Parallel Trails is all about family snow and mountain adventures. We are passionate about skiing and families who love to ski. And families who love summer mountain holidays. 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. © Parallel Trails 2019
I am racing down an Alp, chasing after our eldest teenage son who clearly has taken much more quickly than the rest of us to our first family mountain biking session. He is rapidly becoming a dot in the distance, obscured by the cloud of dust being kicked up behind him.
This is not a gentle amble along a disused railway track back home in Sussex. We are in full-on descent mode, wearing back protectors and full-face helmets. We have all been kitted out with fully-equipped Scott bikes, complete with fat tyres, front and rear suspension and disc brakes. We mean business on this summer mountain adventure in Arc 1950.
Our two-hour MTB introductory lesson - arranged through the friendly team at Spirit 1950 ski school - began at a much more sedate pace, riding slowly around the central village area of Arc 1950 to familiarise ourselves with our bikes. You might think what we were doing was as easy as riding a bike - but riding these bikes did take a little practice.
For a start the rear brake lever is on the other handlebar to UK bikes. And then our instructor was insistent we got used to balancing, turning and free-wheeling with our feet and pedals in the three o'clock and nine o'clock horizontal positions. Being able to ride in this position, standing on the pedals, is crucial as you race down over rocky terrain. If a pedal is too low you run the risk of hitting a rock and wiping out.
It wasn't the only risk we had to contend with on our introduction to MTB on the slopes above Arc 1950. Mountain weather can be unpredictable even in August. As we grabbed the bikes off the back of the Arcabulle chairlift for our first run down, it was clear an electrical storm was rolling in from the Tignes direction.
It turned into some first descent - sun was replaced by dark cloud and rain. Our beginner technique had to accelerate as fast as we rode. But the reassuring grip, the amazing suspension that absorbed every bump and lump and fast-acting brakes made it easy to master the bikes - you can ride with us on our YouTube channel.
By the time we could see the reassuring sight of the apartment buildings at Arc 1950, we were all well and truly hooked on downhill mountain biking.
But our summer mountain adventure was not designed to be a full-on adrenaline rush. We had come to Arc 1950 for a week of rest and relaxation, plus a few gentle Alpine walks.
We cruised the 10 hours from Calais to Arc 1950 in a Volvo V90 Cross Country, which was a superbly practical estate car that scored highly on performance and comfort during a trip - you can read our family roadtest here.
On arrival we checked in to the five-star Manoir Savoie residence. Our top floor, two-bedroom apartment boasted two balconies and fantastic valley views of Mont Blanc. It was equipped to a very high standard and was spacious and comfortable. Stay here and you can also make use of the residence's steam and sauna rooms, as well as the outdoor pool with a view.
Pierre & Vacances also operate in Arc 1950 and for 2018 summer stays they are offering savings of 20%. For example a one-bed apartment for four people staying one week in the middle of August is around £650 (down 23%), while a two-bed apartment is around £800 (saving 22%).
And the village feel of Arc 1950 is really enhanced during the summer months. There is a buzz around the resort centre, with plenty of fun, family-orientated activities provided during the week. Each day there was always something going on, from street golf, to outdoor Zumba classes beneath the clock tower and free-to-use table tennis tables dotted around.
And the resort is upping its game this summer, with the launch of eight weeks of “Activity Wednesdays” starting on July 11th. Focusing on a different theme every week, visitors can enjoy free entertainment and the themes include biking, theatre, climbing, fairground and space odyssey. There are full details on the Arc 1950 website.
Eating and drinking out can be expensive in Arc 1950 but there is always a fun vibe in George's Wine Bar - driven by the convivial landlord George - while La Vache Rouge is a great choice for a special family meal out.
If you drive like we did, then the big supermarkets down in Bourg St Maurice are perfect for stocking up on your self-catering needs before the drive up to Arc 1950. But for extras during the week the 8 a Huit supermarket in the village does the trick.
Apart from the mountain biking session, we really came to Arc 1950 to breathe in the fresh mountain air, relax and recharge as a family. So in addition to spending many hours chilling by the pool, we also enjoyed some not-too-challenging walks around Les Arcs.
Our favourite walk of the whole week saw us jump on the Varet bubble lift up to 2,630m and the mid-station below Aiguille Rouge. From here it was downhill initially past Lac Marlou in the direction of Grand Col (one of our favourite ski areas in Les Arcs). Then we looped up Col de la Chal at the top of the Arcabulle lift, before returning towards Arc 1950 past the large Lac de la Vallee de l'Arc.
We didn't race around, stopping many times to take in the view or sip fresh water from the many mountain streams. We spent around three hours (including a picnic stop) and it was an idyllic shared family experience. The paths are easy to navigate and the terrain not too strenuous - it is definitely worth the effort.
If you are looking for an easier first walk then Route 14 out of the Arc 1950 village centre is perfect. It is relatively flat all the way and swings you down and round to the cafes and bars of Arc 1600. It takes just under two hours and you can then decide to walk back the same way, continue on to Arc 1800 or jump on a free resort bus back up to 1950.
And the best place to head post-hike is the Deep Nature Spa. Even if you don't fancy one of the many treatments on offer, it is well worth the visit just to enjoy the various pools, jacuzzi, needle showers and cold water foot tubs. The entrance fee for 2-8pm is £26 per person, but there are special offers and discounted prices during the summer months of July and August.
For us, the exhilaration of the mountain biking, the freshness of the high-altitude air and the relaxation of being around the pool, spa and alpine lakes mean a summer mountain family stay in Arc 1950 easily beats a traditional beach holiday.