There are now three ski schools operating in Les Houches. The local ESF receives praise: “Our guide spoke perfect English and had a great sense of humour. He changed my entrenched view about the normally dull ESF. He found pitch after pitch of perfect fresh powder, too,” said a reporter. Evolution 2 also comes highly recommended, whilst Ecorider claim to be the world’s first ski school to “actively pursue sustainable mountain tourism,” through carbon offsetting and the use of eco-friendly equipment. The Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix (+33 450 47 21 68) has a branch in Les Houches.
A good choice for families
The skiing here is ideal for families and the tree-lined slopes especially protective on bad weather days. Childcare for those that are too young to join normal ski school group is limited, but not nonexistent. The Halte-Garderie (+33 450 54 48 19) in the centre of Les Houches looks after little ones aged between three months and three years old, whilst La Garderie des Chavants (+33 450 54 43 33) – which is just 200m from the village gondola – takes children from 18 months to 10 years old.
Whilst these facilities are perfectly acceptable, a lack of British-run childcare facilities does mean that Les Houches is probably best suited for families with slightly older children that are ready to ski. The selection of other activities in the resort are also a good source of entertainment for children that have graduated from the creche to the mountain, with excellent dog sledging available, as well as ski joering with Skijoering Mont-Blanc. The British Ski Academy – a British skiing school that mixes academic lessons with race training – is based in the village.
A first in a ski resort is a spa just for children. Every Wednesday, the spa in Hameau de Pierre Blanche will be reserved for six to 16 year olds, by appointment. Dorothy Bouteillec, director of Spas & Beauté Montagne, has developed some special treatments for children with help from After the Rain, a Swiss cosmetics brand. On the menu are back and leg massages with warm almond oil, glitter manicures, chocolate body wraps and sugar scrubs. There are also some delicious treats to go with the treatments, such as popcorn, candy floss, Haribo and Smarties.