Travelling with a baby
Having looked at various ski holidays, we were hesitant between a comprehensive package offered by Esprit holidays and another tailor made mix. With grandparents missing badly the little one and economics similar, we opted for a lovely flat centre Chamonix on Homeaway, flights to Geneva for all the family and renting a car European side.
Through a combination of miles and Amex companion flight, we also booked business class and made the best out of the lounges before the flights. Given the abundance of flights, we picked just after lunch timing, with quick baby lunch at the lounge and nap during the flight and managed to coordinate well grown up lunch only with plenty of champagne and a sleeping toddler. Raphael also seemed to enjoy the lounges quite a bit, explored the shelves, kids area and socialized with the personnel hoovering. In all fairness though, Heathrow terminal 5 has one cool soft play area and we would have all been more entertained should we have discovered it earlier. We managed to squeeze in just 10 minutes before boarding, a couple of rides on the slides and mocking around funny shapes and other kids – of course baby Raphael v disappointed when we had to go.
The transfers to Chamonix were relatively straight forward, 1 hour and a bit each way. We rented a Nissan 4×4 panoramic roof to fit in 4 grownups, 1 toddler its car seat and the luggage and worked out well. When coming back though French side of the airport felt less smooth, many passages not baby/ lots of luggage friendly and with elevators missing from few places felt bit more stressful, physical and time consuming. Wish we’d given it more time.
The flat we rented in Chamonix was right between Medclub and the old cobbled pedestrian street, great location for popping out quickly to shopping, restaurants, play areas, ski school and sledging area. For a week we spent the mornings with our toddler, mocking around in the snow, running around the winter garden of the ski school and with a couple of sledges.
Raphael took some interest in the snow, at the beginning surely a bit annoyed at the ski outfit, one day figuring out the use of mittens, couple of days falling asleep on the sledge (Mont Blanc fresh air must have had something to do with it!), couple of days playing with various figures of the garden and most of the time observing ski lifts and other snow specific devices.
An hour out and about on the kids slopes sufficing most days, 11:30 heading back to the flat for lunch and parents heading to the slopes. So parents managed to enjoy 5 hours on the slopes most of the days, each day we aimed for an hour and a bit before lunch and a couple after. The weather has been fantastic, we ticked all our desired boxes: 1 day of fairytale snowing and 5 days of sun. Our favourite bits:
– Brevent Flegere – the easiest access from Chamonix centre. Had one lunch at 2000 Altitude – started with a typical savoyard croute and vin chaud.
– Flegere – linking it to Brevent during the weekend and making the most of La Chavanne – cool crowd & vibe, live dj and a jacuzzi – very appealing when you are sunbathing over champagne and Mont Blanc views
– Les Huches – lots of wide slopes with the best restaurant on piste in the area – Les Vielles Luges. Cash only.
– Les Grands Montets – the highest and probably the best slopes piste and off piste, starting from Argentiere. On Sunday, live dj and saxophone at Desperado mountain lounge, lots of sunchairs and good crowd enjoying the music & the snow.
Other Chamonix baby/ toddler friendly activities included:
– Parc luges/ sledge park play area. Some slides and seesaws plus other toddlers. The actual luge/ sledges going up not recommended before 3 years old.
– Carnival and other street shows. Do consult the events calendar when you arrive. Of course Dr Jivago and its beautiful horse are impossible to be missed and always a pleasure to observe their daily changing outfits.
– La Caleche, a proper institution when it comes to fondues, raclettes, tartiflettes. Great place to explore with a baby off peak times with many treasures and wonders in funny shapes and forms i.e. ancient devices such as typing machines, stuffed animals, various vases and containers. Don’t hesitate to also venture outside savoyard cheeses, this time round we enjoyed quite a lot the beef bourgnion and stuffed truffle ravioli.