Look, they’re skiing / Ça y est, ils skient

In early February we spent a week in France, and we wanted to go skiing. The idea was to go back to Margériaz, after our first ever family ski trip last year. But the wintry weather forced us to revise our plans. The heavy snow fall over the Alps meant that road conditions were treacherous, especially with a hired 7-seater devoid of winter tyres, let alone snow chains.

We went instead to Les Estables, a small, low altitude resort located about an hour’s drive from our French home, in the south of the Haute-Loire département. I skied there only once or twice as a teenager, on day school trips. Following proper wintry weather and a spell of arctic temperatures in January, all 9 alpine slopes were open, as well as the renowned cross-country skiing trails. 

We spent two separate days there, first on a Wednesday, and again on a Saturday, when both my sister Laure and my brother Sylvain came along with their children.

On our first ski day, skis were rented from Michel Sport for Jedi, Mermaid, Squirrel and myself, with a big red sled for Pebbles, while Brian used his own snowboard. Assuming the acorns would pick up where they left off last year, we made the mistake of ignoring the nursery slope. Up we went to the beginner green slope. The drag lift caused them a few problems, but soon enough, we all made it to the top. 

While Jedi immediately sorted himself out, both Mermaid and Squirrel were soon paralysed in fear. I helped Squirrel down to the bottom, holding him between my skis. He then spent most of the day with Brian and Pebbles, sledding in a nearby field and building an awesome igloo.


Au début du mois de février, nous avons passé une semaine en France, et nous voulions aller skier. L’idée était de retourner à Aillon-Margériaz, après notre premier séjour de ski en famille de l’an dernier. Mais la météo en avait décidé autrement. Les importantes chutes de neige sur les Alpes rendaient les stations difficiles d’accès, notamment avec une voiture 7 places dépourvue de pneus neige, sans parler de chaînes.

A la place, nous sommes allés aux Estables, une petite station de moyenne montagne située à une heure de route de notre maison en France, à la limite sud de la Haute-Loire. Je n’y avais skié qu’une fois ou deux, lors de sorties scolaires à la journée. Cette année, après les températures arctiques de janvier, l’enneigement y était optimal : les neuf pistes de ski alpin étaient ouvertes, ainsi que l’ensemble du domaine nordique.

Nous y avons passé deux journées, le mercredi puis le samedi, quand ma sœur Laure et mon frère Sylvain nous ont rejoints avec leurs enfants.

Le premier jour, nous avons loué des skis chez Michel Sport pour Jedi, Sirène, Ecureuil et moi, et une luge pour Dilon, tandis que Brian utilisait son snowboard. Imaginant que les graines de chêne reprendraient immédiatement leurs marques de l’an passé, nous avons ignoré le fil neige pour rallier tout de suite la piste verte du Petit Chalet. Le téléski leur causa quelques difficultés au départ, mais nous arrivions bientôt au sommet de la piste sans encombres.

Tandis que Jedi se débrouillait tout seul, Sirène et Ecureuil étaient tous deux paralysés par la peur. Je raccompagnai Ecureuil au bas de la piste, le tenant entre mes skis. Il partit dans un champ voisin faire de la luge avec Brian et Caillou, et construire un bel igloo.

Going back up to help Mermaid, I gently coached her into letting the skis slide, only bringing them into the infamous ‘snowplough’ shape when she wanted to slow down, or turn. Before the end of that first run, she had got the knack of it. She was ready for another go, this time with a smile on her face. 

Only a few minutes later, a ski instructor who was teaching a young snowboarder complimented her on her nice turns.

After devouring a few snacks by the ski lift, Brian and I swapped places so he could snowboard with Jedi and Mermaid. It was nearly the end of the day when I took Squirrel and Pebbles to the nursery slope, so Squirrel could have another try. He couldn’t steer yet, but the gliding sensation brought a smile to his little face.

Skiing, like swimming, like cycling, is highly sensory.
Let go of the fear.
Let your body get a feel for it.
Let yourself experience this exhilarating, addictive sensation.
Look, you are skiing.
Enjoy – there will be time later for real lessons and proper technique. 

Three days later, we went back. My niece M was with us for the day. My brother, his wife and two daughters arrived a while later, a few minutes before my sister and her two sons. 

While Jedi and Mermaid could have gone on the green runs with Brian, they chose to hang out with their cousins on the nursery slope. Squirrel was endlessly going up and down without a bother.

I had a busy time showing no fewer than eight children how to use the rope lift, telling them to bend forward and put their hands on their knees, and helping them up after a fall. 

It was immensely satisfying to see them all, one by one, slowly get the hang of skiing, and start enjoying it.


