Having no BASI qualifications but a strong desire to teach my daughter to ski, I started from scratch when she was 2. This consisted of putting skis on her, letting her walk around a bit on flat ground, and pushing her around. Sunny days only I might add – at Easter. We found at Serre Chevalier – well more specifically at Monetier- les- bains – the perfect place and environment to begin the process.
We experimented a bit elsewhere in the area with the French ‘jardin’ system but it mainly brought howls of rage and frustration from our daughter. We wanted her to have proper lessons but the French system didn’t seem right and we couldn’t commit to a whole week – she definitely didn’t want to ski every day.
At Monetier – there is a beautiful area at the bottom of the slopes called Pre Chabert which has two Poma’s, a rope tow, and a tapis Volant (moving carpet!). There’s no having to go up the mountain in bubbles – you can come and go as you like. Most importantly there’s great easy toilet facilities close by, – some very quick removals of skis and running to the toilet is necessary at this age!. You can return to your van for an afternoon kip….equally important for the very young. At the base is also a large bar and cafeteria which also is fantastic for lunch; Orangina and chips being the choice ‘menu enfant’ of our daughter. And endless crepes to follow!
Luckily also, for we were on a tight budget, children under 6 ski free, and the adult pass for Pre Chabert was very cheap. Whoever was not ‘teaching’ could go off and ski for 3 hours, and then we could swap over. Local Monetier 3 hour passes are also available which were a great help – plenty of demanding blacks and off piste fun even in 3 hours and much cheaper than buying a day pass for the entire Serre Che resort. A combination of: skiing holding onto a pole together; shouting, ‘pizza’ a lot; bribery with haribo; skiing like silly animals; skiing on one leg, singing songs, and frequent stops for chocolat chaud soon had her flying down the baby slopes.
We then braved taking bubbles up the mountain futher down the Serre Chevalier valley in Chantemerle and Villeneuve, and skiing long green runs back down. This gave her a great sense of adventure and achievement and was relatively controllable. We also got to visit some great other restaurants and sample other hot chocolate and chips – discovering, by the way, the great kids menu in the Grand Alpe restaurant above Chantemerle, which not only gives them nuggets and chips, a drink, a pomme pot – but greatest of all, a kinder egg!
Quickly, we were ready to head all over the mountain and Serre Chevalier came up trumps again with all under 6 going free as long as you get a pass for them at the same time as you get the adult passes.
At about this time we decided we couldn’t really teach our daughter anymore and enlisted the help of Ski NewGen in Serre Chevalier. This is an English ski school based in Monetier. It doesn’t seem to be like other ski schools. The lessons are all in English, they have very small groups, and seem to be much more fun for the average child than all the other ski schools we have tried. One lesson, the children came back particularly hyper after learning to jump on and off picnic tables in the woods. One of the instructors, Simone, even inspired my friends’ children to want to ski – after years of being seriously reluctant skiers. They came back: demanded twin tips; set off for the snow park; and have never looked back. Now the children are older, Ski NewGen are teaching them all sorts of monkeydom, and making sure their parents are having a really hard time keeping up with them.