Family travel inspiration: Clarian Chalets in Châtel, French Alps

No other holiday compares to being in the mountains, the feeling of adrenaline as you fly down the slopes (and the unbeatable pleasure of toasting a day on the pistes with a vin chaud, aka mulled wine!)  Before having kids my husband and I enjoyed regular ski holidays.  As our boys are getting older and more adventurous we have started to consider taking them on their first ski holiday.

We are a little apprehensive about this of course because winter sports holidays are FULL on!  I know our boys will likely last on the slopes for only a few hours per day.  They will need ski lessons by English-speaking instructors specifically trained to teach kids, a crèche for when they are not on the slopes and we will need accommodation that doesn’t just state that it’s family friendly but truly IS family friendly.

So does such a place exist? I think I’ve found the perfect place for a family ski holiday and I have a feeling you’ll agree with me!

Luxury catered family chalet, French AlpsLuxury catered family chalet, French Alps

La Grange au Merle by Clarian Chalets is a luxurious alpine retreat in Châtel, in the French Alps.  The six-bedroom chalet is owned by Clare and Iain, parents of three young children.  As avid skiers the couple fell in love with the Portes du Soleil region and bought the property last year to offer a luxury catered chalet with all the facilities families need for a memorable winter sports holiday.

Their newly renovated historic farmhouse boasts luxury catered accommodation for 10-15 guests, great food, an enviable location close to kid friendly outdoor activities, beautiful scenery and a variety of slopes.

Luxury catered family chalet, French Alps

I’m not sure I would want to leave this living area… Isn’t it just simply stunning?

Luxury catered family chalet, French Alps

What an incredible spot to enjoy people watching!

Luxury catered family chalet, French Alps

Why is La Grange au Merle by Clarian Chalets so family-friendly?

The owners have used their first hand experience to design their chalet with families in mind.  The facilities they offer for children, teens and adults certainly tick all the right boxes for a perfect family winter sports holiday.
Luxury catered family chalet, French Alps
Childcare – To be honest one of the main factors that has put me off a winter sports holiday up until now is knowing that my boys will last only a few hours on the slopes before they are ready for some indoor play. (And I know that my hubby and I like to make the full use of the time available on the slopes!)

Clarian Chalets offer an exclusive in-house crèche service which caters for the differing needs of Snow Babes (3 months – 3 years), Little Yetis (3 – 6 years) and Mountain Lions (7 – 10 years).  They pride themselves on offering a private crèche run by qualified, experienced and enthusiastic staff which is flexible to the changing needs of parents and kids.  So if we wished to pick the kids up after their ski lessons one day we could, or if we wanted to have lunch with the kids and then drop them back off for indoor or outdoor play with their nanny we could do that too.  This sounds like the perfect arrangement to me.

Early kids tea – I love my boys and I really enjoy occasional family dinners BUT I have to be honest, they can never be classed as relaxing occasions!  The Clarian Chalets chef serves kids tea at 5.30pm, which is the perfect time for popping the kids in bed and then enjoying a peaceful home-cooked meal with a bottle of local French wine.

Family accommodation – The chalet has five-bedrooms on the ground floor including a spacious family suite with bunk room (and star effect lighting which my boys would love!)  There is also a bedroom in the mezzanine, (which could be perfect for accompanying Grandparents or child free friends who may enjoy their own peace!)Luxury catered family chalet, French Alps

Luxury catered family chalet, French Alps

Large garden – I wouldn’t want my boys cooped up indoors when they could be building snowmen or igloos and having snow ball fights.  I know they would love the large garden at Clarian Chalets and would enjoy playing in the alpine outdoor playhouse!

Kids chill out zones – Of course like any other kids my boys do enjoy a good chill out in front of the TV and so I know they would love the TV/games room which is conveniently on the same floor as the open plan living area so we could keep an eye on them in the evenings.

Well equipped with kids paraphernalia – You need ALOT of kit for a ski holiday, particularly when travelling with kiddies, so it’s very convenient that the owners provide everything parents could possibly need to entertain and care for their kids.  The full list can be found here, it includes toys, games, books, art supplies, high chair, baby monitor, travel cot and even an off-road buggy, sledges and snow shoes…. they truly have thought of everything!

Convenient ski hire and passes – I’ve always begrudged the time it takes to go down to the ski hire centre on the first day of a ski holiday but this isn’t the case at Clarian Chalets.   Skis are fitted and delivered to the chalet and all airport transfers, lessons, guiding and ski passes are arranged in advance too!

Luxury catered family chalet, French Alps

Babysitting – I’m not sure I would want to leave the cosy open plan living area after a day on the slopes and can imagine me sitting in front of the log fire enjoying chatting with friends.  However, if hubby and I did fancy a night in Châtel babysitters can be organised by the Chalet Manager.

On call chauffeur – I love the idea of having a chauffeur on call to be able to conveniently reach the slopes and pop down to the best sledging spots and local pool.

Facilities for the grown ups (because it’s not ALL about the kids!) 

Hot tub and sauna – The absolutely perfect place for relaxing after a day skiing and the nightly bedtime battle with kiddos!  I close my eyes and I can picture myself here with a glass of fizz in hand…
Luxury catered family chalet, French AlpsLuxury catered family chalet, French Alps

Private wine cellar – My husband likes to think of himself as a wine connoisseur so he would be in his element exploring the carnotzet stocked with premium wines.