Remontant à l’aide de Sirène, je l’encourageai calmement à laisser glisser les skis, et à ne les mettre en “chasse-neige” que lorsqu’elle voulait ralentir ou tourner. Avant même la fin de cette première descente, elle avait compris le truc. Elle était prête à repartir pour un tour, cette fois avec le sourire aux lèvres.

Quelques minutes plus tard, une monitrice de ski, en leçon avec un petit surfeur, la complimenta sur ses jolis virages.

Après avoir avalé quelques provisions à côté du téléski, Brian et moi avons inversé les rôles, pour qu’il puisse aller faire du snowboard avec Jedi et Sirène.

C’était presque la fin de la journée quand j’ai emmené Ecureuil et Caillou au fil neige, pour qu’Ecureuil puisse retenter le coup. Il ne réussit pas à se diriger ou à freiner, mais la sensation de glisse lui mit le sourire aux lèvres.

Skier, comme nager ou faire du vélo, est hautement sensoriel.
Lâche prise.
Laisse ton corps découvrir la glisse.
Savoure cette sensation grisante, presque enivrante.
Ça y est, tu skies.
Profites-en. Il y aura tout le temps plus tard pour des leçons et une meilleure technique.

Nous y sommes retournés trois jours plus tard, avec ma nièce M. Mon frère, sa femme et leurs deux filles sont arrivés un peu après, suivis de près par ma sœur et ses deux fils.

Jedi et Sirène auraient pu aller skier sur les pistes vertes avec Brian, mais ils préférèrent rester avec leurs cousins. Totalement concentré, Ecureuil montait et descendait incessamment.

Ce furent quelques heures bien remplies pour moi, avec pas moins de huit enfants à guider sur le fil neige, à inviter à se pencher en avant avec les mains sur les genoux, et à ramasser après les chutes inévitables.

Quelle satisfaction de les voir tous, un à un, prendre le coup de main et commencer à s’amuser.

ski, cousins, France, Haute-Loire, Auvergne, Les Estables

Leaving Pebbles with my sister-in-law, Brian and I took our three acorns up to the green slope. One false start on the ski lift, and Squirrel was away. Careful but oh so confident, he skied down, using his whole body to do the snowplough, turn, and eventually stop.

‘This is so fun!’, he said with a lovely smile, before immediately lining up for the ski lift again.

Squirrel has taught himself to ski.
A week later he started swimming.
The next day he learnt how to ride his bike.
The boy is on a roll.


Laissant Caillou avec ma belle-sœur Séverine, Brian et moi avons emmené les trois autres graines de chêne sur la piste verte. Un faux départ au téléski pour Ecureuil, et il était parti. Prudent mais aussi plein d’assurance, il skia sans encombre, utilisant tout son corps pour faire le “chasse-neige”, tourner, et enfin s’arrêter.

“C’est trop bien !”, annonça-t-il avec un grand sourire, avant de reprendre immédiatement la file pour le téléski.

Ecureuil sait skier.
Une semaine plus tard, il se mit à nager.
Le lendemain, il apprit à faire du vélo.
On ne l’arrête plus.

Visitor information

A small, low altitude ski resort, the station du Mézenc-Les Estables is fully equipped for winter sports – alpine skiing and snowboarding in ideal conditions for beginners and young children, cross-country skiing perfectly suited for the fittest skiers, snowshoe or sled-dog tours, sledding, and even snow-kite. And of course the inevitable snowball fights!

All ski gear is available for hire at either Michel Sport or Phonolite, both located less than 100 metres from the slopes.

office de tourisme Mezenc Loire sauvage Les EstablesFor all visitor information to Les Estables and surronding area, please visit the local tourist office’s website.

En savoir plus

Havre de paix dans un monde en effervescence, la station du Mézenc-Les Estables vit sereinement au rythme des sports d’hiver : ski alpin ou snowboard idéal pour le débutant ou les tout petits, ski de fond particulièrement adapté pour les sportifs, balades en raquettes à neige ou en chien de traîneau, luge et même snow-kite… sans oublier les inévitables batailles de boules de neige !

Les EstablesTout le matériel est disponible à la location chez Michel Sport et Phonolite, tous deux situés à quelques dizaines de mètres du départ des pistes.

Pour tout autre renseignement touristique sur les Estables et les environs, consultez le site de l’office de tourisme Mézenc Loire Sauvage.

 

Two Tiny Hands

Diary of an imperfect mumCountry KidsTammymum   Untold Morselsethannevelyn.comTravel Loving FamilyLou Messugo

34 Responses to “Look, they’re skiing / Ça y est, ils skient

  • Fab post!We have thought about bringing the girls on a ski holiday. I’m sure they’d love it-I don’t know how I’d get on though. I’ve never been and am rather clumsy!
    Aedin recently posted…Top things to do in Bristol for kids 

    • Thanks Aedin! You won’t know until you try 😉 That said, it probably is easier for kids to get over the initial fear, but I think the same principles apply – let go and don’t overthink it! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Haha my boyfriend’s nickname is Squirrel! I’m glad you got them all out and skiing though – it is quite a bit like swimming or cycling! What a good analogy! Looks like they all managed to have a ton of fun!

