If you’re going on a motorhome ski trip, there are a lot of reasons you should consider avoiding the French school holidays if you can.
We’ve pulled together a helpful spreadsheet of the 2019/20 French school holidays that affect the ski season which you’ll find after our ‘tips on how to make travelling during French school holidays less painful’.
(*we know not everyone has the luxury of avoiding French school holidays but we also encourage those who can, to avoid this time of year, so that those who have no choice can have quieter slopes too)
Why should you avoid ski resorts in French school holidays?
If you’ve been there, you’ll know. It’s carnage. It’s like Peppa Pig World except instead of being jacked up on sugar, these kids are high on something far more potent – adrenaline. Mayhem. Imagine, Spring Break in Cancun with more hype.
There are a tonne more French skiers than British and we’re going to go out on a limb and say not only are they generally better at skiing than us (Olympic medals and world records as source) they are also better at motorhoming than us. Which is why we should maybe leave them to their mountains when they’re on holibobs.
Here are three of the worst things about skiing in French school holidays and our tips on how to manage them if you have to:
1) Terrible traffic
Both in the UK and in France, traffic gets heavy around holiday switch overs. Getting to the ferry or Chunnel, if you’re travelling from Dover, can involve a long static sit on the approach as British citizens scramble to leave the country.
Once you reach France, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a momentary reprieve until you reach the foothills and that’s when things start to get all Wacky Races. We won’t spoil it for anyone yet to have the pleasure, but our advice is at the very least, with the luxury of a home on wheels, try to avoid travelling during resort changeover day (Saturday).
Top Traffic Tips:
- Avoid changeover
- Invest a bit more cash in the flexible crossings – it’s costly if you get caught out and your insurance is unlikely to cover charges for missing a ferry or train
- Skip Paris – always skip Paris
2) Aires and campsites
The French are all over this motorhome skiing thing and have been since the dawn of homes-on-wheels. They know when to turn up and if you’re not bringing a massive beach towel and a Germanic alarm clock, you might be left without a spot on your first choice aire.
Even the more costly campsite option is going to require a bit of planning and plan you must if you’re going skiing in the French school holidays! Book well in advance – a number of the campsites we’ve looked into expect to be fully booked for Christmas and spring half term by the first week of September.
Top park up tips:
- Book a campsite or a bookable aire (La Plagne for example)
- Head to an enormous aire where you’re more likely to get a pitch (to check out Montgenèvre, click the image below)
- Have a Plan B
3) Lift passes and ski hire
Book everything you can in advance – a laissez faire approach to motorhome skiing in French school holidays will mean you spending much of your time queueing and waiting.
WARNING: Europeans don’t have the same cultural respect for a queue. It’s not their fault – without the great British pub, there is no way for your average European to develop the skills to master our extremely complex queueing system. It’s about an inherent understanding that even if you’re not physically next in the queue, you still might be next. It doesn’t matter where you stand – everyone knows the order.
If you’re committed to one spot for your trip, you can buy your passes online, hire kit, book lessons and probably benefit from a whole load of discounts too.
We’d also recommend booking your favourite fondue spot.
So when is good to go motorhome skiing? The benefits of going motorhome skiing out of French school holidays
Looking at the spreadsheet we made below, go anytime in the pink zone!
More downsides of skiing in French School Holidays – Winterized view
There’s no gilding this lily. Without being too negative-nancy about the whole thing, and particularly for anyone who doesn’t have kids, skiing in France during French school holidays is shit. Rambunctious, excitable hordes of kids, freestyling over your head whilst you sup on a vin chaud – shouting and generally having a good time – it’s painful.
And OMG the backpack-w4nkers (as we politely describe them). It’s still a thing. People still hoon about the mountains with music blaring from their bodies.
Lift chaos – agro-man. It’s like a scene from Walmart on Black Friday. If you have nice gear, never attempt a chairlift during half term. Some arse will scratch your well cared for Faction All-Mountain Candide’s and the only thing stopping you from punching him like a drunk football fan is the fact that you physically can’t reach the sod because you’re restrained by your bindings, just out of swinging distance.
Ecole du Ski – We are ALL FOR coaching kids (and adults) through mountain etiquette but the little buggers get to jump the queue and this goes against our British sensibility. Sure, we don’t want anyone to freeze to death but they don’t have to be so smug about it.
The take home message is if you can avoid skiing in France or border resorts during French school holidays we strongly advise it.
French School Holiday Dates 2019/20
The pink is your SAFE ZONE and depending on the area you’re skiing in, these are the times when you can ski free of the Disney-esque circus that the French Alps becomes. The UK school holidays are so complicated region to region that we have covered the main block of holiday.
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Here are a few places with big aires suitable for school holiday trips.