèche they have at the bottom of the slopes, giving us a bit more time to ski.
We collect her around 2pm, and she’s happily bum-boarding outside the crèche, and tells us of the wonderfully French lunch she’s had, which included a fruit course and a yogurt course.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s available in La Rosière but it’s been a huge hit for us as a family. While this is the first ski resort Evie’s had lessons in, I’ve been skiing for nearly 35 years (gulp) and am really impressed with what’s on offer. The relief of it being a hit with Evie is priceless and she – and us – are already planning our next trip.
We flew with British Airways to Lyon Saint Exupéry and hired a car. From there, it’s a two-and-half-hour drive. You can also fly to Geneva, Chambéry or Grenoble, or get the train to Bourg St Maurice (by changing in Paris and/or Lille), then it’s a 30-minute drive.
Where to stay
We stayed at Chalet L’Accroche Coeur, a small, family-run three-star hotel and restaurant with 18 rooms, sleeping from two to five people. The continental breakfast was plentiful, and the restaurant has fantastic views along the valley to Tignes. It’s a five minute-walk from the bottom of the slopes in Les Eucherts.
Double rooms start from €560 for seven nights (room only; breakfast is €13/day).
Several tour operators feature La Rosière, and the resort has lots of self-catering apartments and chalets, plus a few hotels. Tour operators we’d recommend include Peak Retreats, Erna Low, Esprit Ski and Crystal.
– H40 Brasserie Restaurant. Part of the smart new Hyatt hotel in Les Eucherts, H40 is a slick and chic restaurant, yet was surprisingly welcoming to our young daughter and happy to accommodate her food requests. We had a perfectly cooked cote de boeuf but it was one of the pricier places we ate in (c€80 for the three of us with wine).
– Burger Bar. In the centre of Les Eucherts, this burger bar is a quick and easy option, offering both eat in and takeaway. A short but sweet menu of burgers and sides, it was a great option for our first night.
– Restaurant La Grange. A typically Savoyarde restaurant, again in the centre of Les Eucherts, serving great value pizzas, as well as fondue, large salads and tartiflette. Really family friendly, they have games and puzzles for the children.
– The Solario. Part of the four-star Alparena hotel at the bottom of the slopes, the Solario has a huge sun terrace overlooking the valley. The menu has traditional brasserie food, as well as Savoyarde specialities, steaks, burgers and lighter options. It’s a great option for lunch.
For more information on La Rosière, and ski lessons, ski hire and lift passes, visit La Rosière’s website.
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