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Looks like skiing in Tignes in April is going to become an annual holiday for the Nichols family. We took the plunge and decided to drive to Tignes in France via the Eurotunnel. 12 hours – no sweat with two 5 years olds right? Well yeah – it was actually no sweat. I planned lots of activities for the kids and made up packets of small world play toys like plastics dinosaurs, cars etc. I also printed out some A4 playmats that I laminated to go with the toy packets. Add in colouring books, sticker books, threading, innotabs and dvd player, not to mention and a new special folder. The special new folder was a big hit, it had a printed google map showing our journey, some scavenger hunt type pages (ie find a cow, flower, truck etc), licence plate alphabet hunt, and a handmade book to document their trip day by day. I also had the idea that a car travel tray would help keep the kids to actually play and colour etc. After a bit of research I settled on the Content and Calm trays from Amazon. They worked very well – except not quite as good for Sam when short legs Mummy was driving.

Content & Calm Car lap trays

Content & Calm car lap trays in action

Driving onto the Eurotunnel train

Driving onto the Eurotunnel train. Kids loved it.

All this was coupled with precision planning the drive to ensure that 2-3 hours was the longest we drove in any stretch. The Eurotunnel was an adventure for the kids in itself. Imagine going in a train under the sea. Sam was a bit concerned we may get wet and Emma wanted to know if we could see any fish. Not a bad idea Eurotunnel, maybe you can add a window or two for the 35 minute trip.

Once in France the children were keen to try out their French so to McDonalds for dinner it was. This prompted Sam to ask – “Are we back in England?”. After a quick dinner the kids started to play in the McD’s playground and Sam learnt what it actually means to speak another language. He could be heard loudly proclaiming “I don’t understand you – can you speak English to me please?”. At least he was polite.

We arrived in Tignes the next day and found our well equipped apartment for the week in Residence Le Bec Rouge. It was perfect except for the fact we had to cook ourselves, but now the kids are older and eat normal food it didn’t prove that much of a problem, especially as Daddy did most of the cooking.  The town centres around a lake and a central lift point allowing you to travel up out of the valley either West or East. There are several runs back into the town too.  The altitude of Tignes Le Lac means the ski season runs through to May – so morning skiing was definitely doable and the afternoon was a bit slushy but that didn’t seem to stop most people.

The kids attended Les Marmottons Ski school for 5 days Monday through Friday and met Natalie their teacher on Sunday night when we went to hire their ski equipment conveniently available from Marmottons too.  Natalie made friends quickly with Sam and Emma and was happy to indulge in Sam’s french of  “Je m’appelle Sam” with her own “Je m’appelle Natalie”.   Hiring their ski gear with the ski school meant they would store it during the week so one less thing for us to carry 5 mins up and down the hill to our apartment each day.  Sam really embraced the French language, they have been learning a bit at school.  He wanted to make this video of himself speaking French, and then of course he wanted to make one of me.  He was pretty handy with the camera I have to say.

We didn’t catch Emma’s french on film whilst on holiday as she was too busy skiing – so we made one at home.  She did say more words on the trip but suffered a bit of stage fright when faced with the camera today.

One of my favourite things about having twins is that dropping them off is no trouble at all – they have their best friend with them at all times.  They were both really excited to get going and hardly looked back, meaning that Gavin and I could get on with our skiing for the morning without worrying about them.   Skiing with Gavin, I quickly learnt, meant seeking good food and drink stops across the mountain which suited me fine, both on the lovely sunny days we had and equally so on the one rainy day.  I have to say I was mildly concerned when visibility got down to 10 metres or so at one point.  Given I’m not the best skier when I can see where I’m going it added an extra element.

For the first time ever I did not have the fear sitting in the pit of my stomach each time I looked over the edge of the slope we had to ski. It was really liberating to be able to concentrate on actually skiing something rather than fighting back the fear.  I was still apprehensive at times (resulting in a couple of falls) but generally I could focus on either just getting down it if it was steep for me, or even on some slopes I could try to improve my technique.  The video probably looks a bit lame if you are already a skier, but I promise you for me it was a big achievement.  I am skiing in Tracey Happyland here…also known as Tranquil Ski area within the Espace Killy region.  There was a gate to enter the area with big signs saying “Tracey ski here” – or actually “Beginner skiers – Ski slowly”.  It wasn’t all plain sailing as there were some tricky blue slopes to negotiate to get there.

On the rainy foggy day there was nothing to do but dine in a restaurant on the mountain boasting a Michelin star chef – La Fruitiere.  The decor was that of an old dairy and we were even presented with a small bottle of milk, which raised our eyebrows. Then they were raised even more once we tasted the “milk”.  I’d love to return for more of that milk.  Oh yeah and the food was pretty excellent too.

All to quickly it was Friday and time for the kids to get their ski medals and certificates.

They made some really good progress which was evident when Gavin skied them down the Beginner but blue slope near town.  They were really impressive and just followed Gavin – completing their turns and going pretty quickly.  The highlights of this exercise included Emma’s fascination with what she doubed “the flying chair” (chair lift), and of course ‘beating’ Daddy in a race near the bottom.

Sam’s skiing progress – 7.26 mins – sorry about wobbles, the bright sun made it hard to see and I got a sore arm

Emma’s skiing progress – 8.01 mins. Emma was filmed for 3 days (Sam chose not to ski with Daddy on day 4). My camera work improved over the days, but unfortunately during Emma’s best skiing I’ve got the camera too far out to see it that well.

This video show’s where the children skied – including a bit of Emma skiing at the end.  This was taken on the Friday so she looks pretty good.

Just below our apartment was a fun cafe that made amazing milkshakes…the kids loved it here at Flo’s.

The drive home was slightly more eventful with a throw up only 30 minutes into the journey – well it was pretty windy.  But the rest of the trip our children continued to be super stars and hardly ever did we hear the dreaded “are we there yet?”.

So can you drive to Tignes, France and ski with a scaredy cat Mummy and 5 year old twins successfully – definitely YES!