    • Funny! Are you Fox then? 😉
      I recently (re)learnt to swim, this is why I find the process quite similar to skiing. Thank you for stopping by 🙂

  • Looks like wonderful winter fun!
    Mother of 3 recently posted…Weekly Wrap- Up: The Week We Made our Shamrocks

  • So great that fears were conquered and fun was had. Lots of lovely smiles #CountryKids
    Mary @ Over 40 and a Mum to One recently posted…Project 365 2017 Week 9

  • It sounds like the kids came on leaps and bounds on this ski trip and that Squirrel really is on a roll with all things outdoors and active right now. I love that you meet with family and have a great big group of you all enjoying the snow together. That igloo looks amazing, I’d love to have enough snow to be able to do this, in fact any snow at all would be a treat in Cornwall! You will have a group of natural snow kids growing up with all those fab activities.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids
    Coombe Mill recently posted…Country Kids 4th March

    • Fiona,
      I love how you call them snow kids. Hopefully that’s what they are and will remain in the future. Snow is so much fun! 🙂

  • Aww this is fabulous! I’d love to live near a resort line this. It’s been many years since I’ve been skiiing and don’t think it’s going to happen so quick again. I love how into it your kids got throughout the day when they were a little bit j sure at the start. A great little ski family!! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬
    Karen | TwoTinyHands recently posted…Happy Days – A Slide!!!

    • Thank you Karen! It was the same for us – we didn’t ski for nearly 10 years when the acorns were little, and it’s only now we can go again as a family. It was fantastic to see them take to it so quickly, and so joyfully too. Lots of proud smiley faces that evening! 🙂

  • Looks like fantastic family fun. I’ve never been skiing. #countrykids
    Claire recently posted…Treasure basket, bedtime stories and first aid #littleloves

    • It was great fun indeed! If you get the chance to go skiing, you can learn alongside your children 😉

  • I’m not a skier, but my husband is. We are always back and fourth about taking a ski trip. Honestly the sledding and igloo building sound right up my ally. I do want the kids to ski though! This looks like great fun. #CountryKids

  • This looks like great fun – and what a fantastic igloo!
    The Princess and The Pickle recently posted…A postcard from… Mottisfont, Hampshire (February 2017)

  • I’ve never been skiing, it looks like a lot of fun though. I love the pics of the little ones on the sledge. It reminds me of the days it used to snow slit here and we’d go sledging down a big hill! Thanks for linking up with us at #FabFridayPost

    • I have so many happy childhood memories of going sledding (and skiing of course). Hopefully the acorns will look back on this day with their cousins and feel the same way about the experience.

  • Wow! This place looks AMAZING! I’ve never been skiing in my entire life before! I know! It’s bunkers! I wish to go with my kiddos one day. This ski resort, the station du Mézenc-Les Estables sound like a wonderful place to be for kids and beginners like me! Your kids looks like they are having an awesome time!! Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us. I will pin this on my Travel Bucket list. #FabFridayPost
    Su {Ethan & Evelyn} recently posted…#FabFridayPost February Round Up

    • Thank you so much for your wonderful comment Su! When you take your children to ski, you can learn with them, it’ll be so much fun. This resort is brilliant for families and beginners, but if you find yourself in the Alps (better chance of snow in higher resorts), then Aillon-Margeriaz, where I learnt to ski as a child, is absolutely brilliant.
      Thanks for hosting #FabFridayPost, and for making me blogger of the week 😉

  • Thats so great he has conquered so many outdoors skills in one week!! Looks a great place to take a family skiing #countrykidsfun
    Sonia Cave recently posted…Bird Watching Adventure to Almö

    • Squirrel learns best through sensory experience, and he’s a thrill-seeker, so all this was right up his alley! 🙂

  • This looks so wonderful! I have never really thought about taking kids on a ski trip before – but looking at your photos we may just have to add it to our bucket list. It looks such fun. #CountryKids

    • If you get the chance to go skiing as a family, it makes for the best childhood memories 😉

  • The children look like they are having so much fun. Your photos are so natural and you really get a feel for what was happening. #countrykids

  • Wow you look like you had a lovely time. Great photos. I’d love to take my daughter skiing one day! #FamilyFun

    • Thank you for stopping by Susie! I have so many great childhood memories of such days skiing with my family, and sometimes friends too. Snow makes for the best fun! 🙂

  • What a lovely account of your children skiing together and enjoying the snow. I have little snow babies too, they have always loved to ski. It’s a great activity for everyone to enjoy together. #FabFridayPost

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