17.10
2011 Family

If you're a ski buff looking for an affordable ski holiday in the French Alps this season, taking your brood to the mountain needn't cost a small fortune.

The solution is simple - go self-catering!

If you usually book a catered chalet, it pays to think again. Why, oh why, would you shell out what amounts to the best part of £1000 for a family of four - excluding flights - when you can stay in a self-catering apartment in the same resort for around £450?

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If you're a ski buff looking for an affordable ski holiday in the French Alps this season, taking your brood to the mountain needn't cost a small fortune.

The solution is simple - go self-catering!

If you usually book a catered chalet, it pays to think again. Why, oh why, would you shell out what amounts to the best part of £1000 for a family of four - excluding flights - when you can stay in a self-catering apartment in the same resort for around £450?

Opt for a catered chalet and by the time you factor in kids' ski lessons, childcare, lunches and snacks out, and the cost of family lift passes and ski hire the average bill for a week in the French Alps totals a hefty £3000.

While there's no denying that skiing is an expensive passion and the Euro exchange rate shows little sign of turning in our favour right now, it's still possible to get a fantastic and affordable family holiday in the French Alps.

Follow our top tips for bargain family ski breaks....

1. Book well in advance to take advantage of early bird offers and deals.

2. Research the best deals on self-catering apartments in the resorts of your choice. You'll need a comfortable apartment with a fully-equipped kitchen and situated near the shops and main facilities of the resort.

3. Make sure your ski residence it is ski in/ski out - this not only makes your holiday more relaxing and convenient but means you can easily head back to your apartment for lunch rather than spend big bucks at the cafes. Ski in ski out apartments are also great if you're travelling with little ones who will need naps and play breaks.

4. Weigh up the cost of the cheapest flight you can find versus taking your own car. Driving also means you can take prepared meals and basic supplies and foodstuffs which will also shave pounds off the food bill.

5. Don't get stung by expensive ski hire and ski passes in resort - book your passes and buy your ski kit online before you go.

6. Go with a gang. Taking a ski holiday with friends who also have kids that are of a similar age to yours not only means that the little ones have playmates but allows you to share the childcare. Book adjoining apartments, take it in turns to have an evening out and you'll all avoid pricey childcare bills.

7. Feast for less. If you plan simple but hearty evening meal, such as pasta or risotto, and plump for vin ordinaire, there's no reason why shopping in resort supermarkets should cost you more than your weekly food shop at home. The trick is to come up with a meal plan and shop well.

8. Stop for lunch. Remember there's a reason why the ski cafes and restaurants charge sky-high prices. If you get hungry at 3000ft, you don't have much choice do you?! You'll save even more money if you eat lunch at your self-catering apartment as well preparing your own breakfasts and most of your evening meals.

9. Put your spending money on plastic. Not your credit but a pre-paid currency card. Load your card with Euros before you go and you'll get the very best exchange rate and avoid hidden charges and commission fees. Moneycorp offers one of the best rates on the market.

10. Roam free. Don't run up expensive mobile phone bills while on holiday. If your network charges you extra for roaming and punitive rates for calls abroad, buy a local SIM card for your mobile phone.
 

This article first appeared in FrenchEntree.com

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