Parallel Trails is all about family ski holidays and skiing as a family. We are passionate about skiing and families who love to ski. This ski travel website aims to help you enjoy the perfect family ski holiday. It includes tips and advice so families can enjoy skiing holidays in parallel with their children - the team behind Parallel Trails love to ski as a family so we know how good it feels to go skiing with your children. Parallel Trails is an independent ski travel site for the family ski market, offering practical and honest articles on family ski holidays and family skiing. Why don't you join us on our online family snow & mountain adventure. Happy family skiing! © Parallel Trails 2017
So if you can keep a secret, just between you and I, let me introduce you to the French resort of Praz de Lys Sommand. If you go to its website, don't expect any helpful English translation button on the homepage. If you spend a week there (as Parallel Trails has just done) then don't expect to see more than two or three GB number plates around town. And if you want to experience excellent snow conditions in a compact resort, then take the plunge.
Praz de Lys Sommand is nestled in between the better known resorts of Samoens, Flaine, Les Gets and Morzine. Getting there is easy. If you fly it is just an hour from Geneva. If you prefer to self-drive then break the trip up with an overnight stop at Dijon on the way down.
By heading down the day before your accommodation starts, you can take your time - we enjoyed a relaxed midday ferry crossing with P&O from Dover and the children felt lunch onboard was part of the holiday experience.
The Novotel Dijon Sud is a particular favourite for ski families and is an easy six hours from Calais. This leaves less than four hours to the resort (including a quick stop at Carrefour in Cluses on the way up).
Praz de Lys sits at 1,450m, Sommand at 1,413m and the two areas boast a strong reputation for excellent natural snow cover. The highest lift takes you to the top of Haut Fleury at 1,980m - with remarkable 360 degrees views from Lake Geneva around to the Mont Blanc Massif. There are only a handful of mobile snow cannons, because artificial snow making simply isn't needed.
There is actually more kilometres of cross country pistes than alpine runs - 60km versus 45km - and the resort has a better feel for the fact that the cross country tracks are integrated with the downhill slopes, rather than the 'them and us' feel in other resorts.
Parallel Trails found a wonderfully located self-catering apartment, in a block called Les Betex, online through one of the many chalet rental websites. It was a modern one bedroom property (with a sofa bed in the living room) that was simply furnished but was more than adequate for a family for a week. And its ski in, ski out position made the price of £350 even more remarkable.
The bulk of the accommodation, restaurants and shops are situated in Praz de Lys - which is linked to Sommand by two four-man chairs that take you up to the ridge separating the two ski areas.
This is a great place for beginner and intermediate skiing families. There are wide, gentle nursery slopes combined with expansive blues and reds including many tree-lined runs.
Make sure you try the 3.2km Piste du Lac. It is a blue run starting from the top of Haut Fleury and is the longest run in the resort. Watch out for the exposed ridge at the very top and enjoy the views to Mont Blanc and across Lac de Roy on the way down. The reds of Les Mouflons and Les Chamois, along with the Les Tetras blue are all great cruising runs in the trees of the lowest section in Praz de Lys.
New for 2012-13 is the snow park in Sommand, with plenty of jumps and rails to keep the more radical young skiers amused. There is also a decent boarder cross course to play on, located off the main runs down into Sommand after you have got off the Veran chairlift from Praz de Lys. While six blacks give advanced skiers a little more of a challenge.
Off the slopes there is a handy little supermarket in town. The Grizzly has a good reputation for crepes, while the best restaurants include Jean de la Pipe and the wonderfully named Le Farto (which appeals to children’s sense of humour). There is a Twinner ski rental shop in Praz de Lys and a quick search online will bring up a useful discount code for online bookings.
A six-day adult lift pass costs 120 euros and a child’s 90 euros – so a family of four can ski for a week for £350. But it is worth knowing that from this season photos are needed for lift passes. So bring passport photos of your children or make them queue, sometimes for a long time, to have the lift cashier snap them with a webcam when you pay.
If there is a negative about the resorts it is that there are one too many button lifts - some of which are particularly long and steep for small children. Ideally a few more chair lifts would enhance the experience on the slopes.
Praz de Lys is perfect for families because the town is compact and the nightlife is limited to a few bars with no rowdy nightclubs. There is a great range of on and off-piste skiing, with excellent snow conditions, to easily satisfy a week-long family ski trip. So go on, enjoy something a little different - just don’t tell too many people about this hidden gem of a resort.
The 3.2km Piste du Lac is a blue run starting from the top of Haut Fleury and is the longest run in the resort. Watch out for the exposed ridge at the very top and enjoy the views to Mont Blanc and across Lac de Roy on the way down.