Heated boot warmers – No further comment needed, what a luxurious treat this would be!
Luxury catered family chalet, French Alps

Why is Châtel in France so family-friendly?

I’ve discovered from some quick research that all of the winter sports activities you can possibly think of are available in or around Châtel, including sledging, husky sleigh rides and ice skating.

Châtel itself has been awarded the Family Plus Award in recognition for its dedication in providing a family friendly resort including child friendly beginner slopes, three dedicated sledging runs (with padding at the bottom to soften the blow of any crashes!) and many restaurants with kids menus.

Away from the slopes there is a new leisure facility which has a children’s pool and play area.  There are also two cinemas in town and bowling alley so even the most energetic of kids could never be bored.

For me there are a few features which are truly the icing and cherry on the cake of this exceptional family friendly chalet and ski resort.  Firstly, Châtel is a major ski resort that is not as well-known or developed as other resorts in the French Alps and has fought hard to retain its traditional character with independently run shops, bars, chalets, quirky shops, etc.  The area also has a good snow record as it benefits from its location near Lake Geneva.  I’m told that as the water rises from this body of water, it passes over the mountains and falls as snow on the other side. It makes for good snow in the winters and lush pastures in the spring – hence the valley being named Vallée d’Abondance!

The cherry on the cake is the close proximity of Geneva airport.  Lengthy transfers with impatient children are not my idea of fun, as I’m sure any parent would agree.  Châtel is just a 90-minute drive from Geneva which is a feasible amount of time even with the most energetic of toddlers!

Luxury catered family chalet, French Alps

So what do you think?

Have I convinced you that La Grange au Merle by Clarian Chalets is the perfect place for a family ski holiday?


* This post was written in collaboration with Clarian Chalets.  Winter 2017/2018 prices start from £735 per person per week (assuming two people to a room). All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.  Contact Clare and Iain at Clarian Chalets for more information. 

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38 thoughts on “Family travel inspiration: Clarian Chalets in Châtel, French Alps

  1. Sol Solntze

    Now that really is a family friendly holiday spot – I think a lot of people (myself included) might balk at the thought of all the arrangements for a ski holiday with kids, so to have a lot of the details taken care of so you can actually enjoy the skiiing and know that your kids are having a good time too must have been fab. Sold!

    1. Lisa Post author

      You would love skiing Claire! There is honestly no feeling that can quite match flying down a mountain on a pair of skies! I’m usually put to shame by young kids though who literally have no sense of fear! (I suppose they have less distance to fall!)

  2. Clare

    Wow that all looks great. I love to ski but never had the nerve to take my girls when they were younger. It looks like they’ve thought of everything. I hope to get to the slopes sometime in the near future

  3. Nell

    This sounds lovely, Lisa. The flexible childcare sounds good. Sometimes it’s good to send them off for the day, but I like the idea of picking them up at lunchtime, for a family afternoon ski.

    1. Lisa Post author

      Yes I completely agree Nell. I think the thing is about trying skiing with kids for the first time is you don’t know if they are going to like it, they may absolutely love it and want to spend hours on the slope or get fed up within an hour. Knowing that the nannies are there to have them whenever it suits you would be very handy!

  4. Jules

    The chalet is beautiful. Although I don’t want to think about snow and winter just yet…hoping for some more late summer days:)

  5. Annabel

    I can’t wait to go skiing with my kids, it’s a perfect sport for children. Clarion Chalets looks amazing, they seem to have thought of absolutely everything..!

  6. Elizabeth

    Sounds like a truly luxurious experience. We ski in Chatel a lot and it is great with kids as well as being a traditional, quaint town. Great to have the wrap around child care and love the chauffeur option!

  7. Cristin

    I am pretty mediocre at skiing so my stamina is similar to the kids 🙂 I am absolutely in love with this resort – I can see myself mixing up time on the slopes and hanging out in this stunning resort!

  8. Allison

    We are not skiers in any definition of the word but this sounds like a very nice place. I love all the options that are suitable for kids. It really does sound like a family friendly accommodation.

  9. Lisa

    I’ve tried skiing a few times pre kids and didn’t enjoy it, but hubby loves to snowboard. I did not look forward to having to entertain our 4-year old all day everyday while hubby was enjoying himself on the slopes. This accommodation looks like an excellent choice however! Might even give me some free time for myself, a luxury nowadays 😉

  10. Mummyandmehols

    Wow! We took our then 1 year old to Val Thorens and we’re heading to Switzerland this ski season. This place looks incredible. It’s so important to have lovely ski accommodation when travelling with children….don’t you find that you spend longer there than you did when you skied before babies!?!

    1. Lisa Post author

      Yes very true! To be honest when we skiied before we didn’t particularly stay in a place where we wanted to hang out for too long, unlike this chalet!

  11. Mrs S

    Wow wow wow. My husband really wants to go on a skiing holiday, I have to be honest it has never been top of my list and I was never sure it would work with little ones…. but I think I may have just changed my mind! The chalet looks absolutely stunning. I love that clarian chalets have an In house crèche and I love the idea of the early evening meals.. also iceskating and husky sleigh rides? I’m sold!!!
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